08 March 2014

Annotated Game #117: A fight in the Dutch

In this second-round tournament game I had an extended fight against my opponent's Dutch setup, which eventually became a type of Stonewall.  For a long time his queenside pieces were shut out of the action and I had all the chances, but a few careless moves and my neglect of the center allowed Black to seize the initiative in the later part of the game.  As often happens at the Class level though, my opponent overextended his attack and then missed a key defensive tactic which left me with a winning position.

The notes with the game are extensive, but for improvement purposes I want to highlight the defensive resource I found on move 36 as a concrete example of how my training and studies have helped my game.  I correctly anticipated my opponent's threat and calculated the sequence, most importantly not prematurely ruling out the tactic, which immediately returns the sacrificed piece.  Before I would not have considered a broad enough spectrum of options, I believe, having previously been too closed-minded about tactical possibilities and my thinking process.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class C"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A10"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Houdini"] [PlyCount "79"] [EventDate "2012.01.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "7"] {A10: English Opening: Unusual Replies for Black} 1. c4 f5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 b6 {first time I've seen a queenside fianchetto this early in a Dutch Defense style game.} 4. Bg2 Bb7 5. O-O e6 {a major decision point in the opening. Examples of the two other main choices:} (5... c5 6. d4 e6 7. d5 Qc8 8. Nc3 Be7 9. e4 O-O 10. e5 Ne8 11. Re1 g6 12. Bh6 Ng7 13. Qd2 Re8 14. Ng5 a6 15. Rad1 Ra7 16. Bf3 Bf8 17. Bg2 Ba8 18. b3 Qb7 19. a4 Qc8 20. h4 {Balinov,I (2454)-Kummer, H (2335) Vienna 2006 1-0 (33)}) (5... g6 6. b4 Bg7 7. Bb2 O-O 8. Qb3 h6 9. Nc3 e6 10. d4 d6 11. Rfd1 Qe7 12. c5 Bxf3 13. Bxf3 d5 14. Nxd5 exd5 15. Bxd5+ Nxd5 16. Qxd5+ Kh7 17. Qxa8 Qxe2 18. Bc3 Nd7 19. Qg2 Nf6 20. d5 {Antoli Royo,J (2410)-Sierra Aguerri,J (2068) Zaragoza ESP 2011 1-0}) 6. b3 {I like the a1-h8 highway into Black's camp, which is currently there for the taking.} Na6 { now out of the database. This doesn't do much for Black's development.} (6... Be7 {is the logical follow-up to e6.}) 7. Bb2 (7. Nc3 {would postpone committing the dark-square bishop.}) 7... Bd6 {apparently played with the idea of contesting e5, this blocks the d-pawn and puts the bishop on a less useful diagonal than it would find after Be7. I'm assuming my opponent was planning to retreat it along the diagonal and then play ...d5, as occurred in the game, but this is a very slow plan and the negatives outweigh the positives for opening development.} 8. Nc3 c6 $6 $14 {although this takes away b5 from White and opens a retreat to b8/c7 for the bishop, the fact that it buries the Bb7 means it's a net plus for White's position.} (8... O-O) 9. a3 {takes away the b4 square from Black's pieces, without any nasty side effects.} Rc8 {by this point, I am wondering why Black is delaying castling, as keeping the king in the center does not gain him anything and can only help White.} 10. b4 { gaining queenside space and taking away the c5 square from the Na6.} (10. d3 { immediately does more for White, taking away the central e4 square from Black and preparing to push the e-pawn, which would open the game to White's advantage. For example} O-O 11. e4 fxe4 (11... Bb8 12. exf5 exf5 13. Nd4 $16) 12. dxe4 Bb8 13. e5 Ng4 14. Qe2 $16 {and after following with Rad1, White dominates the center and the d-file and can shift his forces easily to the center and kingside, while Black's two bishops and the Na6 are not doing much.} ) 10... Bb8 {Black's plan is now obviously to follow up with ...d5.} (10... O-O ) 11. d3 (11. e4 {is the more direct way to take the battle to Black.} fxe4 12. Ng5 O-O 13. Ncxe4 $16) 11... d5 {Black appears to still be deliberately avoiding castling, most likely with the idea of eventually using the rook on the h-file as part of an attack on White's king. Incidentally, Black now has a Stonewall formation, but with his queenside pieces looking uncoordinated and cramped.} 12. e3 {the idea being to prevent an ...f4 push by Black, although this is not a real threat.} (12. cxd5 {begins a forcing sequence which I hadn't considered during the game.} cxd5 (12... exd5 13. Bh3 $16) 13. Qa4+ { the Black bishop cannot interpose on c6 because of the hanging Na6} Qd7 14. Qxd7+ Kxd7 15. Nb5 $16 {with easy play for White.}) 12... Rc7 $6 {Black temporarily takes away the last remaining square for the Na6 and blocks the Bb8, although the rook will transfer itself on the next move.} 13. Qb3 { I choose to keep the tension in the queenside and center, also developing the queen to a useful square. However, with Black's king uncastled, his queenside pieces in each other's way, and a weakness on e6, this would also have been a good time for me to open the center up.} (13. Nd4 $5) (13. cxd5) 13... Rd7 14. Rad1 (14. Rac1 {would target the weaker c-file.}) 14... c5 $2 {the advancing pawn gives up key squares to White without a fight.} (14... O-O $5 $14 { and Black is still in the game, says Houdini via the Fritz interface.}) 15. b5 Nc7 16. Ne2 $16 {opens up the long diagonal for the Bb2 and eyes d4 and f4.} ( 16. Ne5 $1 {takes more direct advantage of Black's weaknesses. One possible continuation is} Re7 17. d4 cxd4 18. Rxd4 O-O 19. Nc6 Bxc6 20. bxc6 dxc4 21. Qxc4 Qc8 22. a4 Rfe8 23. Ba3 Rf7 24. Rfd1 $18) 16... dxc4 17. dxc4 Rxd1 $2 { this gives up the d-file, a dangerous choice.} (17... Bxf3 $5 {exchanging off White's excellent attacking piece would be preferable.} 18. Bxf3 O-O $16) 18. Rxd1 $18 Qe7 19. Nf4 (19. Ne5 $5 {instead would immediately give White a dominant central knight.} Bxg2 20. Kxg2 O-O 21. Nc6 $18 Qe8 22. Bxf6 gxf6 ( 22... Rxf6 $2 23. Rd8) 23. Rd3 Na8 24. Qd1 $18) 19... Na8 {buries the knight in the corner, but at least lets the Bb8 be of some use.} 20. Nd3 {played with the idea of avoiding the bishop for knight exchange on f4 and obtaining a lock on e5.} O-O {it makes sense to castle now, but why not earlier?} 21. Nde5 { similar to how it seems that in the post-game analysis it's revealed that you always move the wrong rook, here it's the wrong knight.} (21. Nfe5 Bxg2 22. Kxg2 Qb7+ 23. Nc6 {gives White a more dominating central position.}) 21... Bd6 (21... Rd8 {now that the rook is available for battle after castling, it should be put in play.}) 22. Nd2 $6 {this passive retreat simply dissipates a large chunk of White's advantage.} (22. Qd3 Bc7 (22... Rd8 $2 23. Ng5 Bxg2 24. Kxg2 {with knight fork threats on f7 and c6.}) 23. Ng5 Bxg2 24. Kxg2 Bxe5 25. Bxe5 $18) 22... Bxg2 23. Kxg2 Bxe5 24. Bxe5 {if this is contrasted with the position in the above variation, it's then easy to see that here White's pieces are not nearly as well placed.} Qb7+ 25. f3 Ng4 {this one-move threat (due to the pin on the f3 pawn) was seen coming. Although it looks threatening, the Ng4 is actually doing very little and will quickly be evicted.} 26. Bb2 Re8 27. h3 Nf6 (27... Nh6 28. e4 $14) 28. Kf2 {White decides to move out of the pin before proceeding further.} (28. Bxf6 gxf6 $16 {was a possibility and is preferred by Houdini, but I didn't see how White could effectively exploit Black's pawn structure weaknesses.}) 28... e5 (28... Qf7 {would have shored up Black's kingside.}) 29. Nb1 $6 {this is too slow and allows Black to equalize.} (29. Qc2 {retains the advantage by bringing the queen back into play along the key b1-h7 diagonal.} Qc8 30. g4 fxg4 31. hxg4 $16) 29... Qe7 30. Nc3 $11 { now although the engine rates the position as equal, it's Black who is gaining the initiative and placing his pieces so that they can cooperate and target the center.} Nc7 31. Ne2 Rf8 32. Rd2 (32. Kg2 {moves out of the line of fire.}) 32... g5 {an ambitious move, if not completely justified.} (32... Nce8 33. Qd1) (32... Qe6 33. Qc3 e4 34. f4) 33. Qd1 {I was set on the idea of doubling on the d-file, which however is well-defended, missing the better idea of setting up a battery on the a1-h8 diagonal.} (33. Qc3 $14) 33... Qf7 $2 {a cheap threat against c4 that is swiftly punished. My opponent evidently believed that his follow-on move would be devastating, but it doesn't work.} (33... g4 $15 {would generate more pressure, although White could hold with} 34. Ng1) 34. Bxe5 $16 Ne4+ $4 {a game-losing miscalculation by my opponent.} (34... Nce8 $16 ) 35. fxe4 $18 fxe4+ 36. Nf4 $1 {evidently this was missed by Black.} gxf4 37. gxf4 {the extra protected passed pawn and ability to penetrate Black's position mean that White will win.} Ne6 38. Rd7 Qf5 39. Qg4+ Qxg4 40. hxg4 { and my opponent flagged in a losing position, not finding any good alternatives.} (40. hxg4 Rf7 41. Rxf7 Kxf7 42. f5 $18) 1-0

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