It was a 2nd round in Mondays tournament. My opponent was a boy, I thought that I lost to him some time ago, in a rather quick and painful way. It defined my careful manner of play. I had White, he played Caro-Kann.

Computer prefers 11. h6 to my Bd2. I expected his 14… e5 and was confident about 15. dxe5, computer criticizes his move and recommends Nf6. I got a feeling that I am better after his 20… Rf7 and 21… Rhf8. Computer thinks that I had to play 23. Qf5 instead of Qf3.

The crucial moment came on move 28, I considered 28. Qc7, but for some reason decided to play Qd6. Computer says I would get advantage after 28. Qc7 a6 29. Qxg7. So we transferred into a rook endgame. His 30… Rg8 was too passive, he had to play Re8 and then Re5. 36. f4 was the move instead of g4.

After 40 moves I thought that his initiative on the queenside could be dangerous and decided to do something about it. On move 50 computer recommends Ke3 forcing rooks exchange with ~+1 advantage, but 2 shootouts ended up in a draw. After his 53… c4 I spent some time calculating 54. bxc4+ Rxc4 55. Rxc4 Kxc4 line and saw that we queen at the same time. So I went for it, in a few moves he offered a draw. Interesting that when I came home I found out that I actually had a win against him in that past game, but blundered…

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It was a last round and my hopes to improve my standing were dashed by mistake in the pairings due to a missed bye e-mail. So I was paired with my acquaintance from the top section, rated 2054.  He played Caro-Kann, Tartakower (Nimzovich) variation. I found later that I played only one OTB game with that line and I won. My unfamiliarity with it showed right away, as instead of 6. Nf3 the book move was 6. c3 , then 7. Bd3 O-O 8. Qc2 Re8 9. Ne2 h5 10. O-O. He told me after the game, that in general f3 is not a good square for the knight because of f6 pawn, e2 is better.

On move 13 I made a wrong decision, advancing my “c” pawn instead of the “d” one, I just didn’t like his bishop on d6. He started to put a pressure on my d4 pawn. I spent some time deciding between 22. Bc1 and Bd2, then played Bc1 which was wrong. Then I thought that his 25… b6 was strong, but computer criticizes it only giving it about -0.4 and prefers Qd7. My 26. Be3 was a big mistake, I just didn’t see how to defend. But after a calm 26. Bg5 R8d7 27. Qc2 h5 28. Re8+ Kh7 29. cxb6 Qxb6 30. Rf1 White is ~-0.9.

On move 27 I saw that 27. fxe3 would be bad because of Qg3, so took on d5, seeing of course that intermediate check on f2. Computer says that 30. Rc1 was bad, prefers 30. Qd4, also setting a trap – 30. Qd5 bxc5 31. bxc5 and if 31… Qxc5 then 32. Re8+ winning the queen, though I am sure he would see it. That was probably the last moment I could try to save the game.

After 30 moves it became technical and after some resistance I resigned.

 

 

It was a first round in the Mondays club. My opponent’s rating was 100 lower, I got White, he played Caro-Kann. Usually White plays 6. h4 and then by h5 and Bd3 forces bishops exchange. I decided to avoid that because I had a problem with h5 pawn in one of the games, it was weak.

I felt uncomfortable after his 12… e5, though computer feels fine and recommends to play 13. Bxg6 hxg6 14. b5 c5 16. dxe5 Nxe5 with equality. On move 15 I had to consider Bf5, I really did, but didn’t like 15. Bf5+ Bxf5 16. Nxf5 Nxf3+ 17. Qxf3 Bxh2+ 19. Kh1, though Black is -2.16 after 19… Rxe1+ 20. Rxe1 Bd6 21. Nxg7. So after 15 moves I regretted about not playing h4-h5 and exchanging my light-colored bishop, as I felt that my pieces were tangled.

I am not sure now what his 21… Qe5 move was, maybe just a blunder. I thought that it is dangerous to take f7 pawn, but after 22. Qxf7 Bxg5 23. Rb1 Bd2 24. b5 cxb5 25. Nxf1 Bxc3 26. Rxb5 Qe7 27. Qxg6 White is still a pawn up with ~0.4 advantage. After his 22. Qe6 I didn’t quite like my position and decided to exchange the queens thinking that the arising endgame should be equal. It was a mistake.

As soon as he played 24… Kc7 I got a bad feeling. I couldn’t avoid a loss of a pawn, the best I could get was to transfer into a rook endgame. 34. Ra5+ was not good as well as 35. Ra2, I had to approach my king. He missed a chance to play 35… b4, after which the “b” pawn would become very dangerous. His slow play allowed me to improve the position of my pieces. Computer confirmed, that my decision not to play 46. Rxb5 was right, he would win my “f” pawn and his “f” pawn would become unstoppable.

My 48. f4 was a mistake, I simply didn’t see where I could put my rook after my 48. Rf4+ or 48. Rf6 would be followed by Ke5. But simple 48. Rh5 was keeping the balance. Eventually I was able to take “b” pawn and approach my king to the kingside. I had in mind Philidor position, it became unavoidable. At some point he realized that and offered a draw.

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.

I played two games this week after a long break, Caro-Kann defense with different colors.

In the first game I had Black. It was an Advance Variation, computer recommends playing 12… Rc8 and 13… h5. Anyway I was OK until I played 15… Nh6 instead of Nh4. After 19. Nf4 I had to give up an exchange due to Ng6# or Nxe6 threats. Instead of 20… Na5 I had to take on b2, then Rdb1 leaves d4 pawn without defense and Rab1 is not good either, so 21. Qd3 is the best.

His 29. Qb1 was a blunder, it was strange because he had a lot of time. Computer says 34… Qg5 was a mistake and recommends 34… Rd3 with ~-3 evaluation. 37. Rf2 was another blunder, he could play Rd1. But then I made a mistake that decided the game. I hesitated to take on g4, after 38… Rxg4 39. Kh3 Rxg3+ Black is ~-4. After he played Rcf1 the position became equal, but I lost the initiative and was in time trouble. So no wonder I played 39. Bc5? instead of equalizing Rd2. After 40. Rf8 it became really bad, 40… Qxf8 was also losing, I evaluated that right. 41. Qb7 was played with 6 seconds on the clock.

In the second game my opponent was a young man, I played him 3 months ago and drew with White in Caro-Kann, he played Caro-Kann again. His 28… Rh6 was a mistake, after 28… Nxh5 it was equal. The same thing a move later, 29… Nxh5 was a huge mistake, I calculated right that g2 and g3 pawns will defend my king against the queen on h5.

But by move 32 I had only about 5 minutes left and made an error playing 32. Rxe6, instead Qa4 with 33. cxb7 after 32… Kb8 or 32… a6 was winning. Then I had to play 33. cxb7+ Qxb7 34. Qd3 covering b1 square. 34. Qf6 or 35. Qf6 was leaving me with some advantage. Instead I allowed a rook check on d1 and then even 36. Kf2, which was not risky as I thought seeing Qb6+, lead to an equal position anyway.

Still he made another mistake, taking on b6 with a pawn. There was a 41. g4 pawn sacrifice that was winning, but with less than a minute left, playing on 15 seconds increment, I didn’t see that. Then it was a pawn race and soon after we got into a queen endgame he offered a draw which I accepted. The final position was equal.

It was a last round in the Thursday’s tournament, I got White and my opponent was a young guy rated 1870, never played him before. So, he played Caro-Kann and I chose a most popular line. After 11 moves we had a theoretical position (I didn’t know about that) and c3 is considered a move preventing White to castle queenside, which would be not a bad idea considering what happened in the game.

After he played 17… g6 the best would be 18. Qf3. Then 19. Ng5 was also not a very good move, I wanted him to put a rook in a passive position defending f7 and forgot about Ne5. So, after 20 moves a had a feeling of some instability in my position. Then I just missed his 21… Nxf2.

Interesting that my 23. Nxh5 took him by surprise, he looked confused. Maybe it explains his 23… Nxh5, which was a mistake. But I already had a premove 24. Nxg4, played it quickly and didn’t notice the obvious Rxf7. But then he made another mistake playing 24…Qg3. As soon as he played it he offered a draw.

I agreed without thinking, knowing that I am worse. He even asked me: “Are you sure?”, I said: “Yes”. Actually he had only ~0.25 advantage after queens exchange, so it was not an error in judgement from his side, error was playing Qg3 instead of Ng3 which was keeping his advantage.

These games both were with 1700+ players, ended in perpetual forced by me, but were quite different.

The first was pretty quiet, still not without some internal tension. I knew my opponent for a long time, I played him in 2009-2010, +1, -1. I had White, Caro-Kann.

It was pretty equal unless I took his rook on d4, computer suggests calm Kh2. After 27. Ne5 he could play g5, but he went for a more simple continuation. I saw that if he takes on a2, I will have at least a perpetual after Qh5. I worried that he can play Nd2 instead of that, but after 29. Qxb7 Nf1+ 30. Kg1 all he had was perpetual.

He decided to take on a2 and after giving him a series of checks I had a dilemma – or force a perpetual or look for a win. I spent a lot of time, but didn’t find anything and having about 5 minutes vs. his 28 forced the perpetual.

The second game was with a boy, whom I beat a year ago, he progressed since that time. I had Black, Giuoco Piano. I don’t like now my plan with Be6 and Qf6, I think Nce7 and bishop on f5 or g4 is better.

I couldn’t move my bishop after 19. Neg5 because of Rxe7, so played c6. He lost his advantage after 23. Nd3 and I started to feel that I have some initiative, but there was  nothing decisive. Then, already having little time, I made a mistake playing 36… Qxf2, Nxd4 was the right move with an equality. I thought that I can play 37… Nxg3+ 38. hxg6 Rh6 with a mate, but missed that his rook on e6 will control h6. After 38. Rf1 I thought that I am about to lose a piece and then he played 39. Be4. At that moment I had 11 seconds and only could think about moving my queen. Intuitively I put it on e2 and after he played Rxf5 started giving checks and he offered a draw.

Right after the game finished people standing around started to tell me that I had a win after Nxg3+ and right, it was a mate in 3. It was ironical that I considered that move before, though with a bit different motif.