January 2014

This game was played on last Thursday. My opponent was a boy with whom I had a bad score: =1, -3.  I had White, we played Ruy Lopez, he chose Archangelsk variation. I was quite happy how the opening went, he was spending essentially more time than me.

Then the crucial moment came when he played 17… g5. So I got a dilemma: or play Bg3 and after Nh4 get the position that I didn’t like at all or sacrifice the knight on g5. Funny that I didn’t see that Nh4 is not possible because of Nxe5. So, I looked and looked at it and sacrificed the knight. He had to play 19… Qe6 and d5, it was the best defense, still I was better. But he played Kg7, then Nb8.  When I decided to play 22. Bxf6, I saw the check on f5 winning the queen. What I didn’t see was 22. Qf3 followed by Rh3+ and then Qf5,  it was a mate. What let me down is I knew that I have a dangerous attack and can win material, but I had to know that there should be a mate right there.

So, I got that big advantage and of course started to think how good I will feel when I will win this game. Computer has nothing against my plan of playing on the queenside, but prefers to attack g6 pawn and it was my feeling after the game too.

39.  Qg3 was a really bad move, I think my 6 hours of sleep and 9 hours of work eventually showed, I didn’t see Nh5. Then not liking the position of my queen, I made another bad move – 44. d4. I think soon after that he offered a draw, I initially refused, but after 50 moves I didn’t see how I can win and agreed to it. I also had less time than him at that moment. Computer gives me only 0.5 advantage.

These are the words from the song in one good Russian movie. I think I can relate that to what happened in my game on Monday.

I played with an expert to whom I lost 3 times before. But in the last game I missed a simple deflection that was winning the game. This game was somewhat similar, missing a chance due to a time pressure.

He had White, I played Slav again. I think it suits my style, but I definitely should study it more. I think I was OK after the opening, though was feeling some pressure. I spent quite some time thinking how to defend against his 21. Nd6 and computer confirms that f6 was a good idea. Maybe I got tired defending, on the move 31 I blundered a pawn. Then 37… Nh3 was another blunder because I was losing this knight after 38. Re5 Qh6 39. Kg2 and if 39… Ng5 then 40. Qd5. He didn’t see it. After 41. hxg3 I decided to play Nxf4. It was more of an intuitive sacrifice and I had very little, 20-30 seconds, time left. Computer suggests the same move. So after gxf4 I automatically play Rxf4 and it blinked a bit later in my mind that Qh4+ was possible. Of course I had to play Qh4+, winning a rook,  computer says it is still a draw. Though, I am sure how he would react on that strike, also having not much time.

After his 43. Qe3 I missed another strike  – 43… Rxe4 and if  44. Qxe4 then 44… Rf1+, so he has to reply with 44. Qh3+ and I am a pawn up. Looking at this now I am just shaking my head, but at least you can’t require somebody to see this having just seconds left. Instead I made that stupid check on f1, because it seemed to me that I can mate him or win his queen. Of course, nothing like that happened, he forced queens exchange and after some meaningless resistance in the endgame I resigned.

This is from the “Evgeny Onegin” by famous Russian poet Pushkin. Here is the story.

I arrived to the club the first, after 1.5 hours of driving, it was snowing. There were fewer people that evening than usually, so I suspected that I will get somebody from the top. I got it from the very top, number 2, Master (in Canada it’s for life) and rated pretty close – 2175. I thought why I spent so much time and efforts to get to the club, then decided “what the hell”.

He had White and started with Ruy Lopez, quiet Anderssen variation with d3. Then by playing Nc3 he allowed me to get a bishop pair. His 13. Nh2 of course was intended to play f4, so I decided to counterattack in the center. 16. Qe3 was an unpleasant surprise, as I realized that I can’t defend both f6 and d5 squares and either should lose c5 pawn or take on f6 with a pawn after Ng4. I didn’t want the last option and played the line where I kept two bishops. Then after  a few moves I started to like my position more and more and his less and less. I expected Re1 and played the planned Qd6 right away. Little did I know that I am missing the crushing Qg5. He was simply losing after 23… Qg5 24. Qa2 Rc4 25. Ne4 Bxf2+ 26. Kh1 Bxe4 27. dxe4 Bxe1.

The funny thing is that he allowed the same theme on the next move by playing Re2. This time it is Rxc3 that was deciding the game. What can I say? I had more power in my hands than thought. Anyway, the game continued and he equalized, but then again played a passive Nd1 allowing me to play e4. I didn’t see strong 35… Rf8 and he equalized again.

Then my time got really low. When I got less than 4 minutes I stopped writing the moves, because I heard that we are allowed to do that even having the increment. He suddenly said with a not happy face that I have to write the moves. I said OK, because I wasn’t sure, but one of the officials was nearby and confirmed that I don’t have to do that. I think I lost the thread of the game soon. It was clear that my attack disappeared, but I couldn’t switch into a draw mode. The draw was entirely possible. But for some reason I tried to avoid queens exchange and my piece got under some kind of a pin. I eventually found a way to unpin, but my flag fell at that moment.