I got White in this second round and my opponent was the one of the two I most expected. I had +1, =1, -3 score with him. I looked at our last game played half a year ago, so was prepared to play against Sicilian d6.  We got Moscow variation, this time he took on d7 with the knight.

It was a positional struggle where he had a minimal advantage. The crucial moment of the game came when he played 37… Bf8. Of course I could play Nc2, but I didn’t like Rb2. Also I saw that the bishop exchange will weaken his kingside. So, knowing that I will lose b4 pawn I played Re5. After Rxb4 I could play f5 right away, but I decided to solidify my position playing Qe3. I have to say that he played faster than me, but after f5 he started to slow down. I had about 10-12 minutes at that time, he had about 30. I didn’t expect gxf5, so got a really good feeling after that. Computer shootouts show that it was already losing, though he tried to prove me in a postmortem that he could hold it.

His 43… Rb3 was a blunder, he said he didn’t see Qe8+. I had 7 minutes at that moments, he had 20. He resigned after it. The best move was 43. Rb6 or Kf8, still it is a very difficult position to defend.

 

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