chess strategy

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.


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.

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.

It was Monday’s club, my opponent was my old nemesis, I think my score with him was 1.5:2.5. He chose Modern Defense, I knew he plays it.

In the opening he advanced his pawns on both flanks and I strengthened the center. Then on move 19 computer suggests I missed e5, with 2.43 evaluation. So here is this nice line -19. e5 dxe5 20. fxe5 Nxe5  21. Rxf6  Kxf6 22. Rxe5. If 22… Kxe5 then mate, if 22… Rxe5 then 23. Qf2 winning the queen and if 22… Kg7 then 23. Nf5.

21. Nd5 was a mistake, but the right move for Black was not 22… Ne4, but 22… cxb4 23. Qxb4 Rxe1 24. Nxe1 Qc5. After 22… Ne4 I was in a shock and got desperate. I calculated rightly that after 24. Ne5 I would be worse and chose Ng5. Interesting that computer evaluates it as 0.00.

Computer doesn’t like 26. Bh3 and recommends Ne6 with -0.6 estimate. Then I got that funny idea about exchanging my bishop and was actually about -3 after 28. f5, but only if he would play 28… cxb4. After 28… Qd8 it is equal. 30. Ne6 was not a good move, Qd3 was keeping the balance. But he decided, after some thought, to give back the exchange. I got energized after that and started to look for advantage. In a few moves I succeeded.

Computer thinks that 35… Qf7 would keep him alive with 1.8 estimate. After his 35… Qe2 I found 36. Kg1 to avoid a perpetual and the game was basically over, he resigned in a few moves.


It was a second round in Thursdays club. My opponent was a boy I beat about  a year ago with Black. I had White this time and played Ruy Lopez.

After the opening there was some maneuvering. Then he made a mistake by playing 21… Rc8. White could play 22. a4 bxa4 23. Bxa6 Nb8 24. Bxc8 Rxc8, otherwise the knight on c6 is lost due to the pin, but I didn’t see it. His 22… Re7 missed my 23. d5, then another mistake was 23… Nb8.

On move 28 I saw that I have a decisive advantage, but didn’t like 28. Qh6 because of 28… Rxf5 29. exf5 Nxd5. Computer says there was a mate in 9 after that with 30. Re4 Ne7 31. Rg4 Ng6 32. fxg6 fxg6 33. Bxg6 Qe7 34. Bf5 Kf7 35. Qxh7+ Ke8 36. Rg8+ Qf8 37. Re1+ Kd8 38. Rxf8#.

After 29. Qf2 he played expected Kh8, the next moves came naturally, in the end I had 6.5 minutes left. He resigned after  32. Ne7.

It was a second round of Mondays club tournament.  My opponent was 1307 rated guy, I had Black. He played Italian game, the line where I remembered I have to take on c3 with a bishop.

The mainline is 9. d5 Bf6 10. Re1 Ne7 11. Rxe4, but he played 9. bxc3.  I had a feeling that he had a compensation for the pawn, computer evaluates the position as equal.  Then I unintentionally gave the pawn back, though it is actually a computer move. I considered 22… Rxe3, but then decided to keep rooks. It became easier to play, I maneuvered and waited.

Then his 30. Qe6 allowed me to play 31… Qc2. 32… Qxa4 was an option, but I didn’t want my queen to be too far from the theater of war. He didn’t play the best moves and his position deteriorated. I thought that I have to keep f5 square under control to avoid perpetual, but didn’t see that after 40… Qxd4 41. Qf5+ g6 42. Qf7+ Black had Qg7.

By move 48 I felt that I am stuck with that perpetual threat and played 48… c5. It unbalanced the position, he got into a time trouble, allowed my Qf5  and resigned.

It was a 5th round in the Thursdays club. My opponent was a 1478 rated guy with whom I had a 4:0 score, 3 wins with Black in Italian Game. It was again Italian Game. I did not play well in the opening and already after move 9 was in a serious trouble. He developed a strong attack and I tried to hold on.

Computer thinks he would be better after 26. Qc4, then d5. I thought I can’t play 26… Nxe5, but I could  and it was equal – 26… Nxe5 27. Nxe5 fxe5 28. Qxb6 Rd1+!. My 26… Rhe8 was also good. I missed 28… Ne5 possibility. All the time I had to watch for a possible sacrifice on a6. Then on move 32 I could lose if he would play Rd2, the idea is that rook goes to d6. He didn’t see it. After the knights exchange I started to feel good.

After his 36. Qc3 I didn’t like Rxb6 threat and played 36… Rd7. Computer suggests 36… Qd6 was better. Then after 37… Rd4 I felt that I intercepted the initiative, though it was still equal. Computer says that 39… c4 was very strong, with -3 evaluation. I decided that 41… Rd2 will be stronger than Rxa4, computer agrees.

Then a crucial moment of the game came when he played 43. g4. I saw Rxg4 right away, but then noticed that after 43… Rxg4 44. fxg4 Qxg4+ he has 45. Qg3 defense. So I decided it won’t work and played Qd4+. It was a big mistake. After 43… Rxg4 44. fxg4 Qd4+! there is a forced mate. There is a mate also he declines the sacrifice and plays 44… Kh1, Black follows with 44… Qf5 45. Qf1 Rxh2+ 46. Kxh2 Qf4+ 47. Kh1 Qh3+ 48. Qh3 Qxh3#.

Then after 45. Qg3 it became equal, but in 2 moves he blundered his rook on a1.  It would be over after 48… Rd1, computer says mate in 17, but  I played Qb2. In the next few moves he managed to advance his “e” pawn and force me to give up a rook for it.  I had less than 5 minutes and stopped writing the moves. Then I couldn’t avoid the queens exchange and we ended up in a rook endgame where I was better.

There was a moment when I could exchange the rooks with each of us having a pawn on the kingside  and me having an “a” pawn on the queenside. But I thought that his king would lock my king up there, so I avoided this exchange. After the game our TD told me that there was a win for me, that my king could escape, I am not sure. Anyway he managed to exchange the pawns on the kingside and win that “a” pawn, so we ended up with  a draw.

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