It just so happened that I played twice this variation of Scotch Gambit this week. Lately I started to understand the ideas for Black, before I didn’t feel comfortable meeting this line.

Game 1 – I finished my work at 6pm after being stressed the whole day and managed to get on time to the club. My opponent was a boy rated 1632, it is a last round of Mondays tournament. On move 14 I played stopping f5. Then I played 18… c5 and after 19… Bc6 started to feel good about the position. I thought on move 20 almost 30 minutes about d4 and didn’t play it. Then my 24… d4 finally followed, but his 25. Bf6 forced me to reevaluate the position.

I decided to sacrifice an exchange, seeing that it deflects any attack on the kingside and my bishops are very strong. At home I was surprised that computer evaluated my sacrifice only as -0.22, but even more surprising was that I was winning after 25… dxc3! 26. Rxd7 Qxd7 27. bxc3 Qd1 28. Ne1 Rf7 with White pieces completely out of play and -5.00 estimate.

Anyway the initiative was on my side. His 30. b4 wasn’t a good move, then after 30… Qe6 I expected 30. Re1. He played Rg1? and I got an idea of attacking his g2 square. My 31… Re2 was a right move, it is actually -5.70. I saw possible 32. Nxe4, but didn’t like exchanging the queens and going into endgame, so I decided to reply Qe4 to any of his moves, keeping the attack. He played 32. Nxd4 happily saying something, I quickly replied 32. Qe4 and suddenly to my horror he just took my rook. I realized that I blundered, my emotional state finally showed.

Then forced queens exchange followed and after resisting for 10 more moves I resigned. I was very upset, I got even more upset when at home computer told me that after 32…Rxd2 he was either mated – 33. Nxe6 Bxg2+! 34. Rxg2 Rd1+ 35. Rg1 Rxg1# or was losing the queen.

Game 2 – I had a quiet day at work, had to spend almost hour and 30 minutes to get to the club because of the rain. My was opponent was the same boy as year ago in the same round of the same tournament. He played Scotch Gambit then and I won in d6 line. Now it was Dubois-Reti variation. He played pretty confidently, but his 13. Nc3 looked suspicious. Then I found a right moment to play f6. Computer thinks he had to play 21. exf6 with an equal position, after 22. Rfe1 I got an advantage. But my 23… Rf5 was’n the best move, 23… Rf2 24. Rac1 Rf4 25. Nd3 Rc4 was better. Then I saw 24… c5, but after some consideration decided not to play it.

His 28. Rab1 only looked good, computer recommends 28… Ke7 with -1.20 evaluation. But I decided to play 28… d4, it gave up all the advantage. We exchanged the rooks, then after his 35. Na6 I found defensive Bf7. To my surprise he decided to take on c7, I knew it was losing. He found a trick to save the knight, but the pawn endgame was lost for him of course. After some resistance he resigned.

 

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It was a 4th round in Mondays club and unexpectedly (they did a manual pairing due to the problem with the computer) I got the same girl as on last Thursday, but with Black. I lost to her on Thursday with White because of my bad shape, underestimation, positional mistakes and relying on her time trouble. I have to say that we both learned our lesson, she was spending time much more reasonably and I was more careful.

Another surprise was her Scotch Gambit. Anyway I decided to go the same way as I did 2 months ago, when I had chances in a similar line. So I played the same stopping 14… f5, but then spent some time choosing between 15… fxe4 or dxe4, the first one looked more solid. I considered 19… g5, but didn’t like 20. Qg3. Would you believe that computer recommends that move with -0.35 estimate after 19… g5 20. Qg3 Bxe3 21. Qxe3 Rb8 ? After 21… gxf4 22. Rxf4 Rxf4 23. Qxf4 it is 0.00.

Then I made my only mistake in that game playing 24… Ba5, after 25. Nxa5 Rxa5 26. Bc5 Ba6 27. Rfb1 Bd3 28. Bxf8 Bxb1 29. Bxg7 Kxg7 30. Qh4 with  Rb7, Qf6 threats White is about +2.  But this line looks a bit above my paygrade. Anyway in a few moves we reached some kind of a dynamical balance. Then I saw 30… c5 with the idea of 31… d4, but it looked messy and unpredictable and it actually was, with about +0.3 estimate. The right move after 30… c5 31. Rdd1 was 31… Rxa4 32. Qb2 Rb8 33. Qc1 h6 with equal position.

Frankly I felt tired, there was not much time left, my 12 minutes vs. her 7, so I started to to think about a draw, but didn’t want my offer to be refused. Suddenly she offered a draw and I accepted. She actually offered it a few moves before, but in a such a low voice that I didn’t understand what she said.

It was a first round in Monday’s club. My opponent was a boy rated 1616. I got Black, he played Scotch gambit. I decided to play the main line with 4… Nf6. I knew that line a bit, though played it OTB just one, max two times.

After his 14. f4 I decided to play f5 to stop his pawn attack on the kingside. He looked surprised and spent some time trying to find a plan. Then I completely missed that after his Na4 he controls c5 and really didn’t like it. I considered Bb5, but thought that bishop will be vulnerable there. So I played g5 to spice the things up. Here I missed 21… d4 strike. After 22. Nxd4 Bxd4 23. Bxd4 c5 24.  Nxc5 Nxc5 White has to play h3 to prevent the devastating consequences of Bb7+. On move 23 I considered d4 with the idea of cutting off the piece on c5, calculated it, but my calculation was wrong and I didn’t play it, same on move 24.

As a result I got worse. White missed 28. a5 and if Bxa5 then Qf2-Qe3-e5 with the horrific attack. When I decided that I am out of the trouble he played 32. Qe3. I noticed the Qe3-e5 threat and thought that the only defense from the mate would be to exchange on c5, then taking on e6. I saw that I was losing then two pawns – “a7” and “c7”, but thought that opposite-colored bishops would give me a draw. Instead of it the cool 32… a6! 33. Qe5 Kg6! was leading to an equal position.

In the endgame my plan starting from 38… Kd7 was wrong. I think I would be better off keeping my king on the kingside with the bishop stopping the “a” pawn. My 40… h5 was a serious mistake, then my position deteriorated and I lost.

It was a 4th round in the Thursday’s club, my opponent was a boy rated 1596. He had White and played Scotch Gambit. I had it 4 months ago and went along the same line with 5… d6. It is a 3rd book choice, but with good stats.

I was feeling under pressure until move 20, he could play 19. f6 with 0.5 advantage. Then I equalized, then suddenly he played 25. Kf2, it wasn’t a good move. His position started to deteriorate.

I considered 29… Rxe4 and didn’t quite like it, because it would lead just to a rook endgame with me being pawn up. So I found 29… d5. His 32. Rxd5 was a game losing mistake and after 32… Qxf5 he resigned, Computer evaluated this position as -9.

I played this game in the middle of February, it was a first round and I got a top rated guy. I managed to beat him with White before New Year. I had Black this time, Scotch Gambit.  I didn’t want to play 4… Nf6 or Bc5, but my Bb4 doesn’t have very good stats.

Then I didn’t want to follow a known line –  8… Ne5 9. Bxf7+ Nxf7 10. Nxf7 Kxf7 11. Qh5+ g6 12. Qxe5, so I played 8… d5. Computer considers 9. Bxd5 stronger than exd5. 10… Bg4 was played just not to let his queen on h5. Until his move 12 I felt like I am on the edge and the game can be over for me very soon.

I expected 12. Qa4+ and was surprised by his Kh1. After 18… Qh4 I started to feel good. Then  I needed to play 21… Re7 instead of the rooks exchange, he could play 22. Bxe1 instead of Rxe1 with advantage. Another mistake was 24… Ba5, 24… Qf2 was equal.

Then I made a very serious mistake by playing 28… Re8. After 29. Rxe8 bxe8 30. Nf5 Bb6 31. Bg5 Qxc3 32. d6 cxd6 33. Nxd6 Black’s position is indefensible. Luckily he didn’t see it and played 30. Qe1. At that moment he had about two minutes, I had four. After two more moves he offered a draw which I gladly accepted.

 

I realized almost right away that my opponent will  not come,  eventually I got paired with another one, girl 14 years old. She is from Colombia, her FIDE rating is 1900+, CFC provisional rating was the same, but dropped to 1711 after not successful play in Canadian Open. Her father is a master.

I got Black and as with her brother, with whom I played about 3 months ago, we got Scotch Gambit again, the same Dubois-Reti defense ( 4… Nf6) and almost the same line, here is the game.

Things went well in the first game. But there was a difference in the class,  she didn’t take my knight on g5, as her brother and it made my defense more difficult. I had to play 12… Ne4, but I thought about Nd2 exchanging my knight and then f5 and e6, though I would have enough time to play c5. The last chance to stay equal was to play 13… Ng5, not allowing Bh6 in the future. I was too optimistic about taking on f6, expecting only 15… gxf6 16. exf6 Bxf6 17. dxc5.  I realized right away after Bh6 that things are bad.

She was playing embarrassingly fast, I had 30 minutes less. Fritz says 20. Be6 was too passive. Interesting, that I thought that Bg6, Qf5 will provide enough defense and in the end even started to think that I have a chance to win.  She even slowed down. Then suddenly she took on h7. I completely didn’t see it. Funny, that I looked all the time at Qxh7, but only with the purpose of rook mating on h7. Yes, mate with a knight was a pattern that I didn’t know, too bad I had to learn it this way.

My rating after 3 losses in this tournament will go down by about 45 points, it’s a 3/4 of what I earned at Canadian Open (in 9 games!) . It’s almost like I wish I wouldn’t  play, but the only way to learn is to play, not to sit and look at your past success.

I played on Monday, it was a boy with whom I played G/15 2 weeks before, he blundered a piece and lost. This time it was more interesting, though still not very long. He had White and played Scotch gambit, here is the game.

Having two bishops I wasn’t afraid of his f5, though knew that I should be careful. He made a mistake right after that and the picture changed dramatically. He continued to play ignoring development of his queenside and I decided to use it. Soon he lost  piece and resigned.