After my horrible play on Monday  I came to the club yesterday with a strong desire to rehabilitate myself. My opponent was a man I played once before and drew. He had 1900+ rating last year, now same as mine. I played my regular Anglo-Grunfeld, here is the game. He started to think a lot almost right from the beginning.

I got a bit behind in development, but completely equalized by the move 18. The queens exchange wasn’t intended to get  a draw, but just seemed like the best move, computer agreed with that. By that time he already was in the big time trouble having about 20 minutes,  I had almost an hour. He makes quite a few draws, I decided to play until the end.

I saw his d5 coming, but couldn’t do anything about it. Then I played Kd4, probably hoping for a mistake. I think he had less than 5 minutes at that point, but just started to play faster. I played another bad move cxd5 and then had to decide where I move my king. 38… Ke7 seemed risky as I thought that I can lose queenside pawns, so I played Kc7, hoping to play Be6 and after bishops exchange push his king out with b6. I missed that he attacks b5 pawn.

So I realized that he wins a pawn  and played a desperate move b4. He took with a pawn, it was a mistake but he still could win. Than he made another one, playing 43. b5. I pushed his king with b6+ right away and then it started to look like a draw to me. His h4 scared me a bit, I started to calculate and saw that 45… g4 loses, but 45… gxh4 should draw, since my king gets there in time and has 2 squares – g6 and h6, so it will be no zugzwang. He finally realized it and the draw was agreed. He still had about 2 minutes, I had probably about 10.

When I came home, I understood why he played so well having less than 5 minutes in the end. In 1997 his active (rapid) rating was 2300+ (and his regular was ~2200). He is not playing that well now, but still …

My opponent yesterday had about the same rating as me and had White. It was 5th time I played Anglo-Grunfeld ( -2,+1, =1), last game a draw against expert, but I don’t remember when I was last time so badly outplayed in any opening. Here is the game.

My 6… e5 was a novelty and not a good one. He prevented my castle after Ba3 and created a strong pressure. He missed a couple of opportunities, we both saw the best moves  – d4, f5, but played them later than it was necessary. Finally I gave up a pawn and released pressure. I saw that the rooks exchange was practically forced. He missed the last opportunity to keep the advantage when played 24. Qc4 instead of 24.Qb4. When we exchanged the bishops I saw that if he tries to win material I will have perpetual. That actually happened and I forced the draw.

Frankly, I was very happy with the draw after such a siege and I have to admit that the guy played very well, thinking a lot and finding good attacking moves. But he didn’t deliver the final blow and that allowed me to escape.

It’s a third time I played Anglo-Grunfeld OTB, second in the last 3 games. I lost the first 2 games, but not in the opening, so I tried again. This time I won, here is the game. My opponent was rated 340 lower than me, but the game wasn’t easy. He was OK in the opening, then on 15th move he made a mistake allowing me to weaken his kingside. I tried to use that weakness, spending a lot of time, but he put up a pretty good resistance. On move 21 I sacrificed a pawn, keeping the attack tempo, but he didn’t accept it,  Fritz is OK with this sac.  On move 28 he could use the unstable position of my knight, but he didn’t see it. In the end we had 22-23 minutes each,  it was going tough and I wasn’t sure at all that I will win. But he made a mistake, then another – decisive one, and a little combination finished the game.