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.

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.

 

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