My opponent was a guy I played once, 4 years ago and had a draw. I had Black and we played Queen’s Pawn. I didn’t have a plan and couldn’t get any advantage until move 23, when I decided to play f6 and then e5. Objectively my position didn’t get better, e5 pawn didn’t look strong and after my 26… Rf5  I could get worse. But it created a dynamical position where it was easier to go wrong and he had less time. I didn’t like his 35. f3 and 36. fxe4, though computer says it was still OK.

Soon we were in the time trouble with him having 3.5 minutes vs. my 1.5. After my queen check I actually expected him to play 40. Qf3 as a natural move and saw that it is losing. Instead there was 40. Kh3 with a draw. As soon as he played it I played Rg1+. After he played Kf2 I automatically played Rf1+ and he resigned. Someone standing nearby noticed that it was a mate in 1 – 41… Qe1#.

 

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I played in the tournament last weekend, it happened about 80 km from Toronto, in Guelph, at the local university. It was well organized and the traffic was good, less than an hour drive.

I played in the U2000 section, definitely could do much better than I did, but I hope I learned some important lessons. On my play definitely reflected the fact that I was waking up early both nights – at 4:30am, 5:30am with a little sleep before leaving.

Game 1 – I got Black, we played Giuoco Piano, he choose a 7. Nc3 variation I never played OTB before, maybe blitz a few times. Good that I remembered the main line, though not as deep as I thought. After 8… Bxc3 the main line is 9. d5 and Black should play Bf6, giving back one of the knights.

I played 11… f5, thinking that after Bf5 I can be overwhelmed with defending the knight on d4, but after 12. Re1 Re8 13. Nd2 Qf6 White can’t take on e4 – 14. Nxe4 dxe4 15. Bxe4 Qh5 and Black gets two pieces for the rook.

After 16… Nd6 it was equal despite me being pawn up, but then he played Bg5. After I took the bishop he resigned.

Game 2 – I got White with the girl that got a bye in the first round. Typical Rossolimo, but my attack on the kingside did not succeed, I didn’t play f4 not wanting to give her e5 square.

So, I switched to queenside. After 21. c4 I could win c5 pawn having a good, simple position without queens. I won it anyway, but had to spend time so my queen won’t get into trouble.  37. Qb3 was better than 37. Rb5, penetrating then into her backyard. Computer plays 39. f4 too, but I consider this move a mistake and beginning of the problems for White.

I had to play 42. cxb5, maybe I didn’t play it because I didn’t like c4, but it was completely won for White. I don’t remember  why I didn’t take on c5 on move 47, probably because of Qa4, but it was winning.

49. Qf3 was a big mistake, it gave up all the advantage, 49. Qb6 Qa4 50. Qf5 was the line to play. I already started to feel fatigue and my time also was shrinking. Then I made a game losing mistake playing 56. Kg1. After 56… Qc3 I realized that I am going to lose the game. After queens exchange the pawn endgame was lost.

Game 3 – I got Black with an aged guy, he played Queen’s Pawn. The first and only possibility advantage came for me on move 17, when I could play d4. Then I didn’t understand the meaning of his 23. Bd3, played a5 and missed a skewer. I managed to win his “b” pawn and thought that I could try to hold with my two bishops.

He tried to attack my king, but couldn’t find a win and went for a 3-fold repetition.

Game 4 – it was Sunday and I came with high expectations. I got White with a young guy and our Ruy Lopez quickly went off the book. He started a play in the center with 11… d5 and could get some advantage after 14… e4, but suddenly he played 14… Nxe3. I noticed almost right away that I have 15. Na4 and played it. Then instead of 19. Nd4 the best was Ng5.

After 19… Ng4 he managed to exchange queens and weaken my pawn structure on the kingside. I missed 28. Rxf7, still had a big advantage. But I didn’t think how I will use it, didn’t have any plan and was just moving the pieces. There a mistake in my score, so I can’t connect the moves in it before move 45 with the rest. But what happened is that  I eventually I had a pawn on b2, he on b3, his rook was on the 2nd horizontal and his king joined his pieces attacking my queenside. I got a very passive position, was in a serious time trouble, then lost pawns on the kingside and then blundered a piece and resigned.

There is an expression in Russian, which pretty much corresponds to what happened in the game. It was last Thursday, my opponent was a boy, I played with him 2.5 years and won. I had Black, he played Queen’s Pawn defense. It was equal until I played 15… f5. I didn’t see that after exchange he can just advance his pawn on e5 getting advantage. He lost it after playing 20. Rac1, letting me to play f4, computer likes this move.

Suddenly on move 22 he decides to take on d6. After his 23. Bb5 I had an only move – Qe7 and worried if I can lose a material. But then I saw that I can take his queen and then the pawn. Then I started to see “ghosts” when it looked like after all exchanges he can play Rc7 with a fork on both bishops. Then I found that I can take on e7 with another rook and decided to go to the washroom.

So I came back and saw that he played 24. exd6, so I played the prepared Rxe2 and he took my queen. I thought for a moment what is better – taking back on e7 or staying there and attacking his knight and decided to double the rooks.  After he took my rook on e7 something looked strange to me and suddenly I realized to my horror that his bishop on b5 defends the rook on e2. I concentrated too much on the center and forgot about that bishop. I still had 35 minutes on the clock. I resigned and was very upset.

When I came home, I found that after any move except the one I made I had about +1.5 due to the fact that his “d” pawn was weak and his knight had nowhere to move.

The two games that I played on consecutive Thursdays look reversed, it explains the title.

In the first game I had an opponent, to whom I lost recently having White in Sicilian. This time it was the same variation, but I played my regular Maroszy bind. He made a mistake on move 22 and I won a pawn.

Then I made two not very good moves – 26. Na4 ( 26. Nfe2 – +2.19) and 30. R2d5 ( 30. Nc3 – +1.43) and lost all my advantage. He had much more time than me and I started to get nervous, because the queens remained on the board. Then when I had 8 minutes left (he had 30) I touched my bishop wanting to cover from checks on the 1st horizontal and suddenly realized that I left unprotected the diagonal c5-g1. I resigned on the spot, was very upset.

In a week I got an opponent, with whom I have =2, -3 score. He had White and we played Queen’s Pawn defense. I thought that I intercepted the initiative after the opening, but instead of 20… fxg2 I had to play 20… Qh4. Soon he started to develop a counter-attack.

I made a big mistake playing 27… Bg6, I just thought that it will take off the pressure. After that in all the lines f5 was the decisive move. If exf5, then e6 attacking the rook and releasing the bishop at the same time. Interesting that we both did not see it. It got easier for me by the move 35, he also had 1 minute vs. my 10. I offered him a draw, but he refused. Objectively he still had a +2 advantage at this point.

Then he missed 43… Rxf4. 45. Rxf4 was a blunder, very similar to my blunder in the previous game. It would be a draw after 45. Rxg7+. The position became technical for me and in a few moves I won.

It is about two games – one was hard, another was easy. There were kind of opposite one to another, from the opening to the endgame, so it is interesting to compare.

Game 1 – I played on Monday, top section, expert. I lost to him once before, missed a crazy computer sacrifice with a win. I had Black, decided to play something different from Semi-Slav and chose to return to Queen’s Indian Accelerated.

In the opening I felt rather good, my isolated pawn was compensated by a good play in the center. Computer criticizes his 16. Nb3, giving the line 16…Rxc1 17. Rxc1 Ng4 18. Rf1 with ~-0.5 advantage. Then it got complicated after me deciding to get hanging pawns. I was distracted by his threat Bh3 after Ng5 and reacted to it, not seeing 20…c4! forcing his queen to b1 and then 21… Rc5 22. Bh3 Qc7 with initiative and 0.5 advantage. 24… c4 was already not a good move. I knew that I should advance one of the pawns only if it gives something to me, but I was just feeling pressure.  The same was with g5, not a good move too. 35… Bb7 was a losing mistake, then I didn’t see 39. Qe5 and the rest is self-explanatory.

Game 2 – it was played in three days, in another club. I had this opponent recently, a man rated 1825 and won with a piece sacrifice. I got Black again and we played the same line of Queen’s Pawn, except I didn’t make the blunder 5… e6, like in the previous game and he was keeping balance. It was developing very peacefully until move 36, too peacefully for me. Then I saw that if we exchange rooks, I can play 38… Kc5 and 39… a5 and I am stopping his queenside pawns, at the same time having majority on the kingside, clear win. Funny that Fritz thinks it is only 1.5 advantage, but after a few moves confirms it’s a win for Black.

So I played 36… Rd1 and he went for the rooks exchange, his desire to draw this game can explain it. Computer doesn’t like my 40… e5, saying that he could play 41. g4. But White is winning anyway not only after 41… h5, which I found at home, but also after 41… e4, which I would probably play there. In the game I just created a passed pawn, which deflected his king. Interesting that I had an optical illusion at one point thinking that after 48. Kc3 Ka3 he can keep my king along “a” vertical, forgetting that I can get to b4 square. He played c5 which was losing faster and resigned soon.

It is about two games on consecutive Thursdays. They were somewhat similar in the sense that tactical strike decided the game. Unfortunately only one of them was mine.

October 2. I was paired with a master, but I didn’t see him coming. As I knew that he usually comes early, I asked TD almost right after the start and he said: “Oh, I forgot, he took a bye”. So, he quickly re-paired me with a guy that got a 1-point bye.

I got Black and we played Queen’s Pawn defense. Before the start I played 4 blitz games with some schmuck that wanted to play only with 2-3 minutes control, lost all of them. Maybe that, as well as distraction because of re-pairing caused me to blunder on move 6, automatically playing e6 and not seeing Qb5+. For some reason Fritz gives it only +0.5 and shootouts end in a draw. Anyway, he didn’t see it and castled.

Then we got into some positional maneuvering until he played 22. Bh2. I saw Nxc3 right away and calculated it, seeing also his hanging knight on d2. Then I found another good move – 24… Nd1 and the game was over. It took him some time to realize that.

 October 9.  I was paired with the guy I never played before. I guessed him playing me before the game and knew he can play Sicilian Nc6. I played my favorite Rossolimo attack, but his Qc7 was a surprise, I wasn’t ready for that and spend too much time in the opening.  The best was not to play Nc3 and d4, but to castle and play Re1, not letting his knight on f6.

So, it was equal and then he played this bad move b5. I saw e5 and played it, but after Qxf3 “automatically” took by rook. I consider it now one of the worst moves in my chess life, because it decided the game.  I would get at least a draw after gxf3, not letting his knight on g4. As soon as played 18. h3 I saw his Rxd4. He thought for a while and played it. 20. Rg3 was another very bad move instead of 20. Rff4. After 20… Bc5 I could just play Kf1.

My position became very bad and Ne6 was a final blunder, I thought so much about Rxg7+ that I was sure that Ne6 was a check. That loss, third out of four games and with White to 200 lower rated player (though he is in the top with +3 right now), also quick, really upset me.

 

This time I came too early into the new club. So I went to the store, then it was lecture for about 45 minutes that’s probably why I felt tired when the game started. My opponent was 1800+, from the old club, never played with him. Here is the game.

I had Black, we played some Queen’s pawn line, I played fast for some reason and pretty early I got under pressure. After 17. … Rb8 I suddenly noticed that besides the standard combination 18. Nxd5 Qxd2 19. Ne7+ giving nothing to White  which I checked a few times before, there is also Nf6+ that looks pretty bad for Black. I tried to keep a poker face and he didn’t see it. Fritz says I was simply losing the game after 18. Nxd5. It didn’t get much easier, I was under attack. I saw 22. e6 coming and thought that the game will be probably lost. Strange, but he missed this and other possibilities too and did a regrouping.

Then he made a crucial mistake from my point of view by playing 32. g5 (though Fritz only rates it as -1). I got the initiative and started to play well. I didn’t take right away the exchange he offered, because I saw that it will leave him with 2 bishops, my threats will evaporate, and I wanted to attack, not grind. After Qa3 I saw that Rxb2+ wins on the spot, Fritz later said that there was even a mate in the end. As Russian expression says: “Everything is good that ends good”.