January 2015

My opponent was a boy I played with many times. So I got White and played my favorite Rossolimo variation. I gave up some space in the opening, but then he chose not the best move with 16… f5. I considered Ng5 of course, but didn’t like f4, not seeing that I can play Qh5.  Still he could defend with h6 and I am just a 0.3 better. My move exf5 was not worse than Ng5 and I saw that I can put a rook on e4. Then I considered Nh4 a few times, but didn’t like e4 after exchange, though Fritz thinks I would have advantage after e4.

After his expected Nf4 I planned to exchange rooks and thought that the arising endgame should be good for me. I consider his g5 a mistake, though computer doesn’t think so. The problem is, he usually plays very aggressively, but this is not a position for that. Qg6 was a mistake, he had to exchange light pieces, N vs. B endgame is a draw. Interesting that I thought that I could win it because of his bad bishop, but actually it is bad only on a queenside, as most of the shootouts end in a draw.

His Qf7 and Kg6 were mistakes too, I think he underestimated my chances. After 34. Nf3 I expected Qf6 and was very surprised when he quickly played Qf5 and went away. I checked everything and played Nh4+. When he came back he realized that he blundered and resigned.

My opponent was a boy, his rating rose 300 points since we played 2 years ago, I won then. I got White and replied with my usual Moscow variation to his Sicilian. In this game I decided not to play my regular 5. c4 and chose more quiet line. It was a very positional struggle until I played 34. f5. He could play 34. bxc3 35. bxc3 Qb6 36. fxe6 Rxe5 37. fxe6 with pretty much equal position, but played Qb5. Then he made another mistake playing Rxe5. I saw that I could play 36. Qa8+ and then take on f7, but thought that he has Rf5. What I didn’t see was Qe4 and then g6 loses because of Qe8. It was a golden opportunity which I missed.

So after I won a pawn his counterstrike a3 made the game equal. I had to take care of his “c” pawns and it became a completely drawn position. During the post-mortem we still did not see 36. Qa8+ winning the game.

It was a first round. My opponent was a guy rated 100 higher, I lost to him two months ago. So, I got White and he played Pirc defence. Usually I am not very good against it, so I was careful. After Bxd5 I thought that my bishop is not better than his knight and decided to exchange it. Then I went for queens exchange.

I knew that he will play f5 at some point to attack e4 pawn, c4 was also planned. Then after Bg6 game became sharper. I had to be careful to play the right moves. Bd3 forced me to think for some time until I realized that he is losing a pawn. This was probably a classical example of overstretching, he wanted to win too much. Fritz recommends Ng7 instead of Ng3, it just seemed risky to me to put my knight there. Ng7 wasn’t winning anyway. Kd3 was a blunder, though Fritz doesn’t think so. It is actually a draw here anyway. I was getting tired, as we were playing already for 4 hours.

After 65. Na7 I asked TD if it would be a draw if I take the pawn and he said he is not sure. Actually I can blunder my bishop and it would be a win for him, right. So, I didn’t do it. Then after 68 moves I got a bit angry with him continuing to play for a win, said: “OK, let’s play” and took the pawn. Then I told him that I will be giving checks with my bishop. Usually I do not behave like that, it’s just I thought that his behavior was on the boundary of no respect for his opponent. After a few moves I saw that he can’t do anything and calmed down. Then he realized the same and offered a draw. It was midnight already.