It was a second round of the Mondays tournament, my opponent was young man rated 1487. He had White and played Ruy Lopez, Exchange variation. His 5. h3 was 5th choice and not very good, as well as 6. d4. Computer suggests I could play 6… Qg6 with some advantage. I missed his 17. Rxd6, but it did not give him any advantage.

I think 23… g5 wasn’t a good idea, even computer says it is equal after it. I am convinced I made it hard on myself with this and some moves after it. 26… Re7 was a mistake, I somehow missed 26… Be6 which was leading to an equal endgame. On move 29 Nxh3 was better, Ne6 would get me into unpleasant position after 30. Kg4 Nf4 31. Kxg5 Nxh3 with ~1.4 estimate.

But suddenly he took the pawn on d6, then after hanging it in the air he put it back and said something to me. I saw right away that he played a wrong combination counting on 30. Nxd6 Rxd6 31. Rxf7+ and forgetting about 30… Kxd6. I said: “you took the pawn” with a calm, but firm voice and he took it with the knight. I didn’t find the best placement of my pieces right away, but as soon as I did he resigned.

We analyzed the game afterwards, he admitted that Nxd6 was a combination that went wrong. I criticized my g5.

 

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It was a last round. I had only 2/4 and bad performance rating, so didn’t want to leave it as is and went to play despite of being tired. My opponent was a guy I drew with some time ago in Italian game. This time he chose Ruy Lopez, Exchange variation and I played my favorite Bronstein variation.  We castled opposite sides, his 9. Rb1 was a novelty. I thought that my attack was developing faster and decided to ignore his demonstrations on the queenside.

After his king escaped to the center I decided to open it. I expected him to play 29. d4, not Kd1. Computer prefers to play 33… c5, I played it 2 moves later. I saw 37… Re8, but the time already started to affect me and I played Bd4 even feeling that it was not the best move. I missed an opportunity to win the game on the spot by playing 42… Bc2+. After 43. Ka2 Qb3 44. Ka1 Bxd3 45. Nd6+ Black is +6.

42… Qf6 was a mistake, letting him to play 43. Qe6+ with an equal position after queens exchange. But he didn’t play it and gave a check. He was getting into a serious time trouble having 10-15 seconds left before each move (increment was 30 seconds). My next moves were not the best, but then I found the winning 49. Qf2. He tried to make a move and his flag fell, I think it was a blunder Qb2 anyway.

After I waited for my opponent for about 15 minutes I asked TD if he is going to come. He said: “Yeah, he always comes, but he comes late, maybe to intimidate a bit”. I said: “But he is not Fisher” and calmed down. He came soon and we started to play. Last time we played he moved really fast and it kind of affected me. This time in the opening I played faster. He played e4 and I decided to rely again on my favorite Ruy Lopez. He exchanged on c6 and I played my pet Bronstein variation – 5… Qd6, I won a couple of games in it in the past. I saw that his development was slow and tried to get ahead. Computer thinks that after 14… g4 I had +1 advantage.

Then I got an idea to win his pawn by taking his knight on c4. Fritz thinks that it was better to play gxh2+ and h3. Suddenly I saw that after 19… Qxc4 he can play Rb4 with attack on “b” file and I didn’t like it. So I changed my mind and played c5. But I could hold the position – 19… Qxc4 20. Rb4 Qc5 21. Rab1 b6.

I lost the initiative at that moment and his attack started to develop. I overestimated the strength of it and thought that the only way to change the flow of events is to sacrifice exchange on f3. Interesting that Fritz considers it completely sound and giving +1 advantage to Black. I had to do it on move 30, but didn’t, luckily he didn’t take on h4. Fritz considers his Kg2 a big mistake, which I didn’t use playing Nf6 instead of Nf8 with idea of Ne6 and Nf4+. Nf8 doesn’t allow his queen to get on g5. Anyway, after he played f4 I saw that he planned to play e5 after exf4, but missed my check on c6. 35. Qf1 and 36. Rab2 were bad moves, he couldn’t decide what to do – defend or attack.

After winning a rook I was a piece up and the only problem was the time, it went down to two minutes and I played on 30 seconds increment. Fortunately it was simple enough position to win.