My opponent in the second round was a guy I lost to a year ago after missed tactics, this time it was the other way around. I got White and he played the same French defense variation that I had with a master recently.

In this game I played 6. Bc4 and we soon deviated from the theory. The first sign for me that the game can go my way was when he allowed exchange on c5. I spend some time on 14. Nd4 and played it, thinking that I will keep my advantage in the simplified position. I saw that 19. Nf5 should give me advantage. 19… Bc8 was a bad move, Nf6 was definitely better. After 20… Na5 computer suggests “crazy” Bd5.

22… Nf6 was a crucial mistake. I quickly played Nb6, went around a bit and when I was back, I was really surprised to see Bd7. I thought that it was some kind of a sacrifice to get out of positional pressure and without much thinking took the rook. I was shocked to see at  home that he actually blundered a piece, unless I found an explanation – 23… Rb8 24. Bf4 – crushing. Probably he saw it.

Anyway I would never think that he will blunder a piece, so missed it and got an exchange instead. Now I think that the easiest way to win would be just exchange the rooks and then having pawn majority on the queenside I could just sacrifice exchange back and win. But I thought that with two rooks I would win faster.

Long story short, he managed to activate his pieces and somewhere around move 50 I started to think that I am actually worse and it would be very sad to lose this game. So, I played 53. b5 believing that I should manage to equalize. By the way two shootouts were won by White, exchange is exchange.

53… Kxf4 was a mistake, “a” pawn is much more important than “f”. Then he played 54… Ke3 and I saw 55. Rxf3+ right away. I checked and played it. He resigned after a couple of moves.

It was a first round and I got a master with whom I had =2, -2, all with White. This time again White and French. I knew that on move 6 I had to play Bc4, but didn’t remember how to proceed, so chose 6. Nb3 which is worse.  6… e5 was better than his Nc6, I planned to reply c3 to that, but after 6… e5 7. c3 Nc6 8. cxd4 e4 Black is better.

After exchanges the position became equal, though I thought I was better. He had left 30 minutes vs. my hour when he suddenly offered a draw. I quickly evaluated the position, but after he defended c6 didn’t see anything decisive and agreed.

At home Fritz evaluated it as 0.2, so it was an honest offer and right decision for me.

It was a last game of my regular tourney in the local club.  For the first time in OTB game I got French with White. Good, that’s  what I am trying to learn the last half year. My opponent was rated ~250 lower than me,  I learned that after the game as well as the fact that he overperformed and recently shared the first place in the big tournament  in U1600 category.  It took more than 30 moves and long maneuvering unless he finally opened up, that explains the title. The result was my best ever combination.  Here is the game:

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Bd3 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ne2 Qg5 – not a book move and by my opinion not a good one.

tarrasch1

8. O-O
Qh4 9. Nf3 Qd8 10. Be3 c4 11. Bc2 Nb6 12. Qd2 h6 13. Ng3 Be7 14. Nh5 Bf8

8. O-O Qh4 9. Nf3 Qd8 10. Be3 c4 11. Bc2 Nb6 12. Qd2 h6 13. Ng3 Be7 14. Nh5 Bf8 – White is ahead in development, but the position is closed – Crafty’s estimate  – 0.90.

tarrasch2

15. h3 Nd7 16. Nh2 g6 17. Ng3 b6 18. Ng4 h5 19. Nh2 Bb7 20. f4 –  ( Crafty likes  20. Bg5 Be7 21. Nf3 Bxg5 22. Nxg5 h4 23. Ne2 Qe7 24. Rad1 Rh5 25. Nf3 O-O-O with 0.81 estimate ), here – 0.08

tarrasch3

20. … Qh4 21. Rf3 Qe7 22. b4 Bg7 23. a4 Nd8 24. Rff1 a6 25. Nf3 Nf8 26. Ne2 Nh7 27. Bf2 O-O 28. Bh4 – trying to penetrate deep  defense ( Crafty likes it too, estimate – 0.83)

tarrasch4

28. … Qd7 29. Ng5 Qe8 30. Nxh7 Kxh7 31. Ng3 Kg8 32. Qe2 f5 – beginning of the end, Crafty doesn’t like it at all

tarrasch5

33. exf6 Bxf6 34. Bxf6 Rxf6 35. f5!

tarrasch6

35. … h4 – I didn’t like Nh1, so I started to think and soon saw fxg3.  I looked and looked and  almost gave up to find a forced win. But it was impossible to pass on this nice knight sacrifice, so it made me to find the decisive quiet  move . I spent 16-18 minutes calculating it all and then:

36. fxg6!! – forgive me if I am too generous, it’s actually the first time in my life I put 2 exclamation marks to my own move

tarrasch7

36. … Rxf1+ 37. Rxf1 hxg3 38. Qh5 Qe7

tarrasch8

39. g7! – this is a move I had to see before playing 36. fxg6. I also found here that I can play 39. Rf7 Qxf7 40. gxf7+ Nxf7, but it’s just material,  there was something better – 39. … Qxg7 40. Qe8+ – Black resigned – 41.  … Qf8 42. Qxf8#

tarrasch9

Funny, that Crafty as usual spoiled a bit my euphoria,  noticing that  there was a mate in 2 earlier. Instead of 39. g7 – 39. Rf8+ Kxf8 40. Qh8# . So,  I could also sacrifice  a rook, almost  “evergreen”  :).

Anyway, I was happy with this win giving me the first place, best ever result in any tournament  – 4 out of 5  (3 wins, 1 draw, 1 bye) and performance rating about 1800, which hopefully should bring my rating to ~1750.

French, another Steinitz
After some break (I didn’t post my last OTB game from 2 weeks ago since, though won, I played too bad
and was ashamed to publish it), I am posting the game I played this Sunday, regular G/90.
My opponent was a boy, rated 200+ lower, I had a win against him before.
So I play French, third time. It’s probably good that I can try it against lower rated
opponents, where I can compensate later for my opening/transition to middlegame mistakes,
being still able to win/draw and getting a valuable experience at the same time.
I should admit they all played decent opening lines, as opposed to freaking FICS, where 25% play
C00, i.e. something like 1.e4 e6 2. Nf3, 30% Exchange, and another 25% – Advanced variation.
My opponents followed the Canadian (and general) OTB stats with 3. Nc3 being the most popular,
followed by 3. Nd2.
OK, here is the game.
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 a6 6. Nf3 c5 7. Ne2 Nc6 8. c3
Pic 1
8. … cxd4 9. cxd4 f6 10. Nc3 Be7 11. Be2 O-O 12. O-O fxe5 13. fxe5 Nb6 14. Be3 Nc4
Pic 2

After some break  (I didn’t post my last OTB game from 2 weeks ago since, though won, I played too bad and was ashamed to publish it),  I am posting the game I played this Sunday, regular G/90.

My opponent was a boy, rated 200+ lower, I had a win against him before.  So I played French,  third time.  It’s probably good that I can try it against lower rated opponents, where I can compensate later for my opening/transition to middlegame mistakes,  being still able to win/draw and getting a valuable experience at the same time.  I should admit they all played decent opening lines, as opposed to freaking FICS, where 25% play C00,  i.e. something like 1.e4 e6 2. Nf3, 30% Exchange, and another 25% – Advanced variation.  My opponents followed the Canadian (and general) OTB stats with 3. Nc3 being the most popular,  followed by 3. Nd2.

OK, here is the game.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 a6 6. Nf3 c5 7. Ne2 Nc6 8. c3

another1

8. … cxd4 9. cxd4 f6 10. Nc3 Be7 11. Be2 O-O 12. O-O fxe5 13. fxe5 Nb6 14. Be3 Nc4 – it was tempting to get a bishop pair, but later in the game I realized it wasn’t a good idea – leaving e4 square undefended.

another2

15. Bxc4 dxc4 16. Ne4 b5 17. a3 Rb8 18. Qc2 h6 19. Nfd2 Qb6?  I miss here 19. … Nxd4,  also it allows 20. Nf6+!  Bxf6 21. exf6 Qd8 22. fxg7 Kxg7 23. Qe4 Bd7 24. Qg4+ Kh7 25. Qh5 Rf6 26. Ne4 Rg6 – with Crafty’s estimate – 2.03.  Accepting sacrifice  –  20. … gxf6 leads to checkmate – 21. Qg6+ Kh8 22. Qxh6+ Kg8 23. Qg6+ Kh8 24. Rf3 fxe5 25. Rh3+ Bh4 26. Rxh4#

another3

20. Rxf8+ Bxf8 21. Rf1? Nxe5

another4

22. dxe5 Qxe3+ 23. Kh1 Bb7 – the “bad” French bishop becomes a very good one.

another5

24. Rf3?? Bxe4! White resigned (because of  losing a piece or getting checkmate after 25.  Nxe4 Qe1+ ).

another6

I played this game on Sunday, regular G/90, against opponent rated 150 lower.  I had  a draw with him before.  So I play French, second time. It looked like after the first few moves it was “terra incognita” for him,  he was spending time finding the moves,  I played pretty quickly.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Nf3 a6 – second choice move to prevent Nc3-b5-d6 maneuver – I hate knight getting there. 6. Bd3 c5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. O-O Nc6 9. Re1 Be7 10. Bf4 O-O.   Crafty evaluates position after move 10 as equal, time  +10 minutes.

steinitz11

11. a3 Nc5 12. b4 Nxd3 13. cxd3 f6 14. d4 – I evaluated it as better for me, Crafty thinks the same – ~-0.50.

steinitz21

14. d4 fxe5 15. Bxe5  Ncxe5  16. Nxe5 Bd7 17. Rc1 Rc8 18. Qg4

steinitz3

Now I realize that I am in trouble – there is a threat 19. Nxd7 Qxd7 20. Rxe6. I can play 19. … Rf6 – but I see right away that it’s not good – 20. Nxd7 Qxd7 21. Nxd5 …  ( and I found out later that I lose e6 pawn too) .  Still I don’t think  I have a choice and hope that my opponent wouldn’t see it. Advantage in time disappears. Of course, Crafty found here an excellent counterattacking move  –  Bf6, and also there is Rf5,  in both cases I am OK. So, again, it’s not opening/endgame knowledge, not deep calculation – just seeing  the right move. But that’s what masters are about – they see it, we don’t. Anyway, I play Rf6, luckily for me my opponent plays 19. Ne2.  So,  19. … Bd6 20. f4 Bxe5 21. fxe5 Rg6 – better Rf7, 22. Qh3 Qg5?  Crafty says another bad move – 23. Rxc8+ Bxc8 24. Rc1 Qd8  25. Qc3 Bd7 26. Qc7 Qxc7 27. Rxc7 Bc6 28. Nf4 Rh6 29. Re7 Kf8 30. Rxe6 – 1.46.  But White plays 23. Rxc8 Bxc8 24. Rf1

steinitz42

24. Rf1 Bd7 25. Qf3 Qe7 26. Qc3 Bb5 27. Rf2 Bc4 28. Qc2 Rh6 29.
Qa4 Bxe2

steinitz5

30. Rxe2 Rh4 31. Qd1 Rf4 32. Rf2 Rxf2 33. Kxf2

steinitz6

Draw agreed. Looking on the bright side,  I got out of the opening OK and with more time than my opponent.  Still need more experience in playing these positions.

I played this Sunday my regular G/90 and my 2-month effort learning/trying online French defense culminated in playing it for the first time OTB. My opponent is rated 100 lower,  I am playing Black.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Bd3 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ngf3 cxd4 8. cxd4 f6,  next move takes me by surprise – 9. O-O ( though, actually, it’s a 3rd choice from the book)

tar1

9. … fxe5.   I decide to take the pawn,  not that I knew the stats from chesslive.de – +10-3=2.  Basically, accepting this pawn sacrifice requires precise play, which I don’t demonstrate. 

10. dxe5 Ndxe5 11. Bb5 Bd7 12. Re1 Bd6 – mistake, much better was 12. … Nf7 13. Nb3 Bb4 14. Bxc6 bxc6 15. Bd2 Bd6  –  -0.76. 

tar2                                                                                                                                            
Now a forced ( almost ) line follows – 13. Nxe5 Nxe5 14. Bxd7+ Qxd7 15. Rxe5 Bxe5 16. Qh5+ Qf7 17. Qxe5 O-O. Crafty gives here – 0.91. I felt bad at that point and it took me some time to recover.                                                                              
        
tar3                                                                           
18. Nf3 Rac8 19. Be3 Qg6 20. Nd4 Rce8 21. Rc1 Rf7 22. h3 a6 23. Rc7 23. Rc7 h6 24. Rxf7 Qxf7            
                                                                                                                 
tar4                                                                                                                                                                
25. a4 Re7 26. b4 Qg6 27. b5 axb5 28. axb5 Qf7 29. Bd2 Kh7 30. b6 Qf6
I had a feeling that without queens my life would be easier.  I just found in the excellent article “The Evaluation of Material Imbalances” by IM Larry Kaufman a solid confirmation of that : “in the case of two minor pieces vs. rook and pawns; the side with the rook wants very much to trade major pieces, even if he is a bit behind in material. Why this should be so is subject to debate; my explanation is that having more than one major piece is somewhat redundant – in many games there may only be time to employ one major piece on an open rank or file. Having at least one major piece (preferably a rook) to bring to an open line may be critical.”                                                                                                                                          
tar5                                                                       
31. f4 Qxe5 32. fxe5 Kg6 33. Kf2 Kf7 34. Ke3 Rd7 35. g4 Rd8 36. Nb5 Ra8 37. Kd4 Ke7                                                                                                                                            
tar6                                                                                                                                                                    
38. h4 – Crafty’s estimate goes here from 2.5 to ~ 1.0.  38. … Kd7 – I want first to secure my pawn, Crafty wants Ra4+, then Kd7, no big difference. I had time advantage at this time, something like 20+/15.  Playing pretty fast, at the same time I tried to “watch my back”.  39. Kc5 Rc8+ 40. Nc7 Rf8 41. h5 Rf2                                                                                                                                                                               
tar7                                                                                                                                                   
42. Be3 Rc2+ 43. Kb4 – mistake,  much better was 43. Kd4 Rc4+ 44. Kd3 Rxg4 45. Nb5 Rh4 46. Nd6 Kc6 47. Nf7 Kd7 48. Nd6 Kc6 – draw
43. … Rc4+ 44. Ka5 White resigned                                                                                                                                                                                                                
tar8                                                                                                                                                                                                       
OK, so I survived :), meaning the opening survived too, which is good news because I like it. Good news was also my tournament performance rating, which should get my rating over 1700 for the first time ( I will know exactly in 2 days).

This time it’s not about national and royal anthem of Canada, UK, Australia, etc.

It’s about trapping the queen in chess. Recently I had a couple of online  correspondence games where it happened.  The first game is French defense, I am Black.  1. e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4.c3 Qb6 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. a3 Nh6 7. b4 cxd4 8. cxd4 Nf5  9. Be3 Bd7 10. Bd3 Nxe3 11. fxe3 Rc8 12. O-O Be7 13. Nbd2 Nb8 14. Qe2 – it’s all “book”

queen11

14. … Rc3 probably not a very good idea 15. Rfc1 Qc7 16. Nb3 b6 17. Qd2

queen2

17. … Rxc1+ 18. Rxc1 Qb7 19. Qc2 h6  – I have to give up not only “c” line, but square “c7” too, since I don’t want to give up a pawn ( computer agreed with me here, giving 0.58 estimate).

queen31

20. Qc7 Qa8 21. Bb1 Nc6! 

queen4

22. b5 Bd8 23. Qd6 Be7

queen5

24. Qc7 Bd8 25. Qd6 Be7 26. Qc7   1/2-1/2   My opponent called it “crazy finish”… 🙂

OK, another game with  more complicated trap.  Grunfeld defense, exchange variation, I am Black.  I am trying to learn it,  first serious game and as they say in Russian – “The first pancake is always a blob”. 

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. e4 Nxc3 7. bxc3 c5 8. Be3 O-O 9. Be2 Qa5 10. O-O Qxc3 11. Rc1 Qa3 12. Rxc5 Qxa2 – you can take this pawn, but you should be very careful 

queen62

13. Bc4 Qa3 14. Qc2 Nc6 – Crafty evaluates it as 0.00 and suggests 14. … Na6 15. Bc1 Qb4 16. Bxa6 bxa6 17. Bg5 f6 18. Rb1 Qa3 19. Bf4 with -0.41 estimate   15. Rb1 Nb4 16. Qd1 

queen7

15. Rb1 Nb4 – mistake, better was 15. e6 with still 0.00, now it’s 1.50  16. Qd1 b5 – makes it worse – estimate 3.60. Two last moves were the  attempts to save the queen …

queen8

17. Bc1 Qa5 18. Rxb5 Qc7 19. R1xb4

queen9

Black resigned in a few moves.