29 September 2012

Annotated Game #65: Mercy Killing in the English Four Knights

This next tournament game sees White achieve an excellent position in the English Four Knights, as Black is too optimistic about his prospects of obtaining a good reversed Sicilian Defense position.  Black's deviation from the database with 11...Qf6 is not properly evaluated by White, however, who misses the latent threat to his Ra1 on the long diagonal.  White tries to be aggressive with 12. e4? and simply loses a pawn, also handing the initiative to Black.  White suffers thereafter and misses another simple threat, this time down the e-file, which costs another pawn.  A couple of interesting tactical resources were overlooked that would have allowed White to regain a pawn and fight on.  However, with a crushing endgame from Black looming, White misses an unusual bishop skewer on the first rank and is put away quickly - a mercy killing, one could say.

What causes lapses like 12. e4?  I was playing on autopilot through the opening and failed to start thinking properly - or really at all - following Black's 11th move.  As part of my (new) thinking process, the question should immediately have been asked what changed about the position, which (one hopes) would have led to identifying the new threat down the long diagonal.  Again, it was the transition from opening to middlegame phase that tripped me up, which was all too typical of my play during this period - and is still something that needs to be worked on.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class B"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A28"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "52"] [EventDate "2006.??.??"] {A28: English Opening: Four Knights Variation} 1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. e3 {White chooses central play, rather than the more common g3 and fianchetto.} d5 {attempting to go for a reversed Sicilian} 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Bb5 {White uses the advantage of the move to vary from standard Sicilian Defense lines. Now Black has to worry about the e-pawn.} Nxc3 {necessary in order to follow up with the bishop move.} 7. bxc3 Bd6 8. d4 exd4 9. cxd4 {White scores nearly 60 percent from this position, according to the database. His central pawns are excellent, development is even, and he has no real weaknesses.} O-O 10. O-O Bf5 {Black can try a number of things here.} (10... Bg4 {is most played.} 11. h3 Bh5 12. Bb2 {is the GM treatment of the line, as this sample game shows.} Qf6 13. Be2 Rad8 14. Rc1 Qe7 15. Qb3 Nb4 16. Rfe1 c6 17. Ba3 Nxa2 18. Rc5 Bxf3 19. Bxf3 Qe6 20. Qxe6 fxe6 21. Ra5 Nb4 22. Rb1 b6 23. Rxa7 c5 24. Bg4 Rf6 25. Rb7 Nc2 26. Bb2 cxd4 27. exd4 Na3 28. Rc1 b5 29. d5 e5 30. Be6+ Kh8 31. Rc6 Nc4 32. Rxb5 {1-0 (32) Suba,M (2540)-Garcia Blanco,O (2237) Pamplona 2009}) 11. Bd3 Qf6 $146 (11... Bxd3 12. Qxd3 Qf6 (12... Nb4 13. Qb3 b6 14. e4 Rc8 15. a3 Nc6 16. Bb2 Na5 17. Qc3 Re8 18. Rfe1 c6 19. Rad1 Bf8 20. h4 b5 21. Bc1 Nc4 22. d5 Qc7 23. dxc6 Qxc6 24. Nd4 Qb7 25. Qh3 Rcd8 26. Qf3 {1/2-1/2 Linqvist,G-Sopanen,M/Salo 1992/EXT 2000 (26)}) 13. Rb1 Rab8 14. e4 Qg6 15. Bd2 Rfd8 16. Bc3 Qh5 17. Rb5 Qh6 18. Qc4 Ne7 19. Rfb1 b6 20. h3 c6 21. Rg5 Ng6 22. Rf5 Rf8 23. e5 Be7 24. Bd2 Nh4 25. Bxh6 Nxf5 26. Bg5 {Rubinetti,J-Bordoni,N/ Moron 1981/EXT 99/1-0 (26)}) 12. e4 $2 {White concentrates only on the fate of the knight capturing on d4 and misses the threat down the long diagonal to the Ra1.} (12. Rb1 {is what the engines prefer.} Nb4 (12... Bxd3 13. Qxd3 b6 14. Ba3 $14) 13. e4 {now this works} Nxd3 14. Qxd3 $14) 12... Nxd4 $15 13. Nxd4 ( 13. exf5 $2 Nxf3+ 14. Qxf3 Qxa1) 13... Qxd4 14. Be3 Qe5 15. f4 Qe7 {White unfortunately has not been able to obtain the one crucial tempo necessary to take the Bf5. Now it's the hanging Be3 that prevents him.} 16. Qf3 $2 {White needs to protect the Be3 with a rook rather than the queen.} (16. e5 $5 { is what Fritz preferred.} Bxd3 ({or} 16... Bc5 17. Bxf5 Bxe3+ 18. Kh1 g6) 17. Qxd3 $15) (16. Re1 Bxe4 17. Bd4 f5 18. Qb3+ Kh8 19. Bxe4 fxe4 20. Qxb7) 16... Rfe8 $17 {now White loses the battle for e4/e3.} 17. Qg3 $6 (17. exf5 {would make the best of a bad situation.} Qxe3+ 18. Qxe3 Rxe3) 17... Bxe4 18. Bd4 f5 $6 19. Bc4+ (19. Bxe4 {would allow White to exploit the a2-g8 diagonal with his queen, as in the variation on move 16.} fxe4 20. Qb3+ Kh8 21. Qxb7) 19... Kh8 20. Kh1 Bc5 21. Bb2 (21. Be5 $5) 21... Rad8 22. Rad1 Rxd1 23. Rxd1 c6 $6 { this gives White a tactical resource.} (23... Bc2) 24. Be6 {the bishop is immune due to the mate threat on g7.} Bf2 {clever attempt at a distraction. White should take advantage of the check with tempo to regain a pawn, which however he fails to do.} 25. Qc3 (25. Bxg7+ Qxg7 26. Qxf2 {and the Be6 is still immune due to Rd8.}) 25... Bd5 26. Rd2 $4 {the position was bad, and this mistake simply hastens the end, says Fritz.} (26. Bxd5 cxd5 27. h3 $17) 26... Be1 0-1

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