chess strategy

It was a second round in a new club, my opponent was an old guy rated 1891. He got White and played Four Knights. I found only 8 games I played OTB with +2, =4, -2 score. So, I am not very familiar with it and played 4… d6 line. Then I found 8… c5 book move, as well as 9… Bxf5. It was a pity to exchange the bishop, but his knight just looked too dangerous. The same was with 11… Qg4, by the way it was a computer move with ~0.5 evaluation.

Then I got my pawns moving on the kingside, after 20 moves it was an equal position. I was planning f5 for some time, still missed playing it on move 24. I didn’t want to leave f5 pawn under attack, but didn’t see that my bishop would attack b2 pawn after 24… f5 25. e5 dxe5 26. fxe5 Rxe5 27. Rxe5 Bxe5. Then our struggle continued in the center. He had less time all the game and when he had 4.5 minutes and I had 9 we repeated the moves.

The shootouts I ran from the final point ended up in a draw. I was very satisfied with the result.

It was a last round of the Monday’s tournament. My opponent was a guy rated 100 lower, I won two times against him in the past. We played French, Tarrasch, closed variation. I wanted to avoid Bd3, c3 line and played 5. f4. He traded the light pieces, I didn’t want to avoid the queens trade by the price of castling.

I thought that I have an advantage after the opening and planned f5 for quite some time. Computer offers 30. h4 Rc8 31. h5 Na7 32. Bc5 Nc6 33. Rh1 with +1.40 estimate. My 31. f5 gave back most of the advantage. Another mistake was exchanging of the light-colored bishops. Soon I got a feeling that my advantage is gone and I need to switch to defense. That plus being low on time forced my bad decision to exchange the rooks, computer evaluates it as -3.

Three times, on moves 41-43 he missed the possibility to play h5 with a win. I had to play g4, but didn’t realize that my “g” pawn will become an object of an attack. On move 44 he finally played h5 and the game was decided. It was an upsetting end of a not a good tournament.

That’s what was in my mind when the first round of a new tournament was starting. Finally after 10 month break I am playing with the high rated opponents, in the top section. I got a boy rated 1813 and had White. After first 10 moves in Ruy Lopez I got a feeling that he is not very familiar with the theory. Computer prefers d5 to my 14. a4. His 14… Qb6 was a mistake, I played Be3 almost right away. I started to consider Nd5 around that time, but never played it, computer wants me to play it on move 16.

One of the critical moments of the game came after he played 20… b4. I couldn’t resist from playing 21. Bxf6 intending to take on h7 then. I soon realized that my attack is not as dangerous as I thought, computer considers the position equal. Then after his 26… d5 I had 27. Nc5 Bc6 28. Bd7 Bd4+ 29. Kh1 Bxd7 30. Nxd7+ Ke8 with advantage, but I didn’t see it.

Then on move 28 he made a crucial mistake by playing Nf6. 33. Rc1+ was winning on the spot, I didn’t notice that he doesn’t have Bc6 defense because the rook on a8 would lose the defender. He was very low on time, 10-15 seconds left, I had about a minute. When I took on f6 I saw that he probably has a perpetual, but I didn’t have time to find something else. Fortunately I found that I have Kf2 and Re2 defense.

When I hid my king on g3 I started to breath easier. Then he took his rook and trying to find a place for it, put it on c8. He exclaimed something, it is funny that people do that when they blunder, attracting attention.


My opponent was a young man, I won a few times with White against him, this time I had Black. The game started as a Reti Opening, but then transformed into King’s Indian Attack. My bishop would be better located on e7. His 10. h4 was weird and 12. Ng5 was a mistake.

Computer recommends 13… Bc5 with the following 14. Nb3 Bxf2+ 15. Rxf2 Nxf2 16. Qxd8 Raxd8 17. Kxf2 h6 18. Nf3 Ng4+ 19. Ke1 Rd3 with a strong attack. I considered sacrifice on f2 then and later, but couldn’t see that far. 16. Qb3 wasn’t a good idea. After 18… Ne6 I felt that I have a serious advantage. Then I saw a sacrifice on e4 and played it. He looked surprised and after some thinking suddenly played Bxd4. After I took on d4 he resigned.

Pianoforte is Italian for “soft-loud”. It was a penultimate round in Wednesdays club, I got 1412 rated boy, he had White. He played Giuoco Piano, started very confidently. I had to take on d4 on move 11. Computer says that 14… Bb7 was allowing him to play e5 with ~0.9 advantage.

I didn’t like his 17. Nb1 and got a feeling that I can intercept the initiative. Then 21. Nb1 was a serious mistake. After my 21… c5 his 22. c4 was a bad answer. I saw a check on d4 and played it. Computer prefers 26… Bxg2+. My attack was getting stronger, I won a piece. Eventually I transferred into a won endgame where I just had to play carefully.

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.


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