It was a new opponent and I got Black. I chose Semi-Slav, the opening went well and I was comfortable with the placing of my pieces. I lost that feeling after 15. h3, seeing f4, f5 threat. I thought that I don’t want to think about it all the time and played Bf5. Computer suggests 15… Nc4, I considered it, but didn’t like spoiling my pawn structure. But after 16… Bd3 White is -1.22. Still I knew that I have good chances on the kingside.

On move 21 I missed d4! and then 22. exd4 Nf3+! winning exchange, because it’s mate after 23. Bxf3 Qxe1 24. Rxe1. Then I saw a rook sacrifice and after some checking went for it. Then I saw another strike – 27. d4.  I considered 28… Nh4+, computer prefers it, but played Nxg3.

Computer found another combination – 30. c2 with a win, I didn’t see it. Then I made a mistake playing 31… Ne4. Still I was better and his 34. Rdxf7 was a crucial mistake. He couldn’t take with the other rook, it was losing, but 34. Bc1 was keeping him alive, at least for some time. I saw 34… Bf6 right away. After move 36 I knew that the game was over, it became technical.

 

These games were played last Thursday and Monday, in rounds 4 of the respective tournaments. In both cases I had White and my opponents played Sicilian Defense. I didn’t find the right plan and made some tactical mistakes in both games.

Thursday’s game – my opponent was an old former master, I had +1, -1 score with him before. We played Sicilian, Moscow variation, I chose a quiet line. Then it was a positional play until we reached move 23. After his Qc6 I saw that I can win a pawn on a5, but thought that after rooks exchange he will catch my knight – 24. Rxa5 Rxa5 25. Nxa5 Qa4, but didn’t see 26. Qa7. If you would look at the end of the game you would realize how crucial this pawn was. I played 24. Raa1 and after a4 he intercepted the initiative. Then instead of 27. Ra2 I played Qd4. The idea was close – to do something against the “a” pawn, but what was needed was blocking. Then on move 29 I missed it again and quickly got really worse. His attack developed and soon I lost.

Monday’s game – my opponent was a Russian speaking boy, who grew from a “B” class player to a master on my eyes, my score with him in the last 4 years  was 2.5:4.5 (with a positive score in a few years before that). He played Sicilian Defense, I chose Rossolimo variation.  It went wrong almost from the beginning, when I decided to develop my bishop to b2. Then it was a very bad idea to take on f4. As soon as I played it I realized that when I will move my knight after 17… exf4 he can play f3 with really serious consequences for me. But he probably didn’t see it and played Rxf4. It was difficult to find the right moves and I was getting worse and worse. On move 28 I decided to sacrifice a pawn, but it didn’t give me any relief. In the endgame his queen was very strong and it decided the game.

 

This game was played 2.5 weeks ago, on Thursday. my opponent was a teenager boy,  I had 2 draws with him with Black. This time I had White and he played Sicilian, d6. I chose my favorite Moscow variation, Maroczy bind.

Two things were unusual for this line – I put my knight on c3 only on move 22 and he counterattacked on the kingside without castle. I did not believe his attack was sound, but decided to be careful. After all the smoke disappeared, he found himself in a worse position.

I thought that his queens exchange was a mistake, but 22… exd4 was not better. He got a couple of weak pawns that was difficult to defend. He also had less time, like 7 minutes to my 15-20. His 26… Ke6 was a mistake and 27… Ke7 lost the game.

It was a round 1 of the Mondays tournament. My opponent was a girl rated 1475. I had White and we played Ruy Lopez. We got a position with a closed center. I missed 22. e5 dxe5 23. Bf5 winning an exchange.

I tried to develop an attack on the kingside, she was maneuvering pretty well. Somehow I lost the initiative and could get worse after 32… g5. I soon got annoyed with all that and decided to sacrifice a pawn in the center. Actually I had to play 36. d6 after her 35… dxe5 that was a mistake and I would be much better.

Anyway the position became dynamical and not easy to play, that was my intention. 45… Qd8 was not the best move, better Qa7. Then she made a decisive mistake playing 44… Kg7. I saw the possibility to promote with check and played it. Being almost a rook down, she blundered and resigned.

 

I played two games this week after a long break, Caro-Kann defense with different colors.

In the first game I had Black. It was an Advance Variation, computer recommends playing 12… Rc8 and 13… h5. Anyway I was OK until I played 15… Nh6 instead of Nh4. After 19. Nf4 I had to give up an exchange due to Ng6# or Nxe6 threats. Instead of 20… Na5 I had to take on b2, then Rdb1 leaves d4 pawn without defense and Rab1 is not good either, so 21. Qd3 is the best.

His 29. Qb1 was a blunder, it was strange because he had a lot of time. Computer says 34… Qg5 was a mistake and recommends 34… Rd3 with ~-3 evaluation. 37. Rf2 was another blunder, he could play Rd1. But then I made a mistake that decided the game. I hesitated to take on g4, after 38… Rxg4 39. Kh3 Rxg3+ Black is ~-4. After he played Rcf1 the position became equal, but I lost the initiative and was in time trouble. So no wonder I played 39. Bc5? instead of equalizing Rd2. After 40. Rf8 it became really bad, 40… Qxf8 was also losing, I evaluated that right. 41. Qb7 was played with 6 seconds on the clock.

In the second game my opponent was a young man, I played him 3 months ago and drew with White in Caro-Kann, he played Caro-Kann again. His 28… Rh6 was a mistake, after 28… Nxh5 it was equal. The same thing a move later, 29… Nxh5 was a huge mistake, I calculated right that g2 and g3 pawns will defend my king against the queen on h5.

But by move 32 I had only about 5 minutes left and made an error playing 32. Rxe6, instead Qa4 with 33. cxb7 after 32… Kb8 or 32… a6 was winning. Then I had to play 33. cxb7+ Qxb7 34. Qd3 covering b1 square. 34. Qf6 or 35. Qf6 was leaving me with some advantage. Instead I allowed a rook check on d1 and then even 36. Kf2, which was not risky as I thought seeing Qb6+, lead to an equal position anyway.

Still he made another mistake, taking on b6 with a pawn. There was a 41. g4 pawn sacrifice that was winning, but with less than a minute left, playing on 15 seconds increment, I didn’t see that. Then it was a pawn race and soon after we got into a queen endgame he offered a draw which I accepted. The final position was equal.

It was a round four in the Thursday’s club, I had Black and played Queen’s Indian Accelerated again. My opponent was a boy, never played him before.

The first interest moment came when he suddenly played 19. Ne6. I looked at it and realized that accepting it would be bad after 19… fxe6 20. Qe7 Rf7, so decided to decline it, but spend some time thinking about the right reply. I considered 19… Ne4, but didn’t see any advantage in 20. Nxd8 Nxd3 21. Qd2 missing that after 21… Rxd8 22. Qxc3 Qc6 White has to play 23. e4 because 23. Qb2 or 23. Qc2 is met with b5. Another line 19… Ne4 20. Rd3 Rxd3 21. Qxd3 Qe7 22. Bd5 Nf6 23. Bxb7 Qxb7 24. Ng5 is -0.80.

Instead I played 19… Rd6 and in a few moves got some pressure on “d” vertical. But after 24… f6 Black’s position also became vulnerable due to the weakness of a2-g8 diagonal. My 32… d3 sacrifice was not necessary, instead Qd8 was keeping the pressure and defending the kingside at the same time.

After 35 moves I had about 3 minutes left. I saw that Rxh6 was possible and wanted to defend, but didn’t have enough time to calculate properly and played Rd7. It was a mistake, 37. Rxh6 gxh6 38. Qg6+ Kh8 39. Qe8+ Kg7 40. Qxd7+ Kf8 41. Qd8+ Kg7 42. Bc4 was winning.

Luckily for me he didn’t see it. I stopped writing the moves at that moment, remember playing Qf8 on the next move, so Rxh6 was not possible anymore. Then I created again a pressure on e4, he made a mistake and was forced to give up his “b” pawn.

In the end we had the following position, where I repeated the moves.

This position is equal after Bg2.

It is not about the money, it’s about one move in a second round game in the Thursday’s club.  My opponent was a boy, I drew him with White 7 months ago in the same opening, Sicilian, Moscow variation.

I had some pressure after the opening and after exchanges on e5 thought I can get an attack on the kingside. A crucial moment came after his 28… Re8.  I played an obvious 29. Rg5+ and after Kh8 suddenly realized that it is me who is now under pressure. Instead of 29. Rg5 I had to play 29. Ref1, then to 29… Re6 I could reply Rf7 and have about +1 advantage.

So, I had to make a few balancing moves and after he forced queens exchange I accepted his draw offer.