21 January 2024

Annotated Game #263: A lucky draw

I'm not a big believer in luck in chess, although in practical terms it does apply in a sense to what your opponent decides to do, since that is out of your control. In this last-round game I was attempting to break the downward trend of this comeback tournament (win-draw-loss) and did well enough out of the opening, a Symmetrical English.

My opponent varied the symmetry on move 7 and I entered a line where after a number of exchanges the engine shows that it is a drawn game, which was a little disappointing for me. In addition, my opponent maintained a space advantage and some psychological pressure, which was compounded by my innacurate visualization and calculation of the transition into a rook endgame. I was simply lucky that my opponent did not spot the winning idea I allowed for her - but I will at least give myself credit for spotting it before she did and then shutting it down immediately when she missed her one chance to play for a win.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class B"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A38"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Dragon 3.2"] [PlyCount "87"] 1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. O-O O-O 6. Nc3 Nc6 7. d3 d5 {I give my opponent credit for being bold enough to break the symmetry here; ...d6 leads to a more sedate game.} 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. Nxd5 Qxd5 10. Be3 Qd6 {the first deviation from standard lines, although my opponent appeared to be thinking on her own from an early stage.} 11. Qc1 {after a lot of thought, I decided that other moves (Qd2, Rc1) had too many detractions. This pressures c5 and introduces the idea of Bh6.} (11. Rc1 {is more active, developing the rook. The queen flexibly can still go to d2 to form the Q+B battery, or develop to a4 or b3. And if} Bxb2 12. Rxc5 $16) 11... b6 {the obvious reaction, also preparing to fianchetto the bishop.} 12. Bf4 {played to push the queen back and control e5 tactically.} Qd7 13. Ne5 {resulting in multiple exchanges, which I thought were to White's benefit, but evidently not enough for more than equality.} Bxe5 14. Bxe5 Bb7 15. Bc3 (15. Bxc6 $5 {it seems counterintuitive to trade off the bishop on the long diagonal, but things are equal after} Qxc6 16. f3 $11 {similar to the structure reached in the game.}) 15... Nd4 {this was unwelcome, targeting the weak e2 square. I thought that eventually kicking the knight with e3 would cause more problems than it solved, although the lack of control over d4 would be a continuing problem after the exchange.} 16. Bxd4 Bxg2 17. Kxg2 Qxd4 {the position is still equal, although Black has a space advantage.} 18. Qc3 {this does nothing in particular for me.} (18. b3 $5 {would at least help control c4.}) 18... Qd5+ 19. f3 Rfd8 20. a4 {restraining b5, with the idea of a minority attack. This was over-optimistic, as White has no way of following it up properly.} Rac8 21. Rfc1 {my opponent rejected a draw offer here, which was useful for me to see how the rest played out.} a5 {I thought this locking of the pawn structure made the position more drawish, somewhat ironically.} 22. Qc4 $6 {the right idea, to get the queens traded, although Black does not have to oblige.} (22. b3 {is still a good idea.}) 22... Qxc4 (22... Qe5 $15 {and Black's centralized queen is better, with ideas of getting her rooks into event more play via c6-e6 or d4.}) 23. Rxc4 (23. dxc4 $2 Rd2 24. Kf2 Rxb2 $19 {with a won endgame.}) 23... Rd4 24. Rac1 {while the engine shows the position as drawn, White is still under pressure after} e5 {although it was psychological rather than real.} 25. Kf2 Rcd8 26. b3 f5 27. Rxd4 {this is fine, but I continued having trouble finding my way in the endgame.} Rxd4 28. Rc4 {of course it's a draw with the exchange of rooks.} Kf7 29. h4 {exchanging immediately might have been simpler here, as my king is closer to the pawn action in the center.} (29. Rxd4 cxd4 30. f4 $11) 29... h5 30. Rc3 {this just makes things more difficult. I was hallucinating potential breakthroughs for Black if I exchanged on d4, however.} (30. Rxd4 exd4 31. f4 $11) 30... Ke6 31. e4 {I continue making things more complicated for myself, although this works.} (31. Rc4) 31... f4 32. g4 {played after long thought and the only correct move. The outside 2v1 would be better for White than allowing Black to get a 3v2 on the kingside.} (32. gxf4 $2 exf4 $19 {and eventually Black can create a passed h-pawn after playing ...g5}) 32... Kd6 (32... hxg4 33. fxg4 Rd7 34. Kg2 $11) 33. gxh5 {here I should have just locked it up with g5, as the open g-file it turns out is riskier for White.} gxh5 34. Ke2 Rb4 {Black locks her rook in to pressure the b-pawn and the 4th rank.} 35. Kd2 Ke6 36. Kc2 Rd4 {now I noticed - which I should have done several moves earlier - that Black can make her rook more mobile and penetrate down the g-file.} 37. Kb2 $2 {I saw nothing better, failing to calculate properly. Unfortunately the White rook and king are awkwardly placed and interfere with each other in the confined space. Black can now lift her rook over to the kingside.} (37. Kd2 {holds after} Rd7 38. Rc1 Rg7 39. Rf1 Rg2+ 40. Kc3 $11 {since} Rh2 {winning the h-pawn is offset by the White king penetrating and winning the Black b-pawn.}) 37... Kf6 $19 {Black is now winning, if she finds the right idea.} 38. Kc2 Rb4 $2 {I was very thankful she missed the chance to redeploy the rook to the kingside, and moved immediately to lock it up.} 39. Rc4 $11 Rxc4+ 40. dxc4 {now it's a forced draw unless Black wants to lose a pawn with ...b5. My opponent still played it out until the three-move repetition.} Ke6 41. Kc3 Kd6 42. Kd3 Ke6 43. Kc3 Kd6 44. Kd3 1/2-1/2


  1. Hi, I like your blog! But it takes some effort to be able to post comments. I wondered if you knew any theory after 10...Bxb2. It's a pawn sacrifice after all. I play Reti openings myself (in the 1.Nf3 move order) and ususally I prefer to play b3 (or b4) after black's ...g6, to oppose bishops on the long diagonal.

    1. Hi there, thanks for the comment. About the theory, the only move my (limited) English Opening books had was 10...Bd7, following an old Karpov game. Looking at the database, the move played in the game 10...Qd6 is actually the most popular, although it doesn't do very well. 10...Bxb2 isn't really a pawn sacrifice, since White can eventually get it back with something like 11. Rb1 Bg7 12. Nd4 Qd6 13. Bxc6 bxc6 14. Qc1, or if 12...Qxa2 13. Nxc6 and White can eventually get both of the doubled c-pawns.

      About the comments, I've gone back and forth on them. I have to keep the moderation on or the spam would proliferate. Allowing anonymous comments resulted in a large spam folder I had to keep manually reviewing, so that was not fun. I can try lifting the Google account requirement as an experiment and see what happens. In general I prefer easier comment posting, but the spam is very tiresome.

  2. Agreed, white can get the pawn back. But is he better after that? Anyway, as said I don’t like the Bg7 being unopposed. I play CK as well, so lots of interesting stuff here on your blog. Keep up the good work.


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