I haven’t posted about any of my games in a while. Rather than showcase the win I had last night that was full of central control with activity on both wings that finished with a double threat on a queen and mate threat, I’d rather walk you through one of my recent losses against a person I will nick name “Count Draw-cula” to keep his identity anonymous for this demonstration. Besides the kid I beat last night was 200 points lower rated. As satisfying as it may be to play dynamic chess and create combinations that confuse the tactically challenged, I’d rather go over this loss where both players were more equally matched.
Blunderprone Vs Count Draw-Cula
MCC January Swiss (4), This was a Queen's Indian: ( E12 as the ECO books would have it) and Rybka blasts me right away with “Unusual White 4th moves”, Whether its my games or one I am studying from the time machine, After I analyze the game I give it a “headline” and a few key points to provide a memory marker as well as grab the reader’s interest.. which is typically only me…and being easily distracted, I find this method effective in catching my attention as I multitask my way to chess improvement. ( Curse You ICC)
So the headline for this folly reads:
PIECE SACRIFICES REQUIRES EXACT PLAY
I out line the key points to set the mood and what to watch for:
1) White gains space on the Queen's side and Black attempts space on the King's side weakening the safety
2) An piece sacrifice was decided over a passive game.
3) The knight sacrifice was sound due to the fact that Black's King's side was weak and his queen's bishop was hemmed in.
4) When behind in pieces hold on to your material to keep the attack.
The game commenced as follows: 1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nf3 b6 4.Bg5 ( Rybka didn’t like this gem though I stole it from none other than my American hero, Harry Nelson Pillsbury)
4…Bb4+ 5.Nbd2 h6 6.Bh4 (See diagram on left)
I considered Bf4 actually but I wanted to test out what the drawback was in holding on to the pin. Rybka showed me a line with the exchange that was drawish [6.Bxf6 Qxf6 7.g3 Bb7 8.Bg2 0–0 9.0–0 Bxd2 10.Qxd2 d6 11.Rfc1 c5 12.b4 Rd8 ½–½ Mateo,R (2408)-Roeder,M (2413)/Santa Clara 2000/CBM] but I don't prefer to exchange at this point. I'll consider this in future outings of this opening. I realize now that the long term prospects of holding the pin at this point is useless as will be seen later that my bishop gets displaced. Truer to Pillsbury, Focusing on e5 is more thematic. Though at Hastings, Pillsbury was faced with a bishop on e7. 6...0–0 7.a3.Be7 8.e4 Expanding in the center seemed like a good plan. [8.e3 c5=] 8...Bb7 9.Bd3 d6 10.0–0 Nbd7 11.b4
(see Diagram to right)
I was looking at advancing d5 and really didn't want him to get a knight on c5 11...e5 12.d5 Kh8 A waiting move! I had the start of a Queen's side space advantage. I felt it was time to pull in a little reinforcement. Rybka sees 12...a5 13.Qc2= as equalizing for Black. 13.Rc1 Rg8 It seemed Black was preparing a King side push to open the game. But looking at the pawn formations now, I can see where he could come up with that conclusion. I wanted to limit his knight from g5 and looked at pushing g4 next so I played:14.h3 g5 15.Bg3 Nf8
This was the position I reached when I looked at the game and decided to do a piece sacrifice with 16.Nxe5 Faced with further passive action of my King's side encampment, after 20 minutes of deep thought, I decided to take this risk and play a piece sacrifice. The adrenaline was pumping through my veins as the excitement of even considering such a move. Rybka was a lot more conservative and suggests [16.c5!?±] but I was surprised that the evaluation for Black after the recapture was equality. 16...dxe5= This lead me to believe that the sacrifice was sound. 17.Bxe5 Black wins a piece but I have two bishops on key diagonals and much more active pieces. Black’s Queen’s bishop is out of play. If this were Hockey, I would have what is called a “power play” on the King’s side. 17...Ng6 18.Bc3 Nf4 19.Bb1 Ng6 20.Qh5 White has a mate threat. Yes as Fritz points out there is a mating threat. I have strong control of the diagonals and a good attack. But I screw it up.
(position after Count Draw-cula plays 20...Kh7?) I get all fetched up and misplay this position totally. I decided to forget Reubin Fine’s axiom of “ when behind pieces, exchange pawns but not pieces” and decided to commit suicide with 21.Bxf6?? Rybka blasts me with “White lets it slip away” This was not the time to simplify. The Bishops are strong and I should fight to keep them on board. Better was [21.Qf3±] 21...Bxf6 Black wins a piece and the game goes down hill from here. I lost my nerves of steel and tumbled down in a true blunderful way. 22.Nf3 Kg7 23.Rfe1 Nf4–+24.Qg4 Bc8 25.Qg3 Nh5 26.Qh2 Bb2 27.Rc2 Bxa3–+ 28.Qe5+ Qf6 29.Qxc7 Bxb4 30.e5 Qd8 31.Qc6? Bd7 32.Qxa8 Qxa8 33.e6 Bxe1 34.exf7 Bxf2+! 35.Kxf2 Rf8 36.Ne5 Bf5 37.Rc1 Bxb1 38.Rxb1 Qb8 39.Re1 Qd6 40.Re3 a5 0–1
I felt it was better to take that risk and play the piece sacrifice against a strong player, over the passive position I was about to inherit. How else am I going to learn to play difficult positions like this than a true OTB experience. I learned that my instincts were dead on! I just didn’t have the right technique when I went for the simplification on move 21. Had I played 21Qf3, the game would have been just as instructional but in a way, I think I learned more from the fall. Besides, Draw-cula only suck a total of 8 rating points after everything was done. I had some previously good rounds with nothing to lose really.
Next week I continue with the American, Frank Marshall at the New York 1924 event. I hope you didn’t might this diversion. I wanted to show you how my game is doing these days as a result of this study.
Editor's Note: Corrected the use of the term exchange sacrifice to just piece sacrifice per clarification in comments.