I predicted my opponent right, it was a young guy to whom I lost with Black 3.5 months ago. This time I had White, I knew it will be Sicilian 2… d6, and so it was, here is the game. I played Moscow variation and after Bxd7+ he replied 4… Nxd7. I don’t think it’s a good continuation, if Nd7 instead of 3… Bd7 – yes, it is very sharp and interesting, but now … it’s just that the knight is placed much better on c6, I think. Then when he played e5, I thought that I can take control of “d” line and threaten Nxe5. After Qb6 the natural move would be Be3, but I didn’t like Qb4, maybe because it attacked “e4” pawn, though simple a3 would force the queen to go away.  I ran engines shootouts from that point and the result was 3.5:0.5.

My plan with Nd5 suddenly was rebuffed by Qc4 and I realized that he equalizes easily. I remembered right away how in the past I would get upset and play worse after losing advantage, so I told myself: “I don’t care it’s a win or a draw or whatever, I just play for the best possible result in this situation”. It worked. His “f5” looked dangerous, but actually I think it’s just distracted him from the right plan with exchanging the rooks on “d” line and getting control of it afterwards.

He spent a lot of time starting from the opening, so I had at least twice more time. It was probably a factor, also the position looked pretty equal when he offered me a draw. I wanted to get revenge,  I had a loss in the first round and also I thought that his knight and bishop are not well placed, especially knight, so all together … I said: “I would play more”. He said: “I would probably do that too…”.

I had a strange case of blindness after 26. Kf2. I suddenly thought that he can take on e3 with a rook and then skewer me with the bishop on g5. I got chills for 15-20 seconds, then I realized that my knight on h3 controls g5.

I think he consciously started to play for a draw, exchanging the rooks and then trying to exchange the pawns on the queenside. After 29… a5 he probably thought he succeeded, because he offered a draw again. I almost said yes, saying: “Just a minute” and suddenly I saw that I win a pawn. I realized soon that he will get the pawn back, but I got a plan with the pawn distracting his king while my king penetrates into his territory. It started to look like a win and it was one.

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First I thought that it happened with me for the first time, but no, I remembered this post:

https://rollingpawns.wordpress.com/2009/08/29/no-game-was-ever-won-by-resigning/

I resigned there, though later I found out I could win. I even said that it’s good it was online blitz, not OTB. This time it was OTB, I played with the guy I played the first round of Canadian Open and drew in 80 moves.  He remembered it and we talked a bit about CO. So, I had Black  again, this time it was Ruy Lopez, here is the game. He chose Exchange variation, I think I have a 1.5:0.5 score in it with Black, never played it with White. After we exchanged the queens, the game started to remind me the first game, the same pure positional play.

I wasn’t sure I archived a good positioning of my pieces in the opening, but after knights exchange and his rook going to f5 I had a feeling that I improved it. Then I got an idea of catching his rook, it was naive probably, but when his rook got stuck at f4 I thought that I can use it and I am essentially better. I was too optimistic, forgetting that my rook also can’t leave the 5th line because of e5 and also not seeing his Ng6, supporting e5 too. So, this overestimation lead to the pawn movement on the queenside, which I regretted later, since it just created weaknesses.

After e5 he successfully untangled his rook and I realized that my king is not in a good position because of the constant mate thread. It forced me to exchange the rooks, though I thought that I am going to have a tough endgame. The engines are OK with this exchange and look pretty optimistically at this endgame. Nevertheless soon I got a bad feeling that my bishop became not so good as it was. After his king went to the kingside I saw that I am losing the “a” pawn. With the addition of  “e5” passed pawn my position looked hopeless. I still had about 12 minutes (with 30 seconds increment), but I decided not to prolong my suffering and resigned. After the game my only thought was where I let him go.

When I came home and started to run the game through Houdini I couldn’t believe my eyes when it said 0.14. The thing is I didn’t see that his last move lets me to play Ke7, Bf7, Ke6 and then take his “e5” pawn. Without support of this pawn his knight can’t defend “h5” pawn anymore, and after following exchange of the “h” pawns his  remaining “a” and “c” pawns vs. my “c” pawns are not enough for a win. Unbelievable.

I also found out, that my advantage in the middlegame wasn’t worth much, just ~0.3. Of course I had good chances for a draw, even in the endgame his 2 last moves gave me this opportunity, which I didn’t use.

I recently played a correspondence game, where the final part was quite interesting.  It was “Marshall attack” thematic game, where I played White,  successfully defended in the middlegame and went into N vs. B endgame with a spare pawn. 

knight1

You can use books in these games,  so I looked at Averbakh’s “Chess endings” – “Bishop vs. Knight”.  What he says about the situation like mine is that you should maximally improve the position of your pieces and pawns. You shouldn’t hurry to create, especially to advance, a passed pawn. The most important is weakening of your opponent’s pawn configuration to create points of entry for your king penetrating into enemy’s terrytory and creating another passed pawn.

34. f3 f6 35. Kf2 Kf7 36. Ke3 g5 37. Nb1 – knight is going to c3. 

knight2

37. … Ke6 38. Nc3 Kd6 39. Nb5+ Kd7 40. Nc3 Kd6 41. f4

knight31

Crafty wants to play b4 right away,  I do it on the next move – 41. … g4 42. b4 axb4 43. axb4 f5? – the idea is to lock the game, it doesn’t work. Crafty’s estimate drops from 1.95 to 2.50,  it wants to play Bf5. I didn’t like g4 either,  it makes the bishop really “bad”.

knight4

44. Kd2 Be6 45. Kc2 Kc6 46. Kb3 Kb6 47. Ka4

knight5

47. … Bf7 48. b5 Bg8 49. Kb4 – with the threat Na4+ 

knight61

49. … Kc7 – loses right away, but there is no survival – 49. … Be6 50. Na4+ Ka7 51. b6+ Kb8 52. Nc5 Bf7 53. Kb5 Be8+ 54. Ka6 Bc6 55. b7 Bxb7+ 56. Nxb7 

50.  Kc5 – 1:0.

knight7

I played this Sunday my regular OTB game.  I got to play Black with a guy rated 300 more than me,  never played with him before. The opening took unexpected turn after  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bc4 Bc5  4. b4

I played a few times Evans Gambit with computer and online (as Black),  never OTB.  Saw quite a few old games with it, of course, but it was long time ago. After 4. Bxb4 5. c3  I chose less popular line  – Be7.  Funny, that not knowing it, I played a few book moves – 6. d4 Nf6 7. dxe5 Ng4 8.  Bf4

evans1

then went on my own – 8….O-O 9. h3 Nh6 10. Nd4 Nxd4 11. cxd4 d6 12. O-O dxe5 13. dxe5

evans2

Here I played 13. … Be6, computer thinks queens exchange is better. 14. Bxe6 fxe6 15. Bxh6 gxh6 16. Nc3 Qe8 17. Qg4+ Qg6

evans3

and here computer thinks that White shouldn’t exchange queens – 18. Qxg6+ hxg6 19. Nb5 Bd8 20. Rad1 a6  21. Nd4 Re8 22. Rb1

Computer definitely does not like Rb1, giving estimate -0.90 ( for white) after that

evans4

22. … c5 23. Ne2 b5 24. Rfd1 Bc7 25. f4 Rad8 26. Kf2 Rxd1 27. Rxd1 Rd8 28. Rxd8+ Bxd8

evans5

I went into B vs. N endgame, rightfully thinking that I should be better there, computer estimate  -1.39.

29. Ke3 Kf7 30. g4 Bb6 31. Nc3 c4+ 32. Kd2

evans6

Here I thought about 32… g5,  but that @#$%ing dogma, that you shouldn’t put pawns on the squares of the same color as your bishop  affected my vision.  Computer for crying out loud wants me to do this move – 32… g5 33. Ne2 gxf4 34. Nxf4 Bd4 35. Ne2 Bxe5 with estimation – 2.52!

32. …Bc5  33. Kc2 Bb6 34. Ne2 Bc5 35. Kc3 Ke7 36. Nd4 Bxd4+ 37. Kxd4 Kf7 38. f5 gxf5 39. exf5 exf5 40. gxf5 Ke7 41. h4 h5 42. a3 Kd7 43. Kc3 Ke7   1/2 : 1/2

evans7

It’s a first time I had the opportunity  to win the game against “A” class player.

As Jeremy Silman says:  “I recognize that ALL rules are meant to be broken. … It’s this ability to step beyond dogma that makes chess endlessly interesting.”