05 October 2014

Annotated Game #135: Stopping the bleeding

The best thing that can be said about this fifth-round tournament game is that I escaped with a draw and stopped the bleeding on the scorechart.  As Black, I commit a couple of minor inaccuracies in the opening, especially by misplacing the queen's knight, which then grow into major structural deficiencies.  I was fortunate that my opponent could not find the winning idea in the end, which would be to use a pawn lever to pry open Black's position.  This was another example and an unfortunate continuation of my weak play in the tournament, with worse to come before it gets better.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D12"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Houdini/Komodo 8"] [PlyCount "72"] [EventDate "2012.07.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] {D12: Slav Defence: 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 e3 Bf5} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bf5 5. Nc3 e6 6. Qb3 Qb6 7. Nh4 Bg6 {if Black wants to postpone the queen exchange, normally ...Be4 is played to provoke f3 first.} (7... Be4 8. Qxb6 axb6 9. f3 Bc2 10. cxd5 cxd5 11. Bd2 Nc6 12. Bb5 Bb4 13. g4 g5 14. Ng2 h5 15. gxh5 Rxh5 16. h4 Ke7 17. Kf2 Bxc3 18. Bxc3 g4 19. Nf4 Rh6 20. h5 gxf3 21. Rh4 Be4 22. Rg1 Rxa2 23. Bxc6 bxc6 24. Bb4+ Ke8 25. Ba3 b5 26. Kg3 b4 27. Bxb4 Rxb2 28. Bc5 Rh8 29. Ra1 Rg8+ 30. Ng6 fxg6 {0-1 (30) Rau,H (2464)-Jaracz,P (2558) Germany 2012}) 8. Be2 Qxb3 9. axb3 Na6 $146 {the idea is to jump to b4 if possible, otherwise develop via c7. However, this is not the most challenging continuation and could become awkward for Black.} (9... Bc2 {is much stronger.} 10. c5 Bxb3 11. Nf3 Bc2 $11 {Komodo considers this equal. White has an advantage in development and space that offsets the loss of the doubled pawn, but I'd still prefer to play Black.}) 10. Nxg6 $14 hxg6 {White has the pair of bishops, notes Houdini via the Fritz interface.} 11. O-O Bd6 12. g3 {without any Black pieces able to exploit the resulting light-square weakness, this is the best way to block the threat on the h-file.} Nc7 {without any obvious targets reachable from b4, I decided to move the knight off the rim to c7. This may not have been best, however, and this knight struggles to find a useful place.} (12... Nb4 13. Bd2 a5 $14) 13. f3 {Covers e4+g4} a6 {this was a somewhat prophylactic idea, geared toward preventing a White piece occupying b5 after a pawn exchange on d5, if I chose to recapture with the c-pawn. It also frees up the Ra8 to move away from defending the pawn.} 14. e4 {a logical follow-up to White's previous move.} Bb4 {A comfortable square for the black bishop} (14... e5 {is preferred by Komodo 8. Black fights for the center this way.}) 15. Bf4 { targeting the awkwardly placed Nc7.} Kd7 $6 (15... O-O-O $5) 16. Bd3 Ng8 $6 ( 16... Rad8 17. Bg5 Be7 18. e5 $14) 17. Na4 $16 {White has taken over the initiative and Black's pieces are poorly coordinated, with no counterplay.} Re8 18. Nc3 (18. cxd5 {would start a sequence opening up the position to White's advantage, using his two bishops and more active rooks.} exd5 19. Nb6+ Kd8 20. exd5 Nxd5 21. Nxd5 cxd5 $16) 18... Ne7 19. Kg2 Bxc3 (19... f6 $5) 20. bxc3 $16 Rh7 {trying to generate some counterplay on the h-file.} 21. h3 Reh8 22. Rh1 Ne8 23. cxd5 exd5 (23... cxd5 {would maintain a stronger central pawn presence. }) 24. g4 Nc7 25. Bd2 Re8 $6 (25... Ne6 {is the logical follow-up.} 26. exd5 cxd5 27. b4 $16) 26. Rae1 Rhh8 27. f4 Rhf8 {I still have no real idea how to improve my position at this point.} 28. Rhf1 dxe4 (28... f5 {is a better way to challenge in the center, putting Black's pawns and pieces to work.}) 29. Bxe4 f5 30. Bc2 Nb5 31. Bd3 Nc7 {this knight is wasting a truly impressive number of tempi without doing anything to justify its movements.} 32. Re2 Ncd5 33. Kg3 Nc7 $6 (33... fxg4 34. hxg4 g5 35. f5 $16) 34. Rfe1 (34. Re5 {is the best way to make progress.} Nc8 35. gxf5 gxf5 36. Rxf5) 34... Ncd5 $2 {the engine doesn't like this, as it keeps the Re8 masked and allows White to dominate the file with his rooks.} (34... Nc8 $5) 35. Re5 Nc7 36. R5e2 (36. c4 {is what the engines point out as the way to continue pressing White's advantage, as it takes away the d5 square and allows him to ratchet up additional piece pressure with Bb4 or Ba5.}) 36... Ncd5 {my opponent did not see an obvious way to make progress, so accepted the draw.} 1/2-1/2


  1. Although that was a tough draw I think it is great you have stuck with the Caro-Kan all this time!

    How do you like the Komodo 8 engine for analysis compared to Houdini? Is it really that much more "positionally based"?

    1. I've noticed that Komodo 8 will score positional compensation for material significantly higher sometimes than Houdini 3. It might be worth the time to investigate this a bit more systematically, so thanks for the idea. I thought that Houdini did a pretty good job of looking at dynamic factors like compensation in its evaluations, but Komodo seems to have a greater weight set to them.

    2. I find that Junior does really well at understanding compensation as well. I really liked Komodo 4 for understanding sacrifices. But haven't bit the bullet on Komodo 8.

      A good book for checking the concept of compensation and speculative playing is Spielman's "The Art of Sacrifice in Chess" I studied the book extensively one summer analyzing each game on my own before reading Speilman's notes. And then I would check with an engine and the only engine that really seemed to "like" Spielman's sacrifices was Komodo 4 and Junior sometimes. (this was two summers ago...which is a lifetime in computer progress)


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