06 April 2013

Annotated Game #89: Counting a Loss

The outcome of this third-round tournament game was decided by a counting error - luckily made this time by my opponent, not myself.  Ironically his miscalculation on move 16 came immediately after I handed him two possible combinations, one involving a use of his rook versus my queen on the c-file, the other being a thematic bishop sacrifice on g2.  The counting error involved captures on multiple squares, so it's easy to understand how my opponent went astray.  This Dan Heisman article at ChessCafe describes the problem of counting errors in detail.

Analysis of the opening and endgame phases of the game also offer up some instructive points.  I failed to take advantage of Black's incorrect handling of a Nimzo-Indian setup (the bishop retreat 5...Be7), instead parroting the original moves for the Nimzo-English contained in my opening repertoire.  This was done out of ignorance, since at the time I had no idea about what strategies are involved with the Nimzo-Indian setup.  In this case, the fight for e4 (a key Nimzo theme) is immediately won by White after Black retreats, something which I should have punished by 6. e4 or 6. d4.

The endgame is completely won for White, but I still had to win it.  Black played until the bitter end, attempting to use his two connected passed pawns on the queenside as compensation for the material.  However, White's rook is dominant (and could have been used to even greater effect on move 21), while Black's pieces cannot effectively support the pawns.  White finishes Black off in an effective manner after finding a clear way to win, the key being to calculate variations giving him safe, obvious winning advantages rather than searching for the most rapid kill.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class B"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A17"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "113"] [EventDate "2007.01.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "7"] {A17: English Opening: 1...Nf6 with ...Bb4} 1. c4 e6 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 Bb4 { the Nimzo-English} 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 {the point of Qc2, as now an exchange on c3 won't double White's pawns.} Be7 {almost never played, as Bxc3 is the only move consistent with the Nimzo-Indian strategy of indirectly fighting for the e4 square. The retreat is also simply a waste of time.} 6. e3 (6. e4 {scores 90 percent and would take immediate advantage of the failure to exchange on c3. }) 6... b6 7. b4 Bb7 {Black has now established a Queen's Indian setup. White has a small space advantage, but is developing solidly rather than aggressively, which lets Black equalize.} 8. Be2 d5 9. cxd5 Nxd5 10. O-O c5 11. Nxd5 $6 (11. bxc5 Bxc5 12. Bb2 {looks more promising for White, for example preparing for play down the c-file after targeting the Bc5. White also can use the extra central d-pawn to good effect, although the position is still evaluated as equal.}) 11... Bxd5 $6 (11... Qxd5 {is the real problem with White's decision to exchange on d5, as Black's queen then can move to a much more dominant square.} 12. bxc5 (12. Bc4 $6 Qh5) 12... Rc8) 12. bxc5 $14 Bxc5 13. Bb2 (13. d4 {is preferred by the engines, but I thought that better chances were offered by developing the bishop on the long diagonal.} Bd6 14. e4 Bb7 15. Bd2) 13... Nd7 14. Rfc1 Rc8 {this should be an immediate tactical danger signal for White, lining up against the Qc2.} 15. Ne5 $2 {this gives Black a choice of combinations.} (15. Qa4 {would remove the queen from the line of fire;}) (15. Ba6 {would control c8 and prevent Black's combinations.}) 15... Nxe5 (15... Bd4 {is the main combinative alternative.} 16. Qxc8 Qxc8 17. Rxc8 Bxb2 18. Rxf8+ Nxf8 19. Rb1 Bxe5 $17 {and Black has a healthy two pieces for the rook.}) (15... Bxa3 {is also possible and gives Black an advantage, although White ends up with a better defensive position.} 16. Qxc8 Qxc8 17. Rxc8 Bxb2 18. Rxf8+ Nxf8 19. Rxa7 Bxe5 20. Bb5 $15) 16. Bxe5 $17 Bxa3 $4 { Black miscalculates here and hands White a winning advantage.} (16... Bxg2 $1 { a thematic sacrifice made possible by the hanging Be5 and the queen fork on d5. } 17. Kxg2 (17. d4 Bb7) 17... Qd5+ 18. f3 Qxe5) 17. Qxc8 $18 {now Black's counting error is evident, as he will end up a piece down in all variations.} Bxc1 (17... Qg5 {threatening mate on g2 does not in fact allow Black a way out. } 18. Bg3 Rxc8 19. Rxc8+ Bf8 20. Rxa7 {and now White's rooks dominate, allowing him to eventually win the pinned Bf8.}) 18. Qxd8 {this is the simplest way of consolidating the material advantage.} (18. Qxc1 {is the other possibility} Bxg2 19. Rxa7 Be4) 18... Rxd8 19. Rxc1 f6 20. Bb2 (20. Bc7 { seems even better} Ra8 21. Ba6 $18) 20... Rd7 {Black is obviously concerned about White penetrating on the 7th rank, but this leaves his back rank dangerously unprotected.} 21. Bb5 (21. Rc8+ $1 {is a better version of the idea, as Black then loses material or can be mated.} Kf7 22. Bb5 Re7 23. Ba3 $1 Rb7 $2 (23... f5 24. Bxe7) 24. Be8+ Kg8 25. Bg6# {an unusual and effective mating pattern.}) 21... Rd8 22. d4 a5 {Black's only possible counterchances come from trying to mobilize the two connected passed pawns. However, given White's extra bishop and the rook dominating the c-file, Black is lost.} 23. Kf1 Ra8 24. Ba3 Bb7 25. f3 Ba6 26. Bxa6 Rxa6 27. Rc6 Kf7 28. Bc5 {White decides to eliminate the b-pawn using the pin on the Ra6, having calculated that Black will be one tempo short of queening with the a-pawn.} a4 29. Rxb6 Rxb6 30. Bxb6 a3 31. Ba5 a2 32. Bc3 {just in time.} Ke7 33. Ke2 Kd6 34. Kd3 Kc6 35. Kc4 Kb6 36. e4 Kc6 37. d5+ (37. Kb3 {would be the simplest way to wrap things up on the queenside.} Kb5 38. Kxa2 Kc4 39. Kb2) 37... exd5+ 38. exd5+ Kd6 39. h4 {White intends to break through on the kingside while keeping Black's king tied to defending against the d-pawn's advance. The Bc3 has to keep an eye on a1, but still dominates the long diagonal.} h5 40. g4 hxg4 41. fxg4 Kd7 42. Kd4 Kd6 43. Ke4 Kc5 44. Bd4+ Kd6 45. g5 fxg5 46. hxg5 g6 47. Be5+ Kd7 48. Ba1 Kd6 49. Kd4 {forcing Black to give ground} Kd7 50. Ke5 Ke7 51. d6+ Kd7 52. Kf6 (52. Kd5 {would be quicker, repeating the procedure.} Kd8 53. Kc6 Ke8 54. Kc7 Kf7 55. Kd7 Kf8 56. Ke6 Ke8 57. Bf6 Kf8 58. d7 Kg8 59. d8=Q+ Kh7 60. Qh8#) 52... Kxd6 53. Kxg6 Ke7 54. Kh7 {now the pawn marches through.} Kf7 55. g6+ Kf8 56. g7+ Kf7 57. g8=Q+ 1-0

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