28 May 2018

Annotated Game #188: Simul vs. WIM Sabrina Chevannes

This next game is from a simul played against WIM Sabrina Chevannes at a chess festival.  I was pleased to see the London System on the board from my opponent, as I've had good results against it.  I handle the initial opening phase well (through move 7), first avoiding, but then running into a similar problem with White penetration of the queenside as occurred in Annotated Game #183.   Here the opening variation isn't really the problem, as the queen exchange for Black is fine (unlike in the linked game), but rather recognizing White's opportunity to target the c6-pawn from the side with the rook on the a-file.  Luckily my opponent missed this (rather unusual) opportunity as well and the game continued.  Other lessons learned from the analysis were the power of the ...e5 break for Black and the need to evaluate better the impacts of key piece exchanges.  In the end, I correctly trade off my passed central pawn for one of White's queenside pawns in the endgame and reach a drawn position, which I was happy to take.

[Event "Simul"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Chevannes, Sabrina"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D10"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 11.2"] [PlyCount "66"] [EventDate "2015.03.17"] [EventType "simul"] [EventRounds "2"] {D10: Slav Defence: cxd5 (without early Nf3) and 3 Nc3} 1. d4 d5 2. Bf4 { an early entry into the London System, although now Bf4 is considered better than the originally less committal Nf3 in the opening structure. ChessBase considers the opening a Slav Defense (ECO D10).} Nf6 3. e3 Bf5 {I like playing this because of the symmetry and increased control of e4, and find it easier to play as opposed to developing the bishop on the queenside.} (3... e6 { is the most popular move in the database, no doubt because of all the Queen's Gambit Declined players.}) 4. c4 c6 {we now have a traditional Slav structure for Black, versus a non-traditional White setup.} 5. Qb3 {White immediately hits the queenside, as removing the protector of b7 is the main drawback of the previous move.} Qb6 {played in the vast majority of games. Black is not afraid to swap queens.} 6. c5 {this space-gaining push is a natural reaction and the most played. The trade-off for White is that it eliminates tension in the center.} Qxb3 7. axb3 {in exchange for the doubled pawns, which are not much of a weakness since I can't target them easily, White has the semi-open a-file. However, this is not as much of an issue as in some other Slav variations, since White also has trouble directly exploiting it.} Nbd7 8. Nc3 e6 {this is too conservative. I should have recognized the ...e5 pawn break possibility, although in this case it requires some assistance from the Nf6 and creative play; the break is a normal reaction to White's earlier c4-c5 push, which leaves the black pawn on d5 secure.} (8... e5 $5 {this works because of the Nf6's mobility and the fact that the c5 pawn depends on the d4 pawn for protection. The fact that we are already in an endgame-like position also means that Black has less to worry about regarding king protection.} 9. dxe5 Nh5 10. b4 Nxf4 11. exf4 g5 {offering a wing pawn for a central one, a good deal for Black.} 12. g3 gxf4 13. gxf4 f6 14. exf6 Nxf6 $11 {and Black has full compensation for the pawn, given better piece activity and the obviously weak White kingside pawns.}) (8... a6 {is also commonly played in this position, with good results for Black (56 percent). One example:} 9. b4 Rc8 10. Be2 h6 11. h3 g5 12. Bh2 Bg7 13. Nf3 O-O 14. O-O Ne4 15. Nxe4 Bxe4 16. Nd2 Bg6 17. Nb3 e5 18. dxe5 Bxe5 19. Bxe5 Nxe5 20. f4 Bd3 21. fxe5 Bxe2 22. Rf6 Rce8 23. Nd4 Bd3 24. Rd1 Be4 25. e6 fxe6 26. Rxh6 e5 27. Ne6 Rf5 28. Rf1 d4 29. exd4 Rxf1+ 30. Kxf1 Bd5 31. Nxg5 exd4 32. Rh4 d3 33. Rd4 Re2 34. Rxd3 Rxb2 35. Rg3 Rxb4 36. Ne4+ Kf8 37. Nd6 a5 38. Ra3 a4 39. g4 Ke7 40. Ke2 b5 41. g5 Rb2+ 42. Ke3 Rb1 43. Nf5+ Ke6 44. Nd4+ Ke5 {0-1 (44) Teglas,B (2172)-Deak,F (2259) Hungary 2009}) 9. b4 {proactively reinforcing c5 and preventing a7-a5.} b5 $2 { this is exactly what Black should not do in this position, giving White an inroad on the queenside; luckily, my opponent did not recognize the opportunity.} (9... Nh5 10. Bc7 Rc8 11. Be5 a6 $14) 10. cxb6 $6 (10. Ra6 $1 $18 {targeting the now-vulnerable c-pawn is winning for White.}) 10... Nxb6 $14 { obviously this is what I had intended on move 9. The c-pawn is now backward, but White has issues with her b-pawns being weak as well.} 11. b5 c5 { naturally not exchanging on b5, which would give White a great post for a minor piece and open up the c-file.} 12. Nf3 Nfd7 13. Ne5 Nxe5 $6 {despite my previous move, which was aimed at reinforcing both c5 and e5, this piece exchange is not a good follow-up. Afterwards White's minor pieces are improved in relative terms versus mine.} (13... cxd4 14. exd4 Bd6 {the key idea in this line. Now another piece is developed and White's hold on the center is challenged.} 15. Nxd7 Kxd7 16. Bxd6 Kxd6 17. Be2 $11) 14. Bxe5 $16 {Komodo likes White's position better, with the central Be5 a significant constraint on my play, including pressuring g7 and preventing my bishop from being developed to its best diagonal on d6.} Kd7 {mobilizing the king with the reduced material on the board is now more important than seeking to castle. There is also no good way to protect the g-pawn without giving White further advantage in space and development on the queenside.} 15. Be2 {not the most challenging move.} (15. dxc5 Bxc5 16. Bxg7 Rhg8 $16) 15... f6 $14 {taking care of the threat to g7.} 16. Bg3 cxd4 17. exd4 Bd6 18. Bxd6 Kxd6 $14 {my opponent apparently felt that safe exchanges and a slight plus were a better route to victory. White maintains some slight advantages on the queenside, but no longer has urgent threats, so I felt much better about my position.} 19. g4 { a rather direct approach which does not gain White anything.} Bg6 20. f4 e5 { this time, I recognize the value of the pawn break. The next sequence is essentially forced.} 21. dxe5+ fxe5 22. fxe5+ (22. f5 Bf7 {is fine for Black, with two connected passed pawns in the center offsetting White's kingside majority.}) 22... Kxe5 $11 {and now Black has a new passed pawn on d5. White will have to pay attention to neutralizing it, rather than advancing her own plans.} 23. Bf3 Be4 $6 {an unnecessary exchange that potentially weakens the central pawn's position.} (23... d4 $5 {is the more aggressive choice:} 24. Bxa8 dxc3 25. bxc3 Rxa8 26. O-O $11) (23... Raf8 $11) 24. Nxe4 $6 {following the general rule of exchanging knights for bishops, but here it helps me.} (24. Bxe4 $5 {is the better choice.} dxe4 25. O-O $16) 24... dxe4 $15 25. Bg2 Nc4 { making an obvious threat, but not a significant one.} (25... Rhf8 $5 {is actually the key move, mobilizing the rook and preparing ...Rf4.} 26. Rf1 Rxf1+ 27. Bxf1 Kf4 $15) 26. Ra4 {now White is more active again and I am on the defensive.} Nd6 27. O-O Rhb8 $6 (27... g6 {is necessary to reduce 7th rank threats from White's rook on the f-file.}) 28. Re1 {White evidently does not see the following sequence, a good example of CCT in action:} (28. Bxe4 $5 { the pawn is protected twice and attacked twice, but} Nxe4 29. Rf5+ Kd6 30. Rd4+ Ke6 31. Rxe4+ Kd6 32. Rd4+ Ke6 33. b4 $14 {with pressure, although the doubled extra b-pawn may not be decisive.}) 28... Rxb5 $11 {the correct choice, to reach a completely level position where White has no more real threats.} 29. Bxe4 Nxe4 30. Rexe4+ Kf6 31. b4 Rab8 32. h4 g5 33. Ra6+ R5b6 1/2-1/2

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