17 April 2020

Annotated Game #240: Why you should check tactics before resigning

This second-round tournament game is a tale of unrealized compensation, psychological pressure and a final missed tactic. The annotations speak for themselves, in terms of the lessons.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class A"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D05"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 13.2"] [PlyCount "61"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 {going for the Panov-Botvinnik Attack, rather than the Exchange Variation} Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nf3 Be7 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Bd3 Nc6 9. O-O O-O 10. Ne4 $5 (10. Re1 {is overwhelmingly played here, and what I had prepared for.}) 10... Nf6 {this is a standard move against 10. Re1, but here scores quite poorly for Black. I thought for a while and didn't think there was anything better.} (10... b6 {has been played in master games and seems to be a straightforward way to equalize.}) (10... f5 $5 {is an interesting thought that occurred to me and also has been played a few times.} 11. Nc3 (11. Ng3 Bd7 $11) 11... Bf6 {and Black is a little cramped, but the e-pawn will be hard to crack while defended by the bishop and White will have to prove he can make progress.}) 11. Be3 b6 {this is where the problems start for me. Basically this is an unintended pawn sacrifice, that I get compensation for, but it's still unwelcome.} (11... Nb4 $5) 12. Nxf6+ Bxf6 13. Bxh7+ Kxh7 14. Qc2+ {forking the king and the unprotected Nc6.} g6 $6 {this is the real problem for the rest of the game and what gives White an advantage. I had thought that the rook on the open h-file would compensate for the dark-square holes, but this turns out not to be the case.} (14... Kg8 {Komodo considers this essentially equal.} 15. Qxc6 Rb8 {and after ...Bb7, Black has a pair of very good bishops (especially the unopposed light-square one on the long diagonal) and pressure on the isolated d-pawn, with d5 controlled in front of it. This was the general idea I also had in the game continuation, but it goes wrong.}) 15. Qxc6 $16 Bd7 $2 (15... Rb8 {as given in the previous variation is still the way to best develop the bishop, however awkward it looks. Unfortunately the bishop never really gets in the game after the text move.}) 16. Qe4 $146 {from here on, the pressure simply continues as White has the initiative and a clear pawn to the good.} Rc8 17. Qf4 {I could not figure out how to deal with this and tried to play more actively.} Rh8 $6 (17... Kg8 { emphasizes the holes on the kingside and shuts out the rook, but White is not in a position to immediately break through.} 18. Ne5 Bg7 $16) 18. Ne5 Kg7 19. Rac1 {bringing another piece into the game.} Rh5 {at least I'm continuing to play actively with pressure along the 5th rank, which likely contributes to White's next choice.} 20. Nxd7 $2 {this releases a lot of the pressure. Just about any normal move is fine for White here.} Qxd7 21. Rxc8 Qxc8 22. Rc1 Qa6 $2 {an error due to materialism. I'm focusing far too much on the one pawn material deficit, which Komodo assesses I mostly have compensation for, rather than on defending my position. The threats to the a-pawn and to penetrate on the diagonal are not real, while my queen effectively isolates herself from the rest of the action.} (22... Qd7 $5 23. Rc7 {appears to just drop another pawn, which is why I avoided it. However if} Qd8 24. Rxa7 e5 $1 {and White has a back-rank problem, so the d-pawn falls in turn.} 25. Qe4 exd4 $14) (22... Qa8 {would be an OK defensive move.}) (22... Qd8 {would set a trap:} 23. Rc7 $2 e5 $1 $19) 23. g4 Rh4 {with the idea of gumming up White's kingside offensive. However, White could play Qf3 and clear the awy for the g4-g5 advance.} (23... Rd5 $5) 24. Qg3 $6 Qe2 (24... g5 {would be the logical follow-up to the strategy of blocking White on the kingside. White cannot play} 25. f4 {because then the Black queen actually can penetrate to good effect with} Qe2 { threatening ...Rxg4.} 26. h3 $6 gxf4 27. Bxf4 Bxd4+ $17) 25. h3 {White blocks the one-move threat and now is well-positioned to take me apart.} Rh8 { anticipating the next move, but blocking it with my own pawn would still be better, even if no real solution.} 26. g5 Bd8 27. d5 $18 Qxb2 {at this point I'm just hoping that White blunders. Regaining material equality is meaningless.} 28. dxe6 fxe6 29. Qd6 Kf7 30. Qf4+ Ke8 31. Bd4 $2 {and White does in fact blunder, but I miss it! Any queen move loses, which I thought was the only defense, but the rook sacrifice on h4 is a saving deflection tactic, as the White queen is overloaded and cannot protect the Rc1 and Bd4 afterwards.} 1-0

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