It was a 2nd round in Mondays tournament. My opponent was a boy, I thought that I lost to him some time ago, in a rather quick and painful way. It defined my careful manner of play. I had White, he played Caro-Kann.

Computer prefers 11. h6 to my Bd2. I expected his 14… e5 and was confident about 15. dxe5, computer criticizes his move and recommends Nf6. I got a feeling that I am better after his 20… Rf7 and 21… Rhf8. Computer thinks that I had to play 23. Qf5 instead of Qf3.

The crucial moment came on move 28, I considered 28. Qc7, but for some reason decided to play Qd6. Computer says I would get advantage after 28. Qc7 a6 29. Qxg7. So we transferred into a rook endgame. His 30… Rg8 was too passive, he had to play Re8 and then Re5. 36. f4 was the move instead of g4.

After 40 moves I thought that his initiative on the queenside could be dangerous and decided to do something about it. On move 50 computer recommends Ke3 forcing rooks exchange with ~+1 advantage, but 2 shootouts ended up in a draw. After his 53… c4 I spent some time calculating 54. bxc4+ Rxc4 55. Rxc4 Kxc4 line and saw that we queen at the same time. So I went for it, in a few moves he offered a draw. Interesting that when I came home I found out that I actually had a win against him in that past game, but blundered…

It was a 4th round in the new club. My opponent was a leader, 3/3, the guy rated the same. He started playing quickly and confidently. He played Vienna Gambit, his 5. Qf3 was unfamiliar to me. I started to feel under pressure after 8. Qg3, Computer criticizes 11… Qe7 preferring Qb6. His 15. Bf6 allowed me to get out of the opening trouble.

Then the balance shifted into my favor, but I didn’t see it right away. So when he blundered with 19. Ra3 I missed winning 19… Bf5. Still I managed to win a pawn, later we transferred into a rook endgame. I knew that my passed pawns are my only chance to win and avoided any exchanges of his queenside pawns to even one of my kingside ones. I remembered the technique called shuffling, when you move the pawns one after another with the rook support.

Then his 44. b5 was a crucial mistake. After 46. Rxa7 I saw that he can’t stop me from queening. To my surprise he continued to play being down a queen. I missed a few forced mates, I really didn’t have much time at that moment. When I was  about to get another queen he resigned.

 

The expression is a derivative of a line in William Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice, which employs the word “glisters,” a 17th-century synonym for “glitters”. While preparing for the second round in the new club I knew that one of the possible opponents plays Giuoco Piano as he did it once against me. So I found a video of one Russian chess player on YouTube where he advertised the idea of playing h7-h6 and g7-g5 in Giuoco Pianissimo in the situation where White already castled and Black did not. He said that Black gets a strong, decisive attack after g5-g4 with White having pawn on h3 and knight on f3.

So can you imagine, I got another opponent, 1427 rated boy who played exactly that, Giuoco Pianissimo with d3 and h3. On move 8 he castled and I played g5. His next move was unexpected and forced me to think that my attack should be better supported by castling queenside. The move Qe7, though only given +0.3 by computer, was not good, instead immediate g4 was -0.35 in the line 9… g4 10. hxg4 Bxg4 11. Nh2 Be6.

After his knight jumped on d5 I saw that I have to exchange it and that my knight has no better place to go as b8 square. Then I made another unfortunate move, 12… Bf5, not feeling the danger. He missed the possibility to play 14. d4 with following 14… Nd7 15. dxe5 Nxe5 16. Bb5+ Kd8 17. Qc3 f6 18. Nd4 with ~+1.3 evaluation. 14… 0-0 was basically admission that my strategy was wrong, but I could hold the position with the cool 14… Nd7, in the line 14… Nd7 15. d4 f6 I was able to castle queenside and it was only ~+0.5.

I still was under pressure after 15. d4 and after calculating that I can’t play e4 (that was right) played f6. I saw that he can take on f6 right away and after initial shock decided to play Qg7. He found it and played, but taking with rook was better. His 18. Ng4 was natural and what I expected, but 18. f4 was better, after taking the knight I would get under attack and 18… gxf4 19. Rxf4 Nd7 was ~+0.9.

My 21… Ne5 was a bit flashy, but simple Rf7 was better. I think his 24. f4 was a small mistake as the position became completely equal. Honestly I even started to think I am better due to my good knight. Then we transferred into a rook endgame and he offered a draw. I said I will play more and soon managed to win a pawn. On move 49 I thought that I do not have a real chance of advancing my “e” pawn and decided to try my luck with the “h” pawn. The problem with the arisen rook pawn endgame was that his king was too close to the “h” vertical. Funny that 69. Ke2 would lose after 69… Kg2, then the Black king advancing towards the White rook. But he was exact, we repeated the moves and agreed to a draw.

The first lesson I learned is in the title, I definitely had to do my homework before playing this line, by the way I didn’t find it in DB, though the guy on video referred to Alekhine’s idea. Another lesson was understanding that my reading of the book about rook endgames should be intensified as that was a classical rook endgame in the end. Also I recently drew one online blitz game with Short Side Defense and another one with Back Rank Defense.

 

It was a first round in the Mondays club. My opponent’s rating was 100 lower, I got White, he played Caro-Kann. Usually White plays 6. h4 and then by h5 and Bd3 forces bishops exchange. I decided to avoid that because I had a problem with h5 pawn in one of the games, it was weak.

I felt uncomfortable after his 12… e5, though computer feels fine and recommends to play 13. Bxg6 hxg6 14. b5 c5 16. dxe5 Nxe5 with equality. On move 15 I had to consider Bf5, I really did, but didn’t like 15. Bf5+ Bxf5 16. Nxf5 Nxf3+ 17. Qxf3 Bxh2+ 19. Kh1, though Black is -2.16 after 19… Rxe1+ 20. Rxe1 Bd6 21. Nxg7. So after 15 moves I regretted about not playing h4-h5 and exchanging my light-colored bishop, as I felt that my pieces were tangled.

I am not sure now what his 21… Qe5 move was, maybe just a blunder. I thought that it is dangerous to take f7 pawn, but after 22. Qxf7 Bxg5 23. Rb1 Bd2 24. b5 cxb5 25. Nxf1 Bxc3 26. Rxb5 Qe7 27. Qxg6 White is still a pawn up with ~0.4 advantage. After his 22. Qe6 I didn’t quite like my position and decided to exchange the queens thinking that the arising endgame should be equal. It was a mistake.

As soon as he played 24… Kc7 I got a bad feeling. I couldn’t avoid a loss of a pawn, the best I could get was to transfer into a rook endgame. 34. Ra5+ was not good as well as 35. Ra2, I had to approach my king. He missed a chance to play 35… b4, after which the “b” pawn would become very dangerous. His slow play allowed me to improve the position of my pieces. Computer confirmed, that my decision not to play 46. Rxb5 was right, he would win my “f” pawn and his “f” pawn would become unstoppable.

My 48. f4 was a mistake, I simply didn’t see where I could put my rook after my 48. Rf4+ or 48. Rf6 would be followed by Ke5. But simple 48. Rh5 was keeping the balance. Eventually I was able to take “b” pawn and approach my king to the kingside. I had in mind Philidor position, it became unavoidable. At some point he realized that and offered a draw.

It was a second round in the Monday’s club and I got my nemesis – the guy I lost to quite a few times. Is it psychological or his style of play or openings that I didn’t master yet – probably all of it. Unexpectedly I got Black again, so Queen’s Indian.

What I am still missing playing this opening is a clear understanding of the ideas for Black. 5… d5 was not a good move, instead 5… Bb4 6. Nf3 Ne4 7. Qc2 O-O 8. Bd3 f5 9. O-O Bxc3 10. bxc3 d6 was a way to go. Another positional misstep was 8… exd5 instead of 8… Nxd5 9. Nxd5 Bxd5. You should not close the diagonal for the bishop. Then 10… cxd4 gave him ~0.8 advantage,  I had to play 10… Nc6.

Then I missed an opportunity with 12… Nxd4. Of course, I saw 13. Bxh7+ and decided that it was not worth to take the pawn, that it would weaken my kingside. But the position was equal. 12… Rc8 was just bad because of Bf5. He pressured and won the “d” pawn.

Eventually we exchanged most of the pieces and went into  a rook endgame. Suddenly he started to play not that well as before, maybe rook endgame is his weakness. It happened once in the past when I missed a chance to win a rook endgame with one strike. He played 33. a4, I saw the answer before and played Rd4. If he instead of that would play 33. b3 then my idea wouldn’t work.

I put my rook behind his pawn according to Tarrasch and everything was fine until move 45, when his king’s movement towards the “b” pawn got me worried and I made that horrible move Kd7 losing the game. The rest is self-explanatory, he just demonstrated some technique.

When I was driving home, I thought what could I do differently and suddenly realized that I did not have to move the king. If his king would approach the “b” pawn, the rook would give checks and the king had nowhere to hide. This all is because the pawn was advanced to b7. The funny thing is he did not realize that either.

The right way was to advance the pawn only to b6 and then move the king, still it’s a draw in this case.

 

My opponent was unexpected as well as that I will play Black. It was an old guy, never played him before. Here is the game. It was Reti opening, where I decided to give him hanging pawns. Finally he got them, but after a few moves decided to exchange knight on e5, that gave him an isolated pawn on c4. After queens exchange I thought that I am better.

His 34. Bc3 was a mistake, allowing me to exchange bishops and attack his c4 pawn. And then came a moment, when I evaluated the position wrong. I thought that after 38… Rxd3 I win a pawn, but then his king forces my king to stay on “a” line and it’s  a draw. I didn’t realize that he has no other moves and will have to move his king out of opposition losing the game. Really “seeing ghosts”. I also thought that in the rook endgame after winning “a” pawn I should win that endgame having two  connected passed pawns. He activated his rook and according to Fritz had good drawing chances, but 43. h5 ?? took his rook out of play with an easy win for me.

I recently had a blitz game which came to a rook + pawn vs. rook endgame. My opponent resigned in the following position:

Black can reach Lucena position here: 74. Kd1 Rc5 75. Rg8+ Kf3 76. Rf8+ Kg2 77. Rg8+ Kf1

and then it’s a known win: 78. Rg7 Rd5+ 79. Kc1 Ke2 80. Re7+ Kf3 81. Rf7+ Ke3 82. Re7+ Kf4 83. Rf7+ Rf5

By the way, Crafty found a neat and faster win – 74. … Rc8!

After I looked at all this stuff I thought that my opponent probably missed a draw earlier.  With a help of online Nalimov tablebases I found the moment where it went wrong for him:

Only rook moves – Rd2, Rd5, Rd6, Rd7, Rd8 lead to a draw. It is actually a second method of defense in Philidor position when white rook can’t get to the third line. It was found by M. Karshtedt, that you still can draw by checking from behind. White king should stay on the short side, to allow, if necessary, checks from the long side.
In my game White lost after 70. Kf2 Rc2+ 71. Ke1 Kg3 72. Rd3+ f3 73. Rd8 f2+.