December 2010

It was a first round in the new club and I got a “C” class player, young guy. I had White, he played Caro-Kann, here is the game. I went, of course, for Fantasy variation, having +1, =1 with higher rated. His 3rd move was a surprise and my answer Ne2 was played just once, with a draw. Crafty said something  about losing a pawn after 7. Be2, with his pieces attacking pinned knight on c3, but Fritz says that I am better in all the lines. He made a couple of slow moves and I realized that I can attack his pawn on g7. It provoked f6, and I started to think that my position is better. I decided that opening the position a bit won’t hurt and played exd5. After exchanges I missed 12. Bb5+ (instead of Bf4), he pointed at it after the game. He criticized his move Ng6 too, me and Fritz agree, but I don’t like how Fritz plays O-O-O, I would destroy the guy after him castling queenside.

His king got stuck in the center and then after 18… Nge7  I  found Bxe7, winning on the spot. He quickly took it by knight and after my fork shook his head with some expressions about his “quality” of play. The game ended after a few moves, I felt a bit uncomfortable and decided to do a post-mortem to explain a few things to the guy, it was useful for me too as I already mentioned above.

I played yesterday in the old club, unexpectedly my opponent was an old gentleman with whom I had 3 draws before. I had Black, here is the game. After 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 I wanted to play Queen’s Indian, but “automatically” played g6 and realized that the best I could do is to play Benko gambit.  In the first game with this guy  (and first game in this club) we had Benko and it was a draw. This time he accepted the pawn. The game went along the line which I prepared for another opponent, I played quickly spending about 11 minutes on the first 15 moves. I got pressure on the queenside, we exchanged 3 light pieces each.

I was feeling very good in this position. Of course I saw 23… Bxc3 and this Fritz line until 27… Qxf3 with getting pawn back, but I wasn’t sure I like the arising endgame. Looks like it was my only chance to win. Then again on move 26 I didn’t like getting the pawn back because of his exchange on e5, it was my last chance to equalize. And then on move 28 I played pretty quickly Qb7 and saw right away that after Na5, Nc6 I lose an exchange. He didn’t see it, but I was in some kind of shock – how could I miss it, didn’t play well and after 35. a4 realized that I am in a big trouble after 36. b5 with him getting “a” and “b” connected passed pawns and very strong knight on c6. I thought that the best practical chance ( Fritz supported it) was sacrificing an exchange on b4. I expected 37. Qc6, but he played 37. Rc1 and I started to breathe easier seeing that my bishop is strong and supports b4 pawn very well, also his “a” pawn was weak. He saw that too and somewhat unexpectedly gave the exchange back. We had queen and rook each and with his king a bit more open than mine I was having some thoughts.

Then after 43. Qc3 we got to a critical moment of the game. I had 14 minutes left, he 19 and I started to consider counter-attack after Kh6. But then I saw his Rg7 coming and a few lines (not even the worst ones) convinced me that nothing good will happen and I should head for a draw. After 43… Qd4 the guy smiled and said: “Fourth time…”.

After I came home and analyzed the game with Fritz I realized that I overestimated my position and tried to get too much out of it. Equalizing (and possibly drawing) with Black in the gambit with same rated (and nice) guy was definitely not the worst what could happen.

Yeah, that was my feeling after playing in the old club yesterday,  here is the game. I put myself in the box, it was closed and the key thrown out, I prepared for the worst and then … I escaped. OK, everything in order. I was White, got an “A” class player, and he played what I expected – Sicilian d6. So, I play my Moscow variation and he surprises me on move 6 playing e5. We follow theory until move 10.  Though the stats are OK for White, it was probably one of the best lines played against me in this variation.

His f5 doesn’t come unexpected, but I don’t quite like the position. Just to stir things up I play  Nd5, we get some closed pawn structure in the center, then I counterstrike b4, just wanting to open the play because I think his king is not quite safe. But I can’t do anything about it and exchange of both pairs of rooks follows. I think that it will probably end up in a draw, nevertheless none of us offers it. Then I make a couple of bad moves and suddenly find myself in almost zugzwang. I think that he just moves his “a” pawn to a3, and then plays Qb2 and that’s an end of it. And if move my ‘a” pawn I can’t defend it. I see desperate move e5, think that it gives me counterplay – and make it. The thing I don’t see is that his queen gets to b7 after 2 checks, so my queen can’t penetrate.  I play Qe1 and here he makes a mistake taking on d5.  I capture the important pawn, the pawns look blocked and also my queen starts to harass  his king.

Then after a few moves I hear:  Draw?  I don’t quite believe my ears, so trying to sound calm I ask: Draw?  After I hear confirmation I agree. The funny thing is when I came home I ran 6 shootouts between Fritz and Crafty with 11, 13 and 15 ply, they all ended up in a draw. For example after c4, dxc4, Qxc4 – to get a passed pawn, Black can’t avoid perpetual or in some lines White has to give up the material back. Openness of the Black king (here, finally I used it) and active position of the White queen define the outcome. I have to say that even after better 35… Qb5 instead of 35… Qxd5 I still had good practical chances – 4 out of 6 shootouts ended in a draw.