My opponent in the second round was a guy I lost to a year ago after missed tactics, this time it was the other way around. I got White and he played the same French defense variation that I had with a master recently.

In this game I played 6. Bc4 and we soon deviated from the theory. The first sign for me that the game can go my way was when he allowed exchange on c5. I spend some time on 14. Nd4 and played it, thinking that I will keep my advantage in the simplified position. I saw that 19. Nf5 should give me advantage. 19… Bc8 was a bad move, Nf6 was definitely better. After 20… Na5 computer suggests “crazy” Bd5.

22… Nf6 was a crucial mistake. I quickly played Nb6, went around a bit and when I was back, I was really surprised to see Bd7. I thought that it was some kind of a sacrifice to get out of positional pressure and without much thinking took the rook. I was shocked to see at  home that he actually blundered a piece, unless I found an explanation – 23… Rb8 24. Bf4 – crushing. Probably he saw it.

Anyway I would never think that he will blunder a piece, so missed it and got an exchange instead. Now I think that the easiest way to win would be just exchange the rooks and then having pawn majority on the queenside I could just sacrifice exchange back and win. But I thought that with two rooks I would win faster.

Long story short, he managed to activate his pieces and somewhere around move 50 I started to think that I am actually worse and it would be very sad to lose this game. So, I played 53. b5 believing that I should manage to equalize. By the way two shootouts were won by White, exchange is exchange.

53… Kxf4 was a mistake, “a” pawn is much more important than “f”. Then he played 54… Ke3 and I saw 55. Rxf3+ right away. I checked and played it. He resigned after a couple of moves.