It was a 3rd round in the Mondays club. I unexpectedly got a 1281 rated young man. Before we started the game he told me that his last performance rating was 400 higher and his rating before that was about 1100. It made me play more carefully. My shape as I discovered later was not good, I was tired after Sunday’s trip.

I got White, Closed Sicilian. After the opening I started to attack on the kingside, but then didn’t see how I can advance and went for some preventive measures on the queenside.  Computer doesn’t like my 17. Bxc3 preferring Nxc3 with equality. Then I missed d5 and got into somewhat inferior position with -0.75 estimate. I didn’t want to get into a passive defense after 27. Qxc1 Rc8, then Qc7, so decided to sacrifice a pawn and try to counter-attack.

30… Nc5 was a crucial mistake. I saw 31. Nh5 of course, but then thought that after 31… Bxh5 32. Rg1+ Bg6 33. fxg6 Qe7 he is OK. But he is actually not because of 34. g7 Rb8 35. Bg4 and he has to give up his queen. So I played 31. Be2 which was missing the win because of Qe7. But he didn’t see it and made the same mistake again playing Na4. Here I decided to burn the bridges and played Rg1. I was not thinking clearly and thought that his king can escape to h8, still… Suddenly he shook my hand, resigned and said that he had to play Qe7, not Qd6. I accepted of course, but couldn’t undestand why he resigned, thinking he saw ghosts.

On my way home I analyzed the position again and started to think that maybe there was something. At home I saw of course, that escape to h8 doesn’t help – 32… Kh8 33. Nh5 Rg8 33. Rxg8+ and mate next move. The best for him was Ba2, then king could escape to f7. Still after 32… Ba2 33. Nh5+ Kf7 34. Rg7+ Ke8 35. Ra7 Nb6 36. Nf7+ Kd8 37. Rxa5 White is +4 and winning.

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It was a last round in Thursdays club. I had 4/4, was a leader and realized that for the first time I can get a perfect record (all wins, no draws or byes), but calmed down myself thinking that a draw would be OK too. I had a swollen gum just a day before and thought I won’t play. But antibiotic made it’s magic just in 24 hours and I felt good enough to go. My opponent was a girl to whom I painfully lost in the big tournament in February. This time I had White and we played Ruy Lopez.

On move 15 I considered Bf4, then decided to force her to do something with her knight and forgot about Nc4. So my bishop went back and after 17. b3 suddenly she played Nxa3. I realized that main threat was to win my e4 pawn, so 19. d5 was preventing it, though computer prefers e5. After 22. Bxb4 I started to think that it is actually me who has an advantage, it explains the title. My bishops became very active and she blundered a skewer.

30. Bxf6 really made the game easier for me. After 42 moves I had about 5 minutes left, thought that the position remains too complicated and decided to exchange queens. 46… Be5 was a game losing mistake, instead 46… Bb2 was ~-2.5. 47. d7 was using the fact that the rook was overloaded. In a few moves she resigned. Needless to say that I was very happy to get 5/5 as well as revenge.

It was a second round in Mondays club, my opponent was a 1447 rated young man. I got Black and we played Queen’s Pawn game. Computer agrees with my 13… Nbd7, but criticizes 14… Bxc3 (which I didn’t like myself) suggesting 14… Qb6 and if 15. a3 then 15… Rfe8 16. Bd2 Bxc3  17. Qxc3 Nxe4.

He went for a double rooks exchange, computer prefers 19. Ne5. I was glad to find 22. Nc8, it defended against all threats, also it contained a trap. After b6 his bishop was getting caught. He didn’t see it and played 23. Nd3. After 25. Nf4 I thought about moving the bishop, but then decided to play simple. He resigned right after my move.

 

It was a 4th round in the Thursday’s club, my opponent was a boy rated 1596. He had White and played Scotch Gambit. I had it 4 months ago and went along the same line with 5… d6. It is a 3rd book choice, but with good stats.

I was feeling under pressure until move 20, he could play 19. f6 with 0.5 advantage. Then I equalized, then suddenly he played 25. Kf2, it wasn’t a good move. His position started to deteriorate.

I considered 29… Rxe4 and didn’t quite like it, because it would lead just to a rook endgame with me being pawn up. So I found 29… d5. His 32. Rxd5 was a game losing mistake and after 32… Qxf5 he resigned, Computer evaluated this position as -9.

I played in the Rapid Team tournament on Monday. The tournament didn’t go too well with 2/5, but the last round game was interesting.

We castled opposite sides, he attacked on the kingside, me on the queenside. After I opened the “b” vertical, I sacrificed the rook for the knight on b8 and pawn on a6. After a few moves we came to the position on the diagram. I played 1. Ne5 Nxe5 2. Qxe5+ Ke7 3. Qg7+ Kd6. Then I saw the knight sacrifice on e4. So I played 4. Ne4+ dxe4 5. 5. Bb4+ Kd5, then I made a planned move Qe5+. Suddenly he takes my queen with the bishop.

I was in a shock, then played 7. c4+ Kxd4 and suddenly  I saw a mate on d1.

It was a 3rd round in Thursdays club, I almost didn’t go as I had a cough since Monday. But it got better and I didn’t want to miss the game. My opponent was an old man rated 1479, I drew him recently. He played the same Four Nights Defense, a quiet line, as the last time.

He definitely wanted a draw and went for exchanges. His exchange combination 24. Nh4 was actually a mistake, he was getting a piece back of course, but after 27… Qa5 28. Kg1 f6 29. b4 Qxa2 was losing a pawn. After queens exchange I was feeling that I still have some advantage and tried to use it.

After 56 moves the position was still equal. I thought that he made a blunder on move 58, but his 57. bxc5 was already a crucial mistake, instead 57. b5 was keeping it equal. After I won the pawn it became technical.

 

It was a last round, I was playing against the leader having 4/4 (despite of his 1442 rating). I expected him, looked at the game that I won with Back against him, but unexpectedly got White. He played French, I chose Tarrasch closed as usual and after 11 moves was on my own, as Bf4 that I remembered didn’t look alright because of Qxb2. I wanted to prevent e5, but didn’t see how and only after I played 15. Qd2 I saw that I had to provoke, not prevent e5. If let’s say 15. h3 e5 then 16. Rxc6 bxc6 17. dxe5 and I win 2 pieces for a rook. But it was already late, as now it didn’t work.

I was feeling under pressure until 23. h3, but then realized that I am OK and his position has some weaknesses including king cover. His 23… h5 just strengthened that point of view. I saw that I can play Nxh5 with the following queen check, but then I thought that Rf7 prevents it, not seeing the check on e8.  Then I saw 27. Nxg7, but again thought that it is not possible because of 27… Ne4, but White just plays 28. Nxe6 and stays the pawn up.

Instead of 31. Nd4 I could play 31. Qh4 Kg8 32. g5 and Black can’t move the knight because of g6 threat. 31… g6 was a game losing mistake.