May 2010

Strange, but I kind of disliked Four Knights game,  never played it as White, not often got it as Black, never studied it.
Preparing for the yesterday’s game I found that one of my possible opponents plays it, so I looked a bit into it  and decided to encounter his 4.g3 with 4…d5.
It proved useful, since though I got another opponent he still played Four Knights game, the same variation 4. g3, here is the game.
It seems me that he wasn’t very familiar with my 2nd choice 4…d5, because his continuation 6. Nxd5 had only 20% score for White on  Maybe because of being unfamiliar with this opening I decided to change queens,  it left his king without castle,  not bad actually – two losses for White in DB.
Soon he decided to sacrifice a pawn (if it was a sac, I don’t know). I took the pawn, trying to play safe at the same time.
Then I had a feeling that I am under some pressure, though Fritz says that I was better.  I’ll trust him on that.
My weak move 18…f6 was made from positional point of view – planning g5, but Bf5 by Fritz was much better, it’s me who has pressure here. The same happened with 22…a5,  it was intended against b4 (after Be3, c5), but I missed that I lose this pawn after 23.  Be3 c5 24.  Bf4+ Ka7 25.  Bc7.  He didn’t take a pawn and tried to pursue my rook, forcing it eventually to h6. I expected him to play 31. Bf5 and planned to sacrifice a pawn on h7 to activate my rook after 31…Rf6 32.  Bxh7 Rf3+, exactly as Fritz suggests.
Suddenly he played 31. Bd5 and I saw the pin almost right away. After  I played Rd6 he resigned. He had 20 minutes left vs. my 30 at that moment.
We had a nice post-mortem, when I tried to prove him that he had a good draw chances  ( maybe I did it because of his blunder),  he wasn’t sure about that. I told him that I would take the pawn on a5, Fritz by the way supports it. Generally speaking I found this position wit R+2B vs. R+2B pretty interesting despite of apparent simplicity.
Funny that my guy recently played another Four Knights game, where his 1800+ opponent played 4…Bc5 (1st choice) instead of 4…d5. He won on 18th move due to opponent missing queen fork and losing a piece.
Finally, after having =2, -3 score against Scandinavian I beat it, here is the game.
It was a nice, middle-aged guy, rated 200 lower.  It was maybe the first time when my preparation for the round paid off.  He was one of the possible opponents and I saw that he played Scandinavian a few times, including  gambit variation 2…c6.  I wasn’t familiar with it, looked up a few moves ( it’s called Blackburne-Kloosterboer gambit), so when he played it at least I knew that I should play 5. Bb5 if 4…e5.  Then I had a choice between d3 or d4 and decided to play active, otherwise that white-colored c8 bishop could be really nasty. After 13 moves we already had 2R+B vs. 2R+B. I think his 15… Bh5 was a mistake, the bishop was passive for quite some time.
My position definitely was better and I was a pawn up. He started to think more and more after my rooks created a pressure in the center and on the queenside.  Finally he got into a huge time trouble, having just a few minutes vs. my ~40 minutes. I won another pawn,  his flag was in 9 o’clock position and frankly I expected him to resign or lose on time.  Funny, that until that moment he played like he had the same half an hour as me, even wrote the moves.
Then he started to play faster with the same quiet face and it looked like his flag didn’t move at all.  I hate these old clocks.  Eventually it kind of rattled me and he managed to exchange rooks threatening mate.  It was his only chance, endgame with opposite-colored bishops, but in this case it didn’t help. I had a winning position when he lost on time.
Interesting that Fritz found a couple of moments in that endgame when he thought that I missed my advantage, evaluating the position as just ~0.5.
But I didn’t trust it and ran shootouts. Funny that Crafty with White won, but Fritz couldn’t. Then I put Rybka 2.2n2 vs. Crafty and you know what – they both won,  end of story. But there was a moment earlier, when if I would force a rook exchange with 30.Rd5 there was a draw. Of course I would never do that.
On Thursday I played in the 1st round of the new tournament.
I was Black, my opponent was middle-aged guy, 1600+ rated.
I played Benko, for the 4th time and it was my best game with it,  here it is.
On the 7th move he went for the wrong line and lost a pawn in 2 moves.
The position didn’t look quite like typical Benko with my “f7”, “f6” pawns and bishop on e7 unless he exchanged his dark-colored bishop to my centralized knight. My dark-colored bishop went to h8-a1 diagonal and I initiated pressure on his weak “a” pawn. Eventually he couldn’t defend that pawn, so tried to get some chances on “b” line. I defended and then got decisive counterplay with the two pawn breakthroughs in the center, and my rook attacking on “a” line. He was also in time trouble having about 5 minutes left, I had about 20. Then  I saw the line winning the rook with a mate following in a few moves.  When he was about to lose a rook he resigned, funny that there actually was a mate in 1 that I overlooked quickly following that line. He had a bit more than 1 minute, I had ~15.