03 June 2019

Annotated Game #211: Patience you must have

This second-round tournament game is an excellent illustration of how a completely level position may still require patience and your full attention, in order to avoid going astray. Here, White chooses a non-critical version of the Classical Caro-Kann and by move 14 (after playing the classic ...c5 pawn break), I am in fact quite comfortable as Black.

However, succeeding in implementing the standard opening plan here doesn't bring me any grand success on the board, just easy equality. My attention then wanders and I lack focus and a deeper understanding of the position, going for an unimaginative (and ultimately losing) strategy of delivering an unnecessary check and then simply swapping pieces. My opponent does a great job of finding the refutation of this and a pretty mate at the end.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B18"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 11.2"] [PlyCount "65"] {[%mdl 8192] B18: Classical Caro-Kann: 4...Bf5 sidelines} 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. Nf3 Nf6 {this is a move-order trick for Black, as now if White plays h4, Black can respond with ...Nh5.} 7. Bd3 Bxd3 8. Qxd3 e6 9. O-O Nbd7 10. Be3 {White has played a large number of different moves in this position. The text move is a safe but unambitious option.} Be7 { a standard move, but also played with the thought of keeping my castling options open.} 11. h3 $146 {while this is a database novelty in this position, Komodo likes it well enough. White doesn't have an obvious aggressive plan, so makes a moderately useful move while waiting to see where Black commits the king.} Qc7 {still keeping the options open while developing to a useful diagonal.} 12. c4 O-O {after my opponent's queenside expansion, now it definitely would not make sense to castle there.} 13. Rac1 Rfd8 {lining the rook up against the queen on the d-file.} 14. Qb3 c5 $11 {the classic pawn break in the Classical Caro-Kann. White's center is challenged, once the Black pieces are prepared.} 15. Rfd1 cxd4 16. Nxd4 a6 {a good example of prophylaxis, taking away the b5 square from White.} 17. Nf3 {the knight goes back home, not having a future on d4.} Nc5 {not a bad move, but not the engine's favorite choice. It considers the more long-term prophylactic ...h6 a better choice, which is probably the case; later on I have back-rank problems that contribute to the loss. It's not clear where Black's pieces are best placed here, so some patience is in order.} (17... Rac8 {would also be uncontroversially good, developing the rook.}) 18. Qc2 Rxd1+ 19. Rxd1 Rd8 20. Rxd8+ Qxd8 {In this level position, quiet maneuvering is called for.} 21. Ne5 Qa5 {here I started suffering from a lack of real planning and forethought, looking only at short-term tactical "threats" which are easily stifled by White. The Ne5 is hanging and so is the a-pawn, but this is not really a problem.} (21... Bd6 { is a good option, lining up on the h2-b8 diagonal.}) (21... Ncd7 $5 {now is much better than two moves from now.}) 22. a3 Qe1+ {This is still all right, but an old quote goes, "patzer sees check, patzer gives check."} (22... Qc7 { is the calm maneuver, keeping the game level.} 23. Nf3 Ncd7 $11) 23. Kh2 { here I got confused due to my lack of any real plan, and just looked at exchanging pieces without much thought. Now the knight retreat is unfortunately a mistake, due to my misplaced queen. I was still trying to justify its existence on the first rank, rather than evaluating objectively the needs of the position.} Ncd7 $2 {this was played without calculating the post-exchange consequences, in other words I did not falsify the move.} (23... Bd6 24. Nf3 Qa5 $11) 24. Nxd7 Nxd7 25. Qb3 $18 {simple but deadly, as the b-pawn lacks enough defenders and White can exploit that, plus the two hanging pieces on the 7th rank and my weak back rank.} Nc5 {now the desperation starts. } (25... b6 {might have been more resistant, or at least made White find a somewhat more difficult follow-up move to claim full advantage.} 26. Qa4 Ne5 27. Qxa6 h5 28. Qc8+ Kh7 $18) 26. Qb6 {this wasn't too hard for my opponent to find.} Nd3 27. Qxb7 Bf8 28. Qc8 {by this point I'm clearly lost, but it's still a bit early to resign.} Qa5 (28... h5 29. Qd8 Ne5 30. c5 $18) 29. b4 (29. c5 {makes it even easier for White} Ne5 30. c6 Nxc6 31. Qxc6 Qb5 $18) 29... Qxa3 (29... Qe5 {is the last straw} 30. Qxa6 h5 $18) 30. c5 Nxb4 {I actually put a lot of thought into this and figured it was the best chance for a swindle, but my opponent finishes the game masterfully.} 31. Bf4 Nd3 32. Bd6 Qxc5 33. Qxf8# 1-0

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