26 June 2016

Annotated Game #160: Focus and accurate calculation

In this last-round tournament game, I was able to elevate my level of play significantly when compared to the earlier games, which I attribute to a better level of focus on my part.  Correct application of opening principles (countering in the center on move 4, for example) led to me having a comfortable position as Black in a Slav Defense. After a minor misstep on move 12, I was able to recover and accurately see the best continuation, including the most effective in-between move (14...Nxe3). Most importantly, I was able to concretely parry the temporary initiative that my opponent generated, then find the tactical refutation to his too-aggressive play. I was pleased to be able to continue the accurate play afterwards and correctly ignored his kingside attack while setting up my own fatal blow.

While it's always important to look for improvements in your wins (for example on move 12) as well as your losses, I think that for improving players it's also important to take some pleasure in good play (it's always great to see the engine agreeing with your choices over multiple sequences).  Even more important, though, is seeking to remember and emulate the factors that led to that good play, for use in future games.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class A"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D10"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 8"] [PlyCount "60"] {D10: Slav Defence: cxd5 (without early Nf3) and 3 Nc3} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 dxc4 4. a4 {immediately preventing Black from playing...b5 to reinforce the c4 pawn.} e5 {countering in the center like this is a dynamic way for Black to play, taking advantage of the fact that White is temporarily a pawn down, so having the e5 pawn taken would not even be a gambit.} 5. e3 exd4 { capturing is indicated here, otherwise the e-pawn is too difficult to defend for Black.} 6. exd4 Be6 {the natural developing move that also keeps the c4 pawn.} 7. Nf3 Be7 {I played this to continue to control g5, which would not have been the case after ...Nf6.} (7... Nf6 {would be fine, though.} 8. Bg5 (8. Ng5 Bd5 $17) 8... Nbd7 {followed by ...h6 gives Black a plus.}) 8. Be3 (8. Ne5 Nf6 9. Bxc4 Bxc4 10. Nxc4 Na6 11. O-O O-O 12. Bf4 Nb4 13. Qd2 Nfd5 14. Rad1 Rc8 15. Be5 Re8 16. Rfe1 Bf8 17. Ne4 Re6 18. f4 b5 19. f5 Rh6 20. Ne3 Nxe3 21. Rxe3 Nd5 22. Rf3 f6 {Kazansev,A (2275)-Ovsjuchenko,S (2199) Krasnodar 2002 0-1 (44)} ) 8... Nf6 (8... Nd7 $5 {would help combat White's next idea more effectively.} ) 9. Ne5 {working to recover the pawn on c4.} Nbd7 10. Nxc4 {here Komodo gives a slight edge to Black. The knight is somewhat misplaced on c4 and Black has a small development advantage (4 pieces to 3).} (10. Bxc4 Bxc4 11. Nxc4 $11 { now compared with the game continuation, both White and Black have equal development (three pieces).}) 10... O-O (10... Nb6 $6 11. Ne5 (11. Nxb6 Qxb6 { just helps Black's development}) 11... Bd6 12. Bd3 Nbd5 $15) 11. Bd3 Nd5 12. O-O Bg5 {not a terrible move, but not addressing the needs of the position. It is more important to utilize the knights effectively and the bishop is fine where it is. The text move would be great for Black if White captured on g5, but that's not going to happen.} (12... Nb4 $5) (12... N7f6) (12... N7b6) 13. Qh5 $11 {an effective way to equalize for White.} h6 {this is now forced, due to the double threat against the Bg5 and h7.} 14. f4 $6 {this is overly aggressive.} (14. Nxd5 $5 {must definitely be considered, comments the engine via the Fritz interface.} Bxd5 $11) 14... Nxe3 $15 {a beneficial in-between move for Black, who does not have to react directly to the threat against the Bg5.} 15. Nxe3 {Black now has the pair of bishops.} (15. fxg5 $2 Nxf1 16. gxh6 $2 g6 17. Bxg6 Bxc4 $19 {and White does not have enough pieces in the attack to do anything to Black's king.}) 15... Bf6 $15 16. Nc2 {a somewhat passive follow-up to the overly-aggressive f4 push.} (16. d5 {would be more in the spirit of the previous aggression.} Nb6 (16... cxd5 17. f5 Bxc3 18. bxc3 Nf6 19. Qf3 Bd7 $15) 17. dxe6 Qxd3 $15 {with a more complicated picture and opportunities for White.}) 16... Nb6 $17 {increasing pressure on d4 from the Qd8.} 17. Ne2 (17. Kh1 Nc4 $17) 17... Bc4 {the correct square (c4) to focus on, but the bishop is not the most effective piece.} (17... Nc4 $5 {now Black has a series of threats to the b-pawn that White has a very hard time dealing with. } 18. b3 (18. Bxc4 Bxc4 19. Rfd1 Re8 20. Nc3 Qb6 $19) 18... Nd2 19. Rfd1 Nxb3 $19) 18. Qf5 g6 {the obvious response, which is rather awkward for White.} 19. Qh3 Bxd3 {this prematurely releases the tension.} (19... Re8 {this indirectly protects the h-pawn, by attacking the Ne2 and not allowing White to exchange on c4 without subsequently taking care of his knight.} 20. Bxc4 (20. Rfe1 Bh4 $17) 20... Nxc4 21. Qc3 Qd5 $17) 20. Qxd3 $15 Re8 {I still have a small positional advantage, including being able to target the isolated d-pawn, but White has fewer problems to worry about now.} 21. Ng3 c5 {the idea - which the engine agrees with - is to take advantage of the pin on the d-pawn against the hanging Qd3, but White's next move is the best response and one that I did not anticipate.} 22. a5 Nd7 23. f5 g5 24. Ne4 {White is enjoying some initiative here and I definitely felt pressured during the game. However, I am able to focus and calculate properly.} cxd4 25. Nd6 $4 {my opponent gets too aggressive and fails to see the tactical response, which wins for Black.} (25. Nxf6+ $5 Nxf6 26. Qxd4 Qxd4+ 27. Nxd4 Rad8 $17 {here Black's rook activity provides an endgame edge.}) 25... Nc5 $19 {simultaneously attacking the Qd3 and Nd6.} 26. Qh3 $2 {desperation, although White has no good alternatives.} ( 26. Qg3 Be5 27. Nxf7 Kxf7 $19 {and Black is a full piece ahead.}) 26... Qxd6 27. Qxh6 d3 {the quickest way to victory.} 28. Kh1 dxc2 29. h4 Re2 30. hxg5 { due to his own vulnerable king, White simply doesn't have time to do enough with his kingside attack, which I can effectively ignore.} Qg3 0-1


  1. Nice game. 27...d3! was a great move.

    1. Thanks. This game I was significantly more focused - "in the zone" than in the others and it showed, with my ability to pick out quality, non-obvious moves like 27...d3. Now I just need to work on getting to that mental state more often, as it's been pretty hit and miss.


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