10 August 2018

Annotated Game #191: Having to be brilliant to win a won game

This tournament game is notable for my failure to win a won game in a more normal and less dramatic fashion.  After spotting a tactical sequence that puts me a piece up, I make all the right moves, but my opponent refuses to give in.  Sometimes this is annoying (when you're the one winning), but is also not a bad strategy at the club level, if there's no immediate knockout, as in this game.

Later on, I break the rule of not allowing my opponent counterplay (or even just the appearance of it), in part by making an unnecessarily complicated move (as in Annotated Game #189), and as a consequence he almost forces a drawing tactic.  However, I earn a "!!" from Fritz when I find (in some desperation) the only winning move, a rook sacrifice.  It's also worth highlighting the final decision to exchange queen for rook and force a won K+P endgame.  This should be a rather basic choice for a player, but it's also a sign that you have confidence in your calculating ability and knowledge of endgames.

Furthermore, as a general rule, I think it's good for a player to trust themselves when they are sure they have found a forced win, and not triple-check things.  This is a characteristic you often see in master games and can be misunderstood when engines give significantly higher valuations to other (also winning) continuations.  Even if it takes longer, the chosen route may well be easier, which is probably why the player was able to calculate it first over other, more complicated alternatives.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A12"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 11.2"] [PlyCount "110"] [EventType "simul"] {[%mdl 8256] A12: English Opening: 1...c6 with b3 by White} 1. c4 c6 2. b3 Nf6 3. Bb2 {it's unusual to develop the bishop and the queenside so quickly, but my opponent appeared to be experienced in using this "system" type line, given his quick play in the opening.} d5 4. Nf3 Bf5 {the most common reply, getting Black into a Slav-type structure, which is what I had been aiming for.} 5. g3 { my opponent chooses a double fianchetto system, which was not a surprise, given his early fianchetto of the dark-square bishop.} e6 6. Bg2 Nbd7 7. O-O Be7 {here the database is evenly split between this and ...Bd6, although the .. .h6 idea (see next move) is also popular (and scores comparatively well).} 8. d3 O-O (8... h6 {this prophylactic move, controlling g5 and providing a retreat square for the Bf5, scores much better in the database. For example} 9. Nbd2 O-O 10. Qc2 Bh7 11. Ne5 Nxe5 12. Bxe5 Bd6 13. Qb2 a5 14. Nf3 Bxe5 15. Nxe5 Qd6 16. a3 d4 17. f4 Nd7 18. Nxd7 Qxd7 19. b4 Rfe8 20. b5 c5 21. b6 Re7 22. Rab1 e5 23. Qb5 Qc8 24. fxe5 Rxe5 25. Bd5 Bf5 26. Qb2 Re7 27. Qd2 Be6 28. e4 dxe3 29. Qxe3 Qd7 30. Rfe1 Rc8 31. Bg2 Ree8 32. Qf3 Rc6 33. Qf2 Rd6 34. Qxc5 Rxd3 35. Qc7 Qxc7 36. bxc7 Rc8 37. Rxb7 Rd7 38. c5 Rdxc7 39. Rxc7 Rxc7 40. c6 Kf8 41. Re5 a4 42. Ra5 {1/2-1/2 (42) Svidler,P (2744)-Caruana,F (2767) Sochi 2012}) 9. Nbd2 (9. Nh4 $5 {would now harass the Bf5, but this is not a serious consideration for Black. For example} Bg4 10. h3 Bh5 $11) 9... Re8 10. a3 a5 { played to restrain the b3-b4 advance.} 11. Bc3 {this move to me indicated that my opponent wanted to try to force the b-pawn advance. However, this takes time and also moves the bishop to an undefended square, which soon becomes important.} c5 $146 {a logical response, reinforcing my own control of b4 and now also influencing d4, which my opponent immediately challenges.} 12. d4 { it's important to remember that every pawn advance leaves weaknesses behind it, in this case the e4 square.} (12. Nh4 Bg4 13. h3 Bh5 14. g4 Bg6 15. Nxg6 hxg6 $11) 12... Ne4 {this immediately exploits the lack of pawn control of e4, but more patience perhaps was in order.} (12... Qb6 $5 {would put additional pressure on both flank and center and connect the rooks.}) 13. Nxe4 Bxe4 14. cxd5 Bxd5 {the position is equal here, but I feel Black has a much easier task and has energy built up, waiting to be released after an exchange of the c-pawn.} 15. dxc5 $6 {this just plays to Black's strengths and immediately helps activate my pieces.} (15. Rc1) 15... Nxc5 $15 16. b4 {White seemed to be fixated on getting this advance in, and seemed to be happy to have achieved it, despite the significant problems he now has in the center.} Ne4 {now the other knight occupies e4 and threatens the hanging Bc3, but White can no longer get rid of it.} 17. Qd3 $2 {defending the Bc3, but missing the follow-on skewer tactic on the long diagonal.} (17. Bd4 $15 {is just about the only chance, notes Komodo via the Fritz interface.}) 17... Nxc3 $19 18. Qxc3 Bf6 {my opponent thought for some time here, eventually coming up with the move with perhaps the most practical chances of avoiding pain, but I am able to find the correct tactical sequence.} 19. Ne5 {temporarily blocking the tactic, but now Black has} Bxg2 20. Kxg2 Qd5+ {with a double attack on e5.} 21. Qf3 Bxe5 { I was happy to get the queens off here, given the material balance.} 22. Qxd5 exd5 23. Rad1 {my opponent chooses to play on, even down a full piece with no compensation. This is common at the club level, and almost pays off for him later on.} axb4 {tidying up on the queenside first.} 24. axb4 Bc3 (24... d4 { is objectively superior. There is no particular reason to give up the strong advanced central d-pawn, even if it is isolated, as it is easily defended. However, I felt it would be easier to make progress by in effect exchanging it for the e-pawn.}) 25. Rxd5 Rxe2 26. Kf3 Rb2 27. b5 g6 {giving my king "luft" (room to escape a potential threat of back rank mate).} 28. Rfd1 Raa2 {so far my game is effectively playing itself, with obvious moves targeting White's weaknesses.} 29. Rf1 Ba5 {covering the d8 square and preparing to move to the a7-g1 diagonal to further pressure f2.} 30. h4 Bb6 31. h5 f5 $6 {here I get too fancy and make an unnecessarily complicated move in response, significantly loosening my king position.} (31... Bxf2 {is simplest, as White has no real threats.} 32. Rfd1 Ra3+ 33. R5d3 Rxd3+ 34. Rxd3 Bc5 $19) 32. g4 ( 32. Kf4 $5) 32... Rxf2+ 33. Rxf2 Rxf2+ 34. Kg3 f4+ 35. Kh4 {up to this point I've played accurately and increased my advantage. With further accurate play there would be no danger, but I've left my king somewhat exposed and my opponent can now generate counterplay after my inaccuracies.} Rc2 (35... Rh2+ 36. Kg5 f3 37. Rd3 f2 38. Rf3 gxh5 39. gxh5 Rh1 40. Kf5 f1=Q 41. Rxf1 Rxf1+ 42. Ke4 Rh1 43. Kf3 Re1 44. h6 Kf7 45. Kg2 Kg6 46. Kg3 Kg5 47. Kf3 Re3+ 48. Kg2 Kg4 49. Kh2 Re1 50. Kg2 Ra1 51. Kh2 Kf3 52. Kh3 Rh1#) 36. hxg6 hxg6 (36... h6 37. g5 hxg5+ 38. Kxg5 f3 39. Kg4 f2 40. Rd1 Re2 41. Rf1 Re1 42. Rxf2 Bxf2 43. Kf3 Bb6 44. Kf4 Kg7 45. Kg5 Rf1 46. Kh5 Rg1 47. Kh4 Kxg6 48. Kh3 Kf6 49. Kh4 Kf5 50. Kh3 Kf4 51. Kh2 Kf3 52. Kh3 Rh1#) 37. Rd6 {I had missed this as part of the sequence, which still leaves White losing, but now looking more dangerous.} Bf2+ {I thought for a long time here and could not come up with anything better.} (37... Bc5 $1 {ignoring the g-pawn is best.} 38. Rd3 (38. Rxg6+ $2 Kf7 39. Kg5 Be7+ {and White is finished.}) 38... Kf7 $19) 38. Kg5 Be3 39. Kxg6 { again, I'm still winning, but the pressure is starting to get to me. It's never fun when your opponent has a mate-in-one threat (Rd8).} Rd2 40. Re6 Rd8 41. Rf6 Rf8 {at this point I just wanted to try and exchange rooks to simplify down to a won piece-up endgame.} 42. Re6 f3 {here a bishop move is much simpler, but I had calculated that White couldn't take it without losing. I'm correct in the end, but had to find a desperation tactic to make it work.} 43. Rxe3 f2 44. Re7 {at first I despaired after seeing this move. The threat is a perpetual check on g7-h7. However, I soon saw the saving grace:} Rf6+ $3 { a powerful sacrifice which decides the game, comments Komodo via the Fritz interface.} 45. Kxf6 f1=Q+ {and the pawn queens with tempo, preserving my won game.} 46. Kg6 Qxb5 {the simplest way to proceed, taking more material off the board and covering the e8 square.} 47. Rg7+ {I had to calculate the following sequence before playing the queen move, but it wasn't that hard. White soon runs out of checks.} Kf8 48. Rf7+ Ke8 49. Rf5 Qd3 {a good illustration of why the queen dominates a rook in the endgame, she can work all of the angles and do things like impose pins.} 50. Kg5 b5 51. Re5+ Kf7 52. Rf5+ Kg7 53. Kf4 b4 { again, the simple but effective approach. My opponent cannot stop the b-pawn.} 54. Rg5+ Kf6 55. Rf5+ (55. Rh5 {does not save the day} b3 56. Rh6+ Kg7 57. Re6 b2 58. Re7+ Kg6 59. Rb7 Qd4+ 60. Kg3 Qe3+ 61. Kh2 Qf2+ 62. Kh1 Qf3+ 63. Kg1 Qxb7 64. Kf2 b1=Q 65. g5 Kxg5 66. Kg3 Qe1+ 67. Kh2 Qbh1#) 55... Qxf5+ $1 { and with both of us having calculated out the resulting won pawn endgame, my opponent resigned.} (55... Qxf5+ 56. gxf5 b3 57. Ke4 b2 58. Kd3 b1=Q+ 59. Kc4 Qb6 60. Kc3 Kxf5 61. Kd3 Qc5 62. Ke2 Ke4 63. Kd2 Qc7 64. Ke2 Qc2+ 65. Kf1 Kf3 66. Ke1 Qe2#) 0-1

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