chess strategy

It was a first round of a new tournament. My opponent was a Russian-speaking acquaintance, rated 2158. I had a loss against him in regular and and a draw in rapid in the past. The second time in two weeks my opponent played London System.

His 5. Nc3 was a surprise, I had a feeling that I shouldn’t take on b2. He said after the game that he would play Nb5, it gives White an advantage. The best for Black was 5… c4. I played 8… Nd7 because of Qa4 threat and it was a mistake. 9… f6 was played for the same reason, I didn’t want his knight jumping on e5 after Qa4.

Feeling under pressure I decided to give up a7 pawn to improve my position. But then e5 was another bad, impulsive move, played out of desperation. After 31. Ncd6 I saw that I am losing and it affected me, causing the final blunder.




It was a last round. I had only 2/4 and bad performance rating, so didn’t want to leave it as is and went to play despite of being tired. My opponent was a guy I drew with some time ago in Italian game. This time he chose Ruy Lopez, Exchange variation and I played my favorite Bronstein variation.  We castled opposite sides, his 9. Rb1 was a novelty. I thought that my attack was developing faster and decided to ignore his demonstrations on the queenside.

After his king escaped to the center I decided to open it. I expected him to play 29. d4, not Kd1. Computer prefers to play 33… c5, I played it 2 moves later. I saw 37… Re8, but the time already started to affect me and I played Bd4 even feeling that it was not the best move. I missed an opportunity to win the game on the spot by playing 42… Bc2+. After 43. Ka2 Qb3 44. Ka1 Bxd3 45. Nd6+ Black is +6.

42… Qf6 was a mistake, letting him to play 43. Qe6+ with an equal position after queens exchange. But he didn’t play it and gave a check. He was getting into a serious time trouble having 10-15 seconds left before each move (increment was 30 seconds). My next moves were not the best, but then I found the winning 49. Qf2. He tried to make a move and his flag fell, I think it was a blunder Qb2 anyway.

It was a 3rd round in the Mondays club. I unexpectedly got a 1281 rated young man. Before we started the game he told me that his last performance rating was 400 higher and his rating before that was about 1100. It made me play more carefully. My shape as I discovered later was not good, I was tired after Sunday’s trip.

I got White, Closed Sicilian. After the opening I started to attack on the kingside, but then didn’t see how I can advance and went for some preventive measures on the queenside.  Computer doesn’t like my 17. Bxc3 preferring Nxc3 with equality. Then I missed d5 and got into somewhat inferior position with -0.75 estimate. I didn’t want to get into a passive defense after 27. Qxc1 Rc8, then Qc7, so decided to sacrifice a pawn and try to counter-attack.

30… Nc5 was a crucial mistake. I saw 31. Nh5 of course, but then thought that after 31… Bxh5 32. Rg1+ Bg6 33. fxg6 Qe7 he is OK. But he is actually not because of 34. g7 Rb8 35. Bg4 and he has to give up his queen. So I played 31. Be2 which was missing the win because of Qe7. But he didn’t see it and made the same mistake again playing Na4. Here I decided to burn the bridges and played Rg1. I was not thinking clearly and thought that his king can escape to h8, still… Suddenly he shook my hand, resigned and said that he had to play Qe7, not Qd6. I accepted of course, but couldn’t undestand why he resigned, thinking he saw ghosts.

On my way home I analyzed the position again and started to think that maybe there was something. At home I saw of course, that escape to h8 doesn’t help – 32… Kh8 33. Nh5 Rg8 33. Rxg8+ and mate next move. The best for him was Ba2, then king could escape to f7. Still after 32… Ba2 33. Nh5+ Kf7 34. Rg7+ Ke8 35. Ra7 Nb6 36. Nf7+ Kd8 37. Rxa5 White is +4 and winning.

It was a 4th round in the Thursday’s club, my opponent was a boy rated 1596. He had White and played Scotch Gambit. I had it 4 months ago and went along the same line with 5… d6. It is a 3rd book choice, but with good stats.

I was feeling under pressure until move 20, he could play 19. f6 with 0.5 advantage. Then I equalized, then suddenly he played 25. Kf2, it wasn’t a good move. His position started to deteriorate.

I considered 29… Rxe4 and didn’t quite like it, because it would lead just to a rook endgame with me being pawn up. So I found 29… d5. His 32. Rxd5 was a game losing mistake and after 32… Qxf5 he resigned, Computer evaluated this position as -9.

It was a last round, I was playing against the leader having 4/4 (despite of his 1442 rating). I expected him, looked at the game that I won with Back against him, but unexpectedly got White. He played French, I chose Tarrasch closed as usual and after 11 moves was on my own, as Bf4 that I remembered didn’t look alright because of Qxb2. I wanted to prevent e5, but didn’t see how and only after I played 15. Qd2 I saw that I had to provoke, not prevent e5. If let’s say 15. h3 e5 then 16. Rxc6 bxc6 17. dxe5 and I win 2 pieces for a rook. But it was already late, as now it didn’t work.

I was feeling under pressure until 23. h3, but then realized that I am OK and his position has some weaknesses including king cover. His 23… h5 just strengthened that point of view. I saw that I can play Nxh5 with the following queen check, but then I thought that Rf7 prevents it, not seeing the check on e8.  Then I saw 27. Nxg7, but again thought that it is not possible because of 27… Ne4, but White just plays 28. Nxe6 and stays the pawn up.

Instead of 31. Nd4 I could play 31. Qh4 Kg8 32. g5 and Black can’t move the knight because of g6 threat. 31… g6 was a game losing mistake.

It means “Success favors those who take pains”. It was 4th round in Monday’s club. I didn’t feel like I am in my best shape returning late from relatives  because of the blown tire, still decided to play. My opponent was a young guy rated 1688. I got White and played Closed Sicilian. On move 12 I didn’t like 12. fxe5 Bxe5 not seeing yet g4, so I took some risk and played f5, though computer gives a line 12. f5 gxf5 13. exf5 Nxf5 14. Rxf5 Bxf5 15. g4 which considers equal.

On move 14 I didn’t see that he can win a pawn, computer thinks it was a mistake to take it. It doesn’t like 18. Ne2 and prefers Nd5. So I am worse after 20 moves, but 22… Qb6 gave me the initiative and 23… Qa6 was a crucial mistake. After 24. Qh6 I considered a possibility of Nf5, but thought that he can just play Re8, so I found Nh5. Actually 25. Nf5 wins too after 25… Re8 26. Qh4.

So he thought for at least half an hour and found 26… f6.  I didn’t know what to choose – 27. Rg3+ or 27.Qg6+, chose the first one. Qg6+ was mate in 7. Then 29. h6 was a mistake, Rxf6 was mate in 5. He made two mistakes 31… Rxg3 and 32… Rag8, mine was drawing one 32. Rxe6.

It was a 3rd round in the Mondays tournament and my opponent was a young man, I played him before and won twice. He got Black and like in the last game played Exchange variation of the Queen’s Gambit, Slav Defense. I tried to play it differently than last time, so Nh5 was the solution. I didn’t like his 17. f4 and 18. Kf2, computer says it’s OK.

His 27. Ke3 was a mistake, I could get 2.5 advantage by playing 27… a5.  29… Qxe2 was also better with +2. Then he played provocative 37. g4, I could answer by 37… g5! 38. fxg5 h4! with about +3 advantage. I missed g5 again on move 39.

My hesitant 49… Qf5 started a bad sequence of the moves. After his 50. b5 I panicked and played Qc8, really bad move. Instead 50… Qh5+ was saving the situation, after 51. Ke3 Qh2 52. Qa8+ Kh7 53. Qxd5 Qxg3+ the game was equal. Soon I realized that I am going to lose. I saw that he had a nice mate in 2: 56. Qh8+ Bxf8 57. Qxh8#, but he didn’t see it. Still, after a few moves I had to resign.



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