It is about two games – one was hard, another was easy. There were kind of opposite one to another, from the opening to the endgame, so it is interesting to compare.

Game 1 – I played on Monday, top section, expert. I lost to him once before, missed a crazy computer sacrifice with a win. I had Black, decided to play something different from Semi-Slav and chose to return to Queen’s Indian Accelerated.

In the opening I felt rather good, my isolated pawn was compensated by a good play in the center. Computer criticizes his 16. Nb3, giving the line 16…Rxc1 17. Rxc1 Ng4 18. Rf1 with ~-0.5 advantage. Then it got complicated after me deciding to get hanging pawns. I was distracted by his threat Bh3 after Ng5 and reacted to it, not seeing 20…c4! forcing his queen to b1 and then 21… Rc5 22. Bh3 Qc7 with initiative and 0.5 advantage. 24… c4 was already not a good move. I knew that I should advance one of the pawns only if it gives something to me, but I was just feeling pressure.  The same was with g5, not a good move too. 35… Bb7 was a losing mistake, then I didn’t see 39. Qe5 and the rest is self-explanatory.

Game 2 – it was played in three days, in another club. I had this opponent recently, a man rated 1825 and won with a piece sacrifice. I got Black again and we played the same line of Queen’s Pawn, except I didn’t make the blunder 5… e6, like in the previous game and he was keeping balance. It was developing very peacefully until move 36, too peacefully for me. Then I saw that if we exchange rooks, I can play 38… Kc5 and 39… a5 and I am stopping his queenside pawns, at the same time having majority on the kingside, clear win. Funny that Fritz thinks it is only 1.5 advantage, but after a few moves confirms it’s a win for Black.

So I played 36… Rd1 and he went for the rooks exchange, his desire to draw this game can explain it. Computer doesn’t like my 40… e5, saying that he could play 41. g4. But White is winning anyway not only after 41… h5, which I found at home, but also after 41… e4, which I would probably play there. In the game I just created a passed pawn, which deflected his king. Interesting that I had an optical illusion at one point thinking that after 48. Kc3 Ka3 he can keep my king along “a” vertical, forgetting that I can get to b4 square. He played c5 which was losing faster and resigned soon.

My opponent was a boy I played with many times. So I got White and played my favorite Rossolimo variation. I gave up some space in the opening, but then he chose not the best move with 16… f5. I considered Ng5 of course, but didn’t like f4, not seeing that I can play Qh5.  Still he could defend with h6 and I am just a 0.3 better. My move exf5 was not worse than Ng5 and I saw that I can put a rook on e4. Then I considered Nh4 a few times, but didn’t like e4 after exchange, though Fritz thinks I would have advantage after e4.

After his expected Nf4 I planned to exchange rooks and thought that the arising endgame should be good for me. I consider his g5 a mistake, though computer doesn’t think so. The problem is, he usually plays very aggressively, but this is not a position for that. Qg6 was a mistake, he had to exchange light pieces, N vs. B endgame is a draw. Interesting that I thought that I could win it because of his bad bishop, but actually it is bad only on a queenside, as most of the shootouts end in a draw.

His Qf7 and Kg6 were mistakes too, I think he underestimated my chances. After 34. Nf3 I expected Qf6 and was very surprised when he quickly played Qf5 and went away. I checked everything and played Nh4+. When he came back he realized that he blundered and resigned.

My opponent was a boy, his rating rose 300 points since we played 2 years ago, I won then. I got White and replied with my usual Moscow variation to his Sicilian. In this game I decided not to play my regular 5. c4 and chose more quiet line. It was a very positional struggle until I played 34. f5. He could play 34. bxc3 35. bxc3 Qb6 36. fxe6 Rxe5 37. fxe6 with pretty much equal position, but played Qb5. Then he made another mistake playing Rxe5. I saw that I could play 36. Qa8+ and then take on f7, but thought that he has Rf5. What I didn’t see was Qe4 and then g6 loses because of Qe8. It was a golden opportunity which I missed.

So after I won a pawn his counterstrike a3 made the game equal. I had to take care of his “c” pawns and it became a completely drawn position. During the post-mortem we still did not see 36. Qa8+ winning the game.

It was a first round. My opponent was a guy rated 100 higher, I lost to him two months ago. So, I got White and he played Pirc defence. Usually I am not very good against it, so I was careful. After Bxd5 I thought that my bishop is not better than his knight and decided to exchange it. Then I went for queens exchange.

I knew that he will play f5 at some point to attack e4 pawn, c4 was also planned. Then after Bg6 game became sharper. I had to be careful to play the right moves. Bd3 forced me to think for some time until I realized that he is losing a pawn. This was probably a classical example of overstretching, he wanted to win too much. Fritz recommends Ng7 instead of Ng3, it just seemed risky to me to put my knight there. Ng7 wasn’t winning anyway. Kd3 was a blunder, though Fritz doesn’t think so. It is actually a draw here anyway. I was getting tired, as we were playing already for 4 hours.

After 65. Na7 I asked TD if it would be a draw if I take the pawn and he said he is not sure. Actually I can blunder my bishop and it would be a win for him, right. So, I didn’t do it. Then after 68 moves I got a bit angry with him continuing to play for a win, said: “OK, let’s play” and took the pawn. Then I told him that I will be giving checks with my bishop. Usually I do not behave like that, it’s just I thought that his behavior was on the boundary of no respect for his opponent. After a few moves I saw that he can’t do anything and calmed down. Then he realized the same and offered a draw. It was midnight already.

 

 

After my last post I got 4 draws ( and 1 loss ). Three draws were against higher rated opponents, but there was not much interesting happening there. The last draw was really entertaining, so I decided to post it. I had to do a lot of driving that day and needed 20 minutes nap to get myself into more or less “playable” state. My opponent was a little boy, same rating, my score with him +1, =1.  I got Black and we played Slav Defense, exchange variation.

The opening was quite boring and taking into account my physical shape that day I was ready for a draw. After I played c5, he unexpectedly moved his queen to c2. I realized that I am in trouble. I looked at different ways to get out of pin, but didn’t like any of them. Rb5 looked suspicious to me and I was afraid that in my shape I will make a mistake in my calculations and eventually will be without a piece. And yes, computer says I would be worse after e4. The only move saving the situation was a5, I didn’t see it. So, I played Nd7. On move 23 I didn’t want to play g6 taking that square from my knight and played h6, which was not a good move. I could play g5 instead. Then he made a mistake by playing g3, the only right move was Nc3 keeping the advantage. I saw d4 and played it. His exd4 was right, computer in some lines lets dxe3 happened and it is not good for White. After another move he offered a draw, which I accepted.

We did a post-mortem and discussed Kf1 with king escaping to the queenside. He said that he considered it risky. I actually thought that it could be not good for me, but in the shootouts most of the games ended up drawn and one game ended up with Black winning, as black queen developed a lot of activity and took all of the queenside pawns, sacrificing black knight at some point.

 

It was a first round of Monday’s tournament. My opponent was a guy I lost to once in the past. We played Ruy Lopez.  The goal of 13… cxd4 and all of my following moves was to avoid usual White’s pressure on the kingside with Nf5, etc.  I recently lost in such a game, so didn’t want to repeat it.

I was surprised by his 18. Bxd4, expecting Nxd4 and felt OK after that. But the real surprise was  25. e5. First I thought that it is a trap, but even without much calculation realized that it is not and took the pawn. He said after  the game that it was intentional. Of course he got some initiative, but I was optimistic. On move 29 Fritz found an amazing winning line starting with 29… g6. White can’t move the knight, because following 30… Nh5 31. Qg4 Bd6 creates Nxg3+ threat and if 32. g3 then Qf2.

Anyway, we exchanged queens later and then his 40. a4 somehow unbalanced me. I made a strange 41… Nxa4 instead of a5 and then I am not sure I even saw Bxc8 threat when I played 43. … Nc3, because usually I do not reply to threatening my piece by counter-threat. I saw Rd3 right after I made a move, luckily the same thing as in today’s game 6 of the World Championship  happened and he quickly played 44. Rd7.

Suddenly I found myself defending, trying to relocate my not well placed pieces. I made another mistake playing 51… f5, though not so crucial. I was having a very little time left, reaching 10 seconds at one moment and playing on increment. Then he allowed me to activate my pieces. In the end I could move my king to the center, but got a feeling that it is dangerous taking into account his active king, rook and bishop. So we went for a three-fold repetition and agreed to a draw.

I decided to post these two games together because they were played against the same opponent, though were very different.

Game 1. It was played in the last round of the tournament where I was +2, -3 against lower ( in average ) rated opponents. Interesting that my opponent beat me a few times in 2-3 minute blitz a few rounds before while we waited for the start.

I got Black and he played Torre attack. I was alright until his 14. Rf3, when I didn’t like his attack on the kingside and started to play weird. First I got that idea about exchanging on d2 and then played Ne4 to neutralize his bishop. Then after 17. Rg3  I saw that he can play Bh6 and didn’t realize that I can simply move out my rook. Then I played  18… Nxe5 not even seeing that I will have to give up the queen. I don’t know was it fatigue or a case of chess blindness.

I didn’t want to resign due to the tournament circumstances I described above and decided to organize some kind of attack on the kingside. He simply could play 26. exf4 and after exchanging rooks I had nothing. His next moves weren’t very good defense and suddenly I started to feel that I have a chance. Still it would be equal if he would play 33. h3. Instead he made a decisive mistake with 33. Qh3. He was really under a time pressure at this moment having 10-20 seconds left and playing on 10 seconds increment. After he gave up his queen my win was a matter of technique.

After the game he couldn’t believe he lost and pointed to a exf4 possibility. I could only smile, as I couldn’t believe myself I won.

Game 2.  This game was a first round. I got White and our game quickly transposed into Caro-Kann,  Gurgenidze variation. It was all about positional maneuvering where I tried to keep my two bishops.

33. Qxc4 was ending up with a perpetual, maybe he saw it  as more dangerous that’s why he played bxc4. He offered a draw soon after that, I refused on the base that he had less time and is 200 lower rated. I am not sure that  I wrote down the moves from 36 to 39 correctly, but the position on move 40 is right. On move 45 I already had a bit less time ( both about a minute ) and actually went for a 3-fold repetition. But he played Kg6 ( after the game he told me that he didn’t want repetition ) and it was a decisive mistake. 45… Ke6 would allow him to take on d5 with a king and it would be a draw. I thought that queens exchange given the pawn structure shouldn’t be bad for me and went for it. Then suddenly I realized that I can create a remote passed pawn and it’s a win.

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