Posts Tagged ‘win’

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A great endgame to analyse

November 26, 2008

I played in the second of two games mentioned here on the 17th, again as black. White gave up a pawn in the opening in exchange for the center. I was always looking to return the pawn under favorable circumstances but my opponent didn’t want to cede the initiative to win the pawn back. We finally got into a very tricky bishop vs knight endgame which I managed to eke out. Here is the game.

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 c6 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. g3 Nbd7 6. Bg2 dxc4 7. O-O Be7 8. e4 O-O 9. Qe2 Nb6

I also thought about playing b5 here but was worried about the weakness of c6 and a8. On hindsight though, I should have probably played that – to expose the c6 weakness, both the pawn on e4 and the knight on f3 would need to go to e5. With that not possible, I should have been safe!

10. a4 a5 11. Rd1 Nfd7 12.  Ne5 Nxe5 13. dxe5 Qc7 14. Be3 Rd8 15. h4?!

At the time I thought the idea with h4-h5-h6 was quite slow. This gives me the time to unravel myself somewhat and trade off some pieces. He explained later that he believed that with pawns on h6 (and probably f6), my king would have a hard time getting into the game and that he would hold the advantage.

15…Bd7 16. h5 c5?! [Be8] 17. f4 Bc6 18. h6 g6 19.  Nb5 Bxb5 20. axb5 Rxd1+ 21. Rxd1 Rd8 22. Rxd8+ Qxd8 23. f5 Qd7

My opponent later said that he was expecting Qd3 here with an advantage for white and that Qd7 was almost losing. The two moves were also my main options – I went with Qd7 because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to hold on to the extra pawn after the swap of queens. It turns out that after 23…Qd3 24. Qxd3 cxd3 25. Kf2 a4 26. Bf1 Nc4 27. Bxd3 Nxb2 28. Bb1 Nd1+ 29. Kf3 a3, black’s passed a-pawn is very strong.

24. Bh3 exf5 [Qd3] 25. exf5 Qd5?!

Again, Qd3 was the only way to maintain the advantage.

26. fxg6

f6! was probably stronger, like he had been intending to play a few moves earlier (see notes to white’s 15th move)

26…fxg6 [hxg6!] 27. e6 Qe5?

Nc8, bringing it back into defense was better.

28. Qf3 Bf6 29. g4?

This again tilts the balance in my favour. Fritz shows 29. Bf2 Nd5 30. Bf1 and the black queen-side pawns are collapsing and the bishops then attacking the king-side with even more venom. As it is, white’s move allows some simplifying tactics from black.

29…Qxe3+ 30. Qxe3 Bd4 31. Kf2  Kf8 32. Bg2 Ke7? [Bxe3+] 33. Bxb7?

33. Bxe4 Bxe3+ 34. Kxe3 c3 35. bxc3 a4 36. Bxg6 a3 37. Bb1 Kxe6 should lead to a draw with correct play.

33…Bxe3+ 34. Kxe3 Kxe6?

34…c3 bxc3 was much stronger, creating a passed a-pawn.

35. Ke4??

The last move to make the time control, with seconds left on the clock. Be4 was much better.

35…Na4??

Returning the favour with a lot more time left on my clock to make the time-control. Analysing after the game, we deemed this now to be a draw. Again, Fritz shows the line 35… a4 36. Ke3 c3 37. Be4 cxb2 38. Kd2 Nc4+ 39. Kc3 a3 40. Bb1 Na5, and black has a completely won game.

36. Bd5+ Kd6 37. Bxc4  Nxb2 38. Ba2?

The start of a wrong plan. The draw could have easily been gained by 38.Bg8 c4 39. Bxh7 c3 40. Ke3 Nc4+ 41. Kd3 Ne5+ 42. Kxc3 Nxg4 43. Bxg6 Nxh6

38…a4 39. b6?

Completely losing the plot. Now I can just walk over and grab the pawn with no delays in tempo.

38…Kc6 40. Ke3 Kxb6 41. Kd2 Kb5?

Now, giving up the win and allowing a forced draw. 41…c4, preventing the bishop from going to g8 was critical.

42. Bb1?

Not taking advantage. 42. Bg8 Nc4+ 43. Kc3 Ne3 44. Bxh7 Nxg4 45. Bxg6 Nxh6 46. Be8+ Ka5 47. Bxa4 Kxa4 48. Kc4 is a dead draw. Now, the win is quite easy.

42…Nc4+ 43. Kc1 Ne5 44. g5 Kb4 45. Be4 c4 0-1

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Tournament victory

November 19, 2008

After a month and a half of no serious chess games (I did play 4 rated blitz games in the interim, with 2 wins and 2 losses), I have now played two in one week. The first of these was last Thursday in the final round of the Swiss tournament mentioned in my previous chess-related post. With a win in the game, I finished the tourney with 4.5/5. My opponent from round 2 is yet to play his final round and he still has a shot at tying me for first place. Nevertheless, this is a pretty good achievement for me.

The game itself was remarkable. We replayed the same opening we had played earlier. I quickly got myself into trouble and was lucky to parry his threats through the opening and middle game. When we got into the endgame, my opponent had a very passive rook and a horrible bishop against my very active rook and wonderful central knight, leading to a very easy conversion.

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 e6 3. f4 d5 4. e5 d4

Knowing that I threw away our win in our previous encounter, I was fully expecting him to go for the same suspect line grabbing a rook and pawn for his knight and bishop and this time making him suffer for it. If it weren’t for this misguided thought, I should have probably played Nc6 and played with a more French-like structure. This now allows him to mount a serious initiative against my king-side.

5.  Ne4 Nh6 6. Nf3 Be7 7. Bc4 O-O 8. O-O Bd7

This is the first variation from our previous game. Previously I had played 8…a6.

9. Nfg5 Bc6?

Already, my position is getting quite dicey. The computer only gives white a half-pawn advantage but it is quite nerve-racking to see him bring so many pieces into the attack so quickly! I think I should have preferred Nc6, allowing the bishop to go to e8.

10. Qh5 Bxe4 11. Nxe4 Nc6  12. a3 a6?

The start of a not-so-good plan. My idea was to follow up with b5, and if he kept his bishop on the a2-g8 diagonal, I could play d3, blocking the d2 pawn and seriously hampering his queen-side development. What the computer now shows me is that d3 was playable straight away with the same goal. He cannot play Bxd3, because after …c4 Bxc4 Qd4+, I win a piece for 2 pawns.

13. Rf3 b5 14. Ba2 c4 15. d3 Qd5 16. Rg3 Nf5 17. Rh3 h6 18. Qg4 Kh8  19. Ng3 Ne3 20. Bxe3 dxe3 21. Nh5 g6

Until this point, the game had proceeded along reasonably logical lines. Rg8 was my other big choice here. I was feeling the pressure of constantly defending and wasn’t sure how much counter play I could muster after Rg8. While waiting for my opponent’s move, I started panicking. I was worried that after 22. Nf6 Bxf6 23. Rxh6+ Kg7 24. Qh3, I couldn’t see any lines where I would not be losing at least a rook. After checking with the computer, it turns out that had my opponent gone for this line, I could have in fact played 24…Nxe5, with an advantage for black – though I don’t know if I could have spotted it over the board.

22. Nf6 Bxf6 23. exf6!?

My opponent had a long think here about the same line discussed above. Though he couldn’t remember after the game why he chose not to go in for that variation, he said he saw a refutation that led him to just quietly recapture the piece.

23…h5 24. Qg5?

White should not have offered the trade of queens and gone for something like Qe2. Now his position becomes very hard to defend.

24…Qxg5 25.  fxg5 cxd3 26. cxd3 Nd4! 27. Re1 e2 28. g4 Kg8 29. gxh5 gxh5 30. Kf2 Rac8 31. Rh4 Rfd8 32. Bb1 Rc5! 33. Rxh5 Rf5+ 34. Kg2 Rdd5! 35. Rh3 Rxg5+ 36. Rg3 Rxg3+ 37.  hxg3 Rf5

The game is pretty much decided. His bishop has nowhere to go, his rook is hemmed in at e1, his king is cut off from the e2 pawn, while my pieces dominate the position. I felt so good about my position that I even turned down his offer of a piece on the next move to go grab a pawn!

38. Bc2 Rxf6 39. Bd1 exd1=Q 40. Rxd1 Rf3 41. Rd2 Kg7 42. Rd1 a5 43.  Rd2 a4 44. Rd1 Kg6 45. Rd2 Kg5 46. Rf2 Rxf2+ 47. Kxf2 f5 48. Ke3 e5 49. Kf2 Kg4  50. Kg2 Ne2 0-1

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My biggest scalp to date

September 9, 2008

Playing black against the highest-rated player I’ve played since I moved to the UK and winning was definitely sweet. He was likely suffering from rust, not having played in about 3 months, but I’m not complaining. He held an advantage well into the middle-game, with a lasting initiative and a lack of queen-side development on my part but a couple of inaccuracies followed by a blunder left me up a piece and I was able to duly convert the win. My record in the UK now stands at +7-3=1.

1. e4 c5 2. c3 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. d4 e6 5. Nf3 Nf6 6. Be3 Ng4 7. Nbd2!?

I didn’t expect him to give up his dark squared bishop so easily. As we will see in the game, he now uses the open f-file to create pressure on my kingside. But I also use it to find a safe haven for my queen.

7…Nxe3 8. fxe3 Be7 9. Bd3 O-O 10. O-O Qh5

For any number of moves now, it was quite possible to kick my queen from its central post with a gain of tempo. Until he gave up his dark squared bishop, I had been intending to retreat the queen back to d8. But in its absence, I decided to move it to h5, intending it to become the dragon bishop if needed to defend my kingside (after playing Qh6, g6 and Qg7).

11. Qc2 Nd7?!

I had a long think here. I was in real danger of allowing white to build up a kingside attack with no counter-attacking chances for myself. The only plan I could come up with was to challenge in the centre. One option was to play f5 at some point to block the b1-h7 diagonal but I was worried about the backwards pawn on e6. The other option was to play e5 and carry out a series of exchanges and also activate my c8 bishop. To this end, I needed to play Nc6 or Nd7 to support the e5-push. With Nc6, I was worried about d5, when my knight has no good retreat squares. Therefore Nd7, even further restricting the scope of my light-squared bishop.

12. a4 e5 13. Rae1 g6 14. Nc4 Bf6 15. Nd6 exd4 16. exd4 cxd4 17. Bc4?

In my opinion, he should have just played cxd4. This gives up a pawn without adequate compensation. With this move and the next, white goes from having a distinct advantage to losing.

17…dxc3! 18. Nxf7??

Here, my opponent had a long think before playing this move. This allows me to go up a piece. For the rest of the game, I was more interested in shutting down any possible counter-play and bringing the rest of my pieces into play.

The main continuation that I was looking at over the board was probably better than his eventual choice: [18.Bxf7 Kg7 Nxc8 Rac8 Bb3 cxb2 Qb1 -/+ (diagram)]

The rest of the game requires no commentary – I managed to reel in the full point!

18…Qc5+! 19. Kh1 Qxc4 20. Nd6 Qb4 21. Qd3 Nb6 22. Ne5 Be7 23. Ndc4 Bf5 24.Qf3 Nxc4 25. Qd5+ Kg7 26. Nxc4 cxb2 27. Nxb2 Rad8 28. Qa2 Rd2 0-1

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Time is of the essence

May 29, 2008

After last week’s game, it is now seven straight games since I’ve lost. White, I think, was slightly better through most of the game. Near the end of the game, even when I went up a pawn, he had plenty of chances to force a draw. Instead he failed to find the right moves in time trouble. I normally have a very strong instinct to play quickly in my opponent’s time pressure, not giving him a chance to think on my time. This time, I took efforts not to make that mistake – instead, I tried to choose continuations which would force him to calculate multiple variations at critical junctions. End result? I won on time. The game, as always, can be replayed here.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. e3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5 8. Bd3 Bd6 9. Qc2 Bb7

I have now acquired a copy of Fritz 11 and this position has occurred twice in its database. After 10.O-O O-O (which was played in the above games), it transposes into more common variations.

10. Ne4 Bc7 [10…Nxe4 11.Bxe4 Rc8] 11. Bd2 O-O 12. O-O Rc8 13. Nc5

I was fully expecting Bb4 at this point. I didn’t like Nc5 as after I capture the white knight, both recaptures help Black’s position. If Qxc5, Bb6 and I can start thinking of moves like c5, when I challenge white’s control of the center and my pieces start coming to life. If dxc5, as in the game, white loses his pressure on the c-file, he has no direct threats and I can start repositioning my pieces to more active squares.

13…Nxc5 14. dxc5 e5

The computer prefers Qd5 or a5. In fact I considered both of these moves but couldn’t come up with a clear plan. With e5, my idea was this. First of all, if white made some random move, I was hoping to play Re8, followed by e4, and I am clearly better. On the other hand, if white played e4 himself, he closes the light-squared diagonal, which is where he exerts the most pressure. By the same token, my dark-squared bishop is now useless as well, but with a closed position, I would have enough time to relocate my useless c8 rook and b7 bishop to more useful squares.

15. e4 a5 16. a3 Qe7 17. b4 Ra8 18. Bg5 Bc8 19. Qc3 Re8 20. h3 h6 21. Bc1

My opponent spent a very long time before playing Bc1. I was actually quite surprised; I felt he would play Bh4.

21…Nd7 22. Bc2

Getting out of potential traps like f5, exf5, followed by e4, forking the knight and bishop.

22…Nf8 23. a4 axb4 24. Qxb4 Nd7 25.Be3 Bb6 26. axb5 Rxa1 27. Rxa1 cxb5 28. Qxb5 Bxc5 29. Bxc5 Nxc5 30. Ra5 Nd7+-

Somewhere in my calculations, I had assumed that I would be up a queenside pawn at the end of these tactics. The realization hit home only after White’s 26th move.

31.Ba4 Qa3

By this time, my opponent was in serious time pressure. Being in a worse position, I wanted to make sure I didn’t make too many moves where his response was forced.

32. Qb3 Qc1+ 33. Kh2 Qf4+ 34. g3 Qxe4 35. Qd1 Qf5

With this, we both made the time-control – my opponent with just a few seconds left. With the time-control for the game only adding another 15 minutes for the rest of the game, he wasn’t quite out of the woods yet!

36. Qd5?

As so often happens, he blunders right after making the time-control. Both Ra7 and Ra8 probably lead to forced draws.

36…Nf6 37. Qd1 Qxh3+ 38. Kg1 Rf8?

I gave a good, long think about 38…e4, giving up the exchange but probably winning. But I was unable to calculate all the variations and decided to play it safe.

39. Rxe5 Bb7 40. Qd3 Rc8 41. Re1 Ne4 42. Bd7! Rd8 43. Bxh3 Rxd3 44. Bg2 Nf6 45. Ne5 Rb3 46. Bxb7 Rxb7 0-1

The position is probably quite drawish at this point, but my opponent, having burnt most of his remaining time on his 37th move finally ran out of time and I won my second game of the year on a time forfeit!

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An absolute blunderfest, but a win nonetheless

May 7, 2008

Last week was the last match of the season for the Bedford Chess League. My team needed a match victory to ensure 5th place in the standings, a step up from last place (8th) last year. I was playing black on board 3, matched up against a much lower rated player. As always, the game can be replayed here.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.a4

I have recently started playing the Semi-Slav as black in online chess but this is my first attempt over the board. In this gambit variation, play is normally extremely sharp with 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 and white has a strong initiative for the pawn. With my opponent instead playing a4, trying to prevent b5, I tried to take advantage of the hole on b4.

7…Bb4 8.e3 Qa5 9.Qc1? Ne4 10.Bxc4 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Bxc3+ 12.Ke2 Bxa1 13.Qxa1 O-O 14.Rb1 Nd7 15.Nd2 Nb6 16.Bb3 Bd7 17.Be7 Rfe8 18.Bc5 Nd5 19.Nc4 Qa6 20.Ke1 b6 21.Ba3 Rec8 22.e4 Nf4 23.g3 Ng6 24.Nd6 Qa5+ 25.Kf1 Rc7 26.Qb2 Qh5 27.h4 [Diagram]

Until this point, my play might not have been very accurate but it has been enough to garner a near-winning advantage. After going up in material fairly early on, I was pushed onto the defensive as I was behind in development while white was able to exert a fair amount of pressure. After needing to be careful about my queen getting trapped for a few moves, I felt fairly confident that the queen’s jump to the kingside, coupled with the opening up of the position with c5 would settle the game quite quickly.

27…c5??

A huge blunder. Now my queen is trapped. 27…Qf3 would have still maintained my advantage.

28.Bd1! Qxd1+ 29.Rxd1 Bxa4

Against a stronger opponent I would have probably resigned after his 28th move. Instead, I decided to play on with a rook and two pawns against a queen and give my opponent a chance to redeem the favour.

30.Rc1 Rd8 31.e5 Bc6 32.Qd2 Bd5 33.h5 Nf8 34.g4 f6 35.f4 Bf3 36.g5 hxg5 37.fxg5 fxe5 38.Nb5 Rf7 39.Ke1 Bxh5 40.Qh2 Bg6 41.Ke2?

Question marks could have been attached to most of the previous white moves, as at some point or the other, he should have played dxc5, giving me isolated, doubled pawns on the e-file and another weak, isolated pawn on the c file. Now he instead loses another pawn for no gain whatsoever.

It is also quite likely that question marks can be attached to several of my moves as they weren’t the best moves. But I was trying not to make forcing moves; instead providing my opponent with several options and more ways to go wrong.

41…exd4 42.Rh1 Nh7 43.Bc1 a6 44.Nd6 Rfd7 45.Bf4 b5 46.Be5 c4 47.Kd2

Sensing the strength of my connected passed pawns, my opponent offered me a draw. Here was my final blunder of the game. With the other games of the match already completed, I should have looked to my captain to find the match score (It was 2.5-1.5 and a draw in this game would have clinched us the match). The right move on my part would have been to accept the draw at this point. However, feeling that I was better already, I declined the draw and kept playing.

47…c3+ 48.Kc1 d3 49.Qh3 Rxd6 50.Bxd6 Rxd6 0-1

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The streak reaches three

March 21, 2008

My third win in a row (and all 3 games as white) came against a 10-year-old yesterday. Unusually for me, I tried to play my opponent more than I did the position and predictably, suffered in a slightly worse position for most of the game. My young opponent, though, made a couple of unfortunate mistakes in the endgame to lose the game.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 d6 4.d4 Nf6 5.d5 a6 6.Ba4 b5 7.Bb3 Na5 8.Qd3 Nxb3 9.axb3 Be7 10.O-O O-O 11.b4?
I should probably just play 11.Nc3, rather than trying to clamp down on the a6 pawn, which was my attempt here.

11…Bb7 12.c4 c6 13.Nc3 cxd5 14.cxd5 Qd7 15.h3 Rfc8 16.Nd2 Nh5 17.Ne2 Bg5 18.Nb3 Nf4 19.Nxf4 Bxf4 20.Na5
20.Bxf4 exf4 21.Nd4 was also quite playable and would have given me a slight plus.

20…g5 21.Bd2 h5 22.Rfc1 Rxc1+ 23.Rxc1 Rc8 24.Rc3 Rxc3 25.Bxc3 [bxc3] Bc8 26.Qd1 g4 27.hxg4 hxg4 28.g3 Bg5 29.Bd2 Bxd2 30.Qxd2 f5?
30…f6 is needed, to stop the white queen from infiltrating the position.

31.Qg5+ Kf7 32.Qh5+ Kf8 33.Qh6+ Ke8 34.Nc6 Bb7??
The big blunder. Now, best-case scenario, the black queen is lost.

35.Qh8+ Kf7 36.Qh7+ Ke8 37.Qg8+ 1-0

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Back to an even score

March 15, 2008

Playing white on board 3, I recorded my second win on Thursday night. After starting out my British chess career with two straight losses, its good to win two straight now. Interestingly enough, my opponent played a not-so-common variation of the Sicilian which I used to play for a while as black in online chess. Atleast this made me familiar with black’s ideas in the opening and I didn’t have to figure them out over the board – a big plus as I had arrived 10 minutes late and was already behind on the clock.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Qb6
I used to play 4…Nf6 5.Nc3 Qb6.
White’s primary options here are Nb5 and Nb3. Nb3 is the more solid variation and leads to a slight plus for white. Nb5 is a bit more aggressive and is probably the more principled line.

5.Nb5 a6 6.Be3 Qa5+
The problem with facing a line you’ve played often is that while you are familiar with the move order you prefer, you never really bother to analyze alternate responses. Here, I always preferred playing my queen back to d8 – so I was in unfamiliar territory here – though having said that, it isn’t really hard finding moves here for white.

7.N5c3 Nf6 8.Bd3 d5 9.exd5
9.Nd2 might have been better, developing another piece. If 9…d4, then 10.Nb3 holds things together.

9…Nxd5 10.Bd2 Ndb4 11.Be4 Qe5 12.O-O
Here I had a long think about 12.a3, trapping the black knight. 12…Bf5 was not really a threat, as after 13.f3, I am just up a piece. But I was really worried about 12…f5, when after 13.axb4 fxe4, black’s position looks bad with doubled e-pawns, the lack of a f-pawn and being behind in development, but there seemed to be no clear way for me to take advantage of it.

12…Nd4 13.a3 Nbc6 14.Be3 Bf5 15.Bxf5 Nxf5 16.Bb6 e6 17.Re1 Qd6 18.Nd5! Rc8 19.Nbc3 Be7
Here again I had a long think, especially about 20.Qg4 but I couldn’t find a suitable continuation after 20…Ne5. But looking it up on the computer shows 21.Qa5+ Nd7 and I maintain my advantage. Sometimes, it really is hard to see lateral queen moves when trying to press the attack!

20.Nxe7 Ncxe7 21.Ba5 Nc6 22.Bb6 Ncd4 23.Bxd4 Qxd4 24.Qf3 =
After 24…O-O 25.Qxb7 Rb8 Qxa6 Rxb2, the game is petering out to a draw.

24…Qb6??
The game just became a winning position for white.

25.Qxf5 Qxb2 26.Rxe6+! fxe6 27.Qxe6+ Kf8 28.Qxc8+ Kf7 29.Qc7+ Kg6 30.Re1 Rf8 31.Qg3+ Kh6 32.h4 g6 33.Re7 Qc1+ 34.Kh2 Qd2 35.Ne4 Qc1 36.Ng5 Qb2 37.Rxh7#
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