05 June 2024

Annotated Game #283: Geometry lessons

Chess is a game of geometry, something illustrated well by this round 2 game. An unusual but not unknown opening position is reached, but I make two decisions (on move 8 and move 10) which affect the long-term geometry of my position, specifically the weakening of the h-file and the difficulty I have in covering it. I eventually end up in a won endgame position after a wild middlegame, but again have a geometry fail on move 56 and miss the winning idea of an indirect exchange. Full credit to my opponent for hanging tough the entire time.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class C"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D00"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Dragon 3.2"] [PlyCount "120"] [GameId "497983854743"] 1. d4 d5 2. e3 Nf6 3. Bd3 Bg4 4. f3 {this directly opposes the early bishop sortie.} Bh5 5. c4 e6 6. Nc3 Bb4 7. Nge2 {the idea being to get to f4 and exchange off the bishop.} (7. cxd5 {is another way to play, getting the c-pawn exchanged for the e-pawn, which is also more dynamic.} exd5 (7... Nxd5 8. Nge2 $16 {with e4 coming}) 8. Qa4+ (8. Nge2 {is the solid and less venturesome choice.}) 8... Nc6 9. Ba6 $5 {is an interesting idea suggested by the engine. If} bxa6 10. Qxc6+ {and Black loses the right to castle, or material. For example} Nd7 $6 11. Qxd5 $18) 7... Bg6 {successfully baiting me into exchanging, which is not at all best.} 8. Bxg6 (8. cxd5 {is strong.} exd5 9. Qa4+ Nc6 10. Ba6 $16 {is similar to the above variation.}) 8... hxg6 $11 {the half-open h-file will cause me problems later.} 9. c5 {this was a muddled threat to trap the bishop, which of course does not work, and gives up the idea of exchanging on d5.} c6 {this opens up a route back along the a5-d8 diagonal, or of course the bishop can exchange on c3.} 10. Kf2 $6 {this looks like a relatively natural move, but the geometry results in a weakened kingside.} (10. O-O) 10... Qc7 {Here I really had no idea what was best, so simply covered down on the kingside.} 11. Qg1 (11. Bd2 {and Black taking the h-pawn is actually better for White.} Rxh2 12. Rxh2 (12. e4 $1 {getting the central pawns rolling and threatening Bf4 is an even better idea.}) 12... Qxh2 13. Qb3 Bxc3 14. Bxc3 {now White is threatening to trap the queen after Ng3 and Rh1.} Qc7 15. Rh1 $16 {the open file and accessibility of Black's king more than compensate for the pawn.}) 11... e5 $15 {taking advantage of the obvious central pawn lever. Now I'm definitely a bit worse.} 12. a3 {here the sequencing matters. Playing Bd2 first would help equalize development.} (12. Bd2 {and if} Bxc3 13. Bxc3 $11) 12... Bxc3 13. Nxc3 Nbd7 14. b4 {with Black's king still uncastled and him looking dangerous in the center and on the kingside, I wanted to press ahead and open things up on the queenside, if possible.} O-O-O {I felt this was something of a gift, as it makes my queenside counterplay more effective with the king as a more direct target.} (14... O-O $17 {would give up ideas of attacking down the h-file, but provide for a safe king position and allow Black to focus on his superior central play.}) 15. b5 $11 {I thought for a while here, ultimately concluding that I should quickly get on with counterplay. The engine validates the choice.} Rh7 {with the obvious plan of doubling rooks on the h-file. Now would be a great moment for me to either press the queenside counterplay or play a prophylactic defenseive move. However, I do neither, after some thought.} 16. Bd2 {simple development is good enough to maintain equality, but does not address the main needs of the position.} (16. Rb1 $16 {is the logical follow-up to the previous move, preparing to force open the b-file to my advantage.}) (16. h3 $5 {emphasizes safety first, but I had erroneously thought my opponent could take advantage of the weak g3 square.} Nh5 17. bxc6 bxc6 18. Ne2 $16 {however covers it well.}) 16... Rdh8 17. bxc6 {a good move, but this has much less punch without the Rb1 present.} bxc6 18. Ne2 $6 {the general idea of adding defense to the kingside is correct, but my flawed disposal of h2-h3 as a candidate move means that the defense is not optimal. However, Black does not use his central pawn lever, instead going for the flank.} (18. h3 $14 {now White has defensive resources like Ne2 and Qf1 possible, among others.}) 18... g5 (18... e4 {causes the most problems.} 19. Ng3 exf3 20. gxf3 g5 {with ...g4 coming. The engine gives it as equal, but with difficult-to-find moves for White like h2-h4 immediately.}) 19. Qe1 $6 (19. Ng3 {immediately is a much better idea, fighting for and blocking the b8-h2 diagonal.}) 19... g4 $17 20. Ba5 {this was the idea behind the queen move, but objectively does not cause enough problems for Black.} (20. Rb1 {I debated moving this first, which would have been an improved version of the idea, but then Black gets in ...gxf3 with advantage.}) 20... Qb7 {forced} 21. Rb1 Qa6 $19 {this is a somewhat awkward placement of the queen, but on the a6-f1 diagonal it still is doing very well, and I can't further attack it.} 22. Ng3 {now I am in trouble on the kingside, but my opponent does not open lines fast enough.} g6 (22... gxf3 $1 $19 {is the critical idea.}) 23. Qc3 $6 {trying to generate some counterplay in the center, but this allows Black to break up the pawn shield.} (23. f4 $5 {did not occur to me at the time.} exf4 24. exf4 Rxh2 25. Rxh2 Rxh2 26. Kg1 $11) 23... exd4 24. exd4 Qc4 $6 {this essentially loses a tempo for Black and allows me to immediately equalize.} 25. Qb2 $11 {now threatening to penetrate on the b-file.} Qb5 $6 {going back to the status quo would probably be drawish, but here I could exchange into a won ending.} (25... Qa6 $11) 26. Qd2 {intentionally keeping the queens on the board, thinking my attack would be better than Black's. From a practical standpoint, it does allow him to go wrong, but the same goes for myself.} (26. Qxb5 cxb5 27. Rxb5 $18 {and Rhb1 is the main threat, for example} Rxh2 28. Rhb1 gxf3 29. Kxf3 $1 {I failed to see this at the time. Now Rb7! is unstoppable.}) 26... Qc4 $2 {now I'm winning, and in fact find the initial correct follow-up.} 27. Rb4 Qa6 28. Rhb1 {setting up mate threats, while the Ba5 is tactically protected.} gxf3 {Here I thought for a long time, considering the winning Qf4! but erroneously calculating that it did not work in the end, so I played the second best move.} (28... Qxa5 $2 29. Rb8+ Nxb8 30. Qxa5 $18) 29. Kxf3 (29. Qf4 {the point is threating immediate mate on c7. Somehow I hallucinated a defense for Black.} Qxa5 $4 30. Rb8+ Nxb8 31. Rxb8+ Kd7 32. Qd6# {I saw this but somehow miscounted the captures on b8.}) 29... Ne4 30. Qe1 $2 {a blunder, as I end up deciding I have to capture on e4 anyway.} (30. Nxe4 $1 dxe4+ 31. Kf2 $18) 30... Re8 (30... Qd3+ $1 {is what I was most worried about and would have been decisive.}) 31. Nxe4 Qd3+ {this allows for a defense, which I however do not find, having been under combined time and mental pressure.} 32. Kf2 $2 (32. Qe3 $1 dxe4+ 33. Kf2 $18) 32... Rxe4 $19 33. Rd1 {the best practical try, as well as the engine's choice. Of course I am still losing objectively.} Qc2+ $6 (33... Qxa3 $19) 34. Rd2 $2 {this has one flaw, but was in fact a decent practical choice.} (34. Qd2 $11 {unfortunately did not occur to me in time pressure.}) 34... Rxe1 (34... Ne5 {would be very difficult to find over the board.} 35. Rxc2 Nd3+ 36. Kg3 Rxe1 $19 {and White has to lose material to avoid getting mated.}) 35. Rxc2 $11 Re4 $2 (35... Ra1) 36. Rcb2 $1 $18 {now I should be winning again, with the threats renewed against Black's king.} Rhh4 37. Rb7 {this was the key move I had been looking to get in for a long time.} Rhf4+ 38. Kg1 Rxd4 39. Rc7+ {this should win, but I could have thought about safety first, since the situation was not going to change.} (39. g3 {creates "luft" and keeps the pressure on Black.}) 39... Kd8 40. Rxa7+ Ke7 {and now I cannot find the winning idea, going for the easy check instead.} 41. Re2+ $6 (41. g3 Rd1+ 42. Kg2 {and now the threat of Rbb7 is decisive.}) 41... Rfe4 $11 42. Rxe4+ {essentially forced.} dxe4 43. Rc7 Rd5 44. Bb4 {at this point the engine evaluates this as a draw.} e3 $6 {too aggressive, weakening the e-pawn.} 45. Kf1 Ke8 $2 (45... Rf5+ 46. Ke2 Rf2+ 47. Kxe3 Rxg2 48. Rxc6 Rxh2 $2 (48... Ne5 $16) 49. Ra6 $1 $18 {the engine shows as winning for White, due to the advanced passed c-pawn.}) 46. Rxc6 $18 {now I should be winning (again).} Ne5 47. Rd6 $1 {forcing the rooks off.} Rxd6 48. cxd6 Kd7 49. Ke2 f5 50. Kxe3 {now this should be an easy win, but in time pressure I give Black an out, as he masterfully uses his knight to bamboozle me.} Ng4+ 51. Kf4 Nxh2 52. Kg5 {I am still winning here, but the fundamental idea is flawed. I try to play on the kingside rather than push my outside passed pawn.} (52. a4 $1 {passed pawns must be pushed!}) 52... Ke6 53. Kxg6 Ng4 54. Kg5 Ne3 55. g3 Nd5 {now my materialistic instincts doom this to a draw, as I am unwilling to tactically trade pawns.} 56. Kg6 $2 $11 (56. Bd2 $1 Kxd6 57. Kxf5 $18) 56... f4 57. gxf4 Nxf4+ {by this point I saw what was coming.} 58. Kg5 Nd3 {now White must lose the d-pawn and my king is too far away from the action, so Black's king will clean up.} 59. Kg4 Nxb4 60. axb4 Kxd6 1/2-1/2

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