It was a last game of my regular tourney in the local club.  For the first time in OTB game I got French with White. Good, that’s  what I am trying to learn the last half year. My opponent was rated ~250 lower than me,  I learned that after the game as well as the fact that he overperformed and recently shared the first place in the big tournament  in U1600 category.  It took more than 30 moves and long maneuvering unless he finally opened up, that explains the title. The result was my best ever combination.  Here is the game:

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Bd3 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ne2 Qg5 – not a book move and by my opinion not a good one.

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8. O-O
Qh4 9. Nf3 Qd8 10. Be3 c4 11. Bc2 Nb6 12. Qd2 h6 13. Ng3 Be7 14. Nh5 Bf8

8. O-O Qh4 9. Nf3 Qd8 10. Be3 c4 11. Bc2 Nb6 12. Qd2 h6 13. Ng3 Be7 14. Nh5 Bf8 – White is ahead in development, but the position is closed – Crafty’s estimate  – 0.90.

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15. h3 Nd7 16. Nh2 g6 17. Ng3 b6 18. Ng4 h5 19. Nh2 Bb7 20. f4 –  ( Crafty likes  20. Bg5 Be7 21. Nf3 Bxg5 22. Nxg5 h4 23. Ne2 Qe7 24. Rad1 Rh5 25. Nf3 O-O-O with 0.81 estimate ), here – 0.08

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20. … Qh4 21. Rf3 Qe7 22. b4 Bg7 23. a4 Nd8 24. Rff1 a6 25. Nf3 Nf8 26. Ne2 Nh7 27. Bf2 O-O 28. Bh4 – trying to penetrate deep  defense ( Crafty likes it too, estimate – 0.83)

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28. … Qd7 29. Ng5 Qe8 30. Nxh7 Kxh7 31. Ng3 Kg8 32. Qe2 f5 – beginning of the end, Crafty doesn’t like it at all

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33. exf6 Bxf6 34. Bxf6 Rxf6 35. f5!

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35. … h4 – I didn’t like Nh1, so I started to think and soon saw fxg3.  I looked and looked and  almost gave up to find a forced win. But it was impossible to pass on this nice knight sacrifice, so it made me to find the decisive quiet  move . I spent 16-18 minutes calculating it all and then:

36. fxg6!! – forgive me if I am too generous, it’s actually the first time in my life I put 2 exclamation marks to my own move

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36. … Rxf1+ 37. Rxf1 hxg3 38. Qh5 Qe7

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39. g7! – this is a move I had to see before playing 36. fxg6. I also found here that I can play 39. Rf7 Qxf7 40. gxf7+ Nxf7, but it’s just material,  there was something better – 39. … Qxg7 40. Qe8+ – Black resigned – 41.  … Qf8 42. Qxf8#

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Funny, that Crafty as usual spoiled a bit my euphoria,  noticing that  there was a mate in 2 earlier. Instead of 39. g7 – 39. Rf8+ Kxf8 40. Qh8# . So,  I could also sacrifice  a rook, almost  “evergreen”  :).

Anyway, I was happy with this win giving me the first place, best ever result in any tournament  – 4 out of 5  (3 wins, 1 draw, 1 bye) and performance rating about 1800, which hopefully should bring my rating to ~1750.

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