May 2019

This quote belongs to Emmanuel Lasker. My opponent in this last round was a guy rated 1502. He had 6 years break and was just playing for a few months, his old rating was ~1800, I beat him in 2011. So we got French, Tarrasch closed. The book says 11. Nf4 was the best move.

On move 16 I saw a possibility of Bxh7+ sacrifice and played it. 19… Rh6 was a serious mistake. 20. Qe8 looked risky, but I calculated that my queen will not be caught. Then 21. Re1 looked like the right move, I didn’t see how he can defend his e6 pawn. That was a moment when I think my bad shape started to show up. Not only I missed that he can force the exchange of the queens, but I didn’t see Ba3, the decisive move. I was so much concentrated on the kingside and forgot about the queenside. So the only move after 21. Ba3 was 21… Qf4 and I had to find 22. h4!.

After 22… Rxh4 23. Nxe6 Bxe6 24. Qxa8 Black is lost, 22… Rb3 23. Nh5 Bd7 24. Qxd7 Rxh5 25. Bxf8 Rxf8 26. Qxe6 White is +3.50. So I missed that opportunity and the game continued without queens. Then after 26… Rh4 I didn’t play 27. Rc7 Bc6 28. Rxe6, I saw only Bc6 locking my rook. 32. h3 Re4 33. Ng4 Bh4 34. g3 Bg5 was keeping the game equal.  My 32. Bc3 and 33. Rdc1 were not good, 33. Ra1 could save the day.

Then he also didn’t play exactly, my taking on b7 was right, even I thought later that it was a mistake. 38. Rc7 was a bad move, 38. h4 was equal. Soon my position deteriorated and I lost.

My opponent in that round was as expected, a boy I lost to a few times, last time about two weeks ago. I seriously wanted to change that. I prepared for the Scotch Gambit, but he suddenly played Giuoco Piano, then still sacrificed a pawn. I knew that I have to take with a bishop, I played this line at 2011 Canadian Open against ~2200 rated and drew after giving up the pawn back at one moment and getting a good position.

His 11. fxe5 was definitely a mistake, instead 11. Nc3 a6 12. fxe5 Nd7 was equal. His 17. b4 wasn’t a good move, I was gradually increasing my advantage. Then came a crucial moment of the game. I have to mention that after the game one boy came to my opponent and said something like “after Rd7 you missed…”.

At home I found out what he meant. After I played 20… Rd7? he could play 21. Nd6! and after exd6 the pawn takes with a check at the same time leaving the rook on h8 under attack. I saw Nd6 , but didn’t find anything suspicious. So I would have to play 21… Bd5 and after the following 22. Rxf7+ Kd8 23. Rxd7+ Kxd7 24. Nxe4 Bxe4 25. Bxb6+ Kc8 26. Bxa7 Bxc2 27. Rc1 Be4 computer evaluates it as +0.24. Luckily he didn’t see it.

Then I was able to use his weaknesses and win another pawn. Another crucial moment was when I played 38… Be4, computer thinks that I had to take on a2 and that my advantage could go down to -0.82 after 39. Nd3, but he played 39 . Kf6 and it was a bad move losing pawn on g3. Then my passed “g” pawn decided the game.



It was a first round in Mondays club, my opponent was a Russian-speaking man rated 1381. I had Black, he played Four Knights Game. I don’t know that opening well, so went for a safe line with d6. After his 8. e5 I could play 8… Ng4, I saw it, but thought that he can take on g7 after 9. exd6 cxd6 not seeing that 10. Qxg7?? was losing right away after Bf6.

After the queens exchange I was feeling alright having two bishops even at a cost of my pawn structure. In the line 12. Bg5 Nd5 13. Nxd5 I could play Bxg5 and have 2B vs. 2N, but preferred to improve my pawn structure. Then there was a positional play for quite some time  until I made a couple of small mistakes, 29… Bb3 and 31… Re7. Suddenly he played 34. Bc5 blundering a pawn. Then his position started to deteriorate little by little.

On move 49 I thought he would take a pawn on g7, but he saw Ra2 coming and decided to defend the “a” pawn. Taking g7 pawn was losing anyway. Soon in a completely lost position he resigned.

My opponent this time was a long time foe and friend. I had White, so we got French, Tarrasch, he took on e4 on a 3rd move. I thought I will have a better perspectives castling queenside. Then he surprisingly played 12… Qh6 and after queens exchange I was +1. Another surprise was when he played 16… Bc6. It made his position even worse.

So I started to press positionally, but my pressure was not yielding any result. Computer recommends 27. b4. Finally I found 28. f5, it was a right idea, but I had to double the rooks and get the “f” pawn back. Computer gives a nice line – 29. Ref1 Nb6 30. Rxf5
Nd5 31. Nf4+ Kxf5 32. Nxd5+ Kg5 33. Nxe7 Rxe7 34. b4.

Computer thinks my opponent didn’t play the exact moves starting from 32… h4 and that after 35. Rxf5 I would have ~1.5 advantage. I still played Rxf5 on the next move and then on move 38 a critical moment came. 38. Rxa5 looked risky to me with inevitable losing of “h” pawn and his passed pawns on the kingside. But after 38. Rxa5 Rg2 39. Ra7 Ne5 40. Rxc7 h5 41. Nxe5 fxe5 42. Rxc6 Rxh2 43. b4 I was +2.00.

So the position became equal, but then after my 42. Ne4 and 43. Kf4 I got worse and he had a chance if he would play 43… f5!. Instead he decided to go for a rooks exchange. I quickly realized that I am fine in the knight endgame. We both played the exact moves, then he forced a draw.

It was Thursday’s club, my opponent was a boy rated 1443. He played an Italian Game, the line that I played about a dozen times.

15… Bd5 was a move that I liked, also it was provoking 16. Nc5 and I calculated the consequences of that. He played it and then made a mistake. 20… f5 seemed a bit sharp, but I didn’t like that bishop and it is actually a computer move. 24… Ng6 was giving me a decisive advantage, I played it 2 moves later.

On move 29 I missed a possibility to counterattack with 29… Nh4 30. Qd3 Qf7 31. Kf1 Qg6, I was probably still concentrated on defense. 33. Qxf5 was a crucial mistake, after 34… Nh4+ he resigned.

It was a 4th round in Mondays club and unexpectedly (they did a manual pairing due to the problem with the computer) I got the same girl as on last Thursday, but with Black. I lost to her on Thursday with White because of my bad shape, underestimation, positional mistakes and relying on her time trouble. I have to say that we both learned our lesson, she was spending time much more reasonably and I was more careful.

Another surprise was her Scotch Gambit. Anyway I decided to go the same way as I did 2 months ago, when I had chances in a similar line. So I played the same stopping 14… f5, but then spent some time choosing between 15… fxe4 or dxe4, the first one looked more solid. I considered 19… g5, but didn’t like 20. Qg3. Would you believe that computer recommends that move with -0.35 estimate after 19… g5 20. Qg3 Bxe3 21. Qxe3 Rb8 ? After 21… gxf4 22. Rxf4 Rxf4 23. Qxf4 it is 0.00.

Then I made my only mistake in that game playing 24… Ba5, after 25. Nxa5 Rxa5 26. Bc5 Ba6 27. Rfb1 Bd3 28. Bxf8 Bxb1 29. Bxg7 Kxg7 30. Qh4 with  Rb7, Qf6 threats White is about +2.  But this line looks a bit above my paygrade. Anyway in a few moves we reached some kind of a dynamical balance. Then I saw 30… c5 with the idea of 31… d4, but it looked messy and unpredictable and it actually was, with about +0.3 estimate. The right move after 30… c5 31. Rdd1 was 31… Rxa4 32. Qb2 Rb8 33. Qc1 h6 with equal position.

Frankly I felt tired, there was not much time left, my 12 minutes vs. her 7, so I started to to think about a draw, but didn’t want my offer to be refused. Suddenly she offered a draw and I accepted. She actually offered it a few moves before, but in a such a low voice that I didn’t understand what she said.