It was a last round of the club championship and the result was very important. I got an opponent rated ~1200, but he played really well in this tournament, losing only to expert and master and winning 4 games including beating ~1650 and ~1750 rated. I have to admit that it made me a bit nervous. I got White and we played French Tarrasch with 3… c5.

I knew that I had to play 6. Bb5, but didn’t know how to react to 6… Qb6 (Qe2+ is a good reply), so played 6. dxc5.  I had a feeling that I did’t get any advantage in the opening. I spent some time after his 11…Ng6 thinking what if he plays f5, but then found Bd3. After his 20… h6 I saw 21. Ne6+, but realized that he doesn’t have to take the knight. Then after exchanges the position simplified. I allowed exchange on e3 and intentionally played fxe3 to keep the position not too symmetrical. Right after that I created a passed “e” pawn thinking that it can give me some practical chances. According to Fritz the position was equal.

After 37. Qc7 a critical position occurred. The only line that was OK for Black was 37… Qe1+ 38. Kh2 f6, but it looks like not easy to find. He instead made a brutal mistake playing Qb5. I probably wouldn’t play it just from the positional point of view, trying to keep diagonal “h2-b8″ under control. The funny thing is I didn’t see the winning line right away and played Qd8+, then realizing it doesn’t give me anything moved back to c7. He gave me a second chance and suddenly I saw a threat – d6 and Qc8+. His best reply could be 40… Qc6, still  losing after 41. Qe7+ Kg8 42. Qd8+ Kh7 43. Qc7 and “e” pawn queens.

He played 40. Qe5 and resigned after Qc8+. I finished with the result 5.5/8 (+5,-2,=1), best in 6 year that I participated in the club championships.

 

 

After I waited for my opponent for about 15 minutes I asked TD if he is going to come. He said: “Yeah, he always comes, but he comes late, maybe to intimidate a bit”. I said: “But he is not Fisher” and calmed down. He came soon and we started to play. Last time we played he moved really fast and it kind of affected me. This time in the opening I played faster. He played e4 and I decided to rely again on my favorite Ruy Lopez. He exchanged on c6 and I played my pet Bronstein variation – 5… Qd6, I won a couple of games in it in the past. I saw that his development was slow and tried to get ahead. Computer thinks that after 14… g4 I had +1 advantage.

Then I got an idea to win his pawn by taking his knight on c4. Fritz thinks that it was better to play gxh2+ and h3. Suddenly I saw that after 19… Qxc4 he can play Rb4 with attack on “b” file and I didn’t like it. So I changed my mind and played c5. But I could hold the position – 19… Qxc4 20. Rb4 Qc5 21. Rab1 b6.

I lost the initiative at that moment and his attack started to develop. I overestimated the strength of it and thought that the only way to change the flow of events is to sacrifice exchange on f3. Interesting that Fritz considers it completely sound and giving +1 advantage to Black. I had to do it on move 30, but didn’t, luckily he didn’t take on h4. Fritz considers his Kg2 a big mistake, which I didn’t use playing Nf6 instead of Nf8 with idea of Ne6 and Nf4+. Nf8 doesn’t allow his queen to get on g5. Anyway, after he played f4 I saw that he planned to play e5 after exf4, but missed my check on c6. 35. Qf1 and 36. Rab2 were bad moves, he couldn’t decide what to do – defend or attack.

After winning a rook I was a piece up and the only problem was the time, it went down to two minutes and I played on 30 seconds increment. Fortunately it was simple enough position to win.

I tried to guess my opponent and prepared myself for Sicilian Paulsen.  I lost in it to him 3 years ago and wanted to get a revenge. My guess was right and the game went as planned. According to the book 5…Qc7 wasn’t a good move and I could get advantage by playing 7. Qe2 instead of c3.

It seemed to me that I had an initiative, but computer thinks he was OK until he played 20… f5. Even 21… Rf6 was not saving him, since I could play 22. Bxf5 and if Rxf5 then 23. Nxe7 Qxe7 24. Qxf5.

Then he didn’t play the best moves, though his position was lost anyway. When he played 29… Qd6, I already knew what will happen.

I tried to predict my opponent and I decided before the game that I do not want to let him play his Scotch gambit, in which he two times got an opening advantage and eventually won. Petroff defense looked like a good alternative. It was exactly what happened.

I played all the right moves in the opening, though spent quite some time. I think 22… f5 was a first mistake, then 24… dxc4. I didn’t like 24… Nc7 because of 25. c5 and my bishop is hanging on e7. But bishop just could go to d8 then and it is alright. Opening of the position was better for him with constant threat of d5 and pressing on my weak pawns on the kingside.

I played 42… Rxd4 having already less than 5 minutes, it was a bad move. Fritz recommends f5 and thinks I could hold this position. He later played g4 and created “f” passed pawn. This pawn became very dangerous, I was playing on increment having only 10-15 seconds and finally lost on time.

 

I came to this round without big expectations, knowing that I will get somebody from the very top. I got a master who didn’t play officially for 16 years. Still he beat 1760 and 1830 rated guys.

I got White and in the sharp line of Sicilian, Moscow variation – 3… Nd7 played a quiet line 4. O-O a6  5. Be2. Then there was some maneuvering with exchanges. Fritz didn’t like my 23. Rc1, not that I liked that much myself.

After he played 27… e5, I felt a relief, he closed an important diagonal. I ignored his kingside pawn movements, then saw that I have “f5″ square. When I put my knight on f5, I thought I got an advantage, but then realized that I can’t break through. I started to repeat the moves, we both didn’t have much time left. On move 42 there was a 3-fold repetition, but I didn’t see it.

I thought that he will agree to a draw soon, but he decided otherwise and played 43… Qd7 and 44… Ne6. It was still a draw after 45. Qa6 Qd2, but he made a decisive mistake playing 45… Kg6. I played 46. Qxa5, he took his queen, then left it, thought for some time and took his knight. I told him that he touched his queen and has to move it. He looked a bit surprised, then played Qd2. It looked to me like him going into a bad endgame, but even Fritz has nothing better, so it was lost before, after Kg6.

When my remaining time dropped below 5 minutes I stopped to write the moves, we have a rule allowing it. I was sure I will win this endgame even having that much time, the win was just a matter of technique. I remember that eventually I had “b”, “f” and “h” passed pawns, he had none.

My opponent in the first round was a boy, never played with him before. I had White and played Ruy Lopez.  I managed to get a very good position, but missed 17. Nd5! Then  I didn’t see that 18. Qg3 was winning. Instead of that I, being afraid that he will escape with O-O-O, played 18. d6?? which would work for 18… exd6, but not for Qxd6. I realized right away that I lost all my advantage and probably being under influence of that played a few more bad moves. I could be in trouble after 21… Qd4+, but he didn’t play it.

He offered a draw a few moves after queens exchange, I refused. I didn’t like his Kd8 and tried to outmaneuver him. It worked, I won a pawn. Then after 47. h5 I started to feel that I have a real chance to win.

Fritz thinks that 52. a4 was giving me a much better chance that Rxf6, it creates a position where I have passed “a” and “h” pawns. Anyway, after that he played too passively and my “g” and “h” pawns became a real threat. 55… c4 was too late. In the end my passed pawns were stronger than his rook.

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.

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