04 August 2012

Annotated Game #57: Training game - English with a b6 twist

Prior to resuming my tournament game review, I wanted to look at the following "revenge" game played against the "Turk" Chessmaster personality, who in Annotated Game #56 had thrown me off my game by opening with 1. g3 and transposing into a King's Indian Attack.  Although it ended up in a draw, I should have been able to get the win.

This game I was White and knew enough about the English Opening to be able to quickly punish Black's 2...b6 approach after he opened with 1...e5.  White ends up with a pawn and the initiative out of the opening, able to rely on a strong center and open lines to use against Black's uncastled king.  A key attacking opportunity employing a pawn sacrifice is missed by White on move 21, although there were some other attacking inaccuracies prior to that which analysis also usefully revealed.  White soon afterwards very unwisely delays taking a pawn offered by Black, forcing White to then exchange down in order to neutralize Black's potential attack.  Despite being a pawn up when the dust settles, the opposite-colored bishops mean that the game is drawn.

Lessons taken away from the analysis include:
  • Don't stop analyzing prematurely after an "obvious recapture".
  • Look to maximize dynamic piece activity, even at the cost of a pawn or a positional defect, if concrete analysis supports it.
  • Don't trust your opponent; analyze carefully any potential gain of material and don't be deterred from taking it if there is no refutation.
  • When the conditions are right, keep your primary focus on attacking the opponent's king; other considerations are not as important.

[Event "Chessmaster: Grandmaster Edition Rated G"] [Site "?"] [Date "2012.06.10"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Turk"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A25"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Houdini"] [PlyCount "75"] [EventDate "2012.??.??"] {A25: English Opening vs King's Indian with ...Nc6 but without early d3} 1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 b6 $6 {if Black wants to play this early on, probably best to play it first, or at least not open with 1...e5.} 3. Nf3 {the preferred response, according to the database. White immediately hits the e5 pawn, which thanks to Black's second move is not defended, nor can the pawn be advanced to e4.} Nc6 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 Nd4 6. O-O {a plurality of games in the database feature castling, which scores 85 percent for White. Black's lack of kingside development is one obvious drawback for him in this line.} Bxf3 $146 { exchanging the bishop rather than the knight essentially invalidates all of Black's opening ideas. Now White will have an unopposed Bg2 striking at Black's weakened queenside.} (6... Nxf3+ 7. exf3 Be7 (7... c5 8. Re1 d6 9. f4 Bxg2 10. Kxg2 f6 11. d4 cxd4 12. Qxd4 Qc7 13. Nd5 Qc6 14. Qe4 Rc8 15. b3 Ne7 16. Bb2 Nxd5 17. cxd5 Qd7 18. fxe5 dxe5 19. f4 Rc5 20. fxe5 f5 21. Qf3 Rc2+ 22. Kh1 {Gurieli,N (2375)-Plesnik,H Pula 1997 1-0}) (7... Bc5 8. Re1 Bd4 9. Nb5 Kf8 10. Nxd4 exd4 11. b4 c5 12. bxc5 bxc5 13. d3 Ne7 14. Rb1 Bc6 15. f4 g6 16. Qe2 Bxg2 17. Qe5 Rg8 18. Kxg2 d6 19. Qe4 f5 20. Qe6 Rg7 21. Rb7 Nc6 22. Rxg7 { Arnlaugsson,G-Kantardzhiev,M Buenos Aires 1939 0-1 (36)}) (7... Qf6 8. d4 exd4 9. Re1+ Ne7 10. Nb5 O-O-O 11. Nxa7+ Kb8 12. Nb5 Nc6 13. Bf4 d6 14. Qa4 Qf5 15. b4 g5 16. Bxg5 f6 17. f4 d5 18. cxd5 Rxd5 19. Re8+ Bc8 20. Bxf6 Bg7 21. Re5 Qxf6 22. Bxd5 {Anoshin,G-Rovner,D Moscow 1958 1-0}) 8. Re1 d6 9. d4 exd4 10. Qxd4 Nf6 11. Nd5 Bxd5 12. cxd5 O-O 13. Bd2 Qd7 14. Rac1 Rac8 15. f4 Rfe8 16. Bc3 Nh5 17. Re3 Bf6 18. Qd1 Rxe3 19. fxe3 Bxc3 20. Rxc3 g6 21. e4 {Gres, V-Kirichenko,M Lviv UKR 2011 1-0 (46)}) (6... Bd6 7. b3 $14) 7. exf3 {the doubled pawns here are not a serious weakness, especially since White will be able to immediately place a rook on the half-open e-file.} c6 {Black moves to combat the latent threats on the h1-a8 diagonal and to take away the b5 and d5 squares from the White knight. Howver, Houdini judges developing Black's pieces is more important with} (7... Bd6 8. Nb5 Qf6) 8. Re1 $16 Be7 (8... Bc5 9. Rxe5+ Ne7 10. Na4 $16) 9. d3 {this releases the Bc1 and prepares f4. The e5 pawn is not defensible without causing additional problems for Black.} (9. Rxe5 {immediately snatching the pawn is Houdini's preference.}) 9... Kf8 (9... Nf6 { is a better try, according to Houdini, getting another piece out.} 10. Rxe5 O-O 11. f4 $16) (9... d6 $6 10. f4 {and Black will have to defend the weakness on c6 as well as his problem on the e-file, while his king is in the center and White increases his activity.}) 10. Rxe5 Nf6 (10... Bf6 11. Re1 $16) 11. Re1 { White decides to simply consolidate his advantage.} (11. Be3 {is what Houdni prefers, but I didn't like the potential for Black to kick the Re5 around, with it cut off from retreat. The engine thinks White can get compensation for the rook, however.} Ne6 12. f4 d6 13. Rxe6 fxe6 14. Bxc6 Rc8 15. Qa4 $18) 11... Bd6 12. Be3 Nf5 13. Qd2 {White accepts the knight for bishop trade. Houdini would prefer to keep the bishop on the board, moving it to d2 or g5.} Nxe3 14. Rxe3 h5 {Black proceeds with the only active plan available to him, a kingside attack using the h-pawn.} 15. Ne4 (15. h4 $18 {is Houdini's defensive suggestion. It's not rated much higher than the text move, but it is a much simpler way of defusing Black's threats.}) 15... Nxe4 $2 (15... Be7 16. Rae1 $16) 16. fxe4 {White focuses too much on un-doubling his pawns and misses a much more active option.} (16. dxe4 $142 $5 Qe7 (16... Be7 17. Rd3 d6 18. e5) 17. Rd1 $18 Bc5 18. Rd3) 16... h4 17. e5 Be7 18. d4 Rc8 19. Qe2 {choosing the wrong file with better defenses for Black; it would have been best to concentrate on the d-file instead.} (19. d5) (19. Rd3) 19... hxg3 20. fxg3 $18 {here the usual "capture towards the center" rule is overridden by the concrete benefits of 1) opening the f-file on which Black's king sits, and 2) allowing White freer movement along the second rank. For example, the Qe2 can now easily defend h2 if needed, by moving the Bg2.} c5 $2 {while it may look reasonable at first glance to challenge White's central dominance, now the Bg2 dominates the long diagonal and the d5 square is permanently ceded to White.} ( 20... d6 21. e6 f6 22. Rf1 $18) 21. d5 $6 {White chooses the obvious move, but ignores more active attacking options.} (21. Bd5 {Houdini doesn't hesitate to give up the d-pawn.} cxd4 22. Rf3 f6 23. exf6 gxf6 $18 24. Raf1 {and White would have an overwhelming attack.}) 21... Bg5 $2 (21... d6 $16 {is the logical follow-up to Black's previous move.}) 22. Re4 (22. Rf3 {is the best way to reposition the rook, although it temporarily blocks the Bg2. Black's weak king position overrides other considerations.} d6 23. Raf1 Rc7 24. Qf2) 22... d6 23. h4 (23. exd6 {I didn't think would get me anywhere, but Houdini spots the better opportunity, as Black cannot recapture the pawn.} Rb8 (23... Qxd6 24. Qg4 $1 {forking the Bg5 and Rc8, which I didn't spot due to stopping my calculation after the "obvious recapture"}) 24. Re1 Bf6 $18 25. Bh3 { with the idea of forcing d7, for example} Rxh3 26. Qg4 Rh8 27. d7 g6 28. Re8+) 23... Be7 24. e6 Bf6 25. Bh3 Rc7 26. Re1 Re7 {White has been steadily ramping up the pressure, but now needs to regroup before continuing.} 27. b3 Bd4+ 28. Kg2 g5 $2 {this pawn offer in fact does nothing for Black, although I was put off from taking it by the fact that it would open the h-file and give Black a potential target on g5. However, Black's pieces are not coordinated well enough to exploit these potential weaknesses, a fact which would have been revealed by concrete calculation.} (28... f6) 29. exf7 (29. hxg5 {and White takes home the point, says Houdini via the Fritz interface.} a6 30. Rf1 b5 31. Rxf7+ ({or simply} 31. Ref4)) 29... Re5 30. hxg5 $4 {now White's judgment fails, as Black's previous move opened lines for his heavy pieces, which can take advantage of all of the obvious drawbacks of the pawn capture.} (30. h5 $18 {is the way to deal with the threats.}) 30... Qxg5 $14 31. Qg4 {at least I was able to rally and play the correct defensive move sequence at this point.} Qxg4 32. Bxg4 Rxe4 33. Rxe4 Kxf7 34. Be6+ {with the opposite-colored bishops, this now looks like a draw, but White tries to make the most of the g-pawn.} Ke7 35. g4 (35. Rh4 Rxh4 36. gxh4 Kf6 $14) 35... Be5 $11 36. Re2 Rh2+ 37. Kf3 Rxe2 38. Kxe2 {and a draw was agreed, as White has no way to break through a dark-square blockade of the g-pawn.} 1/2-1/2

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