January 2011

I definitely wasn’t lucky on that evening. First, after hanging out in the club and talking to the people for 35 minutes I found that for some mysterious reason I got a bye. So I complained, pairings were changed and I got an opponent that I beat a couple of times quite some time ago. OK, I wait, he is not coming, then see his brother.  I realize that the guy won’t come, otherwise he would be already here. This time TD notices lonely me himself, another scramble, then after some time I get an opponent from 2000+ section, actually he is just above 1900. It’s a boy, I had 2 draws with him, one recently.

I am White, Petroff again, here is the game.  We go along the same variation, then he deviates, I don’t like his Bd7. He plays c5 again and I follow the previous game, where I had an isolani. Fritz says that here the best was d5, I agree now. I see that he can play  Bg4 after 16th and 17th move and get me into trouble, he misses it. Then he offers queen exchange, I proceed, since it looks good and then play Ne5 to get rid of my isolated pawn, which is under pressure. After my passive h3  I see that I can’t defend a2 pawn after Be6 with Re2 as planned because of Bd4.  Fritz says it’s even worse than I thought and I could lose a piece after Ra3.  I decide to activate my pieces and get an idea of exchanging my light-colored bishop to his dark-colored foreseeing a possible rooks exchange. He advances his pawns and suddenly plays 36… Rc2. I think he made a mistake, quickly exchange rooks, take the pawn and then see Bd5. As Russian expression says – it’s like “thunder in the clear sky”. I see all my pawns go down, make “just move” Kd3 and then find Fritz’s idea – Bf2 with h4, decreasing the number of pawns on the board.

He has an essential time advantage, about 22-24  minutes vs my 11-12. I take b4 pawn and hope to get back with my king on time. I have a bit more than 5 minutes left when I make a crucial mistake – Bf1 instead of Bf2. It is one of my most horrible (though innocently looking) endgame mistakes. He wins a bishop for the “h” pawn and it ends the game.

I played yesterday, my opponent was a middle-aged guy.  I thought his rating was 1300+ – 1400+. It reflected on my play, I played very fast (at least 2 times faster than usual) and felt really strong. He had White and played Scotch game, here it is. I am =1,-1 with it and after the last loss I decided to play 4… Nf6 instead of Bc5. I did’t play the best book moves, but after 8. Be2 Ba6 there is only one game in DB between two “C” class guys and Black won.:) The guy with Black used the same idea as me – Bb4+ after b3, counting on Bd2 and bishops exchange and leaving White with weak black squares. My guy played worse – Nd2 and lost a pawn after a bishop fork.

Little I knew that Fritz will find 12. c5 here and I am without a piece for two pawns. As I said for some reason I played fast and felt confident, too confident. I didn’t try to avoid exchanges, believing that in the endgame a spare central pawn should give me an advantage. I played 23… Kf7 preventing his intervention on “e” line, but didn’t see Qc2 winning my h7 pawn. Fritz found that there is nothing to be afraid of. I think Kf7 was generally bad, as soon there was another opportunity for him after 27…Nd7 – Qh5+. Nevertheless he didn’t see it. My 29… c4 had multiple purposes, one of them was to provoke f4. I saw that Ng6 was safe, but preferred more active Nd3. Then I saw that if after Qh5+ he tries to win d5 pawn he has a choice of getting into the bad endgame after Qxd5, trading queens and cxb3, or looking better Nxd5 which actually loses the game after 32… Qc5+ 33. Kh1 Nf2+ 34.Kg1 Nh3++ 35. Kh1 Qg1#.

I left the table not wanting to show any emotions. When I returned, I saw that he played Nxd5. After Qc5+ he didn’t see the mate.

I played yesterday in the old club with the young guy from the new one. I knew that his rating is about 1650. I got White for the second time, he played Modern Defense, here is the game. I have to say that I my  score against Pirc  is  -2 and this is somewhat similar, so definitely something I don’t like to deal with. Nevertheless he developed very slowly and I missed a Bxf7 sacrifice on the fifth move, that would for sure lead to a completely different result. After the game he said that he noticed it, I didn’t see it. I had a difficulty to find an active plan and soon my play was defined by reacting to his f5 attack. Fritz says I was actually OK and could even get better position. I tried to defend and consolidate my position. When he castled queenside  and then thought a lot after 23. Ne2, having as a result just 30 minutes left vs my 45, I decided that his attack is gone and now is my turn.

That was a big mistake, not the plan, but the relaxation. I blundered his Nh4+ (Fritz says Nxf3 was even stronger). It was like I lost a critical screw in my construction and it started to fall apart. I didn’t realize I had to give up an exchange, then after 27. Nxd2 saw that he can capture both my knights and follow with fxg3, hxg3, Qh3+, … going into endgame with 2 spare pawns. I tried to prevent it, miscalculated and blundered again with Nxd4 . I lost a piece, his attack became pretty straightforward. I had just a bit more than 5 minutes when I made a final mistake, letting him to create a mate threat.

I was very, very upset after the game. I really don’t know why I played so badly, again I see just one moment when after a long defense I thought that I am going to intercept the initiative and relaxed.

I played yesterday in the new club and my 9-game non-losing streak (+5, =4) ended. My opponent was an “A” class guy with whom I played at the Labour Day tournament in 2009 and drew. This time I also had White and we played the same Fantasy variation of Caro-Kann, here is the game. He deviated on move 4 and played a novelty – a6. I understood the sense of it when I saw 6… c5. It reminded me French Tarrasch, Open variation and I decided to follow it. I just waited for the right moment to create an isolani for him, though a couple of times he could avoid it. I actually liked my position, but then I think I got a wrong idea with 23. Ne6, at least Fritz prefers 23. b4 and now I tend to agree.  Anyway, his d4 followed and it complicated things. Fritz still thinks I could even get better after 26. Rc1. I saw, of course, his Nd4, decided to sacrifice an exchange, even saw him returning the exchange with 29… Rxd5, but then made a fatal mistake playing right away cxd5. I thought that after Rc1+ my king can escape through g2 to h3, but…  My intuition  had to tell me that it’s bad to have his rook on the first line and his queen ready to join. I won so many games in blitz thanks to such penetration…

I just had to stop after Rxd5 and think a bit. The thing is that Re8+ wasn’t possible before, I was looking at this possibility all the time, but it became possible now, after one rook left the 8th line. After rooks exchange there is nothing dangerous for me anymore and the game would end in a draw. Just one intermediate check.

After 32… Rh1 I realized that I have to exchange the queens to avoid his threats and saw that it would cost me 2 pawns. Fritz says that I didn’t have to exchange queens, but still gives me -2.24. After getting into the bad rook endgame I was upset and also had less than 15 minutes left.  It probably explains my moves, not the best ones. I lost soon another pawn and resigned.

OK, nothing lasts forever and I definitely can learn something from this game.

This time I came too early into the new club. So I went to the store, then it was lecture for about 45 minutes that’s probably why I felt tired when the game started. My opponent was 1800+, from the old club, never played with him. Here is the game.

I had Black, we played some Queen’s pawn line, I played fast for some reason and pretty early I got under pressure. After 17. … Rb8 I suddenly noticed that besides the standard combination 18. Nxd5 Qxd2 19. Ne7+ giving nothing to White  which I checked a few times before, there is also Nf6+ that looks pretty bad for Black. I tried to keep a poker face and he didn’t see it. Fritz says I was simply losing the game after 18. Nxd5. It didn’t get much easier, I was under attack. I saw 22. e6 coming and thought that the game will be probably lost. Strange, but he missed this and other possibilities too and did a regrouping.

Then he made a crucial mistake from my point of view by playing 32. g5 (though Fritz only rates it as -1). I got the initiative and started to play well. I didn’t take right away the exchange he offered, because I saw that it will leave him with 2 bishops, my threats will evaporate, and I wanted to attack, not grind. After Qa3 I saw that Rxb2+ wins on the spot, Fritz later said that there was even a mate in the end. As Russian expression says: “Everything is good that ends good”.

I played yesterday in the old club. I got there about 10 minutes late instead of 30-40 minutes early because of the bad traffic caused by the snow, but they didn’t start yet, I wasn’t alone.  I got White, my opponent was 1700+ rated guy, to whom I lost about 8 months ago (had a win before). Here is the game. We started 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 and after his second move  2… f6 I almost shook my head. I even thought that it could be some home preparation, but I knew that even in the best line 3. Nxe5 Qe7 White is better, so I quickly played 3. Nxe5. His reply showed that it wasn’t preparation and it really surprised me, how it is possible for the class “B” player not to know this opening.

I get it online quite often and it’s actually openings basics.  Anyway, with a good feeling I continued trying to play accurately, still missing mate in 10, then in 4.  Anyway, he was under strong attack, I got his king into the middle of the board, having at the same time 3 spare pawns and then he played into my hands with Kc4, allowing mate. Funny that when he played 20… Kd3 I saw a mate after 21. Rd1+ Kc2 22. Rd2+ Kc1 23. O-O#, but didn’t see that 21. O-O-O+ mates faster.