I had a dilemma that day trying to decide what to do – go to the club or watch playoff hockey. I decided on hockey and then changed my mind. My opponent was a boy rated 1312. He surprised me with the opening, playing 3… c5 variation in French, Tarrasch. I got a gut feeling that he will play 7… Qb6 and he did. I decided to exchange the bishop and get ahead with development.

I missed his 11… Bxf3, but saw right away that he shouldn’t take on c2, though probably he will get greedy and take it. I considered 14. Bd2, then played Qc3. Suddenly he played 14… Kd7. I knew that it was a crucial mistake, looked carefully at the position and found Re6. I calculated only until I saw that I can get back the rook with a check. He spent quite some time and played the best move, giving up the queen for the rook and the knight.

Then I played Qxg7 and seriously regretted it right away. After a few moves I “restored the order” and started again to attack his king. Computer thinks that the best was 32. Kh1, not Bf2, anyway he resigned on the next move.

 

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It was 4th round in the Mondays club, I got the guy to whom I lost in the summer of 2016, I didn’t play well at that time. I expected him to play Sicilian again, but he played Caro-Cann. It became a positional struggle after the opening. He played very fast, just on the increment.

Computer suggests 20. f5, I saw it, but just didn’t like my queen being on “f” vertical when it will open. After 20. Rf1 computer now wants him to play f5, I also don’ t quite get this move. Eventually I played f5 on move 29 and after 31 move thought that I am better. But he had about 1 hour and 20 minutes and me only 30 minutes.

I considered going into a B vs. N endgame after 36. Rf1 Nd5, but realized that it would be complicated with him having big advantage in time. So, I started to repeat the moves and then claimed 3-fold repetition, then told him about it. He first said, that one more move was needed, then agreed to a draw. At home computer estimated the position after 32. Re1 as equal.

It was a second round in the Thursdays club and my opponent was a boy rated 1481. He had White and played Queen’s Pawn. The game got positional from the beginning, I felt like I am gaining small advantages. Exchange on a3 paid off when he couldn’t put his knight on d3 and played Nc2. His position quickly started to deteriorate. I saw that he will be in trouble after 27… Qf4. After 29… Nf3 he faced mating threats and had to give up the queen. He still continued to play until got mated.

 

Anton Chekhov – Russian playwright and short-story writer, who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short fiction in history, once said: “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there”.

I found it very well related to the game I played in the 3rd round of the Mondays tournament. My opponent was a man to whom I lost once in 2015, I do not remember how, but I remember it was painful. So he got White and played Vienna gambit. I remembered the first few moves, then was on my own. After exchange on f3 I intended to exchange the bishops too, but then didn’t like the arising position thinking that he will be well developed and operating on the “f” vertical, so I played Be6. Basically for the same reason I castled queenside, also I saw that I could open the lines faster than him. The pawn sacrifice was first of the guns. Then I saw his combination starting from 22. Nxd5, but thought that after 22… Bxd5 23. Bxd5 Qxd5 24. Rxf6 I have 24… Rxh2. The thing is he can play 23. Bg4 Be6 24. Bxe6 Qxe6 25. d5 with advantage.

I decided at that moment to move “g” pawn to create an outpost, it was the second gun. Then after his 26. Rxf4 I really didn’t like my position and thought that I could lose. 26… Nd8 was played as a defensive move first, then I saw Nd8-f7-g5 maneuver. 31. Bg2 was actually still holding the position, but he probably didn’t like Rxh2. He got behind on time, having about 5 minutes left vs. my 20. I expected him to play 37. Qf5, computer says that it is still lost. After his 37. Kg1 I saw Rxg2 and played it, he resigned. So, both guns eventually fired almost at once.

 

 

 

These games were played in two different clubs, both with lower rated opponents. It was an attempt to refresh my opening repertoire.

Game 1 – it was a second round in Mondays club, my opponent was a young man rated 1527.  It was an equal position after the opening, then his 14… Nh5 was a mistake and I got an advantage after f4. Then again 18… f6 wasn’t the best move, f5 was better.

I continued to attack the f6 pawn and under the pressure he played f5. I spent quite some time on my next 2 moves – 23. Ne7 and 24. Qg5. Computer thinks that Black would be OK after 26… Rxf2+ instead of exd3, which was a crucial mistake.

I saw mate in 5 if after 27. Rxf8+ he takes with a rook and he played exactly that, 27… Nxf8 loses as well after 28. Nf7+ Kg8 29. Nh6+ Kg7 30. Rf7+ Kh8 31. Qf6#.

Game 2 –  it was a first round in Thursdays club, I got a young man rated 1172. I missed playing f5 on move 14. On move 20 I decided to play Nxd5, which I considered earlier, now I could get 3 pawns for a knight. Interesting that computer thinks I shouldn’t have taken the third pawn and wants to leave the bishop on the main diagonal. After he took on a6 with the queen I was able to play d5 and d6. He miscalculated when played 26… Nc4 and the rest of the game was a matter of technique.

It was a 4th round in the Thursday’s club. I found that my opponent is a girl to whom I lost in the 1st round of the big tournament in February. It was a painful loss because I had an advantage and thought I would win. She had White again and it was again Ruy Lopez. This time we played Chigorin variation and I decided to play 15. Nc4 to neutralize the “Spanish” knight, I played it once before and it was OK. I took on c4 with a pawn to prevent Bb3. Then she started to attack “c4” pawn, I could play 19… Bc6 to save that pawn by provoking d5.

So I didn’t find the defense and lost a pawn and then missed Bxf7+. I thought that at the candidates tournament players were sometimes like +2 and then it changed to equal or worse so I should resist. There were a lot of pieces still on the board and my king was safe. Suddenly she played Qc3. I felt that taking on e4 is risky, but had nothing to lose. Her 27. Qe3 looked like an attempt to prove me wrong, but it was a mistake. After her 28. f3 I saw Ng4 and played it. She still had a line 29. Nc5 Qa7 30. hxg4 Bxh4 31. Ne6 Qxf7 32. Nxd8 Rxd8 33. fxe4 Rxe1 34. Qxe1 dxe4 that would lead to an equal position.

My impression was that she got in a kind of a shock seeing me intercepting the initiative and didn’t play the best moves. Also she started to spend a lot of time and soon got a couple of minutes left. I thought that she can lose on time. It eventually happened when the game was already lost on the board.

It was a 5th round in the Monday’s club, my opponent was a young man rated 2170. I lost a few games to him before playing Sicilian Bb5 and drew one with Closed Sicilian, so I decided to play it again. I was good after the opening, then I thought that I should play actively.

So after his 15… Nc4 I didn’t play Bc1 because I saw 16. Nxd5. I calculated that I win a pawn if he plays Nxd5, the same if 16… Nxe3 17. Nxe3 Bxd4 18. c3. I also saw Nxb2, but thought that it will be at least equal after that. After he took on b2 I realized that he attacks my rook and I lose material, so started to think what to do and calculated next 3 moves that happened in the game. After initial shock I thought that I have some compensation because my pieces were very active, computer confirms it giving him just 0.5. Then he started to execute a plan with moving the pawns on the queenside.

I could resist by playing 35. Rc8, but I didn’t consider it. My position was getting worse and worse, g4 was played out of desperation and soon I resigned.