chess endgames


It was a 2nd round in Mondays tournament. My opponent was a boy, I thought that I lost to him some time ago, in a rather quick and painful way. It defined my careful manner of play. I had White, he played Caro-Kann.

Computer prefers 11. h6 to my Bd2. I expected his 14… e5 and was confident about 15. dxe5, computer criticizes his move and recommends Nf6. I got a feeling that I am better after his 20… Rf7 and 21… Rhf8. Computer thinks that I had to play 23. Qf5 instead of Qf3.

The crucial moment came on move 28, I considered 28. Qc7, but for some reason decided to play Qd6. Computer says I would get advantage after 28. Qc7 a6 29. Qxg7. So we transferred into a rook endgame. His 30… Rg8 was too passive, he had to play Re8 and then Re5. 36. f4 was the move instead of g4.

After 40 moves I thought that his initiative on the queenside could be dangerous and decided to do something about it. On move 50 computer recommends Ke3 forcing rooks exchange with ~+1 advantage, but 2 shootouts ended up in a draw. After his 53… c4 I spent some time calculating 54. bxc4+ Rxc4 55. Rxc4 Kxc4 line and saw that we queen at the same time. So I went for it, in a few moves he offered a draw. Interesting that when I came home I found out that I actually had a win against him in that past game, but blundered…

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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 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.

 

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