27 September 2017

Annotated Game #180: At least it wasn't a draw (?)

This last-round tournament game is a thankfully rare example of how poor attitude can lead directly to an otherwise undeserved loss.  I get a small advantage out of the English Opening versus a King's Indian Defense setup, getting two open files on the queenside that my pieces should have done more with.  Instead, I miss a great tactic on the long diagonal on moves 19 and 20, then play too passively in response to an unexpected central pawn advance.  This leads almost immediately to unwarranted panic on my part, due to lazy (or nonexistent) calcuation, and a rapid implosion.  The turnaround is sharp and totally psychological.

So why did that happen?  You may have noticed that all of the previous games in this tournament ended in draws for me - some rightly so, others due to my squandering or simply not pursuing an existing advantage.  I was determined not to have a draw in the last round, which while understandable was simply the wrong mental attitude to adopt going into the game.  One cannot just impose one's will on the chessboard.  Your opponent always gets a vote and focusing on your desired outcome (a win) simply wastes mental energy and distracts you from what the goal should be, which is to play well and thoughtfully in every position.  Point taken.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class C"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A26"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 10"] [PlyCount "70"] [EventType "simul"] [EventRounds "5"] 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nf3 d6 6. O-O e5 7. d3 {the standard KID setup against the English.} Nc6 8. Rb1 a5 9. a3 Ne7 10. b4 axb4 11. axb4 Ne8 {a funny-looking retreat, but it does allow the f-pawn to advance afterwards.} 12. Bg5 {this doesn't do a whole lot for me, as the bishop doesn't have much of a future on g5.} (12. b5 $5 c6 13. Bd2 $14) 12... c6 13. b5 f6 {it's not a bad move to kick the bishop, but it does neglect development for a tempo and locks his Bg7 in further.} (13... h6 {seems more logical.}) 14. Bd2 Be6 15. bxc6 (15. Na4 {is the idea Komodo prefers, eyeing the b6 square.}) 15... bxc6 16. Qc2 {after the initial exchanges and development now complete, the position is looking a bit drawish. I still have a slight pull in my favor, with the open queenside more easily accessible to my pieces, but it's not much of an advantage.} Qd7 {this really invites the Na4 idea, but it's also good to double rooks on the b-file.} 17. Rb6 (17. Rb4) 17... Nc8 18. Rb4 {this could have been a sly, trappy idea had I spotted the weakness in Black's next move, which I even anticipated.} c5 $2 19. Rb3 {this should be good enough for an advantage, but there's a tactical refutation of Black's last pawn push, which opens up the long diagonal.} (19. Nxe5 $1 fxe5 20. Rb7 {it's this follow-up move which is particularly difficult to see, if you're human.} Qd8 21. Rxg7+ Nxg7 22. Bxa8 $18 {White is a pawn up now, but more importantly will now easily dominate the board with his pieces.}) 19... Bh3 20. Rfb1 (20. Nxe5 $1 { is now a great idea that is much simpler to calculate.} fxe5 21. Bxa8 Bxf1 22. Kxf1 $18) 20... Bxg2 {unfortunately, after this there are no longer any tactics on the long diagonal for me.} 21. Kxg2 Ra7 22. Qb2 $16 {although I've passed up some opportunities, it's still looking good for me on the queenside. The Nc8 is poorly placed and I dominate the b-file. Now I plan to eliminate Black's Ra7 and work towards controlling both open files.} Rf7 23. Ra1 Rxa1 24. Qxa1 Qa7 25. Ra3 (25. Qb1 {keeping control of the b-file looks better, with the threat of invading the rook on b8.}) 25... Qd7 26. Nb5 {this is not a bad move, but here I start "losing the thread" of the game, as they say. Black's next move comes as an unpleasant surprise and I react poorly.} d5 {this is really a false threat, in the sense that my position is still advantageous, but it help Black take the initiative, since I don't find the only reply that keeps the advantage.} 27. Qc1 $6 $11 {I had been worried about the threat of losing the Bd2 to a discovered attack on the d-file.} (27. Ra8 $16 {correctly ignores Black's central pawns and pressures the 8th rank, with Qa6 being the main threat.} e4 28. Ne1 {and now if} dxc4 $2 29. Qa6 $1 $18) (27. Be3 $14 { would have been a safe choice that preserved some of my queenside pressure.}) 27... Nb6 {and now I just unreasonably panic and fall apart.} 28. Bh6 $2 { pretty much any reasonable move here keeps the balance. Instead...} Bxh6 29. Qxh6 dxc4 {now Black is a pawn up for nothing and I decide to try unsuccessfully for a swindle. It's pretty ugly.} 30. Ra7 Qxb5 31. Rxf7 Kxf7 32. Qxh7+ Ng7 33. Nh4 Qc6+ 34. f3 f5 35. g4 fxg4 0-1

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