20 August 2014

Annotated Game #131: First Blood

Following the tournament that wrapped up with Annotated Game #130, I felt confident that I'd had a significant breakthrough in my chess performance and started fantasizing some about being able to break the Class A barrier in my next tournament. This did not reflect the more neutral and calm mental mindset I possessed in the previous tournament and undoubtedly reduced my overall effectiveness as a player.

Although the following game was a win, it showed some old, negative tendencies on my part such as a significant drop in quality of play when making the transition to the middlegame.  Here in the opening, one can point to the conceptually dubious 9...Bb4 as the start of the downward trend, followed by my failure to attend to my opponent's threats (another common error).  However, I manage to break the trend starting with the counterblow 19...e5 and after a weak response by White (including unjustified pawn-grabbing) I established a dominant passed c-pawn, whose threats eventually win the game.

By the time this series of tournament games is over, I should have additional insights into the course of the tournament and the inconsistency shown in overall results compared to its predecessor.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D13"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Houdini"] [PlyCount "68"] [EventDate "2012.07.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] {D13: Slav Defence: Exchange variation without ...Bf5} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bf4 Nh5 7. Bg3 Nxg3 8. hxg3 e6 9. e3 { the only logical way to develop the bishop.} Bb4 $146 {while not a horrible move, this is not the best way to develop the bishop. Some alternative moves:} (9... g6 10. Rc1 (10. Be2 Bg7 11. a3 O-O 12. O-O Qd6 13. b4 Rd8 14. Qb3 b6 15. Rfc1 Bb7 16. Rc2 a5 17. Nb5 Qe7 18. bxa5 Nxa5 19. Qb2 Rdc8 {1/2-1/2 (19) Taimanov,M (2480)-Van der Wiel,J (2540) Belgrade 1988}) 10... Bd7 11. a3 Bg7 12. b4 O-O 13. Qb3 Re8 14. Be2 Qe7 15. Na4 Rec8 16. O-O Bf8 17. Rc2 e5 18. dxe5 Nxe5 19. Rxc8 Rxc8 20. Nc5 Bc6 21. Rd1 b6 22. Nd3 Nxd3 23. Qxd3 Bb7 24. Nd4 { Jankovec, I-Ujtelky,M Zvolen 1963 1/2-1/2 (50)}) (9... Bd6 10. a3 Bd7 11. Bd3 h6 12. Rc1 f5 13. Nd2 O-O 14. b4 Ne7 15. Nb3 b6 16. Ba6 Kh8 17. Nb5 Bxb5 18. Bxb5 a5 19. Qd2 axb4 20. axb4 Ng8 21. O-O Qe7 22. Rc6 Rfb8 23. Qc2 Bxb4 24. Rc7 {Despotovic,M (2355)-Ljubisavljevic,Z (2200) Smederevska Palanka 1978 1-0 (54)} ) (9... h6 10. Rc1 a6 11. Bd3 g5 12. g4 Bg7 13. Kf1 Kf8 14. Qb3 Bf6 15. Na4 Kg7 16. Nb6 Rb8 17. Nxc8 Qxc8 18. g3 Qd7 19. Kg2 Rbc8 20. Nd2 Be7 21. Qa4 Ne5 22. Qxd7 Nxd7 23. Nb3 b5 24. Na5 {Heinig,W (2270)-Neckar,L (2340) Leipzig 1978 1/ 2-1/2 (40)}) 10. a3 Bxc3+ {otherwise the bishop simply loses time by retreating.} 11. bxc3 O-O 12. Bd3 g6 $6 {while this blocks the attack on h7, now without the dark-square bishop it creates exploitable weaknesses on the kingside.} (12... h6 $5) 13. Qd2 Bd7 {here I miss the point of the previous move.} (13... f6 $11 {played immediately would allow the queen to protect the 7th rank. However, I only realize the importance of this on the next move.}) 14. e4 $16 {now the c1-h6 diagonal is opened and White is advancing in the center. The next sequence is largely forced.} f6 15. Qh6 Qe7 16. e5 Qg7 17. exf6 Rxf6 18. Ng5 Qxh6 19. Rxh6 e5 {I was proud of finding this counterblow, which by no means solves Black's problems, but is the best move. Black must let the h-pawn go and seek counterplay in the center.} 20. Rxh7 Bf5 $2 { while this looks good at first, developing a piece and protecting the g-pawn again, if White exploits his kingside initiative then the bishop move proves to be a wasted tempo and losing.} (20... exd4 {countering the center was the best option.} 21. f4 Re8+ 22. Kd2 dxc3+ 23. Kxc3 $16) 21. Bb5 $6 (21. Kd2 { is a move the Class players would struggle to find. The point is to free up the first rank for the Ra1 to transfer to the h-file. The main variation also involves a counterintuitive sacrifice.} Bxd3 22. f4 (22. Kxd3 {is also sufficient for a winning advantage.} Rxf2 23. Rah1) 22... exd4 23. Rah1 { the point is that the mate threat on h8 constrains Black from any counterplay and White will then use his two rooks to win material.} Kf8 24. Rxb7 Kg8 25. Kxd3 Re8 26. Rbh7 Re3+ 27. Kd2 Kf8 28. Rc7 Ke8 29. Rh8+ Rf8 30. Rc8+ $18) 21... exd4 22. Rxb7 $2 {pawn-grabbing allows Black to immediately equalize.} (22. O-O-O Ne5 23. Rxd4 $16) 22... dxc3 $11 23. Bxc6 {at the time I thought this was a big benefit for Black, but Houdini considers it the best option for White. I was happy the rook was behind the c-pawn and White's bishop was out of the way.} Rxc6 {White is now in a difficult position and another counterintuitive move is his only path to maintaining equality.} 24. Nf3 $2 ( 24. O-O-O {and White can hope to live, says Houdini. The other rook is activated on the d-file and the king is also available to combat the advance of Black's pawns.}) 24... Re8+ $19 {the obvious move is also best.} 25. Kf1 c2 {the key to the position is the advanced c-pawn and the threats it causes. The hanging a-pawn can be ignored.} 26. Rc1 Bd3+ {not the best way to make progress.} (26... Rc3 {with the bishop protecting the pawn on c2, Black's winning idea is to threaten to get this rook into the fight on the first rank. White cannot take the a-pawn because of this. For example:} 27. Nd4 Bd3+ 28. Kg1 Rc4 29. Rb4 Rxb4 30. axb4 Re4 31. Nxc2 Rc4 32. Rd1 Bxc2 33. Rxd5 Bf5 $17) 27. Kg1 a6 28. Rb3 $17 Be2 29. Nd4 Rc4 $17 {An ideal square for the black rook, comments Houdini.} 30. Nxe2 (30. Re3 $5 Rxe3 31. fxe3 Bd3 $17) 30... Rxe2 31. Kf1 $2 {White instead needs to get the Rb3 into the game and seize the d-file to meet Black's threats there.} (31. Rd3 Rce4 32. Kh2 Rxf2 33. Rxd5 $17) 31... Rd2 $19 32. Ke1 Rcd4 {by this point, White is lost, as he will have to give up material in the face of the threat of Rd1+} 33. Rb8+ Kg7 34. Rb7+ Kh6 0-1

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