April 2011

It was a last round of the tournament. After winning in the first round I lost 4 in row as a part of -6, =2 streak (in 2 clubs). Then I managed to win 3 in a row there (+5, -1 streak).  My rating was still going to go down, so I wanted to win that one too.
I prepared to play Benko against my opponent, young guy, but he didn’t play d5, so Benoni. Here is the game.
After 8… Qa5 he played 9. Bxf6 because of the threats Qxg5 and Ne4 . I started to feel good getting 2 bishops.
Then his Bf3 took me by surprise, I saw Rc5 coming and my d5 pawn defenseless, but after some thinking found Bf8.  On move 23 I could exchange his b4 pawn to my d5, but for some reason decided not to do it, the position looked unclear to me. Fritz think that I missed an advantage here.
Some maneuvering followed, then I executed f5, f4 plan. It worked very well and I felt that I have an advantage there. I played Rc4 to get a passed pawn and then saw that I can win d4 pawn. I realized that it will be an opposite-colored bishops endgame, but decided to try my luck there, not seeing anything better.
At that moment we had less than 2o minutes left each, time was almost equal during the whole game, with him having a few minutes more. Suddenly he blundered a pawn and his chances went down.
I got two connected passed pawns and after some delay (criticized by Fritz) finally played d4.  After d3 he resigned.
I will still lose about a dozen rating points despite +5, -4 result because average rating of my opponents was lower than mine, but I am glad that I could recover from a very bad situation.

I played with the girl, one of the top rated girls in her age category in Canada, placed quite a few times. She had White and started with Italian game, here is is. It went along the lines of the old variation, which I studied in the past. 9. bxc3 wasn’t the best move, 9. d5 is better.  After Bd3 I had to defend my knight and my f5 wasn’t the best either, I felt it later. Bishop on f5 looked unstable and undefended, but Fritz  shows it was OK, I just had to calculate a bit more.

As a result of the opening she was a pawn down with two bishops being some compensation for that. I thought that Bxe4 wasn’t a good move and Fritz confirms it. I saw that my bishop has nowhere to go after Ng5 (because of Qb3) and decided to concentrate on my knight.

I saw her Rab1 coming and thought that I can combine my planned Nc4 with a little trap – leaving pawn b7  en prise.  She couldn’t take it because of exchange on e3, then on f1 and Qa3+, but … she took. The game was over after that, but you know, kids play until the bitter end, they hope that something will happen. Nothing happened, except she lost another rook and then it was mate.

That’s what I said once to my kid. Yesterday was a good confirmation of that, here is the game.  It was one of the two guys I prepared against, but he didn’t play Scandinavian as I expected. He answered 1… e5 to my e4,  I was sure he will not play f6 on the second move, as he recently did, yes, he went instead for Philidor defense, but then still played f6 on the 3rd move.  1% games in the online DB, White scored about 90%. After 4.Bc4 we went along this game:  http://www.365chess.com/view_game.php?g=3225933 for another 4 moves, strange that master would play this line, so he paid for it.

My 12. b4 was intended mostly to prevent him castling queenside. Then I started to play on the kingside too. His replies created more weaknesses and I got a feeling that his position is strategically lost. His counterattack on the kingside with h5, g4, Qh7 really didn’t have any base.

After 24. Nc7+ his queen was isolated and couldn’t help his king. It was time for the decisive attack. Interesting that I just studied with my kid a pin in Nimzovich’s “My system” and maybe it helped me to find 28. Rf1. He played 28. Bxd6 and I saw the mate coming after Nh4+.

This Murphy’s law can be applied very well to the yesterday’s game. I was in the new club, got White with a guy I drew with Black before. I was under attack in that game and escaped with perpetual in the queen endgame.

So, we started with Ruy Lopez, here is the game. His 5… Nxe4 was unexpected, nobody played yet Open variation against me. I knew that I have to play 6. d4, but I also knew that there are some lines, where I am without a pawn, also there is Riga variation, which I didn’t remember, so I played Re1. As a result, he got 2 bishops out of the opening.

I thought I can organize something on the kingside, but he maneuvered and eventually it was me who had to look after the kingside to  defend h3, etc.  My 20. Qf1 move was just for that, but I missed his tactics and lost a pawn. Then, trying to get some counterplay,  I made another mistake with 36. Qe4, after which he could win an exchange. He didn’t see it. We both were low on time, having less than 20 minutes each. It was one more mistake, playing with the same tempo as my opponent. That tempo was too slow for me and having complicated position with that time left wasn’t good.

Then something like a brain-cramp happened. I got distracted by the kids playing blitz loudly (they were stopped) and don’t even remember, or I forgot that I didn’t make a move or just thought too long, but suddenly I looked at the clock and saw that it’s my move and I have 5 minutes less than my opponent. I got nervous and quickly played 38. Kg2, thinking that taking on b7 is too dangerous (wrong!). Then I made that stupid Kh3 move, intended to free my bishop. It decided the game. Next 2 moves were bad too, but the game was already over.

My opponent was unexpected as well as that I will play Black. It was an old guy, never played him before. Here is the game. It was Reti opening, where I decided to give him hanging pawns. Finally he got them, but after a few moves decided to exchange knight on e5, that gave him an isolated pawn on c4. After queens exchange I thought that I am better.

His 34. Bc3 was a mistake, allowing me to exchange bishops and attack his c4 pawn. And then came a moment, when I evaluated the position wrong. I thought that after 38… Rxd3 I win a pawn, but then his king forces my king to stay on “a” line and it’s  a draw. I didn’t realize that he has no other moves and will have to move his king out of opposition losing the game. Really “seeing ghosts”. I also thought that in the rook endgame after winning “a” pawn I should win that endgame having two  connected passed pawns. He activated his rook and according to Fritz had good drawing chances, but 43. h5 ?? took his rook out of play with an easy win for me.

Yesterday I got that boy that I played against twice recently.  I decided to play French again, I thought I can improve on my first game 5 months ago. We played the same variation, Milner-Barry, this time he offered a pawn, I didn’t want to suffer for that and declined, just exchanging his bishop. Here is the game. I remembered that I was too slow and not careful on the queenside and tried to fix it. I have to say that I did it quite well, getting nice post on b4 for my knight and stopping all  possible threats on the kingside.

He started to play passively after that and I occupied “c” line with my rooks. He spent an awful  amount of time by move 20,  having about 30 minutes left vs. my 1 hour. It got even worse later. After 27… Qc8 I missed the move that would probably win the game quickly – 28… Nc2. Then I was trying to find a decisive blow and couldn’t. Fritz showed a nice way to win an “a” pawn with 33… Qe8.

His time trouble deepened, I remember having 45 minutes vs. his 4.5. He started to play faster. We went into the endgame, where I thought I would have some advantage due to his weak pawn d4. I could win his rook after 55… Rd2, but missed it having already a few minutes left myself . He had  20-30 seconds when he made decisive mistake allowing (actually forcing) bishops exchange, after which I got 2 connected passed pawns in the center. The rest was technique. He managed to make a few moves when his clock was showing 2 seconds and it didn’t change! I was astounded by that but continued to move quickly having less than 2 minutes myself. When his clock showed 1 second left I mated him with 2 pawns, king and a rook.

I was (and still is) very satisfied with my positional play, it was probably my best French game with Black from this point of view.

Yes, I couldn’t find the decisive strike, at least I tried.

It was a case when I didn’t get upset with Giuoco Pianissimo as I usually do when  I get it on FICS. After previous misadventures I thought it’s OK to play something quiet. So my opponent had White, here is the game.

Fritz approved my 9… Qd7, he didn’t risk to take on b7. 17… b5 wasn’t good, I didn’t see his Nc4, I just didn’t know what to do and defending b7 was annoying. His 18. d5 was losing a pawn without any compensation and I started to look optimistically into the future. After 24… Ne3 I didn’t find the next move 25… Nfd5 which according to Fritz was just winning. Then I missed a really nice combination – 27. Qxh4, which was winning a piece and a game.

Nevertheless in the following complications I managed to get into knight ending with a spare pawn. Of course it would be better for him to keep queens. I didn’t play precisely that ending, but in the end my remote passed pawn served it’s purpose and I had N+2P vs. N. It was a matter of technique, I managed to stay calm with my time decreasing (in the end I had about 5 minutes left). After he gave up his knight, I stopped writing the moves. I remembered that knight should stand behind the pawn (so if he takes the knight the pawn queens). When my king approached  the pawn, he resigned.