chess strategy


It was a last round, my opponent was an old guy rated 1922, I had =1, -1 with him in the past. I got White and he played Owen’s defense. I had a difficult choice on move 10 and eventually decided to trade queens. I didn’t expect his Ke7 and the best in this situation was to keep queens by playing Qe2. 13. b4 wasn’t a good move, I didn’t realize I am weakening my position.

Soon I started to feel under pressure and on move 28 decided to sacrifice a pawn. It actually worked and I got real drawing chances, but then I made a big mistake playing 40. Ke3. I thought that my king should be closer to his “c” pawn, but much more important was blocking his pawns.

I considered playing 41. f4, but  realized that it will lose because his pawns would be too far one from another. The position continued to deteriorate and I had only a few minutes left. Still I missed an excellent chance that he gave me by playing 47. Ke2. There was a nice combination – 48. b7 Bxb7 49. Bxe4 Bc8 50. Kc2 Bd7 51. Kxc3 Bxa4 52. Bxf3+ Kxf3 53. Kb2 Kxf2 with  a draw.

Interesting that couple of days after the game he sent me a message via Facebook and pointed to this opportunity as well as to the missed draw after 40. Ke3.

I played this game two weeks ago. My opponent was a young guy, I played him once before and won. We got Slav Exchange, we were equal until I missed a combination 16… Nxb2 17. Rxb2 Bxa3 with a 0.5 advantage.

I considered 20… Nxa3, but decided not to take it, in any case computer considers it equal. Then after his 28. Qg4 I got better. I made a mistake playing 30… Qf7 instead of 30… fxg5 with advantage and noticed 31. g6! right away. I even thought I could lose, but it is a draw. Taking on f4 I foresaw my queen’s return to h6 after check. Of course it was a bad idea for him to exchange his knight for my bishop.

Then he got into a time trouble and made a serious mistake by playing 37. Kh3, 37… Qf5 was winning on the spot. Anyway soon he made another mistake – 39. Qd6 which was decisive.

These games were played last Thursday and Monday, in rounds 4 of the respective tournaments. In both cases I had White and my opponents played Sicilian Defense. I didn’t find the right plan and made some tactical mistakes in both games.

Thursday’s game – my opponent was an old former master, I had +1, -1 score with him before. We played Sicilian, Moscow variation, I chose a quiet line. Then it was a positional play until we reached move 23. After his Qc6 I saw that I can win a pawn on a5, but thought that after rooks exchange he will catch my knight – 24. Rxa5 Rxa5 25. Nxa5 Qa4, but didn’t see 26. Qa7. If you would look at the end of the game you would realize how crucial this pawn was. I played 24. Raa1 and after a4 he intercepted the initiative. Then instead of 27. Ra2 I played Qd4. The idea was close – to do something against the “a” pawn, but what was needed was blocking. Then on move 29 I missed it again and quickly got really worse. His attack developed and soon I lost.

Monday’s game – my opponent was a Russian speaking boy, who grew from a “B” class player to a master on my eyes, my score with him in the last 4 years  was 2.5:4.5 (with a positive score in a few years before that). He played Sicilian Defense, I chose Rossolimo variation.  It went wrong almost from the beginning, when I decided to develop my bishop to b2. Then it was a very bad idea to take on f4. As soon as I played it I realized that when I will move my knight after 17… exf4 he can play f3 with really serious consequences for me. But he probably didn’t see it and played Rxf4. It was difficult to find the right moves and I was getting worse and worse. On move 28 I decided to sacrifice a pawn, but it didn’t give me any relief. In the endgame his queen was very strong and it decided the game.

 

This game was played 2.5 weeks ago, on Thursday. my opponent was a teenager boy,  I had 2 draws with him with Black. This time I had White and he played Sicilian, d6. I chose my favorite Moscow variation, Maroczy bind.

Two things were unusual for this line – I put my knight on c3 only on move 22 and he counterattacked on the kingside without castle. I did not believe his attack was sound, but decided to be careful. After all the smoke disappeared, he found himself in a worse position.

I thought that his queens exchange was a mistake, but 22… exd4 was not better. He got a couple of weak pawns that was difficult to defend. He also had less time, like 7 minutes to my 15-20. His 26… Ke6 was a mistake and 27… Ke7 lost the game.

It was a round 1 of the Mondays tournament. My opponent was a girl rated 1475. I had White and we played Ruy Lopez. We got a position with a closed center. I missed 22. e5 dxe5 23. Bf5 winning an exchange.

I tried to develop an attack on the kingside, she was maneuvering pretty well. Somehow I lost the initiative and could get worse after 32… g5. I soon got annoyed with all that and decided to sacrifice a pawn in the center. Actually I had to play 36. d6 after her 35… dxe5 that was a mistake and I would be much better.

Anyway the position became dynamical and not easy to play, that was my intention. 45… Qd8 was not the best move, better Qa7. Then she made a decisive mistake playing 44… Kg7. I saw the possibility to promote with check and played it. Being almost a rook down, she blundered and resigned.

 

I played two games this week after a long break, Caro-Kann defense with different colors.

In the first game I had Black. It was an Advance Variation, computer recommends playing 12… Rc8 and 13… h5. Anyway I was OK until I played 15… Nh6 instead of Nh4. After 19. Nf4 I had to give up an exchange due to Ng6# or Nxe6 threats. Instead of 20… Na5 I had to take on b2, then Rdb1 leaves d4 pawn without defense and Rab1 is not good either, so 21. Qd3 is the best.

His 29. Qb1 was a blunder, it was strange because he had a lot of time. Computer says 34… Qg5 was a mistake and recommends 34… Rd3 with ~-3 evaluation. 37. Rf2 was another blunder, he could play Rd1. But then I made a mistake that decided the game. I hesitated to take on g4, after 38… Rxg4 39. Kh3 Rxg3+ Black is ~-4. After he played Rcf1 the position became equal, but I lost the initiative and was in time trouble. So no wonder I played 39. Bc5? instead of equalizing Rd2. After 40. Rf8 it became really bad, 40… Qxf8 was also losing, I evaluated that right. 41. Qb7 was played with 6 seconds on the clock.

In the second game my opponent was a young man, I played him 3 months ago and drew with White in Caro-Kann, he played Caro-Kann again. His 28… Rh6 was a mistake, after 28… Nxh5 it was equal. The same thing a move later, 29… Nxh5 was a huge mistake, I calculated right that g2 and g3 pawns will defend my king against the queen on h5.

But by move 32 I had only about 5 minutes left and made an error playing 32. Rxe6, instead Qa4 with 33. cxb7 after 32… Kb8 or 32… a6 was winning. Then I had to play 33. cxb7+ Qxb7 34. Qd3 covering b1 square. 34. Qf6 or 35. Qf6 was leaving me with some advantage. Instead I allowed a rook check on d1 and then even 36. Kf2, which was not risky as I thought seeing Qb6+, lead to an equal position anyway.

Still he made another mistake, taking on b6 with a pawn. There was a 41. g4 pawn sacrifice that was winning, but with less than a minute left, playing on 15 seconds increment, I didn’t see that. Then it was a pawn race and soon after we got into a queen endgame he offered a draw which I accepted. The final position was equal.

It is not about the money, it’s about one move in a second round game in the Thursday’s club.  My opponent was a boy, I drew him with White 7 months ago in the same opening, Sicilian, Moscow variation.

I had some pressure after the opening and after exchanges on e5 thought I can get an attack on the kingside. A crucial moment came after his 28… Re8.  I played an obvious 29. Rg5+ and after Kh8 suddenly realized that it is me who is now under pressure. Instead of 29. Rg5 I had to play 29. Ref1, then to 29… Re6 I could reply Rf7 and have about +1 advantage.

So, I had to make a few balancing moves and after he forced queens exchange I accepted his draw offer.

 

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