It was Monday’s club, my opponent was my old nemesis, I think my score with him was 1.5:2.5. He chose Modern Defense, I knew he plays it.

In the opening he advanced his pawns on both flanks and I strengthened the center. Then on move 19 computer suggests I missed e5, with 2.43 evaluation. So here is this nice line -19. e5 dxe5 20. fxe5 Nxe5  21. Rxf6  Kxf6 22. Rxe5. If 22… Kxe5 then mate, if 22… Rxe5 then 23. Qf2 winning the queen and if 22… Kg7 then 23. Nf5.

21. Nd5 was a mistake, but the right move for Black was not 22… Ne4, but 22… cxb4 23. Qxb4 Rxe1 24. Nxe1 Qc5. After 22… Ne4 I was in a shock and got desperate. I calculated rightly that after 24. Ne5 I would be worse and chose Ng5. Interesting that computer evaluates it as 0.00.

Computer doesn’t like 26. Bh3 and recommends Ne6 with -0.6 estimate. Then I got that funny idea about exchanging my bishop and was actually about -3 after 28. f5, but only if he would play 28… cxb4. After 28… Qd8 it is equal. 30. Ne6 was not a good move, Qd3 was keeping the balance. But he decided, after some thought, to give back the exchange. I got energized after that and started to look for advantage. In a few moves I succeeded.

Computer thinks that 35… Qf7 would keep him alive with 1.8 estimate. After his 35… Qe2 I found 36. Kg1 to avoid a perpetual and the game was basically over, he resigned in a few moves.

 

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This is what I told the president of the club after I finished this game.  My opponent was a young guy, I lost to him once before playing  against his Modern defense. I have a score -3 in it and -2 in Pirc,  so definitely there are some things …

So I decided to do something else and played 1. d4, for the first time in the last 3 years I think, here is the game. He still made Modern defense out of it, but I felt comfortable in the opening. Then on the move 12 he played g5. I thought that Nf3, g4 is not good for me and decided to sacrifice a pawn. Houdini supports Nf5 and thinks it is sound. I quickly started to gain advantage and he spent a lot of time on his moves. I thought a lot after his 19… Qe6 on 20. Re1, but wasn’t sure that after 20… Qxc4 21. gxh6 Bxd4 I have enough compensation for two pawns.

His 23… Bxf4 was not good, exchanging the important defender. It’s too bad I didn’t see 25.  Rh4+ Kg7 26.  Rg1, winning on the spot. Then not the best moves were played from the both sides. I still continued my attack and then the critical moment came when I played 37. b4. I didn’t see the best Na4 and the move Be6, that I also looked at and considered after the game the better one, keeping all the advantage, worth only 0.4.

After 37. b4 I saw right away that I blundered the knight on c3.  It was a shock, though I still had some attack. The funny thing is that after he takes the knight he loses by force after 39. Rxc5!, so it wasn’t a blunder at all. Anyway, the game continued and he decided to give up his rook for my c6 pawn. I didn’t play well after that, one reason was that my time was running up, it was about 5 minutes left.  With 4 minutes left I stopped writing the moves, he had about a minute. I lost material and found myself in a losing position. Having, I think, something like 28 seconds left (with me having more than 2 minutes) he went for three-fold repetition. I was actually glad at this moment. Then I came home and computer told me, how exactly I managed not to win the game, that was won. I knew that I was winning, just didn’t know how close I was to it.

I played on Thursday with the guy, who had a strong attack in a game with me, but couldn’t finish it and I won after counterattack: https://rollingpawns.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/under-siege/ ‎

This time it was reversed scenario. I had White, it was a Modern defense which transformed into some kind of Sicilian Dragon, here is the game. I finally managed to play a long planned f4 on move 25, didn’t like his f5, though Fritz says it’s OK, but his next move – Kf7 was really bad. I saw that after exchanges on f5 his kingside will not look good. Then after 31. Qh5 the game was in my hands.

I thought that there is something better than Qxf5, that his king will be smothered in the corner after Rg8, something like that.
Then it was another obvious move – Nxe7, but it seems me I thought that after Nxe7 Qxe7 I’ll let his pieces to defend 7th horizontal, and then I just thought that I will lose a piece after Re8, not seeing that rook on g3 defends it.
Instead of that I played Re3, to defend ?? the bishop and right away to my horror I saw the discovered attack – Bf6. He looked and looked and didn’t see it. After his Rcf8 I quickly played Qh5, though I could still take on e7.

It was a critical point, after that I didn’t see how I can attack and my play went downhill. He counterattacked in the center, then forced queens exchange. I didn’t find the best defense and lost a pawn, and then underestimating his passed pawn forced bishops exchange and went into a bad rook endgame.
He didn’t play precisely and I missed a couple of chances to get a draw, I didn’t have much time at that moment. I stopped writing the moves, but he just won both my pawns and then his king went to help his “a” pawn, at that moment I resigned.

I am still upset after yesterday’s game, here it is. My opponent  was a friendly guy I knew, but never played before. He was one of the opponents I expected and I knew he plays  Modern defense, but I didn’t have time to prepare. By the way I recently lost a game against it. So I played a line, where Black after 7… e5  has ~92% score. My novelty 8.Na3 was criticized by Fritz too. But his 8… Ng4 wasn’t good and I got some advantage.

Then I saw that I can sacrifice a bishop for 2 pawns and after his forced knight’ retreat fork him and get an exchange. So it was material equality – R+2P for B+N, but I thought that my rook will be stronger, since his pieces weren’t well placed. It was right.  Also I got psychological advantage. I was attacking from that point, not defending as before.

By move 31 I got real positional advantage. I think the critical moment was when I didn’t play 33. R1d6 as I first intended. I thought that he can play 33. Nc8, but Fritz noticed that after 34…Bd1 he loses his queen. After that I saw that I can win his “a” pawn, but decided that I have to do something more drastic.

I have to say that most of the game he had 10-15 minutes more than me. After his Nd5 and following exchange I started to feel not comfortable, sensing that my advantage went away, though Fritz says I still had it after queens exchange. I also felt that my rook doesn’t have a stable position. 42… Rd6 was a bad move and then having 10 minutes vs. his 16, I made a blunder. I saw right away that he has Bc5 and he played it. I resigned.

Some lessons learned from this game:

– if you have advantage you have to finish off you opponent the sooner the better and you must look for tactics that will let you do that

– Qf2, Kg1 is not a good combination, it creates a pin motif. Just moving king to h1 at some point would allow to avoid that lethal blow in the time trouble. Play safe.

I played yesterday in the old club with the young guy from the new one. I knew that his rating is about 1650. I got White for the second time, he played Modern Defense, here is the game. I have to say that I my  score against Pirc  is  -2 and this is somewhat similar, so definitely something I don’t like to deal with. Nevertheless he developed very slowly and I missed a Bxf7 sacrifice on the fifth move, that would for sure lead to a completely different result. After the game he said that he noticed it, I didn’t see it. I had a difficulty to find an active plan and soon my play was defined by reacting to his f5 attack. Fritz says I was actually OK and could even get better position. I tried to defend and consolidate my position. When he castled queenside  and then thought a lot after 23. Ne2, having as a result just 30 minutes left vs my 45, I decided that his attack is gone and now is my turn.

That was a big mistake, not the plan, but the relaxation. I blundered his Nh4+ (Fritz says Nxf3 was even stronger). It was like I lost a critical screw in my construction and it started to fall apart. I didn’t realize I had to give up an exchange, then after 27. Nxd2 saw that he can capture both my knights and follow with fxg3, hxg3, Qh3+, … going into endgame with 2 spare pawns. I tried to prevent it, miscalculated and blundered again with Nxd4 . I lost a piece, his attack became pretty straightforward. I had just a bit more than 5 minutes when I made a final mistake, letting him to create a mate threat.

I was very, very upset after the game. I really don’t know why I played so badly, again I see just one moment when after a long defense I thought that I am going to intercept the initiative and relaxed.