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.