chess strategy

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.


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 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 was a second round in Monday’s club, my opponent was a young man rated 1699, I drew him 3 years ago. I got White, we played again Rossolimo variation.  It was equal until move 20, then I played Ne4. It was a right idea to use the pin, but I had to play g4 first, if 20. g4 Bc8 21. Rxe8 Rxe8 22. Ne4 White eventually wins d6 or c5 pawn (if Black plays d5 at some point).

We spent a lot of time by the move 25, he spent more, maybe it was a reason he blundered a pawn. I had to play 30. Kc4, I saw it, but didn’t like the diagonal check, not seeing that after 30. Kc4 Qf6 31. Kb5 Qf1+ I had c4. Then I missed his Qe5 reply when I played b4. A few moves later he went for a perpetual.

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.

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