September 2019


It was a 4th round in the new club. My opponent was a leader, 3/3, the guy rated the same. He started playing quickly and confidently. He played Vienna Gambit, his 5. Qf3 was unfamiliar to me. I started to feel under pressure after 8. Qg3, Computer criticizes 11… Qe7 preferring Qb6. His 15. Bf6 allowed me to get out of the opening trouble.

Then the balance shifted into my favor, but I didn’t see it right away. So when he blundered with 19. Ra3 I missed winning 19… Bf5. Still I managed to win a pawn, later we transferred into a rook endgame. I knew that my passed pawns are my only chance to win and avoided any exchanges of his queenside pawns to even one of my kingside ones. I remembered the technique called shuffling, when you move the pawns one after another with the rook support.

Then his 44. b5 was a crucial mistake. After 46. Rxa7 I saw that he can’t stop me from queening. To my surprise he continued to play being down a queen. I missed a few forced mates, I really didn’t have much time at that moment. When I was  about to get another queen he resigned.

 

It was penultimate round in the Monday’s club. My opponent was a young man, I had 2 draws with him in the past. We played again Sicilian, this time instead of Rossolimo it was Moscow variation. He chose 3… Nd7, the toughest for White from my point of view variation. 5. Bd3 was a book move that I remembered, 9. Ndb2 was not, computer recommends a4.

11. dxc5 was a mistake, I didn’t see that I can’t play 12. Nb3. Computer doesn’t like my 12. h3 and 13. Nd4 and evaluates the position as -1.4. His 14… d5 allowed me to equalize. I considered 18. Be4, but didn’t like f5. Interesting, that I played 20. Bf1 because of 20. Bxe4 f5, but Houdini offers  20… Nf6 21. Bf4 Qb6 22. Be3 Qc7 23. Bf4 with a draw. His 20… Nxc3 was unexpected, but I quickly saw that it was actually good for me to get two his active pieces for my rook and two pawns.

Then suddenly he played 23… Rd8 and I saw the skewer right away. After 25… f5 I missed 26. Rd1, winning on the spot. Still after I forced the exchanges it became a matter of technique.

 

 

 

It was a 3rd round in the new club, after 2 draws with lower rated opponents I needed a win. I got a kid, whom I played before and won. I had White, Ruy Lopez, Classical Defense Deferred. The book recommends 7. d4 with advantage.

The first pawn break came on move 12. Houdini recommends instead 12… Bxe3 13. fxe3 Ne7 14. Bxd7 Qxd7 with an equality. I could win a pawn after 12… d5 13. exd5 Nxd5 14. Bxa7 and then after both Rxa7 and Nxa7 I win e5 pawn. The difference with the line I played is that in this case the knight stands on d5 and in the game it would be a black queen defending e5 pawn. 19. Qc4 looked active, but 19. Rad1 Nd6 20. Nxd6 cxd6 21. Qd3 was winning a pawn.

Another pawn break came on move 32, also d5. I came close to winning a pawn, but didn’t play 36. Nxa6.  Getting two passed pawns on the queenside would give me a serious advantage despite of computer’s modest +1.05 evaluation. Computer also suggests elegant 36. Rxd5 Rxd5 37. Nxa6 with basically the same result. Then we transformed to a bit better for me R+N vs. R+N endgame, where I had to play Rc6 on move 44, not 45.

Then we exchanged rooks and came into an equal knight endgame. Move 62 was natural, but also provoking. Suddenly he took my knight. I had 1.5 minute left and needed to calculate that I at least will not lose the arising pawn endgame if I take the knight, otherwise I would have to take the pawn instead.  After I took his pawn my long time ago acquired knowledge helped me to win.

The expression is a derivative of a line in William Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice, which employs the word “glisters,” a 17th-century synonym for “glitters”. While preparing for the second round in the new club I knew that one of the possible opponents plays Giuoco Piano as he did it once against me. So I found a video of one Russian chess player on YouTube where he advertised the idea of playing h7-h6 and g7-g5 in Giuoco Pianissimo in the situation where White already castled and Black did not. He said that Black gets a strong, decisive attack after g5-g4 with White having pawn on h3 and knight on f3.

So can you imagine, I got another opponent, 1427 rated boy who played exactly that, Giuoco Pianissimo with d3 and h3. On move 8 he castled and I played g5. His next move was unexpected and forced me to think that my attack should be better supported by castling queenside. The move Qe7, though only given +0.3 by computer, was not good, instead immediate g4 was -0.35 in the line 9… g4 10. hxg4 Bxg4 11. Nh2 Be6.

After his knight jumped on d5 I saw that I have to exchange it and that my knight has no better place to go as b8 square. Then I made another unfortunate move, 12… Bf5, not feeling the danger. He missed the possibility to play 14. d4 with following 14… Nd7 15. dxe5 Nxe5 16. Bb5+ Kd8 17. Qc3 f6 18. Nd4 with ~+1.3 evaluation. 14… 0-0 was basically admission that my strategy was wrong, but I could hold the position with the cool 14… Nd7, in the line 14… Nd7 15. d4 f6 I was able to castle queenside and it was only ~+0.5.

I still was under pressure after 15. d4 and after calculating that I can’t play e4 (that was right) played f6. I saw that he can take on f6 right away and after initial shock decided to play Qg7. He found it and played, but taking with rook was better. His 18. Ng4 was natural and what I expected, but 18. f4 was better, after taking the knight I would get under attack and 18… gxf4 19. Rxf4 Nd7 was ~+0.9.

My 21… Ne5 was a bit flashy, but simple Rf7 was better. I think his 24. f4 was a small mistake as the position became completely equal. Honestly I even started to think I am better due to my good knight. Then we transferred into a rook endgame and he offered a draw. I said I will play more and soon managed to win a pawn. On move 49 I thought that I do not have a real chance of advancing my “e” pawn and decided to try my luck with the “h” pawn. The problem with the arisen rook pawn endgame was that his king was too close to the “h” vertical. Funny that 69. Ke2 would lose after 69… Kg2, then the Black king advancing towards the White rook. But he was exact, we repeated the moves and agreed to a draw.

The first lesson I learned is in the title, I definitely had to do my homework before playing this line, by the way I didn’t find it in DB, though the guy on video referred to Alekhine’s idea. Another lesson was understanding that my reading of the book about rook endgames should be intensified as that was a classical rook endgame in the end. Also I recently drew one online blitz game with Short Side Defense and another one with Back Rank Defense.

 

It was my first rated game in the new club, it explains the title – “every beginning is difficult”.  My opponent was a quite old man, his rating as I learned after the game was 1426. I got White, played Ruy Lopez, he chose Berlin Defense. The move 5. Re1 was based on the positive experience from the game won in the big tournament in February 2018. I just learned that 6. Nxe5 is better  than exchange on c6.

After some maneuvering I was better, but then the crucial moment came. My 18. Ng5 was a right move, but then 19. Nge4 got me into a trouble, though the computer considers the position equal after it. Instead I had to play 19. h3!, which would never come in my mind seeing the fork 19… f6. But after 19. h3 f6 20. hxg4 fxe5 21. Ne6 White is +2. In the line 19. h3 Bd7 White follows with 20. d5 where again after 20… f6 21. dxc6 fxe5 22. cxd7 Qxd7 23. Qd5+ White gets its exchange back and is a pawn up.

Instead of these nice lines I found myself desperately trying to save my rook from being caught. 23. Nb1 was not a good move, 23. Ra4 was OK because if 23… b5 then Ne4 and then Rxa5. After he let me play 26. Re3 I started to feel better. 28… Bb5 was a mistake which allowed me to equalize, instead c6 was the right move. On move Kf2 I got scared that he will play g5, then will take on e4, but after 34… g5 35. Rf3 fxe4 36. Re3 it is not good for Black to play Bf5 because of g4 and if Bxg4, then Nxe4 with threats.

By move 40 we exchanged the rooks and seeing that the position is equal repeated the moves. Computer says it is 0.00 even after 44. a3 Bc2 45. Nxc7 Bxb3 46. Kd3.

It was a second round of the Mondays tournament, my opponent was young man rated 1487. He had White and played Ruy Lopez, Exchange variation. His 5. h3 was 5th choice and not very good, as well as 6. d4. Computer suggests I could play 6… Qg6 with some advantage. I missed his 17. Rxd6, but it did not give him any advantage.

I think 23… g5 wasn’t a good idea, even computer says it is equal after it. I am convinced I made it hard on myself with this and some moves after it. 26… Re7 was a mistake, I somehow missed 26… Be6 which was leading to an equal endgame. On move 29 Nxh3 was better, Ne6 would get me into unpleasant position after 30. Kg4 Nf4 31. Kxg5 Nxh3 with ~1.4 estimate.

But suddenly he took the pawn on d6, then after hanging it in the air he put it back and said something to me. I saw right away that he played a wrong combination counting on 30. Nxd6 Rxd6 31. Rxf7+ and forgetting about 30… Kxd6. I said: “you took the pawn” with a calm, but firm voice and he took it with the knight. I didn’t find the best placement of my pieces right away, but as soon as I did he resigned.

We analyzed the game afterwards, he admitted that Nxd6 was a combination that went wrong. I criticized my g5.