chess openings


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.

 

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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.

 

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.

 

 

My opponent was a girl rated 1274, surprisingly she played Evans Gambit.  This was a 4th time I got this gambit OTB, score before was 1.5:1.5. I played again Cordel variation. Her 10. Bb5+ was out of the book. Computer doesn’t like her queens exchange.

After 13. Nf3 I found Nxe4, in a few moves computer gives me ~-2.5. Then instead of my 23… Nxa3 I had to play stronger Bd3. I looked at it, but found my bishop kind of hanging after 23… Bd3 24. Rd1. But there was a line using the weakness of the first horizontal – 23… Bd3 24. Rd1 Bg6 25. Rxd8 Rxd8 26. Nxe4 Nxc4, eventually winning the “a” pawn.

Anyway I had an advantage and managed to increase it. On move 30 I saw h3, but thought that after 30… h3 31. g3 Bh5 she has g4. So I played 30… Bf7 attacking “a” pawn and only then saw that there was a much more interesting idea to get my bishop on e4 after h3. But she found it and played h3 herself. Actually 30… h3 31. g3 Bf7 32. c4 Bxc4 33. Rd1 Bd5 34. Rxd5 cxd5 was winning for Black.

Soon my bishops became a very powerful force and I started to advance my “a” pawn. When I queened she resigned.

It was a first round in Mondays club, my opponent was an old man, I had 4.5:0.5 score against him. He played Ruy Lopez, his move 7 was obvious, but not good, he had to play 7. dxe5 with equality. So after 8 moves I was up  a pawn. Computer criticizes his 10. c4, preferring simple a3.

Then he played 16. Nxe4, it was ~-4. The idea for Black was after 16… dxe4  17. Qg4 Qd5 18. Re1 to play  18… d3. I considered it, but thought that after 18…d3 19. Bh6 Qxe5 he will take on d3. But I could just play 19… g6 20. Bxf8 Bxf8 21. Bd1 Qxe5, it was ~-5 . So after 18… Qxe5 the game simplified. I was keeping some advantage, but then blundered playing 23… Rb6. It was a bad sign showing that I am not in a good shape.

We eventually transferred into a rook endgame, I was able to activate my rook for the price of pawn. Then he made a game losing mistake playing 33. Rb4?? , Re8 was winning. Of course I saw that motif with d2 and Re1+, but I think I started to see it later. Then I got that idea to sacrifice a rook on b2, then play c3 and get two connected passed pawns.

On move 37 I decided that I am ready, my king could go to d6 after rook check and cover c7 square. As soon as I played it I realized that he has a check on e2 after which the game is over. He thought for some time and played it. At home I found that he also had Rb7 + and then Ke1, stopping my pawns. In a few moves I resigned.

It was a last round in the Thursdays club. My opponent, young man rated 1693, instead of playing expected Sicilian e6, played Hyper Accelerated Dragon. I took into account my shape after super stressful day and decided to take it easy, so made it closed.

My move 11. Ne2 was unfortunate and let him to create some pressure. 11… d5 was forcing me to exchange the dark colored bishop, his 11… Qd7 also looked like it was forcing that. I didn’t want to give up a pawn or the bishop, not liking his bishop then sitting on h6. So I made that Ng1 move, though after 0-0-0 could have an equal position, because after 12. 0-0-0 Nxf3 13. Bxf3 Bxh3 the same Ng1 was getting back the “h” pawn.

I was feeling uncomfortable until my king escaped to the safe place. Then I intercepted the initiative. After his 29. Qb4 his possible Nc4 jump was getting on my nerves and I played Nd5, though had a feeling that it was not the best move. Instead after 30. f4 Nc4 31. Qe2 I was +1.50.

So after 30. Nd5 the game became equal, then 40. Qd3 was inaccuracy, he could play Re1 with -0.50. Instead he played Rf5 and I trapped it by f4. I had a feeling that 43. f5 won’t give me anything and that was right, I could even lose after 43. f5 Nd7 44. fxg6?? Ne5!! 45. gxf7 Kg6 46. Qd1 Ng4. Move 46 was the last move in my scoresheet, I stopped writing the moves. Around that time with me having 3 minutes vs. his 2 I offered a draw. It was a psychological mistake. I thought I was better, nevertheless he just didn’t say anything and continued to play.

I couldn’t find any plan, my threats on the kingside were toothless. With 1 minute remaining (15 seconds increment) I started to make mistakes, my bad shape showed finally. I let his knight to get to g4 and his queen also got into my territory, as a result I lost an exchange. Then I also blundered on pin my f5 pawn and his rook got free, that was the end of it. I was upset of course, a draw would bring me a shared first place.

Going home I realized that if I would attack on the queenside after trapping his rook, I would have a big advantage. So I ran computer analysis, computer started with 47. Re3, then forced either queens exchange with White rook then attacking the queenside and winning or White queen and rook were getting to the 8th line, forcing Black to sacrifice the rook on f5 trying to get perpetual. The Black could get some counter-play, still with +1.80 estimate.

It just so happened that I played twice this variation of Scotch Gambit this week. Lately I started to understand the ideas for Black, before I didn’t feel comfortable meeting this line.

Game 1 – I finished my work at 6pm after being stressed the whole day and managed to get on time to the club. My opponent was a boy rated 1632, it is a last round of Mondays tournament. On move 14 I played stopping f5. Then I played 18… c5 and after 19… Bc6 started to feel good about the position. I thought on move 20 almost 30 minutes about d4 and didn’t play it. Then my 24… d4 finally followed, but his 25. Bf6 forced me to reevaluate the position.

I decided to sacrifice an exchange, seeing that it deflects any attack on the kingside and my bishops are very strong. At home I was surprised that computer evaluated my sacrifice only as -0.22, but even more surprising was that I was winning after 25… dxc3! 26. Rxd7 Qxd7 27. bxc3 Qd1 28. Ne1 Rf7 with White pieces completely out of play and -5.00 estimate.

Anyway the initiative was on my side. His 30. b4 wasn’t a good move, then after 30… Qe6 I expected 30. Re1. He played Rg1? and I got an idea of attacking his g2 square. My 31… Re2 was a right move, it is actually -5.70. I saw possible 32. Nxe4, but didn’t like exchanging the queens and going into endgame, so I decided to reply Qe4 to any of his moves, keeping the attack. He played 32. Nxd4 happily saying something, I quickly replied 32. Qe4 and suddenly to my horror he just took my rook. I realized that I blundered, my emotional state finally showed.

Then forced queens exchange followed and after resisting for 10 more moves I resigned. I was very upset, I got even more upset when at home computer told me that after 32…Rxd2 he was either mated – 33. Nxe6 Bxg2+! 34. Rxg2 Rd1+ 35. Rg1 Rxg1# or was losing the queen.

Game 2 – I had a quiet day at work, had to spend almost hour and 30 minutes to get to the club because of the rain. My was opponent was the same boy as year ago in the same round of the same tournament. He played Scotch Gambit then and I won in d6 line. Now it was Dubois-Reti variation. He played pretty confidently, but his 13. Nc3 looked suspicious. Then I found a right moment to play f6. Computer thinks he had to play 21. exf6 with an equal position, after 22. Rfe1 I got an advantage. But my 23… Rf5 was’n the best move, 23… Rf2 24. Rac1 Rf4 25. Nd3 Rc4 was better. Then I saw 24… c5, but after some consideration decided not to play it.

His 28. Rab1 only looked good, computer recommends 28… Ke7 with -1.20 evaluation. But I decided to play 28… d4, it gave up all the advantage. We exchanged the rooks, then after his 35. Na6 I found defensive Bf7. To my surprise he decided to take on c7, I knew it was losing. He found a trick to save the knight, but the pawn endgame was lost for him of course. After some resistance he resigned.

 

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