It was a first round and I got the same guy with whom I played in the last round of the previous tournament. I got Black this time and decided on Petroff defense, last time I played it a year ago with a master getting a good position after the opening and losing later. After his 10. bxc3 I got worried about his possible Bxh7 sacrifice, it looked like a typical position for that, so I played h6. It was a mistake, the sacrifice doesn’t work because after Bxh7+, Ng5+ and Qh5 Black has Bf5.

The two book moves are 10… dxc4 and 10… Bg4.  The next move 11… Be6 was even a bigger mistake, because of 12. Ng5 with 12… hxg5 losing after Qh5. He didn’t see it. I thought first on playing 15… Qc7, but then decided to keep my queen’s access to the kingside because of Bxh6. By the way that sacrifice has evaluation about -.2, so it is sound. I saw that he can play Ng6 and Nf4 forcing an exchange, but decided to live with it.

His 19. Qg4 was unexpected and reacting to it, I missed Rc8 winning the “c” pawn. Then with the same idea I played 23… Rf7 with an intention to move it to c7, but then saw 25. Rxe6 Qxe6 26. Bxf5 and returned the rook back. I didn’t see that 26… Qe2 creates a mate threat and saves the Black rook, so Black has exchange for the pawn.

After 27… Rb1 I got annoyed by the absence of the progress in the game and played e5. It wasn’t a bad move, but it created the same R+B endgame that I had with him the last time. He was a bit better then, but exchanged rooks and then blundered the bishop. This time I had to play 38… Bxe5 with a draw, but I hesitated to give him a protected passed pawn.

After move 40 I got less than 5 minutes and stopped writing the moves. He pressured and won the “d” pawn, I activated my rook and eventually we got the position on the diagram. At that time I had about two minutes and played on 10 seconds increment. I decided to play b4 and win both his pawns on the kingside after Kc4, Ra5, but then he put his rook on f2, cut off my king and won. The right move was Kf7 and if he plays Kc5, then Rc4+, Rxd4 and then Black wins both pawns on the kingside with a draw.

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I tried to predict my opponent and I decided before the game that I do not want to let him play his Scotch gambit, in which he two times got an opening advantage and eventually won. Petroff defense looked like a good alternative. It was exactly what happened.

I played all the right moves in the opening, though spent quite some time. I think 22… f5 was a first mistake, then 24… dxc4. I didn’t like 24… Nc7 because of 25. c5 and my bishop is hanging on e7. But bishop just could go to d8 then and it is alright. Opening of the position was better for him with constant threat of d5 and pressing on my weak pawns on the kingside.

I played 42… Rxd4 having already less than 5 minutes, it was a bad move. Fritz recommends f5 and thinks I could hold this position. He later played g4 and created “f” passed pawn. This pawn became very dangerous, I was playing on increment having only 10-15 seconds and finally lost on time.

 

It was a strange game.  I got White, with a boy I played 4 times before, =3, -1.
I knew he would play Petroff, so I decided to try a new line I looked at some time ago, here is the game. I didn’t expect f5, then thought I’ll try to get two bishops. Then for some reason I decided to exchange the queens.

We played with a 30 seconds increment, nevertheless I played unusually fast, spending 22 minutes on 28 moves.  First it costed me a win, when I automatically played prepared move 22. Rxa7 missing that I can win a knight. Then it almost costed me a game. Instead of attacking with a 26. Rc8 (not sure that I would find all other moves like g4, that Houdini suggested) I got that bad idea about exchanging the rooks, thinking that I will have a better B vs. N endgame.
It was a mistake, I lost a pawn and realized that I have to fight hard for a draw.
My strange, don’t care mood that evening helped me at this moment, I switched to the defending mode without delay.

After my 36th move objectively it was lost, though a win required exact play from him. But he made a mistake, which I didn’t use playing 41. Bf6. He had a win in his hands, but lost a crucial tempo with 42… b3. I played exactly from this moment, bringing my king to the queenside.

It was a funny position after move 48, when he couldn’t take my bishop on a1. Since then it was a draw, he tried to do something, I just tried to play carefully and watched for 3-fold repetition, still missed one – after White moves 62, 64 and 72. Anyway, eventually he realized that it’s a draw and basically forced it.

It was last Thursday, last round of the tournament and I was at +2. The opponent was unexpected, the old gentleman with whom I had 4 draws before. He never played the same opening with me, still I was a bit surprised by his 1… e5 and then by 2… Nf6, here is the game.  And then 5… Nc6, I looked at this line a long time ago. I remembered I have to play c4, then after Nb4 – Be2, but didn’t remember the details and didn’t want to end up with an isolated pawn. So I went along the second line. Anyway, after 11 moves the book ended and I thought that my pieces were placed a bit better. Then I saw his Nf4 coming, but didn’t want to play g3, Fritz disagrees with that.

I think my 18. Bf1 lost the initiative, he suggested after the game playing  18.  Bh7+ Kh8 19.  Rf3. Fritz likes it, though his 20… Nxg2 takes a bit out  of it, I think. Whatever happened in the game lead to a very equal position, I didn’t want to waste time and offered him a draw. He said something like he wishes to continue a bit, but then probably realized that there is nothing to play for and agreed. He was at +3, so it definitely wasn’t  a bad finish for him.

I was actually glad, because after recent rating losses it was a second tournament (the first finished on Monday) where I finished on +2 and could expect some gains.

I definitely wasn’t lucky on that evening. First, after hanging out in the club and talking to the people for 35 minutes I found that for some mysterious reason I got a bye. So I complained, pairings were changed and I got an opponent that I beat a couple of times quite some time ago. OK, I wait, he is not coming, then see his brother.  I realize that the guy won’t come, otherwise he would be already here. This time TD notices lonely me himself, another scramble, then after some time I get an opponent from 2000+ section, actually he is just above 1900. It’s a boy, I had 2 draws with him, one recently.

I am White, Petroff again, here is the game.  We go along the same variation, then he deviates, I don’t like his Bd7. He plays c5 again and I follow the previous game, where I had an isolani. Fritz says that here the best was d5, I agree now. I see that he can play  Bg4 after 16th and 17th move and get me into trouble, he misses it. Then he offers queen exchange, I proceed, since it looks good and then play Ne5 to get rid of my isolated pawn, which is under pressure. After my passive h3  I see that I can’t defend a2 pawn after Be6 with Re2 as planned because of Bd4.  Fritz says it’s even worse than I thought and I could lose a piece after Ra3.  I decide to activate my pieces and get an idea of exchanging my light-colored bishop to his dark-colored foreseeing a possible rooks exchange. He advances his pawns and suddenly plays 36… Rc2. I think he made a mistake, quickly exchange rooks, take the pawn and then see Bd5. As Russian expression says – it’s like “thunder in the clear sky”. I see all my pawns go down, make “just move” Kd3 and then find Fritz’s idea – Bf2 with h4, decreasing the number of pawns on the board.

He has an essential time advantage, about 22-24  minutes vs my 11-12. I take b4 pawn and hope to get back with my king on time. I have a bit more than 5 minutes left when I make a crucial mistake – Bf1 instead of Bf2. It is one of my most horrible (though innocently looking) endgame mistakes. He wins a bishop for the “h” pawn and it ends the game.

This phrase belongs to Dr Siegbert Tarrasch, I learned it after the game.  I am glad I actually followed it. I played in the new club yesterday. My OTB hunger (4 games in 4 months) had to be somehow satisfied, so I finally decided to go there. There were some people from my club,  also some new faces. It’s a great location/playing hall, they get new members every week, so there were 8 games already. Interesting that I played with the guy I mentioned in the comments to my previous post, 10-year old boy – former U8 Canadian champion. I played with him last summer, drew and this game was somewhat similar, the big difference was that then he was rated  400 lower than now, I was rated 120 lower and now his rating is higher than mine. Exactly as in the previous game, I won a pawn on the middlegame and then due to some moment of blindness (not blunder) kind of gave it back with the final position being equal.

I had White,  he played Petroff defense, here is the game. I only played 2 Petroff games before, one with Black, one with White, but those were the games where my opponents didn’t know the opening well, I got 2 bishops and positional advantage and won both games. Here we followed the mainline until move 11. I knew he can attack well, so I decided to play a solid game. His c5 was unexpected, but then I thought that my isolated pawn is well defended and I can use some pluses that it can give, like open lines. After 20. Rxc4 I had kind of vision that his pieces are not standing well and I found several simultaneous threats. It was d5, Qxd5, Rxb4, or a3 and then Qxb7 or Ne5 with attacking Nc6. He defended against d5, funny that I considered Ne5 the least dangerous and it was the most by Fritz. Here another plus of isolated d4 pawn – support of Ne5 would come handy.

Anyway I won a pawn and then tried not to give him too much counterplay and simplify the position. After 29… Nc3 he suddenly offered a draw. I saw that I am about to lose my “a” pawn, but also had an idea based on pinning his knight, so I said “Wait a bit”,  smiling. His f6 proved that he saw all this, but here instead of stopping and thinking I moved by inertia, played a6 and let the win slip. Taking the knight – 34.  Bxc3 was keeping my spare pawn. We got into a knight endgame where his “a” remote passed pawn was counteracting my “d” pawn and active king position. Sometime during that endgame he offered draw again, I said again – “wait a bit”. After 42… Nd6  I didn’t see how I can win and I asked if his offer still stands. We agreed to a draw. He showed that I could win a pawn after 43. Ne6, and then if g6 – Nf8, but said he intended to move his “a” pawn and it’s probably a draw anyway. Fritz plays a5! right away after Ne6 and recommends me not to take on g7, but go back, otherwise his pawn goes down to a2, my knight has to stand on a1 and it’s even a few tenth better for Black. I just generally knew that knight is a bad fighter against the rook pawn.  To be sure it was a draw I ran 4 shootouts between Fritz and Crafty from 42… Nd6 – 11 and 13-ply, they all ended in a draw.  Out of 2 shootouts ran from  possible 34.  Bxc3 one ended in a win for White, another didn’t finish with 2.5 advantage.

So, it could be better, but I am still satisfied with my play and result against a good opponent in a new place and a practically new opening.

I played yesterday in the last round of the Club championship. It was a guy rated about the same as me,  I was White, here is the game. The game reminded me of the game I played year and a half ago:
It was also Petroff  (though I played Black) and my bishops allowed me to win in the middlegame (this time their strength showed also in the endgame). I got some advantage in the opening, maybe Petroff was an opening experiment for my opponent, at least I didn’t see in DB him playing it before. He gave me two bishops, I increased pressure and was able to win a central pawn, then I forced exchange of the queens and got a 2B vs. B+N endgame with passed pawn on d5 and very good chances to win. The bishops supported advancing of the pawn, they were very strong. After my opponent gave up a knight for the pawn, he still continued to play unless he had just a king.
After not playing well in the last 3 rounds  I really tried to get myself together (I even came to the club 40 minutes before the game, walked in the park, etc.) and I am glad that I finished the tournament on a good note. I got 5 out of 9 and my rating is going back to “A”.