This time it was a FIDE Master as I found out when came home. I decided to play Semi-Slav again, though I lost quite a few games with it, just don’t have anything else that could be reliable. This time I think I finally started to feel it and didn’t get into a completely passive position, the price for that was an isolated pawn.

Of course the main line is not 7… h6, but O-O. I didn’t like possible e4, but there is nothing dangerous in it. Until the move 15. Qxb2 we repeated the game played in Russia 16 years ago between two women 2300-2400 rated that ended up in a draw. I equalized after Ne4 and Qf6. Strange that computer doesn’t want to take on e4 – 26. Bx4 dxe4 27. Nxe6 Rxe6 28. Rc8+ Kh7 29. Rc7 and White wins a pawn, leading to a position where White has 4P vs. 2P on the kingside and Black has 2P vs. P on the queenside, evaluating it as only ~0.6 for White.

I kept an equal position between the moves 30 and 50. All shootouts after 50. Ne2 end up in a draw. But then I made a game losing mistake – 50… g5. I tried to defend against Nf4, but it created a weakness on h5 and in some lines a possibility to put the knight on g3.

I forgot that the same defense that allowed me ignore his threat to take on d5 with the knight – 50. Nxd5 Bxd5  51. Kxd5 Kc5 worked also against his threat Nf4. Bishop goes to d5 and then f7 and if Kxe5 then Kc5.

I resisted 14 more moves and lost on time, the game was already over anyway.

It was a first round and I got a master with whom I had =2, -2, all with White. This time again White and French. I knew that on move 6 I had to play Bc4, but didn’t remember how to proceed, so chose 6. Nb3 which is worse.  6… e5 was better than his Nc6, I planned to reply c3 to that, but after 6… e5 7. c3 Nc6 8. cxd4 e4 Black is better.

After exchanges the position became equal, though I thought I was better. He had left 30 minutes vs. my hour when he suddenly offered a draw. I quickly evaluated the position, but after he defended c6 didn’t see anything decisive and agreed.

At home Fritz evaluated it as 0.2, so it was an honest offer and right decision for me.

I knew my opponent a bit, but never played him before. I got White, Ruy Lopez, Deferred Steinitz variation. I remembered about Noah’s Ark Trap and didn’t take on d4 with my queen right away, first playing Bd5. I accumulated some positional by move 30. I criticized after the game his 23… b4, but it is not that bad.

What is a bad is 27… c4, then also 30… Na3 instead of Rc2. Then the crucial mistake is 34… Rcc2 allowing me to me the pawn with two rooks on the board. I ignored his Rxg2 threat seeing that he has nothing there. On move 37 I had a thought to play e7, but then quickly realized that I need to give a check first.

“We all make mistakes, but everyone makes different mistakes” — Ludwig van Beethoven.

It was the same guy I drew with in the last round of the previous tournament. This time I got Black and we played Ruy Lopez. After his 8. h3 instead of usual c3 (I guess he mixed up the order of the moves) I decided to get two bishops. Fritz thinks that after 18… Qc7 I still a bit better, I agree as I kind of felt I have nothing after Nxc1.

I had to take on g3 after his g4, but I didn’t like Qxg3, thinking that he will start to threaten me too. But after Qh6 and Rg6 I was winning his “h” pawn and keeping the attack.  Then I missed 37… Qxh6. I was still better, but I decided that I have to sacrifice a pawn to keep the attack. It was a wrong move.

I was already worse, when I made a mistake that could cost me a game – 45… Rc7. The idea for Black is to play Qf8+, then Qe8, Nf3 and Ng5. The same after 46… Qg6 – Qf8 and Nf3, winning. Luckily he didn’t see it.

Not liking how the game was going I decided to create complications and played 48… a4. It allowed me to intercept the initiative. We both got very little time, eventually under one minute each and played on 30 seconds increment. I think I handled it better and had I thought a winning position. When I played 68… Rb2+ I saw that it is a mate if he plays Ke3 and it was exactly what he did.

It was a first round of a new tournament. I had a long, tiring trip on weekend before, but got some rest at home before the game. My opponent was the same guy I played in the first round of the  previous tournament.

I had White this time and he played Alekhine defense, he did that 4 months ago, I lost then. I went along the standard line this time, though my knowledge didn’t extend beyond the first few moves. Fritz thinks that 12. d5 was better than exd5, for some reason this move didn’t come to my mind. Then I saw the idea of c5, Nxd5, Bc4. He had to play 16… Rd7, after Ng5  I got an advantage. But then his 23. Be6 made probably too strong of an impression on me that his problems are over. Instead of Bxe6 much stronger was fxe5 and eventually I was winning h6 pawn.

But worse than that was my 31. Bxa7 instead of Rf6, which would give me a pawn. In shootouts in half of the games White wins and half is a draw. I could say that at that moment two people who already finished their game were discussing it and distracted me, so I told them about it, but the thing is I didn’t see it at all. It was a crucial moment in the game, as then the quality of my play deteriorated when I got about 15 minutes left and exhaustion finally showed up. I played a “positional” 39. Kf1 move and saw right away that I lose after Rc1+ and Rxc4.

It was a second round, I got a girl, 1800+, I lost to her a couple of months ago losing a pawn, then playing too adventurously. This time I got White again, same Sicilian, Moscow variation line.

I played more cautiously this time, didn’t get much of an advantage after the opening, but liked my position. After 22. e5 I soon realized that I am losing this pawn, but thought that I will have some compensation. I planned 27. cxd4 and played it right away, then after quick thinking played 28. Rxd4 and suddenly I saw that queen can attack rook on a8 and knight on e5 from e4. But it was too late, she noticed it too and played Rc8. It was actually a crucial mistake, because I could play 29. Qg5! Nc4 30. Rh4 winning the game. But I didn’t see it.

Then I realized that though I have better position, I have less time and down a pawn. I gave it a long thought before deciding to go for a perpetual 31. Rd8+ Rxd8 32. Qxd8+ Qg8 33. Qf6+ . So we played 31. Rd8+ Rxd8 32. Qxd8+ Qg8 and suddenly I saw Nf6. It looked like I could win her queen. Of course I decided to go for it. After 34… Nd5 I was in shock realizing that not only I wouldn’t win, but probably would lose. As a result of the shock I didn’t play the better 35. Ne4, leaving knights. By the way I had a bit more than 5 minutes at that time. The pawn endgame was lost and ended up soon.

 

 

It was a second round in the Monday’s club and I got my nemesis – the guy I lost to quite a few times. Is it psychological or his style of play or openings that I didn’t master yet – probably all of it. Unexpectedly I got Black again, so Queen’s Indian.

What I am still missing playing this opening is a clear understanding of the ideas for Black. 5… d5 was not a good move, instead 5… Bb4 6. Nf3 Ne4 7. Qc2 O-O 8. Bd3 f5 9. O-O Bxc3 10. bxc3 d6 was a way to go. Another positional misstep was 8… exd5 instead of 8… Nxd5 9. Nxd5 Bxd5. You should not close the diagonal for the bishop. Then 10… cxd4 gave him ~0.8 advantage,  I had to play 10… Nc6.

Then I missed an opportunity with 12… Nxd4. Of course, I saw 13. Bxh7+ and decided that it was not worth to take the pawn, that it would weaken my kingside. But the position was equal. 12… Rc8 was just bad because of Bf5. He pressured and won the “d” pawn.

Eventually we exchanged most of the pieces and went into  a rook endgame. Suddenly he started to play not that well as before, maybe rook endgame is his weakness. It happened once in the past when I missed a chance to win a rook endgame with one strike. He played 33. a4, I saw the answer before and played Rd4. If he instead of that would play 33. b3 then my idea wouldn’t work.

I put my rook behind his pawn according to Tarrasch and everything was fine until move 45, when his king’s movement towards the “b” pawn got me worried and I made that horrible move Kd7 losing the game. The rest is self-explanatory, he just demonstrated some technique.

When I was driving home, I thought what could I do differently and suddenly realized that I did not have to move the king. If his king would approach the “b” pawn, the rook would give checks and the king had nowhere to hide. This all is because the pawn was advanced to b7. The funny thing is he did not realize that either.

The right way was to advance the pawn only to b6 and then move the king, still it’s a draw in this case.

 

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