It means through difficulty to heights, thought it suits. I just participated in a big tournament and for a first time in my life shared a first place, it happened before only in the club tournaments. It was a traditional tournament that was organized during the reading week at the university. After disappointing start of the year I decided to start from scratch.  It was 6 rounds, 90 minutes, 30 seconds increment, I registered in U1900 section.

Saturday. I come early, meet several people that I know and have a nice talk.

Round 1. Interestingly, my opponent is the same girl I played in the 2nd round of the big tournament before New Year. She gets White again and plays the same Exchange Variation of Ruy Lopez. I choose my favorite Bronstein variation. It is OK until move 12, then I castle queenside and it is not a good move. Computer suggests c5 with queens exchange and then castling queenside. Then after my 14… Qe7, Houdini says there is a knight sacrifice on a5. Black has to take, in a few moves White gets the bishop on d7, wins a pawn and is ~2.5.

I frankly don’t see it at all, she too. She has the same opportunity on move 16, misses it again, so I win the “e4” pawn. I find a nice spot for my light-colored bishop on b5, another one goes to d6 and I feel good finally. Then suddenly she makes a wrong sacrifice, I realize it right away. I try to play accurately, put my pieces on the right places and do not give any chances. Eventually my passed “a” pawn queens, she still plays until there is a mate on the board. I have 3.5 hours until the next round, get some rest and even have a nap.

Round 2.  I have White and play Ruy Lopez, he chooses Chigorin Variation.  I close the center and try to organize an attack on the kingside, he defends. Computer says I could play a4 on move 18, 3 moves earlier with +0.7 evaluation. Then we shift to the queenside. After playing 29. b4 I see that I missed his 30… b4, but then calm down seeing 33. Ba2. When we get there I see that I also have 33. Bc2.

After 33… Rb2 he offers a draw. I feel somewhat tired, also remember that getting 2 out of 2 in the last 2 big tournaments didn’t do me any good, as I lost in the 3rd round both times. I make a pause, then agree. Driving home I think that maybe I could use his d6 weakness, but also realize that my bishop is not too good. When I come home, Houdini’s evaluation is 0.00. I run 4 shootouts and they all end up in a draw.

Later in the evening I see the pairings, I got White, my opponent is the brother of that girl I lost to in the Mondays club. He played less tournaments and his rating is lower, still it is 1770 FIDE. I can’t find any of his games and it makes me a bit nervous.

Sunday. I come early again and enjoy conversation with the guys I know.

Round 3. The boy starts with 1. d4 and I play Queen’s Indian Accelerated. I want to release pressure caused by his bishop on g5 and play 6… Ne4. Then after his 9. Bd3 I see that I have nothing on the kingside, find 9… Qb4+ and decide to try my chances in the endgame. We both play accurately and it looks equal. I put a last trap playing 26… Nc5, hoping that he might take the knight. I see that it loses after 27. Nxc5 Kxc5 28. Kd3 Kb4 29. Kc2 Ka3 30. a4. But he doesn’t bite and plays 27. Kd2. After my 28… Kc6 he offers a draw, I accept.

The future sequence of events proves that I made a right decision. Also the position was just 0.12 in my favor. I can some rest, some time before the start I learn the name of my opponent. It is a familiar player, a man I have 1.5:0.5 score with, with Black he plays French.

Round 4. French it is, I play my Tarrasch, we get closed variation. I decide to play 4. f4, it recently brought me success. After I play 12. Bh3 I think maybe he could take on e5, but decide to wait for his reply. He doesn’t see 12… fxe5 13. Bxe6+ Kh8 14. 0-0 exd4 15. Kh1 d3 with -1.5. Then his 15… Bd7 misses a strike on d5. I press, but it looks like he is able to block e5 pawn and hold on.

Then I get an idea of playing g4 and putting my queen on f5. It is a good idea, but instead of the actual 34. Qf5 there is Qf3 winning d5 pawn. He defends, he is also in a time trouble. His 36… Qd6 is a decisive mistake, I see Rxf8+ and play it, he resigns.

This is a story of two sacrifices actually, not one. The first was the one I didn’t play and was right, the second one my opponent played and it was wrong. My opponent was an old guy rated 1960. I had White and played Ruy Lopez. No one ever played 5… Na5 against me. I considered 6. Bxf7+ with the following Nxe5, but it looked suspicious to me. I was right, it has only 44% success.

So I played 6. Nxe5, it was a 4th book choice and 2nd good one, as d4 and Bxf7 were not good. I expected 7… Qe7 or 7… Qg5 and was surprised by his Nf6. On move 11 he suddenly sacrificed a bishop. I saw right away that it was a mistake. I overprotected a bit playing Rf1 and giving up b2 pawn, I just didn’t want to give him any chances.

His 23… c5 was a game losing mistake, computer says I had to play 24. Qa7+ and then 25. Qxg7. Then I decided to force the queens exchange and in 8 moves after that the game was over. He told me after the game that he didn’t play for 20 years and had 2000 rating then. I checked, it was right, he played recently only 4 games with =2, -2 result.


My opponent was a new guy, his rating was 2133. He got White and played Danish Gambit. I never encountered it OTB and just a few times online. I knew that I have to play d5, so I did. After 5. cxd4 I suddenly started to treat this position as Scandinavian, maybe just because my queen was on d5. The book moves were 5… Nc6 and 6… Bb4.

Computer thinks 7… c6 was a bad idea. I got behind in development. 12… Bxe5 was really bad, I got annoyed with his threats to f7 and didn’t foresee the consequences. 13… Ne8 lost the game, I missed 14. Bd8. After 15. e6 realized I am in a big trouble. I lasted 7 more moves and resigned.

It was a second round in the new club. My opponent was a veteran rated 1980, playing from 1997. He had Black and played Modern Defense. I don’t know it well, the book says I had to play 5. Qd2. Still it was equal after move 21. Then the tension increased.

Computer doesn’t like his 22… Nh6, preferring Nf6. My 23. Qc3 did’t use it, computer says I had to play g4. I probably wouldn’t look suspiciously at it knowing what happened next. I could play it even 6 moves later, giving up f5 and g3 squares was a mistake.

My position started to deteriorate, letting him play b5 was another mistake. I was getting worse and worse, still continued to play. After 50 moves it became hopeless and I resigned.

It was a third round in Mondays club and I got an old foe, +1,=2 with Black and -2 with White, funny. So luckily I had Black. We played the same line of Queen’s Indian Accelerated as 3 years ago. We had an equal position after the first 15 moves, then he made a mistake playing 16. a3.  I considered 16… Ne5 seeing that his knight is under double attack, but thought that he can jump like Nxe6 leaving my knight under attack too. I didn’t see that his Nd2 was hanging too. So the only choice for him would be to play 17. N4f3 with 17… Nxf3 18. Nxf3 Nxe4 following.

So I played 16… Qe7 planning to exchange my bishop to his knight and untangle my pieces. Then he went for exchanges, that gave me an idea that he wants a draw. I was OK with that I as didn’t think that I am in a great shape and believed that the arisen position was a draw. But he looked determined and continued to play. I was holding on and then he played 40. f5 that looked suspicious to me. Then he made a mistake playing 41. Bxd6. I missed an intermediate check 41… f4+! which after 42. gxf4 Kxd6 43. fxe5+ fxe5 would give me -3 advantage as his bishop would be simply bad.

We got an equal position, but he still wanted to win and played 46. g5, probably counting on something like 46… hxg5 47. hxg5 fxg5 48. Kg5 which would still be a draw by the way. But he missed an intermediate check 46… Bd5+, after which he is lost. I rightly took his pawn with my “f” pawn, not with the “h” one, that would be a draw, I just didn’t want to give him the “h” passed pawn.

On move 49 my Bf7 gave him a chance for a draw, he had to play Ke4 and then Kf5, but he didn’t see that. I was scared of 50. Bg6, but didn’t realize that after 49… Kd6 50. Bg6 Ke6 51. f7 my king gets to e7. After I took on f6 he played two more moves and resigned.


It was a first round in Wednesdays club. I got a #1 rated guy, my Russian-speaking acquaintance expert, he had White. He played London system, which soon became Queen’s Indian Accelerated. After 13 moves I got a position with hanging pawns.

After the game at the post-mortem there were a few people and one of them suggested 14… Nc6 instead of Nd7. His slow 17. Nf1 returned the favor and it was equal after the bishops exchange. You are supposed to play d4, but I don’t know if there was a moment to do that. On move 21 he forced c4 and here I think my inexperience with such positions showed.  I decided that since I moved the pawn I am worse. But computer doesn’t think so and Nimzowitsch in his “My System” gave an example when c4 can be alright, unfortunately I read it only after the game.

In fact 4 shootouts ran from that point ended up +1, =3 for Black.  I also read that you can create pressure on b2 pawn and I didn’t realize that, otherwise I would play 24… Rxc8  25. Rd4 Rb8. I didn’t find 26… Rd7 and after b3 was left with an isolated pawn. My 29… Qe6 was a mistake, maybe I already started to feel the time pressure. I knew that I would lose the “d” pawn and instead of calmly defending I went va banque and played g5, that was not reasonable of course.

He exchanged the queens and here I got my hopes up thinking maybe I can save 2 rooks ending. Computer says I had to play Rxa3, not Rf6, but shootouts say Rf6 was the move. At that moment I had maybe 15-20 seconds left, that’s why my next move 42… Rff4 was a decisive mistake, I had to play Re6. After his check I saw e6 coming after Kg7 or f6, but 43… Kf5 got me into a mating net after 44. Re7. Not finding defense I simply flagged.


This is a post #400, kind of a milestone. I am glad I am not posting my loss. 🙂

My opponent was an old guy, old foe. He played French and chose open variation in Tarrasch. He played it two times before and we drew both times, but this time he played 4…Qxd5…, not 4… exd5. After Qd6 I almost automatically played Qe2 to defend my bishop in case of Nb3 Qb4+. Also this move is played in 4… exd5 line, but here you usually play O-O. Still it is a second choice with even better stats.

My 17. Ne5 created a threat of Nxf7, he saw it and played Ne4. Then his 23… e5 gave me a tactical chance and I played Rd5. On move 27 I didn’t like Nd3 because of Rd8, so reluctantly played f4. Actually Nd3 was the best move. The 29. Bxe4 was a result of delusion, I thought that I can win g5 pawn, forgetting that my knight will hang. I thought later that it was a bad move, but I was still better and only after 30. g3 it became equal. The right move was 30.  h4. Then I made another weak move, sacrificing the pawn because I thought that I am worse and need counterplay.

After the queens exchange I started to feel like I am balancing on a tightrope. Only after 42. Nc3+ I finally felt that I am out of danger and even better. 45. Kf3 was a mistake, Kd3 was eventually giving me 2 passed pawns vs. his “h” pawn. After several more moves the game was drawn.

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