29 May 2016

Annotated Game #159: The dangers of distraction

This next tournament game illustrates the dangers of getting distracted from the central features and truths of a position.  As White, I achieve a comfortable game out of the opening and have a clear target in the form of my opponent's king in the center.  Then, at a key point (move 15) I allow myself to be distracted by my opponent on the queenside and a couple of moves later he has equalized, which was a disappointing turn of events.  Luckily, he then distracts himself with potential queenside prospects and moves his queen offside, allowing me to resume an attack in the center after all.

While there are some interesting tactical and positional points in the analysis, the main overriding theme for the game is the need to focus on central control and find any way to get at the opponent's king, including sacrifices to open lines (such as the variation on move 14).  Another personal theme revealed is my difficulty, which is something that has been highlighted repeatedly in analysis, of visualizing attacks, especially mating nets.  I had trouble looking at the series of moves from 22-25 and selecting the most effective ones, although my opponent had even more trouble finding his way and was fatally distracted by snatching a queenside pawn.  As a result, I was able to clearly see the sequence starting on move 26 and win.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class C"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A16"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 8"] [PlyCount "57"] {A16: English Opening: 1...Nf6 with ...d5} 1. c4 d5 2. cxd5 {exchanging a flank pawn for a central pawn is usually a good idea and this early on there are no potential drawbacks.} Nf6 3. Nc3 Nxd5 4. Nf3 Nxc3 5. bxc3 {White is quite comfortable here, with a small lead in development and no challenges from Black.} Bf5 {this move is something of a time waster.} (5... g6 {is the main idea for Black here, developing the kingside and staying flexible.}) 6. Qb3 {a (good) obvious move to take advantage of the bishop leaving the queenside.} Qc8 {...b6 or ...Be4 are alternatives to protect the b-pawn, but White still gets more out of the Qb3 move than Black does in any of his options to counter it.} 7. Ba3 $146 {not a bad move, but I should be focusing on control of the center and completing my own development. The idea is to make Black's own kingside development more difficult by restraining ...e6 due to the threat of Bxf8. My opponent decides (erroneously) that this is fine, however, so the move turns out well for me.} (7. g3 e6 8. d3 $16 {and after Rb1 and Bg2, Black is going to have problems defending threats down the b-file and the long diagonal.}) 7... e6 (7... c5 {is a way to resolve the problem, costing a pawn but leaving White without any remaining threats.} 8. Ne5 Be6 9. Qb5+ Nd7 10. Nxd7 Bxd7 11. Qxc5 Qxc5 12. Bxc5 $14) 8. Bxf8 $16 Rxf8 {this leaves Black's king more centralized and therefore vulnerable.} (8... Kxf8) 9. d3 (9. d4 $5 {is more to the point, with Black's king stuck in the center, as White needs to seize territory and pry open the position.}) 9... h6 {while preventing a knight hop to g5, this is dangerously slow for Black's development.} (9... Nc6 10. Nh4 $16) 10. e4 {not a bad continuation, but I could have done more with the position.} (10. g4 $5 {for example is now possible, since taking the pawn would lose to a queen fork on a4.} Bh7 11. Rb1 {and now the b-pawn is doomed, for example} b6 $6 12. Bg2 c6 13. Nd4 e5 14. Nb5 $1 {and the Bg2 proves its worth on the long diagonal, since taking the Nb5 loses material for Black, but the knight's attack on the d6 square anyway becomes decisive.} Qd7 15. Qa3 f5 16. Nd6+ $18) (10. Rb1 {is also good.}) 10... Bh7 11. Be2 Nd7 12. O-O Rb8 13. Rad1 {now that Black has defended the b-pawn adequately, the obvious place to put the rook is on d1, to support a pawn advance. The Rf1 should stay where it is, as it can be better used on either the f- or e-files.} c5 14. e5 {played to enable a follow-on push by the d-pawn, but this was not in fact necessary.} (14. Nd2 {is a solid move that would support the e-pawn and help reposition the knight to a better square.}) (14. d4 $5 {immediately is something the engine likes.} Bxe4 15. Rfe1 Bd5 (15... Ke7 16. d5 Bxd5 $6 (16... Rd8 17. dxe6 Nf6 18. exf7 Kf8 19. Bc4 $16) 17. Rxd5 $18) 16. Bc4 Bxc4 17. Qxc4 cxd4 18. Qxd4 $16 {White is a pawn down but Black is under heavy pressure in the center, with kingside weaknesses. For example}) 14... b5 {trying to get some space and counterplay on the queenside. This in fact works, as it distracts me from the task in the center.} (14... Ke7 15. d4 Rd8 16. Nd2 $14) 15. Rc1 (15. d4 $16 {continues the plan without distraction.}) 15... Qc7 16. d4 c4 {now it's clear that the rook moves back and forth have just wasted time.} 17. Qd1 $6 (17. Qb2 {makes much more sense, keeping control of the b4 square.} a6 18. a4 {this is a common positional theme, temporarily sacrificing a pawn to render the entire structure weak.} bxa4 19. Qa3 $16) 17... Nb6 $11 {Black now defends the d5 square and prevents a White breakthrough. I now have to regroup and come up with a different approach.} 18. Nd2 Nd5 {the optics of the centralized knight look good, but the practical consequences are bad for Black.} (18... Ke7 19. Bf3 $11) 19. Bf3 $14 {the bishop would be happy to exchange itself for the Nd5 and open the way for the e-pawn to advance.} (19. a4 $5 {is again a good idea as well.}) 19... Bd3 { the Black bishop springs annoyingly back to life, although this is not a real threat.} 20. Re1 Qa5 $2 {this removes Black's most powerful piece from the defense of his king, which is about to become the target of White's operations. } (20... Nf4 $5 21. g3 Nh3+ 22. Kg2 Ng5 23. Be2 Bf5 $16) 21. Bxd5 exd5 22. e6 $18 fxe6 23. Rxe6+ $6 {premature. I thought for a long time here about the queen moves, but my brain by this point was fuzzy and I could not see a clear way to an advantage. My opponent however does not find the one defensive move that works.} (23. Qg4 {seems obviously superior in hindsight, although it's a long variation to get to the final advantage.} Rf6 24. Qxg7 Qd8 25. Nf3 Rg6 26. Qh8+ Ke7 27. Qxd8+ Kxd8 28. Ne5 Rg8 29. Nc6+ $16) (23. Qh5+ Kd7 24. Qe5 $16) 23... Kd7 $2 (23... Kf7 {and Black is OK.} 24. Qg4 Rb6 25. Rce1 Kg8 26. Re8 Qa3 $11) 24. Re5 {again, Qg4 would be better, but now this is sufficient for the win.} (24. Qg4 {and White wins, comments Komodo via the Fritz interface.} g6 ( 24... Bf5 25. Qxg7+ Kxe6 26. Re1+) 25. Ra6+ Bf5 26. Qxf5+ Rxf5 27. Rxa5 b4 28. Rxa7+ Kd8 $18) 24... Kc6 (24... Kc7 25. Qg4 Rf7 26. Rxd5 Rd8 27. Rc5+ Kb8 $18) 25. Qh5 {I thought again for a while and picked the wrong queen move.} (25. Qg4 Qd8 26. Qxg7 $18) 25... Qxa2 $4 {this is the real losing move, as the queenside finally proves a fatal distraction.} (25... Rbd8 $16) 26. Re6+ { now I am able to construct the win with clear calculation, not worrying about getting there the fastest, just the surest.} Kc7 27. Qxd5 {only the third fastest route to mate, according to the engine, but a sure one.} (27. Qe5+ Kc8 28. Qxg7 Qa6 29. Rxa6 Rg8 30. Rc6+ Kd8 31. Rd6+ Ke8 32. Qd7+ Kf8 33. Rf6#) 27... Qa3 28. Qc6+ (28. Rc6+ Kb7 29. Rd6+ Kc7 30. Qc6#) 28... Kd8 29. Rd6+ (29. Rd6+ Qxd6 30. Qxd6+ Kc8 31. Re1 Be2 32. Rxe2 Rb6 33. Qxf8+ Kb7 34. Re7+ Ka6 35. Qc8+ Ka5 36. Rxa7+ Ra6 37. Rxa6#) 1-0


  1. Hey there! An interesting game. I enjoy reading your annotations. Best regards,

    1. Thanks for stopping by Bryan. It's always good to see that the annotations can be entertaining and perhaps occasionally useful, beyond doing them for my own training purposes.


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