February 2011

I was exhausted when I came to club yesterday after a long and eventful day, but having enough time before the game was able to gather myself up. Playing White with a player from the bottom of the section was helpful too. It was Sicilian and I went for my favorite Moscow variation, here is the game. I played pretty fast, he too. Then his d5 slowed me down. First I felt disappointed since I know that it usually leads to equalizing by Black. Then I started to think and found Nf5. I also remembered from one of the past games that a dark-colored bishop can be strong for White, so it helped me to see Bb6. He lost the pawn and didn’t want to exchange the queens.

After 19. Bd4 I felt that I will win and just tried to play accurately. With my queen on the a1-h8 diagonal there was a motif of Nh6+, forcing him to give up the queen. Rc8 was losing a piece by force,  so soon he resigned.

I played yesterday against the guy with whom I had a score 0.5:1.5, both games with White in my favorite Fantasy variation of Caro-Kann. I lost to him recently pretty equal game. So, the fact that I came a bit angry and tense (for non-chess related reason) helped me, I think. He had White, Vienna game, here it is. He went into the same variation (d3, f4) I played in simul against GM Bareev 1.5 year ago. After f4 Bareev played f5,  I got under strong attack on the kingside, couldn’t get counterplay and lost in 20+ moves. So, in this game I decided to take on f4 and just develop. Then I saw a possibility to get 2 bishops with Na5, he played a novelty – 9. exf6, a bad one. Fritz suggests that I could do better with 10… Qxf6, but I saw Bg5 with both pieces under attack and didn’t see that I can just take the bishop and then fork him.

Anyway I was feeling that I have initiative. He started to think a lot. Then after a few moves I got an idea of exchange sacrifice on e3 to get control over the white squares. I saw that I have compensation – I could get one or two pawns back + two bishops, so I did it. Fritz approved it, it was in his lines.

On move 26 he sacrificed the knight on h7. At all times I watched his threats and felt that my defense is good enough, so it was kind of unexpected. I saw his idea of Rxh7 with perpetual, then saw that after Qxd4 I take one of the “perpetual” squares under control. In his place I would resign after 28… Bxh7, having an absolutely hopeless endgame, but he continued to play.

He was also in a huge time trouble, having about 15 minutes vs 45. It was a matter of technique and with a hanging flag he resigned after 42 moves. I felt a great satisfaction with a win, not only getting revenge and breaking a “complex”, but also feeling that I played well, which I couldn’t say often recently.

I played yesterday, it looks like my mojo returns, though slowly and painfully. It was a guy rated 1600, I got White, here is the game. He played Scandinavian and we went into 3… Qd6 variation. After his Bg4 I played the line that I used almost 1.5 year ago at the Labour Day tournament. I got advantage then, but didn’t use it and finally lost. I remembered the  ideas from analysis of that game and decided to use it here. He played fast, but then started to think more, trying to avoid exchange on g6 with getting isolated e6 pawn. I think he thought too much, because eventually he blundered and lost the bishop for the pawn. I played confidently even before that, so you can imagine my mood after. I quickly played  move that I prepared before – 20. Qc4 and then saw Bxe5 right away. OK, I thought, I lost a pawn, I am still better. So, I played O-O-O pretty fast and then after his Bf4+ suddenly realized that I lose a piece. After some shock I decided that if he played without a piece, why can’t I play without 2 pawns?

I got really mad and started to play fast, but seeing the board well, like in blitz when you catch your wave and you go winning 9 out of 10 games. I got initiative on the queenside and I thought at one moment that it worth at least one pawn, maybe both. Fritz later agreed with that. It gave me strength and I continued to attack his king. He got behind on time, though it still was enough.Then as soon as I thought maybe he will play Rb8, he did exactly that. The rest was well-known to me queen sacrifice. He resigned after it.

Of course there was that huge collapse in the middle of the game, when I blundered twice in a row, but I hope it was residual phenomenon. At least, I am fully satisfied with my play in the opening and starting from the move 23.

I played in the old club yesterday, here is the game. No surprises with pairings, one of the opponents that I expected. I am Black,  also as expected – Ruy, closed.  I decided beforehand to play Flohr-Zaitsev, Black plays in this case 9… Bb7 instead of Na5. I prepared it some time ago as an alternative to Marshall attack and played one correspondence game, which ended in a draw. Zaitsev was Karpov’s trainer and Karpov popularized this variation and played it with success for many years.  OK, the guy is 1700 rated, never played with him before. I try to play actively, don’t get an advantage, but kind of like my position. Then I decide  to put pressure with 25… f4 with the idea of following f3. Suddenly he sacrifices a piece on f4. I see right away that he wants to put his queen on g6 creating a battery with the bishop. I think that I can defend with Rf6, so I accept it. Then I don’t like his possible check from b3  and see that I can counter with the sac on d4. Friz says, that simple Ne7 with the same idea of opening diagonal for my bishop, but also defending g6 did the trick.

I have to say that he plays very fast from the beginning and at some moment I have 30 minutes vs his hour. I don’t see his mistake  on move 32 and let his queen go to g3. By move  40 he is lost, but I have about 15 minutes left vs his 30-35. A few more moves, I have 10 minutes left and he makes provocative move Be8. I see that I can’t take the bishop because of the pin, but then for some reason decide to move it on b5, forgetting that after bishop exchange Rf1 can be played. I lose the piece, get completely disoriented and blunder the queen with next move. The game is lost anyway.

Being very, very upset I return home where my old, loyal Fritz calms me down, telling me that I basically played well, had an advantage and could win in one move with Bxg2+ instead of Bb5. The same move was also winning before in the line 32.  …  Kf8 33.  Kh1 Bxg2+. Funny that I was watching Bxg2+ all the time, but in different context – if his queen leaves the first line. I also saw Bxg2, Rxg2, Qf3 in some lines, but his queen was coming to help. But in the this, last variation it leaves his bishop on e8 hanging, so I take it after all heavy pieces are exchanged and I have an endgame K+5p vs K+2P, which I would win of course even blitzing.