01 October 2020

Annotated Game #253: Time for a win

In this third-round tournament game, I finally get a win out of playing a move-order trick in the Classical Caro-Kann. This is not an opening trap, since the resulting positions are equal, but it is designed to take White out of known territory and get an equal game for Black without much effort. This does not necessarily make it easy to play, however, and some knowledge and experience is helpful; see Annotated Game #244 for a previous game in this line against Expert-level opposition.

In contrast with the previous game, I do well in developing and avoiding unhelpful piece exchanges. While there were a number of places where I could have improved play - move 14 is the most instructive example, for positional reasons - I did not blunder and was able to pursue logical middlegame plans that suited the position. Overall, the game is a classic example of how building up pressure on an opponent significantly increases the chances of them eventually cracking, which is what happens here.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B18"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 13.2"] [PlyCount "68"] [EventType "simul"] [EventRounds "5"] {[%mdl 8192] B18: Classical Caro-Kann: 4...Bf5 sidelines} 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. Nf3 {this allows the following move-order trick, as Black foregoes the standard ...Nd7, which is what most White players expect.} Nf6 7. h4 Nh5 {blocking the h-pawn from further advancing and threatening to exchange on g3, which would mess up White's pawn structure.} 8. Nxh5 Bxh5 9. c3 {the pawn move reinforces d4 and opens the d1-a4 diagonal for the queen.} (9. Be2 {is what my Expert-level opponent played previously, going for normal development.}) 9... e6 {opening the way for developing the bishop. Since this and ...Nd7 are both going to be played to develop Black's pieces, move-order does not seem critical.} (9... Nd7 {instead was played in this top-level game.} 10. Be2 e6 11. Bf4 Be7 12. Ng5 Bxe2 13. Qxe2 h6 14. Nf3 Qa5 15. a3 Qf5 16. g3 Nf6 17. O-O-O Qe4 18. Rde1 Qxe2 19. Rxe2 h5 20. Bg5 Ng4 21. Bxe7 {1/2-1/2 (21) Grischuk,A (2775)-Anand,V (2767) Stavanger 2019}) (9... Qc7 {is another option here.}) 10. Be2 Be7 {immediately pressuring the h4 pawn.} 11. g3 {deciding to not worry about protecting the h-pawn, but of course at the cost of weakening the kingside light squars.} O-O 12. Bf4 Nd7 13. Qc2 Bg6 { I did not think the bishop had a great future on the h5-d1 diagonal, so retreated it with tempo, also in part to see where White would commit his queen.} 14. Qd2 {this is a slight waste of time, as the queen could have gone to d2 on the previous move.} (14. Qb3 $5) 14... Nf6 $6 {not a major error, but the knight is actually less helpful on f6 than on d7, where it guards e5 and would support a ...c5 break.} (14... Bf5 {I considered, since it would restrain a g3-g4 advance and not make the bishop a target of an h4-h5 advance.} ) (14... h6 $5 {would be a good restraining move, covering g5, while also giving the bishop a square on h7.}) 15. Ne5 $14 {my opponent correctly occupies the central outpost.} c5 {a thematic pawn break.} 16. Nxg6 hxg6 { White now has the pair of bishops.} 17. Be5 (17. dxc5 $5 Bxc5 18. Qxd8 Raxd8 $14 {and White would consolidate a small positional plus, namely the two bishops and a 3-2 queenside pawn majority.}) 17... Qd5 {in the Classical Caro-Kann, the queen sometimes is able to (or needs to) go to d5, in order to keep Black active and make threats. The queen's strength is enhanced by White's weak light squares, which likely made my opponent unwilling to castle.} (17... cxd4 {Komodo favors exchanging in the center first, to take away White's ability to exchange on c5.} 18. Bxd4 Qd5 19. O-O $11) 18. Rg1 (18. O-O $5 $14 {looks like a viable alternative.}) 18... Rfd8 $15 {this strongly activates the rook on the d-file. White now has to be careful of tactics.} 19. Qe3 {removing the queen as a d-file target and overprotecting the Be5.} cxd4 ( 19... Nd7 $5 {is another possibility, keeping the central tension.}) 20. Bxd4 Qa5 {protecting the a-pawn and also restraining White from queenside castling. It is now difficult for White to come up with a useful plan.} 21. Bf3 {White threatens to win material: Bf3xb7} Rd7 $11 {this shows a lack of creativity, as the b-pawn is tactically protected.} (21... Nd7 $5 {is an interesting move, since it now threatens ...e5, controls c5, and clears f6 for the bishop. Snatching the b-pawn is not good for White, for example} 22. Bxb7 Rab8 23. b4 ( 23. Bf3 e5 24. Bxa7 Rxb2 $19 {and Black has multiple threats that cannot be met, for example ...Nc5 followed Rdd2, or simply capturing the a-pawn if the Ra1 moves. The main problem for White is that the bishop on a7 has no squares left and cannot be further protected.}) 23... Bxb4 $1 $19) 22. a3 {freeing the Ra1 to move, while further weakening the light squares.} Rad8 {creating tactical possibilities in the center. The pin on the c3 pawn is now a factor.} (22... Nd5 23. Qe4 Rad8 $15) 23. Rd1 $2 {again, my opponent avoids castling into a weakened light square complex. However, keeping the king in the center is worse.} (23. O-O-O Bxa3 {is something my opponent may have wanted to avoid. The engine shows it as equal, but Black is going to have all the fun, as White has to find difficult moves. For example, the straightforward} 24. bxa3 Qxa3+ 25. Kc2 Qa2+ 26. Kc1 {runs into} Rxd4 27. Rxd4 Rxd4 28. Qxd4 Qa1+ 29. Kd2 Qxg1 30. Qxa7 b5 $17 {and White's less secure king gives Black an edge.}) 23... Qa4 {perhaps not the strongest move, but it increases the pressure on White, specifically on the d1 square, and poses my opponent additional problems.} ( 23... Nd5 $5) 24. Rc1 (24. Kf1 Bc5 $11) 24... Qb5 {a simple threat to the b-pawn, but giving up the potential tactical control of d1.} (24... Qb3 { is a better version of the idea. For whatever reason, I was concerned about the queen being trapped.}) 25. Rb1 $2 {this loses and is a blunder. However, it is also an illustration of how keeping strong pressure on an opponent, even if not making the "best" moves, makes their defensive task difficult and often leads to them cracking.} (25. Qe2 Qf5 $15) 25... Bxa3 {there are more complicated ways to take advantage of White's last move, but I chose the simplest path.} (25... e5 $5 {would create a number of threats, but is not that easy to see, or at least was not for me at that point in the game.} 26. Qxe5 (26. Bxa7 Rd3 $1) 26... Qd3 $1 {is the key}) 26. Bxa7 $2 (26. Be2 Qf5 27. Qd3 $19 (27. Bd3 Qa5 $19)) 26... Bxb2 $19 {here the simplest way is the best, as ...Bxc3+ is threatened and White's king lacks squares to run to, forcing the response.} 27. Rxb2 Qxb2 28. Bd4 Qb1+ 29. Bd1 Ng4 {the idea of bringing the knight into the attack is correct, although Komodo prefers to send it to e4.} 30. Qg5 (30. Qe2 {I saw failed to} e5 $1 {and the bishop can no longer block the rooks on the d-file.} 31. Qxg4 exd4 32. c4 d3 {is what I looked at, which is completely winning.}) 30... e5 (30... Rxd4 {is perhaps less complicated, but I saw the text move would win, with the same idea as in the above variation.} 31. cxd4 Rxd4 32. Qxg4 Rxg4 $19) 31. Qxg4 exd4 32. c4 Qb4+ { picking up the c-pawn is unnecessary, but I saw the simple winning strategy of just running the b-pawn up the board, which is unstoppable.} 33. Kf1 Qxc4+ 34. Kg2 b5 (34... b5 35. h5 gxh5 36. Qxh5 Qd5+ 37. Qxd5 Rxd5 $19) 0-1

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments and ideas on chess training and this site are welcomed.

Please note that moderation is turned on as an anti-spam measure; your comment will be published as soon as possible, if it is not spam.