28 October 2012

Annotated Game #69: It should have been easy

The following, a final-round tournament game, follows the path of Annotated Game #53 through move 10 in a quirky sideline of the Caro-Kann Classical.  In contrast to the previous game, this time I correctly hit on the idea of playing 12...Qa5+ and equalize immediately.  However, I choose a somewhat passive follow-up with ...Qc7 and then give White some chances to obtain the initiative.

A further bit of awkward play by Black allows White to create some menacing-looking threats down the h-file.  White manages to use the optical threat - as the engines point out, there is no real one - to bluff Black out of accepting a bishop sacrifice on move 22.  Black was too afraid of the h-file "threats" to see that White in fact cannot break through.  Despite this, Black is still equal and then manages to build up some real threats of his own on the queenside using the half-open c-file.  Alas, Black mishandles the attack and settles for a drawn position in the end, where his rook perpetually chases the White king around.

This really should have been an easy game for Black, whether to secure equality and a likely draw early on (with 13...Qf5) or to win by picking up the piece on move 22.  Instead, Black sees too many ghosts and makes things much more complicated than they should be.  At least the failed attack on the queenside is instructive, among other things showing how Black should have opened rather than closed lines with his pawns and could have better exploited the c-file.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B18"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "98"] [EventDate "2006.??.??"] {B18: Classical Caro-Kann: 4...Bf5 sidelines} 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. Nf3 {this allows the coming move-order trick. If White wants to play h4, it should be done immediately.} Nf6 {the main line is ...Nd7 and if Black plays only this, White's move-order would not make a difference.} 7. h4 Nh5 $5 {this always surprises White. Now the h5 advance is blocked and exchanges are difficult to avoid.} 8. Ne5 (8. Ne2 {is the only way to avoid an exchange of minor pieces. For example:} Bf5 9. g3 e6 10. Bg2 Nd7 11. O-O Bd6 12. b3 O-O 13. Bb2 Qc7 14. c4 Nhf6 15. Qc1 Rad8 16. Re1 Rfe8 17. Nc3 Bf8 18. Ng5 g6 19. d5 cxd5 20. cxd5 e5 21. Nce4 Qb6 22. Qc4 Rc8 {Georgiev,K-Schlosser, P/Germany 1999/GER-chT/1/2-1/2 (49)}) 8... Nxg3 9. Nxg6 hxg6 10. fxg3 e6 { the position is equal. I find it easier to play as Black, though, given White's more fractured pawn structure.} 11. Bf4 (11. c3 {was the choice in the only game in the database with this line:} Bd6 12. Qf3 Nd7 13. Bg5 Qxg5 14. hxg5 Rxh1 15. O-O-O Rh5 16. d5 Ne5 17. Qe3 cxd5 18. Be2 Rh2 19. Qg1 Rh7 20. c4 Nxc4 21. Bxc4 Rc8 22. Qxa7 Rxc4+ 23. Kb1 Rh5 24. Qxb7 Rxg5 25. a4 Rxg3 26. Rh1 Rc7 27. Rh8+ Ke7 28. Qa8 Kf6 29. Qd8+ Ke5 30. Qh4 Kf5 31. a5 Be5 32. a6 Ra7 33. Qh1 g5 34. Rh3 Rxh3 35. Qxh3+ g4 36. Qd3+ Kf6 37. b4 {1-0 (37) Vasylius,K (2105) -Kaunas,K (2275) Vilnius 2009}) 11... Bd6 12. Qf3 Qa5+ {a typical queen development in the Caro-Kann Classical. White either plays c3 and accepts a pawn structure weakness, or plays Bd2 and admits that Bf4 was a mistake.} 13. Bd2 Qc7 {a passive placement for the queen. Houdini assesses that White can ignore the threat to the g3 pawn and proceed with development, or protect it with the rook, with a slight advantage.} (13... Qf5 {would be best. Black should be happy to exchange queens if that is the outcome. Otherwise, his queen is actively placed.} 14. Qxf5 gxf5) 14. Bf4 (14. O-O-O Bxg3 15. Bd3 Nd7 16. Rdf1 {and White's initiative on the kingside provides compensation for the pawn.}) 14... Qa5+ 15. Bd2 (15. c3 Bxf4 16. gxf4 Nd7 $11) 15... Qc7 16. Rh3 { White now avoids the position repetition and chooses the defensive option.} Nd7 (16... Qe7 {would be a more defensive choice for Black, paying more attention to his kingside weaknesses.}) 17. O-O-O Nf6 18. Bc4 O-O-O 19. g4 Nd5 20. g3 { Secures f4, notes Fritz.} Rd7 {an awkward move that now leaves the Rh8 hanging. } (20... Kb8 {would be a simple preparatory (for a c5 pawn break) and waiting move.}) 21. h5 {White now has what appear to be worrying threats on the h-file, although Black is in no real danger.} b5 {overly optimistic.} (21... e5 { would be a useful pawn break, countering White's flank attack in the center.} 22. c3 exd4 23. cxd4 Qb6) 22. h6 $4 {White lets it slip away} (22. Bb3 { was simplest and best.}) 22... gxh6 $4 {here Black panics and doesn't correctly calculate the piece sacrifice, which gives White nothing.} (22... bxc4 $142 {a pity that Black didn't try this, comments Fritz.} 23. hxg7 Rg8 24. Rh8 Rdd8 $19) 23. Bxd5 cxd5 {now it would be obviously better for black to have his king on b8 and the possibility of playing Rd8-c8, instead of the Rd7 placement.} 24. Bxh6 (24. Rxh6 {is superior:} Rxh6 25. Bxh6 Bxg3 26. Rd3 Be1 27. Bf4) 24... Kb7 (24... Bxg3 $5 {is now a nice tactical possibility, due to the deflection of the Rh3 from protecting the Bh6.} 25. Rdh1 Rxh6 26. Rxh6 Qf4+ 27. Qxf4 Bxf4+ 28. Kd1 Bxh6 29. Rxh6) 25. Rdh1 Rc8 26. Qb3 Qb6 27. Be3 Rdc7 $15 {Black now has some momentum going on the queenside.} 28. R1h2 a5 29. Qd3 a4 { Black gains space} 30. Bf4 Bxf4+ 31. gxf4 Qa5 {not the strongest follow-up.} ( 31... a3 {is the audacious attacking move that Houdini suggests.} 32. bxa3 { is not advisable:} Rc3 33. Qf1 (33. Qxc3 Rxc3 34. Rxc3 Qxd4 35. Kb2 Qxf4) 33... Qa5 34. Kb1 b4 {with a nice attack.}) 32. c3 $6 (32. Qd1) 32... b4 $17 33. Rc2 b3 {after this, Black's attack has nowhere to go.} (33... Qb6 $5 $15 {is what Fritz suggests.}) (33... a3 {is still Houdini's choice.}) 34. axb3 $15 axb3 35. Rch2 $2 (35. Rd2 Ka8 $15) 35... Qa1+ {here I saw the route to a draw and could not see the route to an advantage.} (35... Rc4 $142 $17 {is what the engines find. One possible continuation is} 36. Rh1 Qa2 37. Rd1 Rxc3+ 38. Qxc3 Rxc3+ 39. Rxc3 Qa1+ 40. Kd2 Qxb2+ 41. Kd3 Kb6) 36. Qb1 $11 {the draw is now clear. Black will be able to chase White's king around and also threaten pawns, although will not be able to make progress.} Ra8 37. Qxa1 Rxa1+ 38. Kd2 Kc6 39. Rh8 Rb1 40. Kd3 Rd1+ 41. Rd2 Rg1 42. g5 Rg3+ 43. Ke2 Rg2+ 44. Ke3 Rg1 45. Rb8 Rb7 46. Rc8+ Rc7 47. Ra8 Rh1 48. Rf2 Re1+ (48... Rh3+ {would be more accurate.} ) 49. Kd2 Rb1 1/2-1/2

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