16 March 2015

Annotated Game #144: Who deserves to win?

This fifth-round tournament game saw my opponent apply a great deal of sustained pressure and he clearly felt as if he missed a win.  To my benefit, he kept playing for winning chances past the point where he had any real threats and ended up in a losing endgame.  I was then able to finish him off shortly after the time control using two tactical maneuvers, which I credit my tactics training for allowing me to find and have the confidence to employ.

During the game I generally shared the perception of White having had all the chances.  White certainly held the initiative for a long period, but with careful defense I was able to neutralize all of his threats; analysis shows that White after his move 14 never had a real advantage.  My own negative perception of the game stemmed largely from some poor choices I made in the opening, essentially boxing in my own pieces unnecessarily (particularly the queen and the poor bishop on c8).  In the end, however, it was the reality on the board that determined the winner.  This is a good general lesson for when you are the defender in a game; simply because you are on the defense does not mean your game is bad, and you should not miss a chance to strike a winning counterblow.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B14"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Houdini/Komodo 8"] [PlyCount "93"] [EventDate "2013.01.20"] [EventRounds "7"] {B14: Caro-Kann: Panov-Botvinnik Attack with 5...e6 and 5...g6} 1. e4 c6 2. c4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. d4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. Bf4 {a new move to me. Normally development continues with Nf3 first, with perhaps Bg5 to follow.} Bd6 { challenging the bishop directly seemed the best option at the time.} (6... Bb4 {is what is played the majority of the time in the database.} 7. Bd3 dxc4 8. Bxc4 O-O 9. Nge2 a6 10. a3 Be7 11. Qd3 b5 12. Qf3 Ra7 13. Bd3 Rd7 14. Rd1 Bb7 15. Qh3 Nc6 16. O-O g6 17. Be5 Nxe5 18. dxe5 Nd5 19. Nxd5 Bxd5 20. Nd4 Bc4 21. Qf3 {Mateo,R (2484)-San Segundo Carrillo,P (2542) Donostia 2008 0-1 (31)}) 7. Bg3 {this surprised me a bit, but it seems like a principled retreat.} O-O $11 {a perfectly reasonable move, but now out of the database. Black has equalized without any trouble.} 8. Nf3 Bxg3 {perhaps premature and certainly giving White the idea of the kingside attack down the h-file. I was concerned about White dominating the e5 square after an eventual Ne5.} (8... Nc6 {simple development should be fine here.}) 9. hxg3 Nbd7 $6 {this is too slow and an unnecessary way to develop the knight. Nc6 would have left the d7 square open and also allowed the knight to be transferred via e7 to g6 for defense.} 10. Qc2 Re8 11. Ne5 {White now dominates the e5 square and Black cannot take immediately due to the threat to h7.} g6 $6 {the wrong way to defend h7.} ( 11... h6 12. Be2 $11) 12. O-O-O dxc4 {I played this with the idea that it would help free Black's game by opening the c-file. However, White's bishop goes to a useful square and his rooks are connected, giving him a slight plus.} (12... a6 {is a superior way of executing the plan, taking away the b5 square first and also preparing ...b5 as an advance. For example} 13. Bd3 dxc4 14. Nxc4 (14. Bxc4 b5 15. Bd3 Bb7 $15) 14... Qc7 $11) 13. Bxc4 Qe7 {with the idea of moving it to g7 for defense and some potentially useful pressure on the long diagonal. However, it effectively boxes the queen in and does nothing to pressure White.} (13... a6 14. Bd3 Qc7 $14) 14. Rh6 $6 {this allowed me to get in the following sequence, which rids me of the problem of the Ne5.} (14. Qd2 { looks good for White, with a much better diagonal for the queen to use to generate threats.}) 14... Nxe5 $11 15. dxe5 Ng4 {the points of the sequence.} 16. Rh4 Nxe5 {White has full compensation for the pawn with superior development and potential threats on the h-file, but this is still a great improvement for Black, who at least has some material on his side now.} 17. Rdh1 {here I considered moving the f-pawn, which would have defended h7 with the queen. The engine supports moving the h-pawn, however.} h5 18. Be2 { threatening to sacrifice on h5 for the breakthrough.} f5 {played after some intense thought. The f5 pawn now blocks the White queen's access.} 19. Kb1 { a prudent move that takes the king away from the potential check on g5, although White currently could play f4 in response, forking the queen and knight.} Qg7 {necessary to protect the g6 pawn and h8 in some variations.} ( 19... Bd7 20. f4 Nf7 21. g4 $11) 20. f4 {this would have been a bit more effective earlier. Played now, I felt this let me off the hook, to a large extent, allowing the next knight move. Advancing pawns always leave weaknesses behind them.} (20. f3 $5 $11) 20... Ng4 {White now has no prospect of forcing his way through.} 21. Bxg4 fxg4 (21... hxg4 $4 {obviously bad to re-open the h-file, for example} 22. Qd2 b5 23. Qd6 $18 {threatening Qe5 to exchange off the defending Qg7 and penetrating with the rooks on the h-file.}) 22. Qb3 Qf7 { breaking the pin.} 23. Nb5 Qf5+ (23... Rd8 {would be better played immediately, defending against the fork threat.} 24. Ka1 e5 25. Qxf7+ Kxf7 26. fxe5 Rd2 27. Rf1+ Ke7 $19 {with a significant endgame advantage.}) 24. Ka1 $11 Rd8 { protecting against the knight forks on c7 and d6} 25. Nc7 Rb8 {here White could have forced a draw by repetition, but was frustrated by his previous inability to break through and kept playing for winning chances.} 26. Re1 $2 { the added pressure on e6 is illusory, due to White's back-rank problem.} (26. Na6 Ra8 27. Nc7 Rd3 $11) 26... Bd7 {this holds equality, but the engine finds a better and more dynamic way of playing, forcing an exchange of queens into a winning endgame (see below variation). Black's undeveloped queenside is painful and at the time I was focused on getting the piece into play.} (26... Qd3 {and Black has the better game.} 27. Rhh1 (27. Qxd3 $2 Rxd3 28. Rhh1 Rxg3 29. Rd1 Rxg2 30. Rd8+ Kf7 $19 {and Black's kingside pawns are winners.}) 27... Qxb3 28. axb3 Kf7 $17) 27. Re5 {White continues to make a series of one-move threats, which however are easily parried.} Qf7 28. Rh1 (28. Nxe6 $2 {does not work out well for White:} Re8 29. Nc5 Qxb3 30. axb3 Rxe5 31. fxe5 Bc6 {and Black will win back either the g- or e-pawns, with a winning endgame.}) 28... Bc6 {this was not played to threaten the g2 pawn per se, but rather to free Black's game, untangle his pieces and get the bishop into the fight.} 29. Qxe6 $2 {the possibilities for capturing on e6 were complex. My opponent chose the wrong way to do it, leading to the loss.} (29. Nxe6 $5 {would be equal.} Rd6 30. f5 Bxg2 31. Rc1 gxf5 32. Rc7 Rc6 $1 $11) 29... Rd2 $17 {a key move to activate Black's rooks and raise some threats in White's backyard. White no longer has any good choices.} 30. Rhe1 (30. f5 {is inferior, but might have given my opponent the best practical chances.} Qxe6 31. fxe6 Rc8 32. e7 Rxc7 33. e8=Q+ Bxe8 34. Rxe8+ Kg7 {is for example winning for Black, but I might have gone wrong somewhere in the sequence.}) 30... Rbd8 {threatening the back-rank mate on d1.} 31. Qxf7+ {exchanging the queens allows Black to simplify into a winning position more easily, although White had no other real threats left.} Kxf7 $19 32. Re7+ Kf8 {played carefully by me. Now Ne6 does not work due to Kxe7 and White has no useful discovered checks afterwards with the knight.} (32... Kf6 {is no doubt what my opponent was hoping for.} 33. R1e6+ Kf5 34. Rf7#) 33. Kb1 Rd1+ 34. Kc2 {White realizes that exchanging rooks means the end of any counterplay and the probable loss of the g2 pawn. However, Black is now able to accomplish this anyway, on better terms for him.} R8d2+ 35. Kc3 Rd3+ (35... Rxg2 {can in fact be played immediately.} 36. Rxd1 Rxg3+ 37. Kd4 Kxe7 $19) 36. Kb4 (36. Kc4 Rxe1 37. Rxe1 Rxg3 38. Ne6+ Kg8 $19) 36... Rxe1 37. Rxe1 Rxg3 {I now pick up this extra pawn and the g2 pawn is still doomed, leaving me with a simple winning strategy of advancing the kingside pawns..} 38. Ne6+ Kg8 39. Ng5 Rxg2 40. Re6 {even if White takes the g6 pawn, Black can simply run the h-pawn in to victory, as the queening square is controlled by the Bc6.} Rxb2+ 41. Ka3 (41. Kc3 {does not improve anything} Rxa2 42. Rxg6+ Kf8 $19) 41... Rxa2+ $1 {I spot this tactic after some thought, having made time control and under less pressure. The point is that after Kxa2, the Re6 is lost due to the bishop fork on d5 and White's knight cannot stop the kingside pawns by itself.} 42. Kb4 {White avoids the sequence, but ends up quickly lost anyway.} (42. Kxa2 Bd5+ 43. Kb1 Bxe6 44. Nxe6 h4 $19) 42... Ra4+ 43. Kc5 Rxf4 44. Rxg6+ Kh8 {this next sequence required some careful calculation, but it helped knowing that the knight and rook by themselves (i.e. with no obstructions in the path of the Black king) cannot mate.} (44... Kf8 $4 45. Ne6+) 45. Rh6+ Kg7 46. Rxh5 Kg6 {recognizing the possibility of this king fork during my earlier calculations is a direct result of my tactics training.} 47. Ne6 {and my opponent resigned shortly after making the move, seeing that the situation was hopeless.} 0-1

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