08 December 2019

Annotated Game #230: Bishop vs. Queen

This next, first-round tournament game illustrates the practical value of tenacity in achieving results. My opponent varies from normal Caro-Kann Panov lines with 7. Be2, which is however a solid move. I play the opening well, but start going wrong on move 15, heading into a queenless middlegame, by mis-evaluating the results of a piece exchange. Following that, neither of us really understand how to deal with the pawn structure on the queenside, but I make the last mistake and end up an exchange down with no compensation by move 21.

The ensuing struggle of R+B vs. 2 rooks turns complicated and I miss the correct drawing line on move 36. However, my active play still provided counterchances and I end up with a bishop and 3 pawns versus White's new queen, which proved frustrating enough to secure the draw. An unorthodox way to fight back, but a practical success.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B14"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 11.2"] [PlyCount "98"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nf3 Be7 7. Be2 {an uncommon but solid move.} O-O 8. O-O Nc6 (8... dxc4 $5) 9. c5 b6 10. Bb5 Bb7 ( 10... Bd7) 11. Bxc6 Bxc6 12. b4 Ne4 {it's good to play actively here.} 13. Ne5 (13. Nxe4 dxe4 14. Ne5 Bd5 {and Black is comfortable with the strong bishop, the doubled e-pawn being more of a help than a hindrance.}) 13... Nxc3 $15 { correctly continuing with active play.} 14. Nxc6 Nxd1 15. Nxd8 Rfxd8 $6 (15... Nc3 {preserves the knight, which is better than its White counterpart.} 16. Nc6 Ne2+ 17. Kh1 Bf6 $15 {The White knight looks menacing on c6, leading the pawn formation, but in fact has nowhere to go.}) 16. Rxd1 a5 $6 {with the next sequence, it becomes clear that neither of us know how to properly handle the queenside structure.} 17. bxa5 $6 (17. b5 bxc5 18. Ba3 $14 {this ability of White to force a recapture on c5 is what I missed, as it pins the c-pawn against the Be7.}) 17... Rxa5 $2 {here I am too afraid of the c-pawn, but inadvertently empower it using the rook to recapture and leaving the b6 pawn en prise. Capturing (but not recapturing on a5) with the pawn is perfectly fine and also eliminates some White tactics based on the a3-f8 diagonal.} ( 17... bxc5 $1 18. dxc5 (18. Ba3 $6 Rxa5 {now the rook capture makes sense} 19. Bxc5 Bxc5 20. dxc5 Rxc5 $17) 18... Rxa5 $17) 18. cxb6 $6 (18. Bf4 {now tactically punishes the pawn capture on c5, although Black has no better option.} bxc5 (18... Rd7 19. cxb6 $16) 19. Bc7 Rda8 20. Bxa5 Rxa5 21. dxc5 Bxc5 $16) 18... Rb8 $2 (18... Rb5 $11) 19. Bf4 $1 $18 {my opponent now sees this idea, which tactically ties me in knots, given the possibility of Bc7 and a skewer on the d8-a5 diagonal. However, there is nothing better, given the power of the advanced passed b-pawn, so I am forced to sacrifice the exchange.} Rxb6 (19... Rb7 20. a4 $18 {and the Ra5 can now be driven back, followed by a4-a5, which is winning for White.}) 20. Bc7 Rba6 21. Bxa5 $18 Rxa5 {Black has no compensation for the exchange. However, I did not give up on drawing chances, since my R+B combination can fight to restrain the a-pawn, and my structure otherwise is solid.} 22. a4 g6 23. Kf1 Kg7 24. Ke2 Bb4 25. Kd3 { my opponent is correctly bringing his king into the fight. Meanwhile, I am working to restrain it.} Ra7 {vacating the a5 square for the bishop and covering the 7th rank.} 26. Rdb1 Ba5 27. Rb5 Bd8 $6 {the bishop should continue blocking the pawn.} (27... h5 $5) 28. Kc3 (28. a5 {is more to the point.}) 28... Bf6 {my idea was to tie to the king to the defense of the d4 pawn. This is not a bad idea, although White can simply accept this fact and ram the a-pawn through eventually. However, in practice it is not so simple, as I can get counterplay without careful precautions by White.} 29. a5 Rc7+ 30. Kd3 Rc4 31. a6 $2 {this underestimates Black's counterplay.} Rxd4+ 32. Kc2 $14 Rc4+ 33. Kb3 Rc3+ {White has to somehow seek shelter from the rook while not losing material, for example the Ra1. The advanced a-pawn means that I must be careful about taking material, however, and can only do it if it helps with my goal of perpetual attack on White's king.} 34. Ka2 Rc6 {again not giving White time to consolidate.} 35. Ra5 Bxa1 {I had sufficient time to think this through and conclude that it led to a draw.} 36. a7 Bd4 $2 {this, however, is not the drawing line.} (36... Rc8 $1 37. Kxa1 (37. a8=Q Rxa8 38. Rxa8 Bd4 { with a comfortable draw for Black.}) 37... Ra8 38. Kb2 Kf6 39. Kb3 Ke5 40. Kb4 Ke4 {is the trick, keeping the balance with counterplay. Black's king can be shut out of the queenside by White's, unfortunately, but the passed d-pawn counterbalances this.}) 37. a8=Q $18 Rc2+ 38. Kb1 Rb2+ 39. Kc1 Rxf2 40. Ra2 Rxa2 {I judged that making my opponent prove the superiority of a queen to a bishop plus three pawns was my best practical chance.} 41. Qxa2 Bf6 42. Kc2 d4 (42... Be5 $5 {Komodo calculates that Black is better off not moving the central pawns and just making moves with the bishop, perhaps with ...h5 thrown in.}) 43. Kd3 e5 44. g4 Bg5 45. Qa6 h5 $2 {giving White the chance to open lines with a queen on the board is not the right idea. Specifically, this also will allow the king to penetrate via f5 after a pawn exchange.} (45... Be3) 46. h3 (46. gxh5 gxh5 47. Ke4) 46... hxg4 47. hxg4 Bf4 48. Qc6 Bg5 49. Qf3 f6 $2 { again opening lines unnecessarily, in this case the 7th rank, but my opponent was tired of trying to crack my position and offered a draw.} (49... Bf4) 1/2-1/2

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