chess tactics

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.



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 first round in Mondays club, my opponent was an old man, I had 4.5:0.5 score against him. He played Ruy Lopez, his move 7 was obvious, but not good, he had to play 7. dxe5 with equality. So after 8 moves I was up  a pawn. Computer criticizes his 10. c4, preferring simple a3.

Then he played 16. Nxe4, it was ~-4. The idea for Black was after 16… dxe4  17. Qg4 Qd5 18. Re1 to play  18… d3. I considered it, but thought that after 18…d3 19. Bh6 Qxe5 he will take on d3. But I could just play 19… g6 20. Bxf8 Bxf8 21. Bd1 Qxe5, it was ~-5 . So after 18… Qxe5 the game simplified. I was keeping some advantage, but then blundered playing 23… Rb6. It was a bad sign showing that I am not in a good shape.

We eventually transferred into a rook endgame, I was able to activate my rook for the price of pawn. Then he made a game losing mistake playing 33. Rb4?? , Re8 was winning. Of course I saw that motif with d2 and Re1+, but I think I started to see it later. Then I got that idea to sacrifice a rook on b2, then play c3 and get two connected passed pawns.

On move 37 I decided that I am ready, my king could go to d6 after rook check and cover c7 square. As soon as I played it I realized that he has a check on e2 after which the game is over. He thought for some time and played it. At home I found that he also had Rb7 + and then Ke1, stopping my pawns. In a few moves I resigned.

It just so happened that I played twice this variation of Scotch Gambit this week. Lately I started to understand the ideas for Black, before I didn’t feel comfortable meeting this line.

Game 1 – I finished my work at 6pm after being stressed the whole day and managed to get on time to the club. My opponent was a boy rated 1632, it is a last round of Mondays tournament. On move 14 I played stopping f5. Then I played 18… c5 and after 19… Bc6 started to feel good about the position. I thought on move 20 almost 30 minutes about d4 and didn’t play it. Then my 24… d4 finally followed, but his 25. Bf6 forced me to reevaluate the position.

I decided to sacrifice an exchange, seeing that it deflects any attack on the kingside and my bishops are very strong. At home I was surprised that computer evaluated my sacrifice only as -0.22, but even more surprising was that I was winning after 25… dxc3! 26. Rxd7 Qxd7 27. bxc3 Qd1 28. Ne1 Rf7 with White pieces completely out of play and -5.00 estimate.

Anyway the initiative was on my side. His 30. b4 wasn’t a good move, then after 30… Qe6 I expected 30. Re1. He played Rg1? and I got an idea of attacking his g2 square. My 31… Re2 was a right move, it is actually -5.70. I saw possible 32. Nxe4, but didn’t like exchanging the queens and going into endgame, so I decided to reply Qe4 to any of his moves, keeping the attack. He played 32. Nxd4 happily saying something, I quickly replied 32. Qe4 and suddenly to my horror he just took my rook. I realized that I blundered, my emotional state finally showed.

Then forced queens exchange followed and after resisting for 10 more moves I resigned. I was very upset, I got even more upset when at home computer told me that after 32…Rxd2 he was either mated – 33. Nxe6 Bxg2+! 34. Rxg2 Rd1+ 35. Rg1 Rxg1# or was losing the queen.

Game 2 – I had a quiet day at work, had to spend almost hour and 30 minutes to get to the club because of the rain. My was opponent was the same boy as year ago in the same round of the same tournament. He played Scotch Gambit then and I won in d6 line. Now it was Dubois-Reti variation. He played pretty confidently, but his 13. Nc3 looked suspicious. Then I found a right moment to play f6. Computer thinks he had to play 21. exf6 with an equal position, after 22. Rfe1 I got an advantage. But my 23… Rf5 was’n the best move, 23… Rf2 24. Rac1 Rf4 25. Nd3 Rc4 was better. Then I saw 24… c5, but after some consideration decided not to play it.

His 28. Rab1 only looked good, computer recommends 28… Ke7 with -1.20 evaluation. But I decided to play 28… d4, it gave up all the advantage. We exchanged the rooks, then after his 35. Na6 I found defensive Bf7. To my surprise he decided to take on c7, I knew it was losing. He found a trick to save the knight, but the pawn endgame was lost for him of course. After some resistance he resigned.


It was a 2nd round in the Thursdays club. I had a stressful day, but decided to play. My opponent was a boy rated 1391, still he beat a 1600 rated guy in the previous round. I had Black, we played familiar to me line of Giuoco Piano.  After I already played 16… f5, I noticed that in the line 16… f5 17. Bxf5 Bxf3 he has a fork 18. Ne6 and started to regret the “impulsive” move.

But the computer said that after 18… Qf6 19. Nxf8 Qg5 20. g3 Rxf8 I had two knights for a rook and pawn. The best for him was 18. Bxg6 hxg6 19. Ne6 Qd7 20. Nxf8 Qg4 21. Qxg6 Rxf8 22. Qxg4 Bxg4 with an equal position.

Anyway, he decided to take a safe approach and played 17. Bxd5. Then I got a feeling that 22… Rd8 gave me some initiative. He made a mistake taking a pawn on f5. After his 26. Qh5 a critical moment came. I saw Rxf3, but thought that in the line 26… Rxf3 27. gxf3 Nxf3+ 28. Kf1 I can’t take his rook because of the mate on e8. The thing is I had 28… g6! and if 29. Qh6 then Qd3+ 30. Re2 Qd1 31. Kg2 Qxe2 and I am winning.

So after my prosaic exchange on f3 it was an equal position. Suddenly he played Re3. I couldn’t believe my eyes, it happened when he had 36 minutes left and I had 14. The pawn endgame was of course completely won for me and in a 15 moves he resigned.

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 Thursday’s club, my opponent was a boy rated 1443. He played an Italian Game, the line that I played about a dozen times.

15… Bd5 was a move that I liked, also it was provoking 16. Nc5 and I calculated the consequences of that. He played it and then made a mistake. 20… f5 seemed a bit sharp, but I didn’t like that bishop and it is actually a computer move. 24… Ng6 was giving me a decisive advantage, I played it 2 moves later.

On move 29 I missed a possibility to counterattack with 29… Nh4 30. Qd3 Qf7 31. Kf1 Qg6, I was probably still concentrated on defense. 33. Qxf5 was a crucial mistake, after 34… Nh4+ he resigned.

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