December 2011

This is what I told the president of the club after I finished this game.  My opponent was a young guy, I lost to him once before playing  against his Modern defense. I have a score -3 in it and -2 in Pirc,  so definitely there are some things …

So I decided to do something else and played 1. d4, for the first time in the last 3 years I think, here is the game. He still made Modern defense out of it, but I felt comfortable in the opening. Then on the move 12 he played g5. I thought that Nf3, g4 is not good for me and decided to sacrifice a pawn. Houdini supports Nf5 and thinks it is sound. I quickly started to gain advantage and he spent a lot of time on his moves. I thought a lot after his 19… Qe6 on 20. Re1, but wasn’t sure that after 20… Qxc4 21. gxh6 Bxd4 I have enough compensation for two pawns.

His 23… Bxf4 was not good, exchanging the important defender. It’s too bad I didn’t see 25.  Rh4+ Kg7 26.  Rg1, winning on the spot. Then not the best moves were played from the both sides. I still continued my attack and then the critical moment came when I played 37. b4. I didn’t see the best Na4 and the move Be6, that I also looked at and considered after the game the better one, keeping all the advantage, worth only 0.4.

After 37. b4 I saw right away that I blundered the knight on c3.  It was a shock, though I still had some attack. The funny thing is that after he takes the knight he loses by force after 39. Rxc5!, so it wasn’t a blunder at all. Anyway, the game continued and he decided to give up his rook for my c6 pawn. I didn’t play well after that, one reason was that my time was running up, it was about 5 minutes left.  With 4 minutes left I stopped writing the moves, he had about a minute. I lost material and found myself in a losing position. Having, I think, something like 28 seconds left (with me having more than 2 minutes) he went for three-fold repetition. I was actually glad at this moment. Then I came home and computer told me, how exactly I managed not to win the game, that was won. I knew that I was winning, just didn’t know how close I was to it.

The original post was devoted to the game where I had an isolated pawn, here I had the same opponent but we reversed the roles, here is the game. He had White, played Italian game and went for the variation with an isolani. I prepared for it, but not enough. He missed 14. Rxe6 with an advantage.  Then it was a critical moment when I could take on a2. I decided that it looks too risky with my kingside getting under attack and my rook and knight out of play. Houdini kind of confirmed that saying that with one pawn it was equal and if I would take another one, I would lose.

After exchanging queens I saw that all my difficulties are behind. I missed 3-fold repetition after 44… Rd6, I would claim it having less time at this moment. Then I decided to play on the kingside. When I had about 5.5 minutes and he 7.5-8 minutes he played Rf3. I quickly took the rook, thinking that exchange is OK. The thing is he blundered, after h3+ he loses the rook. I didn’t notice it and he too.

Then something interesting happened. I stopped writing the moves and started to play faster. He also reached 5 minutes and then it looked like he lost “the time initiative”. His time became equal to mine and then he got behind. On the board there was some meaningless maneuvering. I thought that I don’t want to win on time, being in this drawn position and not knowing how to win, it would be not legal by the way. Anyway when I had about 3 minutes 20 seconds and he about 2.5 minutes I offered a draw. He looked kind of surprised, so I said: “You have less time, but it’s up to you, of course”‘.  He thought for a moment and agreed.

When I came home, of course computer pointed to h3+. It kind of stuck in my head for a half of Friday, the only excuse I have is that I was playing blitz at that moment. From the positional point of view I think the game demonstrated all the advantages of isolani in the middlegame – playing on open verticals and strong knight on e5. It also showed that d5 was a nice square for my knight.

This game was like a home game in hockey. I had White and played with one of the organizers (due to an odd number of players) rated ~1660. I absolutely had to win. In the standings before the last round I was in the place opposite where I should have been and had a perspective to lose a lot of rating points.  So, again Sicilian, Moscow variation, here is the game.

It was 4… Nd7, against which I am +3. I repeated the scheme with c3, d4, Qe2, she developed the bishop on e7 and was doing OK. I missed 20… Ba3, but she didn’t take a pawn and played Bf8, being wary of h5-h6. I think I looked at Qd3,Ng5 moves, but definitely didn’t see the decisive Qd3-h3 maneuver. I played Qd3 one move later, but the opportunity was lost.

I continued to attack on the kingside, but she defended very well. Then I saw that my queen can get into the Black’s territory. Of course I considered winning b5 pawn, but I didn’t like that her queen gets on “c” vertical and then into my territory. Houdini says that I could get the pawn, even two and still defend my king. Then I missed 45.  dxc5, thinking that I can lose that c5 pawn later. It was a winning move. Anyway I got an idea to regroup my knight and try to get it on f6. She could prevent it with Qh4, but didn’t. She was also in the time trouble, having something like 4 minutes vs. my 7. When I put my knight on f6 Black’s position became indefensible. After Qa7+ the game was decided.

My last game was a confirmation of this Russian proverb.  My opponent was a Russian-speaking man, expert. He had White, here is the game.  I knew that he plays d4, c4, I didn’t want to try Benko against solid 2000+ guy and decided to play Grunfeld again (despite of my mishap with the first try) and use my freshly acquired knowledge.

My Nd7 was a scarce move with a low score, still I was OK. The first crucial moment came when after 18. Nf4 Bb7 I saw his e5, e6 coming, but after calculation I found the way out of it with Qxc8.
He thought a lot on his 22. d5, but I expected it to be fine after Bxd5. I am glad that I decided to think carefully about Bxe5 and saw that it loses.

I think my 27… Nc5 was a turning point, then Qd4 forced him to exchange the queens. He had twice less time than me, but the position became simpler. After exchange on the queenside there was nothing left to fight for, he realized that after some kingside play and acknowledged it.

I was happy after the game. Houdini didn’t spoil my euphoria, it was a clean game, it didn’t find any mistakes from the both sides. Two shootouts between Fritz and Houdini starting from 18. Nf4 both ended in a draw.