It was a 3rd round in the new club, my opponent was a boy rated 1825. I got White, he played French Defense, it became Tarrasch, closed variation. On move 9 I chose the same line that I played 9 days before, I thought I can play it better. Computer doesn’t like his 9… f6 as well as 11… Be7 and evaluates the position as ~+2. After 14 moves it is already about +3.8.

I thought about 15. Qc2, but preferred Qd2, the line was 15. Qc2 h6 16. Qf2 Rf7, 17. Qg3 Nf8 18. Bxh6. After 16. Bd7 I spent quite some time choosing between Ng5 and Bg5. The knight  on g5 after bishops exchange didn’t look very promising, so I chose Ng5. It was a right choice, because after 17. Bg5 he had a strike 17… Rxf3 18. Rxf3 Bxg5 19. Qc2, though computer thinks I still had ~0.7 advantage.

After 19. Be7 Rxf1+ 20. Rxf1 the game was already lost for him, though we didn’t realize that yet. 21. Qg5 was mate in 11. After winning his queen I knew that I have to use the unfortunate placement of his pieces, the rest was technique. He played very fast all the game, I followed first, but after the opening slowed down.

This quote belongs to Emmanuel Lasker. My opponent in this last round was a guy rated 1502. He had 6 years break and was just playing for a few months, his old rating was ~1800, I beat him in 2011. So we got French, Tarrasch closed. The book says 11. Nf4 was the best move.

On move 16 I saw a possibility of Bxh7+ sacrifice and played it. 19… Rh6 was a serious mistake. 20. Qe8 looked risky, but I calculated that my queen will not be caught. Then 21. Re1 looked like the right move, I didn’t see how he can defend his e6 pawn. That was a moment when I think my bad shape started to show up. Not only I missed that he can force the exchange of the queens, but I didn’t see Ba3, the decisive move. I was so much concentrated on the kingside and forgot about the queenside. So the only move after 21. Ba3 was 21… Qf4 and I had to find 22. h4!.

After 22… Rxh4 23. Nxe6 Bxe6 24. Qxa8 Black is lost, 22… Rb3 23. Nh5 Bd7 24. Qxd7 Rxh5 25. Bxf8 Rxf8 26. Qxe6 White is +3.50. So I missed that opportunity and the game continued without queens. Then after 26… Rh4 I didn’t play 27. Rc7 Bc6 28. Rxe6, I saw only Bc6 locking my rook. 32. h3 Re4 33. Ng4 Bh4 34. g3 Bg5 was keeping the game equal.  My 32. Bc3 and 33. Rdc1 were not good, 33. Ra1 could save the day.

Then he also didn’t play exactly, my taking on b7 was right, even I thought later that it was a mistake. 38. Rc7 was a bad move, 38. h4 was equal. Soon my position deteriorated and I lost.

It was a last round, I was playing against the leader having 4/4 (despite of his 1442 rating). I expected him, looked at the game that I won with Back against him, but unexpectedly got White. He played French, I chose Tarrasch closed as usual and after 11 moves was on my own, as Bf4 that I remembered didn’t look alright because of Qxb2. I wanted to prevent e5, but didn’t see how and only after I played 15. Qd2 I saw that I had to provoke, not prevent e5. If let’s say 15. h3 e5 then 16. Rxc6 bxc6 17. dxe5 and I win 2 pieces for a rook. But it was already late, as now it didn’t work.

I was feeling under pressure until 23. h3, but then realized that I am OK and his position has some weaknesses including king cover. His 23… h5 just strengthened that point of view. I saw that I can play Nxh5 with the following queen check, but then I thought that Rf7 prevents it, not seeing the check on e8.  Then I saw 27. Nxg7, but again thought that it is not possible because of 27… Ne4, but White just plays 28. Nxe6 and stays the pawn up.

Instead of 31. Nd4 I could play 31. Qh4 Kg8 32. g5 and Black can’t move the knight because of g6 threat. 31… g6 was a game losing mistake.

I played on Thursday, it was a first game in two months, fifth round. My opponent was a 1475 rated man, I played him recently and won. I had White and he chose French, so we got Tarrasch, closed variation.

22. Ng5 was a provocative move, he took on f8 with a queen and it was a mistake. It allowed me to play Rf1 and then Nf7. I started to consider sacrifice on h6 and actually could play 26. Nxh6+, but I didn’t see the intermediate bishop check on f7 after 26. Nxh6+ gxh6 27. Bxe8 Rxd2 and thought that I would give up 2 pieces for the rook.

27. Bxh6 was intuitive, I couldn’t see all the variations, but was sure that it wins. Then I saw the mating idea with my queen being placed on “h” vertical. He didn’t see the mate coming and played until saw it on the board.

My opponent was a boy and I got White. He chose French, after his 9… Qe7 I felt that I will be better after the opening. Computer thinks that I was winning after breakthrough 12. f5, I considered it, but didn’t see anything forced.

23. Bc1 was a waiting move, I thought that I can’t get advantage on the queenside anymore. I got better after exchange on g3 and then decided to play Ba3 and occupy the “f” vertical. Computer considers 30… Qh5 a mistake and prefers Qc2.

When he played 36… Be8 I didn’t like moving my queen back, then suddenly realized that discovered check will be winning here.  37… Bxf7 was losing a bishop, but his 37… Rd7 lost a rook and he resigned.

In the last round I expected to have Black against the expert, instead I got White against one of the leaders. The guy who I thought was rated ~1870 managed to beat two experts, only at home I found out that he is rated 200 lower. He chose French and soon I noticed that he is spending time on the opening moves while I moved right away, having played this variation quite a few times. After his 10… Nb4 I got a good feeling about the game, which became stronger after his 11… Na6. I spent some time thinking about 13. Nf4, but then decided that he can just castle and played usual exf6.

After he played 18.. Ne8 I knew that I have to act on that,  computer recommends Nf4 here. When I saw 21. Qh5 I realized that this is a critical moment of the game. I considered two replies – g6 and h6.

On g6 I planned 22. Nxg6 Nxe3 23. Nxe7 and there is a mate coming, but I didn’t consider 22. Rf7. White is still winning after 23. Ne5 Rg7 24. Bxc4 dxc4 25. f5 . I also saw 22. Bxg6 and wanted to make a final decision after his move. 22. Bxg6 wins on the spot after 22… Rf7 23. Bxf7, as well as after 22… hxg6 23. Qxg6+ Kh8 24. Nh5 . My reply to h6 was of course Qg6 and that’s what happened.

After 23… Rf5 I felt that I can’t afford another big thinking due to my time left and exchanged queens. Computer criticizes me for that, saying that 24. Nh5 was crushing, with 24… Kf8 25. Bxf5 Bh4 26. Bxe6+ Ke7 27. Rf7+ Kd8 28. Rf8+ Kc7 29. Rc1+ Qc6 Bxd7. In the line 24… Bf8  he loses after 25. Nf6+.

I played 26. Rc1 to not give him any chances and captured f5 pawn later anyway. It became technical, there was a funny moment when after I played 41. a4 I realized that I blundered a pawn, but immediately saw that I get Rc8+ , computer doesn’t like 41… Rxa4. After 45. Rcc7 he resigned.