There is an expression in Russian that sounds very similar, seems like a good description of what happened. It was a first round of a new tournament. Being for the first time somewhere in the middle of the top section I expected a guy from the very top or from the very bottom. I got it from the top, it was a boy who recently progressed a lot and reached 2200 rating. I had a very good score him in the past, but it didn’t matter.

I got Black and the game from the beginning got into the right direction with him playing Ruy Lopez. I noticed that my g6 surprised him though it is a regular move and then his Bxf6 really surprised me. I didn’t quite like his Rf1, but realized that I should do something and played d5.

I rather intuitively felt that his 23. Rd1 wasn’t a good move. Fritz prefers 25… exf4 to my e4, but I didn’t want to give him the “f” vertical. His f5 and f6 showed that he didn’t evaluate the position right, continuing to attack. On move 29 Fritz likes h5, I didn’t play it because of Nxh5+ not seeing Be4.

Then I found 31… Rxd4. There is a line that I found at home, where Black should be very careful: 32. Nxd4 e2 33. Qd2 Kg8 - is the only move, g5 loses. The sacrifice actually was stronger than I thought and after him giving up the queen for the rook and knight I really started to play for a win. His time situation wasn’t good either. I knew that I just need to play accurately. In the end a mate was coming and he resigned.

 

I went to the club last Monday, got the guy with about the same rating. I had White and we played Caro-Kann, here is the game. I had a feeling that I have some positional advantage though the opening.

I didn’t realize his e5 was bad, it is because after inevitable g3 and Bg5 he loses a piece after Nxg5. Nevertheless I liked that I can exchange my knight on g5 and force him to play f6. I was even thinking that was better for him to sacrifice his g5 pawn, that much I didn’t like f6.

After 31.  Nd6 he had a tough position. 33… Kg7  was a crucial mistake, I saw Rxf5 almost right away. Then he surprised me by giving up his queen for rook and knight.

After he doubled his rooks I knew I should be careful, but I also knew that I am winning. Moving b5 pawn was the easiest way to win, he eventually made a mistake and the game was over.

 

I came to the club last Thursday and got the master,  guy at the top, meaning playing on the first board. It was kind of weird to play at the separate table standing aside, but I got used to it. I had a loss against him, in French Tarrasch, Be7 line.

We got it again, here is the game. I decided to play 4.Bb5+, actually this move was played only once. The idea was to get his bishop on the bad square, like in Scandinavian. It kind of threw him out of book, I think.  After the opening I realized that my position is quite good.  He decided to exchange some pieces, probably seeing that there were no advantage in the heavy middlegame.

I liked a plan with f4, g4, f5 attack and executed it, though it didn’t give me much. Then he made a move Fritz doesn’t like  - 47… Ke7. I missed 48. Rb7 and then, after a few moves – 50. Rg7.  Funny that he can’t take on b2 because of the mate. He already didn’t have much time at that moment, so it was definitely worth to try. I get about +1 after this move anyway.

Then he got down to less than a minute with me having about twenty. I offered him a draw after we got into a rook endgame, but he refused. I didn’t want to give him any winning chances and didn’t let to take on b2. Then I decided to get rid of his pawns on the kingside, I didn’t like them all the time thinking he can get a passed pawn. The position became really simple after that and when he offered a draw I agreed. Fritz considers the position equal.

I wasn’t quite happy to get this opponent, he is a former master (actually it’s for life in Canada) and I lost at least a couple of times to him. Last time it was painful because I missed a win  - http://rollingpawns.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/happiness-was-so-possible-so-close/.  Anyway, he gets White,  jokes using a few Russian words that he knows, game starts.

We get Slav defense,  here is the game.  After his 11. Ne5 I feel that I can get some play after Nxe5 and f6.  Then in a few moves he loses a pawn. Needless to say I start to get a good feeling about this game.  After his 22. g4 I realize that he is on the same self-destructive path as he was last time. The difference is that I have a lot of time, more than him by the way and I know that I should be careful.

I don’t like 25. Ra5 and I see his Bc2, Qd3 coming and that I can easily prevent the mate threat. The natural Bb3+ loses the game, his pieces are all bad placed at this moment. I find all the right moves and after his Ra3 see that the game is over. The guy just received the cup for the second place in the Club Championship, it makes it even better.

So, finally I played a good game and won, first win again strong opponent this year (of course including a 3 month break).

It was a first round, I got a boy I thought I lost to before, but it was a draw. Unexpectedly I got White. We played Ruy Lopez, quite common line.  After 19… Bf8 I realized he didn’t have a definite plan, I decided I have to have my own. Fritz wasn’t excited about 20. f3 because of of 20… h5, but it worked. Of course g5 was a bad move, right away I started to think how to exploit it.  After sacrifice on g5 the game is lost for him. Fritz thinks that 29. gxf5 with rook coming through f3 is stronger than Nxf6+, but it is winning anyway. Than I saw that my queen and pawn are strong enough to create problems for him. It ended up with promoting a queen and mate.

This game was played on last Thursday. My opponent was a boy with whom I had a bad score: =1, -3.  I had White, we played Ruy Lopez, he chose Archangelsk variation. I was quite happy how the opening went, he was spending essentially more time than me.

Then the crucial moment came when he played 17… g5. So I got a dilemma: or play Bg3 and after Nh4 get the position that I didn’t like at all or sacrifice the knight on g5. Funny that I didn’t see that Nh4 is not possible because of Nxe5. So, I looked and looked at it and sacrificed the knight. He had to play 19… Qe6 and d5, it was the best defense, still I was better. But he played Kg7, then Nb8.  When I decided to play 22. Bxf6, I saw the check on f5 winning the queen. What I didn’t see was 22. Qf3 followed by Rh3+ and then Qf5,  it was a mate. What let me down is I knew that I have a dangerous attack and can win material, but I had to know that there should be a mate right there.

So, I got that big advantage and of course started to think how good I will feel when I will win this game. Computer has nothing against my plan of playing on the queenside, but prefers to attack g6 pawn and it was my feeling after the game too.

39.  Qg3 was a really bad move, I think my 6 hours of sleep and 9 hours of work eventually showed, I didn’t see Nh5. Then not liking the position of my queen, I made another bad move – 44. d4. I think soon after that he offered a draw, I initially refused, but after 50 moves I didn’t see how I can win and agreed to it. I also had less time than him at that moment. Computer gives me only 0.5 advantage.

These are the words from the song in one good Russian movie. I think I can relate that to what happened in my game on Monday.

I played with an expert to whom I lost 3 times before. But in the last game I missed a simple deflection that was winning the game. This game was somewhat similar, missing a chance due to a time pressure.

He had White, I played Slav again. I think it suits my style, but I definitely should study it more. I think I was OK after the opening, though was feeling some pressure. I spent quite some time thinking how to defend against his 21. Nd6 and computer confirms that f6 was a good idea. Maybe I got tired defending, on the move 31 I blundered a pawn. Then 37… Nh3 was another blunder because I was losing this knight after 38. Re5 Qh6 39. Kg2 and if 39… Ng5 then 40. Qd5. He didn’t see it. After 41. hxg3 I decided to play Nxf4. It was more of an intuitive sacrifice and I had very little, 20-30 seconds, time left. Computer suggests the same move. So after gxf4 I automatically play Rxf4 and it blinked a bit later in my mind that Qh4+ was possible. Of course I had to play Qh4+, winning a rook,  computer says it is still a draw. Though, I am sure how he would react on that strike, also having not much time.

After his 43. Qe3 I missed another strike  - 43… Rxe4 and if  44. Qxe4 then 44… Rf1+, so he has to reply with 44. Qh3+ and I am a pawn up. Looking at this now I am just shaking my head, but at least you can’t require somebody to see this having just seconds left. Instead I made that stupid check on f1, because it seemed to me that I can mate him or win his queen. Of course, nothing like that happened, he forced queens exchange and after some meaningless resistance in the endgame I resigned.

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