It was a last round, I was leading by 0.5 point and convinced myself to go despite having a quite stressful day just because didn’t want to give up the first place. As in a few recent games I played again Moscow variation and my opponent again played Nd7 line. Computer says I had to exchange the rooks on move 11 and then play Na3. His 11. Ne5 was a mistake.

I gradually increased my advantage and won a pawn. Computer criticizes my c4, preferring Qc4 and says that after move 25 my advantage was only ~0.3. It is difficult for me to believe it having two passed pawns on the queenside. Anyway on move 26 I blundered, my mental state suddenly showed. Being in a state of shock I lost another pawn, Qc5 right away or after Qa7 was saving it.

I got mad at myself and tried to get some chances, though the position was equal. He offered a draw, I refused, he looked surprised. Soon he made a mistake and I got the pawn back. His next move 39… f6 was a big mistake. On move 41 I missed Qc7 just because I didn’t like Rb7, but I didn’t see a mate in 2 – Rh7+ and Qg3#. Still after 44… Qh8 I got a decisive advantage.

I found 47. Be6, then my bishop went to f5. He had 1 minute remaining, I had 4 when I saw that I have a forced mate.

It was a last round in the Mondays club, I played my opponent twice, won both times. I got White, Sicilian again, Moscow variation. My 6. e5 wasn’t a good idea, c3 was better. After 20 moves the play became more complicated. I found 24. Nxc5 and the position was equal, but then my  28. Qf3 was a mistake. I decided that 29. h4 could give me some chances and it did.

After 34… Kf7 I got an advantage, computer offers a crazy line 34… f4 35. Qxf4 e5 with an equal play. It was a crucial moment on move 37. I saw that Rc7+ will give me a pawn on g6 and a dangerous attack, but computer evaluates it as ~-2.3. Instead White had 37. Qc7+! Re7 38. Qd8 with a winning attack on the 8th horizontal. After 40 moves I realized that I should fight for a draw.

By playing 42… Ra2 he lost his winning chances. I checked 49. Bc1+ Kb1 50. Qe1 and saw that he has Qxf2. So in a few moves I got a perpetual.

It was penultimate round in the Monday’s club. My opponent was a young man, I had 2 draws with him in the past. We played again Sicilian, this time instead of Rossolimo it was Moscow variation. He chose 3… Nd7, the toughest for White from my point of view variation. 5. Bd3 was a book move that I remembered, 9. Ndb2 was not, computer recommends a4.

11. dxc5 was a mistake, I didn’t see that I can’t play 12. Nb3. Computer doesn’t like my 12. h3 and 13. Nd4 and evaluates the position as -1.4. His 14… d5 allowed me to equalize. I considered 18. Be4, but didn’t like f5. Interesting, that I played 20. Bf1 because of 20. Bxe4 f5, but Houdini offers  20… Nf6 21. Bf4 Qb6 22. Be3 Qc7 23. Bf4 with a draw. His 20… Nxc3 was unexpected, but I quickly saw that it was actually good for me to get two his active pieces for my rook and two pawns.

Then suddenly he played 23… Rd8 and I saw the skewer right away. After 25… f5 I missed 26. Rd1, winning on the spot. Still after I forced the exchanges it became a matter of technique.

 

 

 

It was first round of a new tournament and I got the same young guy I blundered to 3 weeks ago. This time I had White and played Moscow variation of Sicilian.

Soon it started to look like some variation of French defense. On move 14 I thought about playing Rfc1, but then decided that kingside attack was more promising and played Ng5. Still, I think I defended well and eventually we transferred into a rook endgame.

For some reason I decided to play aggressively, 36. g4 was a mistake. I didn’t like passive 41. Rh2, so decided to sacrifice the “h” pawn and activate my rook. I tried to organize some kind of perpetual , but didn’t see the idea of attacking e6 pawn from e7, which would really force a repetition or will give me that pawn. It would eventually lead to a position with him having a passed “f” pawn with pawns on “a”, “b” and “d” which was drawn.

Then suddenly he played 56… Kf7, blundering the “f” pawn. The position became completely equal, but I had to be careful after 63… Kc6, 64. Kc3 was losing.

These games were played last Thursday and Monday, in rounds 4 of the respective tournaments. In both cases I had White and my opponents played Sicilian Defense. I didn’t find the right plan and made some tactical mistakes in both games.

Thursday’s game – my opponent was an old former master, I had +1, -1 score with him before. We played Sicilian, Moscow variation, I chose a quiet line. Then it was a positional play until we reached move 23. After his Qc6 I saw that I can win a pawn on a5, but thought that after rooks exchange he will catch my knight – 24. Rxa5 Rxa5 25. Nxa5 Qa4, but didn’t see 26. Qa7. If you would look at the end of the game you would realize how crucial this pawn was. I played 24. Raa1 and after a4 he intercepted the initiative. Then instead of 27. Ra2 I played Qd4. The idea was close – to do something against the “a” pawn, but what was needed was blocking. Then on move 29 I missed it again and quickly got really worse. His attack developed and soon I lost.

Monday’s game – my opponent was a Russian speaking boy, who grew from a “B” class player to a master on my eyes, my score with him in the last 4 years  was 2.5:4.5 (with a positive score in a few years before that). He played Sicilian Defense, I chose Rossolimo variation.  It went wrong almost from the beginning, when I decided to develop my bishop to b2. Then it was a very bad idea to take on f4. As soon as I played it I realized that when I will move my knight after 17… exf4 he can play f3 with really serious consequences for me. But he probably didn’t see it and played Rxf4. It was difficult to find the right moves and I was getting worse and worse. On move 28 I decided to sacrifice a pawn, but it didn’t give me any relief. In the endgame his queen was very strong and it decided the game.

 

This game was played 2.5 weeks ago, on Thursday. my opponent was a teenager boy,  I had 2 draws with him with Black. This time I had White and he played Sicilian, d6. I chose my favorite Moscow variation, Maroczy bind.

Two things were unusual for this line – I put my knight on c3 only on move 22 and he counterattacked on the kingside without castle. I did not believe his attack was sound, but decided to be careful. After all the smoke disappeared, he found himself in a worse position.

I thought that his queens exchange was a mistake, but 22… exd4 was not better. He got a couple of weak pawns that was difficult to defend. He also had less time, like 7 minutes to my 15-20. His 26… Ke6 was a mistake and 27… Ke7 lost the game.

It is not about the money, it’s about one move in a second round game in the Thursday’s club.  My opponent was a boy, I drew him with White 7 months ago in the same opening, Sicilian, Moscow variation.

I had some pressure after the opening and after exchanges on e5 thought I can get an attack on the kingside. A crucial moment came after his 28… Re8.  I played an obvious 29. Rg5+ and after Kh8 suddenly realized that it is me who is now under pressure. Instead of 29. Rg5 I had to play 29. Ref1, then to 29… Re6 I could reply Rf7 and have about +1 advantage.

So, I had to make a few balancing moves and after he forced queens exchange I accepted his draw offer.