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.

 

“To err is human” – this is regarding my last game, to console myself . I missed a win 3 times in this game. Again, I played well positionally, but missed the tactics and specific lines. I found that in the whole August I played exactly one online blitz game and one OTB game before that game, it probably showed. I had White, never played this guy before. Our Moscow variation transposed right away  into Rossolimo variation.

The first mistake I made was playing 13. f4, I realized that I have a problem after his 14… Nh5. I saw Rxb2 threat and spent a lot of time to find a good move. I thought that after 15. Bxd6 Rxb2 16. Rxb2 Bxc3 I would lose a piece, not seeing that after 17. Qc1 I get it back. So I played 15. Qc1 and lost a pawn.

His 19… Ba6 wasn’t the best move, he could play d5 with advantage. His 20… Kg7 got him into a trouble, I found Qc1 with a strong attack. 24… f5 was another mistake, but I played 25. Qf3 and didn’t find the right move – Qg5. His 25… Rxe4 was unexpected, I calculated 26. Nh6+ Kg7 27. Nxf5+ gxf5 28. Qxf5, but didn’t see that it was winning. But he could play 26… Kh8 and  it was just a bit better for me.

When I decided to take on c6, I thought that then I will play Qe8+, so after he played 29… Bd5 it was an instant premove. I had about 5 minutes left at that time. Had I spent a bit of time I would see, of course, Qxd5 with a win. Then again he made a big mistake playing 33… Bxa2, but I played the moves in the wrong order – it had to be Qf6+ first and then Qe7 with a win.

So eventually I found myself a pawn down, pursuing his king. I noticed in the scoresheet that we repeated the position 3 times and offered him a draw. Much to my surprise he declined, so I claimed threefold repetition and TD confirmed that.

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.