November 2011

I get paired with a guy rated 1475,  nevertheless this guy beat one ~1800 and drew with another one in this tournament. I also remembered that we played in the blitz tournament and drew. Anyway,  he gets White and starts d4. I decide to try Grunfeld for the first time OTB, here is the game.

We go along the regular lines of Exchange Grunfeld, then suddenly he plays 9. Nfd2. I see that it is not worth to take c3 pawn because of Rc1 and decide to play Nc6 to increase pressure on d4. He plays 10. Nb3 and I see that I have to take the pawn ob c3, it looks like my queen can escape through b2. I think after 11. Bd2 he says something and I have to ask him to understand that he offers a draw. I am very surprised and say: “No, it’s only 11 moves”.  After Qb2 he plays Bc1 and now I understand … I think some time, even it’s already clear, then agree to a draw.

He tells me, that he saw it a couple of weeks ago in one new GMs game. Sounds like a nice preparation for 1475 rated, I tell myself with irony. We look at the game, don’t find anything better than 9… cxd4, which also doesn’t look very good for Black. Of course, I am upset, also surprised how mainline Grunfeld can “go down” so easily.

I come home and find out, that the novelty was actually my 9… Nc6. Not a good novelty I have to say. I also find, that this 3-fold repetition happened in 1981, in the game Keene-Adorjan after 9… O-O 10. Nb3 Qxc3, so it’s not new at all. Also I find that 9… cxd4 10. Nc4 is OK unless you want to sacrifice your queen as Sutovski did again Aronian,  crazy game:

The move I like the best in this position is 9… Nd7, defending the c5 pawn, and bishop can be developed later to b7.

Unexpectedly I get White, my opponent is the young guy I played with 7 months ago and won in the endgame. So, he plays Sicilian d6, here is the game. His answer 4… Nxd7 I do not consider very good, since the knight has nothing to do on d7. I won before 2 games with 4.. Nxd7.  When I play 11. Rd1 the purpose is not only to defend d4 pawn, but rather X-ray on “d” vertical, seeing that after e5 he can’t exchange pawns because his knight on d7 is hanging.

Then he plays 11… Rac8 and I start to calculate e5. I see Nd5 and e6, arising exchange on f7 and e7 is defended by rook. Still I feel that I should play it. He plays Ne8 quickly, I have to say that he plays too fast, spending only about 10 minutes by that time. After Nd5 it suddenly appears to me that his e7 square is in a great danger.  I see that after 14. exd6 I can fork him, but then I don’t like 14… e6 instead of exd6. For some reason I don’t see that Ne7+ is still possible because pawn on d6 protects e7.

Anyway, my Bg5 is not worse, I clearly see that there is no defense. He, quickly again, plays Bf6. I win an exchange, then plan on exchanging the queens, but change my mind thinking that I can just win without going into endgame. It proves to be the right idea, as he blunders in a few more moves and gets under double attack from my queen.

I am happy to win, also to save time as we spent only an hour. I still do not understand how it is possible to spend 15 minutes on 20 moves, I spent about 40.

It was the same person I expected, the guy to whom I lost twice. I went over our last game, Italian. So, he gets White and we play the same variation, here is the game. The difference is that he plays Nf1 before the castle. It strikes me as slow and risky and I play d5 right away. I feel that I have some advantage with better placed pieces. His play looks heavier than in previous games and he spends more time than me.

I manage to play Nf5, forcing exchange soon. When he plays 25. c4 I think for a moment that I am in a big trouble, because it looks like I lose a bishop on b6 after c5. Then I find Bxg2. He gets worse and he realizes it. I do not play the best 28… Bd4, because I think that my bishop will be hanging there. Then he misses a chance to equalize with 33. Kg2.

His Qxf4 is a game losing mistake. We both have 20 minutes left at this time. I see 34… Bc7 and that I can get back my bishop, but it seems me that his passed pawn could be strong. I decide to choose a safer continuation, strongly believing that I can win the arising opposite-colored bishops endgame.
It goes smoothly, I almost blitz and after another 11 moves he resigns.
He looks disappointed, I almost want to say – “You expected to win 3rd time?”, of course I never say it.

Computer tells me that several times I let my advantage slip away and I that after 34…. Bc7 my passed pawn was much stronger than his,  so … we are not computers. At least during the game I had advantage most of the time and never was worse.

I played with a guy to whom I lost about a 3 years ago. I had White, it was my Moscow variation in Sicilian, here is the game. He was the first out of about a dozen of people that I played Moscow to play Qg4 with  a desire to win  a pawn. I played quickly O-O and then d4, trying to intimidate him by showing that it is not  a blunder. It is considered as a line giving White an advantage. My knowledge ended there and I had to play myself. His move 7… b6 was bad I think as well as 10… Qd7. After his 11… e5 there was a forced win after 12. Nxe5. I didn’t see it. Strange, I think I started to consider Nxe5 or Bxe5 only after he played c6 and Nc6, so it was not possible already.

16. Qc2 was beginning of a wrong plan of attacking his queenside. I think Houdini’s plan with a3 and f4 is essentially better. I continued my bad play by putting my queen on a5. It was still equal until I got too excited with the  idea of trapping his knight (forcing it to a2). After he played the long awaited move Be7 I quickly played a3?? and after his same quick Bd8 I saw with a horror that my queen is trapped. The game could be ended right there, I just decided to prolong the agony.

I don’t know what to think about this game. I played really well in the beginning and then the combination that I missed wasn’t easy to spot, since the queens were exchanged and you don’t want to do that when you have an attack. The worst was the blunder, not only I played too fast, not evaluating the position after his move, also I had to feel that my queen was not positioned very well.

I played with this guy before and lost with Black in King’s gambit. This time I had White, played Ruy Lopez and he answered with Berlin defense, here is the game. I am not a fan of it, so I decided to go into a calm waters of d3, c3 variation. He played Nc6-e7, it’s a well known Mortimer variation with a trap (if you take on e5, then c6 and Qa4+). I smiled and castled.

I was OK until I played d4 and he replied dxe4. I considered Nxe5, but then preferred Nxe4. As soon as I played it, I saw f5 coming. He played then e4 and I had to dig myself out of the hole. Qh5 was a good step in this direction. I can’t believe how I missed 23. Bxh6. I considered it, but then only Qxh6, didn’ t see Qg6+. Then on move 25 I considered only Nf4 Qh4, didn’t see Nf6. So I lost a pawn.

By playing 27. f4 I tried to stop his threats on the kingside. I didn’t get anything out of my c4 move and was just hanging on, when he gave me a bit of air letting my rook to c8. With all the plans for getting my queen somewhere there I missed Rc6, I already didn’t have much time. The game was decided and Bc1 put it to an end.

After my horrible play on Monday  I came to the club yesterday with a strong desire to rehabilitate myself. My opponent was a man I played once before and drew. He had 1900+ rating last year, now same as mine. I played my regular Anglo-Grunfeld, here is the game. He started to think a lot almost right from the beginning.

I got a bit behind in development, but completely equalized by the move 18. The queens exchange wasn’t intended to get  a draw, but just seemed like the best move, computer agreed with that. By that time he already was in the big time trouble having about 20 minutes,  I had almost an hour. He makes quite a few draws, I decided to play until the end.

I saw his d5 coming, but couldn’t do anything about it. Then I played Kd4, probably hoping for a mistake. I think he had less than 5 minutes at that point, but just started to play faster. I played another bad move cxd5 and then had to decide where I move my king. 38… Ke7 seemed risky as I thought that I can lose queenside pawns, so I played Kc7, hoping to play Be6 and after bishops exchange push his king out with b6. I missed that he attacks b5 pawn.

So I realized that he wins a pawn  and played a desperate move b4. He took with a pawn, it was a mistake but he still could win. Than he made another one, playing 43. b5. I pushed his king with b6+ right away and then it started to look like a draw to me. His h4 scared me a bit, I started to calculate and saw that 45… g4 loses, but 45… gxh4 should draw, since my king gets there in time and has 2 squares – g6 and h6, so it will be no zugzwang. He finally realized it and the draw was agreed. He still had about 2 minutes, I had probably about 10.

When I came home, I understood why he played so well having less than 5 minutes in the end. In 1997 his active (rapid) rating was 2300+ (and his regular was ~2200). He is not playing that well now, but still …