17 April 2016

Annotated Game #155: Wrong side of a Stonewall

The following third-round game had me on the "wrong" side (White) of a Stonewall.  Of course I was fine on principle in the opening, but it's often tough to play against defenses that you yourself use.  In this case, the game becomes quite sharp in the early middlegame and Black takes over the initiative.  Instead of finding some interesting tactical options (especially on move 18, with a deflection possibility), I play some "obvious moves" (as in Annotated Game #149) and get in trouble in the complications.  Despite some desperation-type pressure from my end, my opponent consolidated in time trouble to the point where the win was obvious, so I resigned.  Not my best effort, but it was a useful learning experience in dealing with an unfamiliar opening setup (Semi-Slav versus the English, which morphed into a Stonewall).

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class A"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D45"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 8"] [PlyCount "68"] {D4: Semi-Slav: 5 e3} 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. e3 c6 {this is the first time I've encountered a Semi-Slav type setup against the English.} 5. b3 Nbd7 6. Be2 {this may be a premature development of the bishop.} Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. d4 {this move puts the game firmly in Semi-Slav territory (although not for long). Alternate approaches may be better. Here's one from Mikhail Tal:} (8. Qc2 Re8 9. Bb2 e5 10. cxd5 Nxd5 11. Ne4 Bc7 12. a3 a5 13. Bc4 Nf8 14. Ng3 Bg4 15. Ne1 Ng6 16. h3 Be6 17. Nf3 Nf6 18. Bxe6 Rxe6 19. Rad1 Re8 20. e4 Nd7 21. d4 exd4 22. Nxd4 Bxg3 23. fxg3 Qb6 24. Kh2 Qc5 25. Qe2 Nde5 26. Nf5 Rad8 27. Rxd8 Rxd8 28. Rd1 Qf8 29. Bd4 Rd7 30. Bc3 Rxd1 31. Qxd1 h6 32. h4 f6 33. h5 Ne7 34. Nh4 Qb8 35. Bxe5 Qxe5 36. Qd7 Kf8 37. Ng6+ Nxg6 38. hxg6 Qh5+ 39. Kg1 Qxg6 40. Qxb7 Qxe4 41. Qa8+ {1/2-1/2 (41) Tal,M (2560)-Bagirov,V (2505) Riga 1981}) 8... Qe7 9. Bb2 Ne4 10. Qc2 f5 {now we have a classic Stonewall Dutch formation for Black.} 11. Nxe4 {starting a somewhat complex sequence. I had to think here for a while and also again on move 14 to make sure that I had it right.} fxe4 12. Ne5 {the only move that doesn't give Black a positional edge.} Qg5 { the counter-threat by Black, which requires White to further support the Ne5. Exchanging on d7 is possible, but just benefits Black by freeing up the Bc8 and connecting his rooks.} 13. Qc3 Rf5 {increasing the pressure again on Black's side.} 14. f4 exf3 15. Rxf3 (15. Nxf3 $5 {is the other major option. I thought that the text move seemed to keep the balance more easily.}) 15... Nxe5 16. dxe5 Rxe5 17. Rg3 {an obvious move with an obvious threat that I made quickly. I should have considered other options as well, since there's no urgency to play the text move. For example, Black's Re5 is awkwardly placed and is a target for White's bishops.} (17. Bd3 $5 {starts a wild line:} Rxe3 18. Bxh7+ Kh8 19. Rxe3 Bc5 20. Rae1 d4 21. Qd3 dxe3 22. Be4 $14) (17. c5 { is a safer version of the idea.} Bc7 18. Bd3 {and Black's Re5 is trapped and will have to give itself up for the exchange, although this is not losing.}) 17... Qe7 18. Rf1 {another "obvious" move played when there was a not-so-obvious good alternative.} (18. Ba3 {deflection tactic.} Bxa3 19. Qxe5 Bd6 20. Qg5 Qxg5 21. Rxg5 $11) 18... Rg5 {Black now effectively takes over the initiative. His pieces are well placed to make threats on the kingside, while mine are not coordinating as well.} 19. Rxg5 Qxg5 20. Bh5 {I did well to find this move, although I followed up on it poorly, essentially overestimating my threats and underestimating Black's.} Bxh2+ 21. Kh1 $4 (21. Kxh2 {I dismissed this move since I thought it just lost a pawn, but it keeps the position equal due to White's threats on the f-file and against the g7 square.} Qxh5+ 22. Kg1 Qg5 23. Qb4 Qxe3+ 24. Rf2 $11) 21... Bg3 $19 {only now did I see the problem of the mate threat.} 22. Bf7+ {the best practical chance for White, although I am already lost by this point. However, my opponent was running very low on time in the first time control, so I played on and tried to complicate matters as much as possible.} Kh8 23. Kg1 Bd7 24. Be8 Rxe8 25. Rf7 e5 26. Rxd7 Qf5 { the game is effectively over, due to Black's mate threats. Under time pressure, however, he decides to pick up the material and just play safely.} 27. Qd2 Qxd7 (27... Rf8 28. Qe1 Bxe1 29. Bxe5 Bf2+ 30. Kh1 Qh5+ 31. Bh2 Qd1+ 32. Bg1 Qxg1#) 28. e4 d4 29. Qd3 Qg4 30. Ba3 Bf4 31. Kf1 Be3 32. Qe2 Qf4+ 33. Qf3 Qxf3+ 34. gxf3 h5 {at this point Black could easily make random moves to reach the time control successfully, so I resigned.} 0-1

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