August 2019

It is not about Bruce Willis and his “Die Hard with a Vengeance”, it is about playing again the Fort Knox variation in French against the same guy. He was OK after the opening, 17… b5 was suspicious, then he made a mistake playing 18… Qd5.  I saw that after 19. Bb3 he is losing a pawn and played it. His 21… Qh4 was strange, I checked and didn’t see anything dangerous. Still I liked 22. d5 more than simply taking the pawn. Unexpectedly he played 22… e5 and then I realized that I can’t take it after 23. Rxe5 Rxe5 24. Rxe5 Qf4, of course I was seeing ghosts as the rook could go to e1. Anyway computer prefers my move, Qxb5.

Then he made a big mistake by playing 25… Nxd5, but I was concentrated on defense and didn’t see 26. Qd4 winning “e” pawn. It was some maneuvering, then he missed my 34. f3.  Computer doesn’t like my queens exchange offer, but I didn’t have much time and the threats like Qb1+ bothered me.

Move 43 was the last crucial moment of the game. After the game my acquaintance master came up and said that instead of losing 43… Kxg4 my opponent could play 43… Ke4 with very active position. It was right, he could get good drawing chances. I ran shootouts, about half of them ended up with a draw, another half with White winning.



It was a last round and my hopes to improve my standing were dashed by mistake in the pairings due to a missed bye e-mail. So I was paired with my acquaintance from the top section, rated 2054.  He played Caro-Kann, Tartakower (Nimzovich) variation. I found later that I played only one OTB game with that line and I won. My unfamiliarity with it showed right away, as instead of 6. Nf3 the book move was 6. c3 , then 7. Bd3 O-O 8. Qc2 Re8 9. Ne2 h5 10. O-O. He told me after the game, that in general f3 is not a good square for the knight because of f6 pawn, e2 is better.

On move 13 I made a wrong decision, advancing my “c” pawn instead of the “d” one, I just didn’t like his bishop on d6. He started to put a pressure on my d4 pawn. I spent some time deciding between 22. Bc1 and Bd2, then played Bc1 which was wrong. Then I thought that his 25… b6 was strong, but computer criticizes it only giving it about -0.4 and prefers Qd7. My 26. Be3 was a big mistake, I just didn’t see how to defend. But after a calm 26. Bg5 R8d7 27. Qc2 h5 28. Re8+ Kh7 29. cxb6 Qxb6 30. Rf1 White is ~-0.9.

On move 27 I saw that 27. fxe3 would be bad because of Qg3, so took on d5, seeing of course that intermediate check on f2. Computer says that 30. Rc1 was bad, prefers 30. Qd4, also setting a trap – 30. Qd5 bxc5 31. bxc5 and if 31… Qxc5 then 32. Re8+ winning the queen, though I am sure he would see it. That was probably the last moment I could try to save the game.

After 30 moves it became technical and after some resistance I resigned.