Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pausing to Reflect

I am pausing to reflect before I get started on the Zurich 1953 series. I thought I’d share a game that I won last week at the club against an 1800+ player. That may not be saying much as I am closing in close the Class A threshold but it's a significant game as I won it with a tactic.

This game was interesting to me as I played the white side of a Slav defense. Since I usually play the Slav as Black, I debated whether to see how far down the rabbit hole I could take him before either of pops out of the main book lines. Instead I decided to lessen his chances and play a tamer exchange variation that has a drawish reputation. I wasn’t up for any dxc4 lines so this was what I played against this Class A player. I managed to win this by sticking it out positionally through-out the middle game and hitting him with a tactical shot that won me a knight. But being the fool that I am, I almost blew it as you will see. I had to do some fancy dancing and was glad his time was running low during a complicated position that he didn’t play his best move. Phew! I’ll take the point.

I chose to display the game with some diagrams so my friends can practice visualization :)

(1) Duval,G – 1800+ opponent [D10]
Vernal Equinox Swiss

( I chose this “headline” since play shifted on both sides of the board)


Key Points:
1) Playing an exchange Slav could be drawish but against a higher rated played I'll take that chance
2) When Black plays an early QB to f5 and locks it out with e6, Qb3 is strong and immediately exposes the weakness in the position.
3) Knowing when to exchange queens is crucial.
4) Tactical shots nets a knight but sloppy play almost lost the game.
5) Look deep during desparate times.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.cxd5 I debated playing a main line slav to see how far down the road Al could play it but decided to fall back to the exchange slav. 3...cxd5 4.Nf3 Bf5 5.Nc3 e6
( Diagram on left)

The weakest link for Black is the b7 square especially once the bishop gets locked in with e6. Qb3 is the strongest continuation. 6.Qb3 Qc8 [6...Qb6 7.Bf4 Nc6 8.e3 Bb4 9.Bb5 Nge7 10.Ne5 0–0 11.0–0] 7.Bf4 Nc6 8.e3 Bb4 9.Bb5 Nge7 10.Ne5
( Diagram on right)

Keeping the pressure in the center and on c6 10...0–0 11.0–0 Ba5 This maneuver seems more like a waste of time than anything else. 12.Rac1 Bc7 13.Nxc6 I think this just dwindles down my initiative. I am not converting a dynamic advantage into a permanent one. [possibly stronger 13.Na4 ] 13...bxc6 14.Bxc7 Qxc7 15.Ba4 Rab8 16.Qa3 a6 17.Bc2

I need to challenge the bishop. 17...Rfc8 18.e4 Bg6 19.Rfe1 [19.exd5 With the exchange line, I saw that if balck took back with the pawn I had a pretty good position. With the knight taking back I had a hard timecalculating the position after 21 Nxd5. So went a safer route and put more pressure on the center. 19...exd5 (19...Nxd5 20.Bxg6 hxg6 21.Nxd5 exd5 22.Rc5) 20.Bxg6 Nxg6 21.Nxd5 Qb7 22.b4] 19...Qb7 20.Na4 Qb4 21.Qe3
( Diagram on left)
Not a time to exchange queens. The exchange would have left Black with a strong rook position on a semi open, hard to defend b-file. 21...dxe4 I decided it was better to drop the pawn temporarily and try to straighten out the Queen's side. 22.a3 Qb5 23.b4 Nd5 24.Qg3 I could have gone either way Qb3 looked more in line with the plan and would have secured the Queen's side a little better. But on the other hand I wanted to start to bring some fire power to the King's side for an attack. Qe2 and offer a Q exchange may have worked but being down a pawn Black would have had a chance to play f5. 24...e3 25.Nc5 I felt this outpost was good compensation for the pawn. 25...exf2+ 26.Qxf2 Bxc2 27.Rxc2 Nf6 28.Qf3
(Diagram on right)

I want a rook on e5 but I also don't want his knight on g4 28...a5 29.Re5 Qb6 30.Rc4 Qa7 31.Nb3 axb4 32.Ra5 Qe7 33.axb4 Nd5 34.b5 cxb5 35.Rxc8+ Rxc8 36.Rxb5 Qa7 37.Qg4 I wanted to create some dynamics while protecting the d4 pawn. His rook is not protected. 37...Qe7?? [37...Qa6 OR; 37...Qd7]
Do you see the tactic? ( don't scroll down if you want to guess)

38.Rxd5! Huzzah! 38...f5 39.Qe2 Rc3 40.Nc5? ( d’oh) [¹40.Rb5] 40...Rc1+ 41.Kf2 Qh4+ 42.Ke3 I saw the only way to walk out of this jam was straight up the middle. If he takes rook I play Kd2 threatening mate 42...Qg5+ [42...Rc3+ 43.Kd2; 42...exd5 43.Kd2 Qg5+ 44.Kd3 Qg6 Would have saved the game for Black] 43.Kd3 Rd1+ 44.Qxd1 exd5 45.Qe2 h5 46.Qe8+ Kh7 47.Ne6 Qxg2 48.Qxh5+ Kg8 49.Qxf5 Kh8 50.Ng5 1–0 (Final position to the right)

If you want to play through the game I have the game on my mirror blog here:

So far this month I have no losses. 1 draw and 2 wins means I go into the last round of the month with a plus score. If I lose I am still gaining 20 rating points which will bring me to my highest USCF score to date. Winning will get me over 1800, wish me luck. I face Count Draw-cula again.


trallala said...

What's wrong with 10. Qxb4!?

BlunderProne said...

@trallala: Good point! Because I wasn't awake and I wanted to win the piece later in the game?

I'm not sure why I didn't even sconsider it. At the moment, OTB. I was seeing the pin and reinforcement of the c6 pin. I was more compelled to play Ne5 ( familiar ground) rather than SEE a piece up for grabs because of the pin. The mind plays terrible tricks on an evening round of chess after a full day of work.

Thanks for the simpler path.

wang said...

Dude, congratulations on the win and your recent good results. I guess the Old Timey chess thing is working out for you.

Anonymous said...

I remember some moons ago that you played ...Bf5, as Black, and tried to rationalize away moves like Qb3. But now, it seems, you're not being so stubborn. Progress.