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)

FLEXIBILTY TO PLAY ON EITHER SIDE MEANS BETTER MOBILITY

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 Chess.com mirror blog here: http://blog.chess.com/Blunderprone/pausing-to-reflect

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.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A little treat for my readers

While I've got the Delorean in the shop having the flux capacitor charged for my next time travel to Zurich 1953, I thought I'd share this little gem. I’ve spent the last three months or so talking about such chess luminaries like Richard Reti, Jose Raul Capablanca, Richard Yates et al. I’ve included as much photo’s I could dig up relative to that 1924 period. In my searches, I stumbled across this 1925 silent short movie titled Shakhmatnaya goryachka ( chess Fever) that uses the back drop of the Moscow 1925 event as it’s center piece. Jose Raul Capablanca has a little more than a cameo role as he gets a small “speaking” part in this 19 minute film. It's a comedy about a young man's obsession to chess much to his fiance's dismay

Below the embedded film, I’ve included translation. I suggest either printing it out to follow along or open it in a separate browser. I also include when the real chess players appear in the movie. Most of which you will recognize from New York 1924. This is as close as you will get to seeing these giants in action close to the period I covered!
video
00.19 – Actors: World Champion J. R. Capablanca
00.23 – Hero: V. Fogel; Heroine: A. Zemtsova
00.42 – at the tournament
00.43 - Jose Raul Capablanca
01:00 – Carlos Torre vs Frank Marshall
01:16 Solomon Gotthiff versus Alexander Genevsky ( playing white on the right… neither was at NY1924)
01:21 Reti Vs Yates
01:27 Richard Reti ( playing white)
01:35 ( Unknown)
01:37 ( unknown)
01: 41 Rudolph Speilmann
01:44 Ernst Grunfeld
01:34 Frederick Yates
02.26 – in the days of the “chess fever”
04.39 – remember, my darling, the most dangerous thing for the family life is – chess!
05.00 – on the signboard is written “chessplayer – stop here”
05.51 – on the wall-advert is written “chess tournament”
09.38 – on the signboard is written “give something to the blind man”
10.01 – I loved only you
10.09 – And you love only chess
10.17 – between us all is finished!
10.30 – I will poison myself
10.35 – I surrender – I will drown myself
11.07 – Grandfather – my life is broken
11.20 – My child, take the source of consolation and peace
11.32 – The name of the book is “Pleasure of the sage – anthology of the most antique chess problems”
11.44 – Late wishes
12.13 – Kolecka has just played such a fine Queen’s Gambit! I can’t breathe!
12.26 – there is no place in life
13.12 – “Pharmacy”
13.29 – Give me something in big quantity and strong against pain
14.10 – Maybe – Love is stronger than chess?
15.15 – Maybe – Love is stronger than chess?
15.30 – Back to the fiancée
16.10 – Leave me alone! Because of chess I hate all the world!
16.19 – I understand this feeling. When I meet a beautiful woman, I also hate chess
16.36 – Finally I meet a chess enemy!
16.42 – Tell me how you saved yourself from chess fever
17.10 – On the wall is written “International chess tournament”
17.15 – I give a final look, and then … that’s all!
17.22 – At the tournament!
17.34 – pass! pass!
18.05 – Here are the effects of the Champion’s narrations
18.19 – Darling, darling! I didn’t know it is such a wonderful game!
18.34 – Darling, let’s play a Sicilian
18.54 – The family happiness begins!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New York 1924: Dr. Emanuel Lasker, The Distinguished Winner


When I reported his third place finish at Hastings 1895 I included a lengthy biography about this highly educated and well versed player. So I will elect not to rehash his early biography here. Back in Hastings, at the age of 26, he showed the potential of a World Class Champion. In the period between Hastings 1895 and New York 1924, he became the second World Champion following William Steinitz. He held the title from 1894 to 1921 ( 27 years).

By the time New York 1924 rolled around, at 55, a veteran of world class competition and a form world champion, some thought he was a little passed his prime entering this event. Given the rise of Capablanca’s reign as new World Champion and the rise of the Hyper-moderns only fueled the speculation. His calm demeanor, poise and steady hand at the chess board had him enter the last round already closing the first place prize regardless of the outcome as he finished with 16 points ( 13+ 1- 6 =) a full point and a ½ ahead of Capablanca.

Lasker in his prime, was known to pull some miraculous victories from seemingly difficult if not lost positions. He was about as solid a positional player as they come. His only loss was to Capablanca in round 14 being given a dose of his own tactical medicine. Lasker first drew his strongest rival in round 2 in a quick game of only 30 moves and offering an early queen exchange. In studying Andrew Soltis’ book “Turning Advantage into Victory” he talks about the conditions surrounding a queen exchange to consider:

1) Who is ahead in material?
2) What positional assets are there?
3) Is there a sense of urgency or counterplay ( what is the "mood")?
4) How willthe possible piece exchange alter your plans?
5) Is there a concrete winning plan or a general plan for improvement?


In the game against Capablanca, the material was even, the only assets Lasker really had was a knight centrally located. Both sides had pawn majorities on opposing wings. There were not any good counter measures or urgent threats. Once the pieces got exchanged down, the semi open d-file would not be an issue. Meaning this game was doomed to a draw once the queens left the board.

In round 3, he defeats Alekhine rather soundly with an exchange Slav. Here, white starts with an initiative and development advantage. In building a King’s side attack, Lasker’s defense closes the temporal disadvantages and makes Alekhine a little impatient as he tries to force the issue. Alekhine ends up allowing Lasker to counter attack whick exposes the weakness in his own kingside and turns the table.

He delivers a very instructive R+N versus R+B end game against Bogoljubow in round 8. Dr. Lasker uses the “Berlin Wall” defense of the Ruy Lopez. He is well versed in this variation and has a plus score against white offsetting the databases that score this as a rather drawish game for Black ( and white). In the hands of a skilled craftsman like Lasker, an opportunity to create long term weaknesses in White’s structure is typical of his style. Then playing to a favorable endgame is his priority. Bogoljubow gives up the bishop pair and the fight begins. Dr. Lasker drops a pawn to allow his rook an active roll and that is enough to over come the drawish look of this endgame 71 moves later.

He takes on Richard Reti’s MacCutcheon Variation of the french in round 10. Reti plays a little too passively which allows Lasker to target the uncastled king through a central attack and a battery on the d-file. Then, using the f-pawn like a battering ram, he obliterates any defense the black pieces have and finishes with a nice combination.


Despite the last round being a moot point for first place, he plays Marshall in full force. Marshall offers Dr. Lasker a gambit in the exchange Ruy Lopez after the former champion skirts the Marshall attack variation. With the extra pawn, Lasker makes every move count towards the endgame, nurturing the baby queen advancing on the e-file. Lasker even willingly drops a couple pawns to keep this advance going forward. The advance e-pawn is too much for the American to stop.

Epilogue:

Dr. Emanuel Lasker was a proponent for using Algebraic notation. Richard Reti followed his lead and recorded their games at this event using this new universal system. After winning the New York 1924 chess tournament and finishing second at Moscow in 1925 (1½ points behind Efim Bogoljubow, ½ point ahead of Capablanca), he effectively retired from serious chess. Oddly enough, he and his brother, Berthold, had written a drama, Vom Menschen die Geschichte ("History of Mankind"). During the Moscow Match in 1925, he received a telegram that the drama had been accepted for performance at the Lessing theatre in Berlin. The play was not a success.
In 1927, he went on to write , Lasker’s Manual of Chess. He wrote Books about other games like “Encyclopedia of Games ( 1929) and Das verständige Kartenspiel (means "Sensible Card Play"; 1929. He wrote about other board games and Bridge in the 1930’s. Lasker became an expert Bridge player, representing Germany in international events in the early 1930’s.

Lasker and his wife left Germany in the mid 1930s ( fleeing Hitler’s discrimination against Jews) and settled in Moscow. However, Stalin’s “great Purge” started about the time they arrived. In 1937, he and his wife moved to the United states ( first in Chicago and then In New York) . He tried to support himself by giving chess and bridge lectures but was too old for any real serious competition. He dies of a kidney infection in new York on January 11, 1941 at the age of 72.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Blundering in Aalborg, Denmark

We interrupt our regularly scheduled New York 1924 History tour to bring you the following ramblings of a sleep deprived chess addict.

It’s Tuesday, I must play chess!

Despite being on a business trip in Aalborg, Denmark, I woke up this morning in a cold sweat, craving chess. Like the junkie I am, I managed to discover the Aalborg Skakforening ( Aalborg Chess Club) which was a short walk from my Hotel.



Frist, I’d like to digress about this trip. I determined my trip this far is a bad exercise in sleep depravation supplemented by strong coffee. I flew out Saturday and determined that I was up for 32 hours straight including the Day Light Saving Time warp back home. Sunday I crashed for 5 hours woke up at 1:30 AM and finally fell back asleep at 4:30 only to wake up at 6. I must have drank an entire pot of coffee during the course of the day. But I am not talking about your average coffee maker size carafe, rather the volume of coffee was equivalent to what is found in church basements and AA meetings. I still felt like I had too much blood in the caffeine system as my head was in a cloud.

Speaking of which, I’ve determined that the weather this time of year here is varying shades of gray. Today started out dark gray with rain, followed by light gray with clearing, then a snap down pour of a bluish gray with hale ending with some sun. I hear in the summer it stays light until 11PM. Depsite being located on the 57 degree Latitude in the Northern Hemisphere, the grass was green, but the trees were bare still. No Snow!

I’m also in the land of Ikea because everywhere I look, the furnishings could probably be tracked to some isle number and bin location of the Swedish furniture chain. Hotel furnishings, the office furniture of the company I am visiting, even the sushi restaurant ( Hey, Denmark has good fish… this was a safe bet) all have that blond wood industrial décor. I’ll bet if I look hard enough I’ll find Swedish meatballs with that cranberry sauce.

So back to the chess adventure, the chess venue is part of the Aalborg University and right on the Fjord. I follow some older duffer into the building and say “ chess?” I was wearing my universal chess tee shirt. He looks at me, “yes”. I was pleased to see he spoke some English and proceeded to tell him I was ditching my colleagues for an exciting evening of chess. He looked at me puzzled, “ People don’t normally refer to chess as exciting.” I told him that’s Ok , I’m not normal.

I met the Club chairman who welcomed me. I was not to play in the regular serious event but allowed to hang out in the “social” area for a casual game. The club furnished wooden chess sets and boards with the Danish Skak Union logo on it. Nobody was speaking English. That was OK, I wanted to experience the club.

Chess is universal in my tired eyes. Several people were gathered around a board kibitzing about a game. I followed along and laughed when they did, nodded when it looked like a serious move and basically tried to blend in. Then I got ahead of myself. I thought I saw a better move. But with my tired sleep deprived eyes, I didn’t see the check I was walking into. More laughter, at least I brought some brevity with me. Man was I tired.

Then I here some muttering of the word “amerikaner” and pointing. I smile and gesture to a set. One guy wearing a NY Yankees shirt comes over. I gesture to his shirt and comment that it should read Boston Red Sox. I give a thumbs down and say “ Yankees”. He laughs, shakes his head no, and gives a thumbs up. He wanted to play some blitz, I really didn’t I wanted a much slower game. But I soldiered on. The game didn’t last all that long. I lost on time.

I played another person who was evenly matched. I missed his blunder which would have given me an even endgame if the clock didn’t run out. The next game he blundered again and I saw it…. And knew it was a blunder, he shrugged knowingly it was a bad move and commented I would probably win. I said, in my condition I wouldn’t count on me finding the right plan. Sure enough I missed a better move but still had enough of an attack to clean up on the king side and win before the flag fell. I realized I was just too damn tired to play. I checked out a few more games and headed back to my hole.

I’ll say this, unlike my club, there were no sign of children once the games really began. Apparently they were there an hour earlier and left soon after the adults games began. Then I realized why this was the Social chess club room. Once the last minor left the premises, a case of beer came up. For a few Krones, folks were playing and drinking beer. I should have had an advantage since I don’t drink, but being jet lagged I was evenly matched.

I recommend the Aalborg Skakfoerning for some fun chess if you are traveling in these parts. I wish I could have understood them a little but they sure made me feel like it was Tuesday night. Chess is universal on the 64 squares.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

New York 1924: Jose Raul Capablanca, the Natural


Born November 19, 1888, much has already been written about this Cuban national’s prodigious beginnings. The short story is that he learned chess by watching his father at the age of 4, ( picture on right is Capablanca at age 10) pointed out an illegal move, then beat him twice. Being a mere hack of chess history, I will not even attempt a lame paraphrased lengthy bio about this grand champion. A player of this caliper deserves much greater articulation of the English language than an engineer as myself can only begin to scratch the surface.

What I will focus on, is what I learned about his reputation prior to New York 1924. Jose Raul Capablanca was on a roll. He entered the New York International event undefeated for 63 consecutive games spanning a period from February 10, 1916 to his one and only loss in the fifth round with another child prodigy, Richard Reti ( covered in this previous post with the game here) on March 21, 1924. As an Adult, he lost only 35 serious games, TOTAL! I lose that many in one year. Given his stellar reputation, it wasn’t any wonder that he was favored to be the winner of this event.

I’d like to take a short note about opening preparation at this event. With the eleven competitors, for the first half of the event, several seemed to have a prepared line. Most notably was Richard Reti and his Hypermodern style of none other than the Reti-opening. Capablanca however, held on to his positional style of play. A style which gets its roots from Steinitz and Tarrasch looking for incremental advantages but taking also being tactically sharp in open positions.

He didn’t prepare any special lines for this event. That is not to say he wasn’t prepared. Several of the top masters knew there was going to be a Hypermodern flavor to the event and tended to keep the cards close in the first half. During the 2 week break before the second half of the tournament resumed, the players had a chance to “reflect” on the games.

That is why we see Capablanca with a a rather cautious score of 5 draws three wins and 1 loss ( to Reti in round 5 if you recall).. His Draw to Alekhine in Round 4 was a quiet game that transposed to a French Defense from a 1.d4 beginning ending in an equal R+2P endgame.
Waking up after round 5’s reality check from Reti, he hits the ground running against Tartakower in round 6 where he turns a seemingly drawn game upside down in the endgame, sacrificing pawns to take advantage of a vicious R+P endgame with a mobile pawn mass.

In round 9, against Bogoljubow, he finds the one weakness of the Colle-Zuckertorte system and latches on right from the start. He piles up the pieces on the c-file and pulls this Knight Sacrifice to rip open the file and win the game:


The Most interesting game was his victory against Dr. Emanuel Lasker in round 14. Capablanca exchanges a knight for 3 pawns and the initiative during a strong attack. (Diagram 26.Nxd5!)






Capablanca’s “grudge match against Reti comes in round 21. A seemingly drawn endgame played conservatively by Reti gets blown away as Capablanca shows the power of having control of the center in the middle game as it transitions to an endgame advantage. Using distant opposition, Capablanca makes his one advantage, a passed pawn, his biggest priority.

He finishes the match with a score of 14 ½ ( +10, =9 and -1 ) to place second behind the elder statesman of the event Lasker ( at age 55).

Epilog

Part of Capablanca’s reign had to do with the “London Rule” he established in 1922 following the London 1922 event. Amongst other things, one of the conditions proposed by Capablanca was that the challenger would have to raise at least ten thousand dollars for the prize money There was an increasing number of strong chess players and it was felt that the world champion should not be able to evade challenges to his title, as had been done in the past. At this tournament, some of the leading players of the time, including Alexander Alekhine, Efim Bogoljubov, Geza Maroczy, Richard Reti, Akiba Rubinstein, Savielly Tartakower and Milan Vidmar, met to discuss rules for the conduct of future world championships.

Rubinstein and Nimzovitch both challenged Capablanca but were unable to raise the funds. Alekhine’s 1927 challenge was backed by a group of businessmen from Argentina as well as the president of Argentina! There was a sense of rivalry at this time between the two titans. In New York 1927, he beat Alekhine quite easily in a quadruple round robin event as well as Nimzivotch and Spielmann.
Later that year, the Argentinian funded World title match between him and Alekhine would have made Capablanca the safe bet. However, Alekhine, who was never able to defeat Capablanca prior, was well prepared and beat the champion in the first game. Capablanca came back and won games 3 and 7 but Alekhine held on in Buenos Aires and beat the champion in rounds 11 and 12 and three more time after a long series of draws ( for a total of 25 in the entire event).

Alekhine was quoted as saying:



How did it happen that he lost to me? I must confess that even now I cannot answer that question with certainty, since in 1927 I did not believe that I was superior to him. Perhaps the chief reason for his defeat was his over-estimation of his own powers arising out of his overwhelming victory at New York 1927, and his underestimation of mine.


Alekhine refused to play a rematch despite the precondition of the match. He decided to insist on the same London Rules of 1927. By then the collapse of the financial markets came in 1929 and Capablanca had a difficult time satisfying this condition. Contrary to the conditions, Alekhine did accept challenges by Bogoljubow twice. Throughout Alekhine's first tenure as champion (1927-1935), he refused to play in the same tournaments as Capablanca, and indeed was able to prevent Capablanca's participation in events which Alekhine himself wanted to play.

Despite Alekhine’s “shunning”, Capablanca continued to play strong in tournaments from 1928 to 1931 with several first place finishes and not one placing lower than third. Between 1931 -1934 he took a brief hiatus to serious chess, only playing at the Manhattan Chess Club and Simuls. He started playing seriously again in 1934 and placed fourth at Hastings 1934-35. It wouldn’t be until Nottingham 1936, tying with Botvinik for first place, that he played in a match with Alekhine.

This was Capablanca's first game with Alekhine since their great match, and the Cuban did not miss his chance to avenge that defeat. He had the worse position, but caught Alekhine in such a deep trap, luring him into giving up three pieces for two rooks. Their feud was still intense, so they were never seen seated together at the board for more than a few seconds. Each man made his move and then got up and walked around.

In 1938, his health took a turn for the worst as he suffered a stroke during the AVRO tournament. He ended up with the worst result of his career placing seventh out of eight. He seemed to bounce back in 1939 at Margate where he tied 2nd and 3rd place. His last tournament was the 1939 Chess Olympiad where he made the best score on the top board for Cuba.
On 7 March 1942, he was happily kibitzing a skittles game at the Manhattan Chess Club in New York when he collapsed from a stroke. He was taken to Mount Sinai hospital, where he died the next morning. The autopsy showed that there were numerous hemorrhages in his heart tissue related to the stroke. Remarkably, the Cuban's great rival, German-born Emanuel Lasker, had died in that very hospital only a year earlier.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Blunder-Dog


I will continue with New York 1924 in another day with my commentary on some of Capablanca’s games. I thought I’d take this time to review a recent game I had at the club where I blew the opening as Black but made the best of it despite dropping a pawn.

It was a mainline slav minus the your typical 5.a4. My opponent took an older route and allowed the gambit exchange. I ran into this only once before OTB and misplayed the b-pawn. This time, I knew I needed to advance b7-b5-b4 when the knight came out but didn’t know beyond that. I was up for the lesson and here it is:

(14) Duval,G - Poliannikov,O [D15]
Ground Hog swiss (4),
(My typical headline sensationalizing the key aspect of the game):

BLUNDER-DOG STRIKES AGAIN BUT ONLY AFTER BLOWING THE QUEEN SIDE GAMBIT ACCEPTED

Key Points:
1) When White allows 4... dxc4 5.e3, b5 6. a4 b4 7. Na2 in the Slav. The correct reply is 7...a5 remember it because as you give back the pawn ( bxc4) the kngiht on a2 is limited as to where it can go.
2) I ended up giving back the pawn with interest after advancing to b3
3) The only action I had was on the b-file therefore I had to put pressure on it.
4) This game worked out because my opponent exchanged down to an endgame favoring Black's position.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e3 b5 6.a4 b4 7.Na2
Regrettably, I played 7...b3

I rarely get a chance to play this line where White allows me to take c4. Typically the mainline 5. a4 is played. I had to think on my feet. I recalled one game where I played the gambit accepted but got into trouble with the knight and lost. I remembered b4 was important. But I didn't see the a clear way to follow up. I knew I had to give up the pawn but didn't know where. Thus, the game continued: [7...a5 this is the correct move]

8.Nc3 Ba6 It's just a matter of time before I drop the pawn but the b3 pawn will fall now. 9.Ne5 e6 10.Bxc4 Bxc4 11.Nxc4 Bb4 12.Qxb3 Na6 13.0–0 Rb8 (Diagram on right )

Keep the pressure on the b-file. ( making lemonade) 14.Ne5 Bd6 15.Qc4 Nb4 16.Nd3 Qc8 17.Nxb4 Rxb4 18.Qd3 0–0 Castling before things get really out of hand. 19.Rd1 Qb8 20.h3 Rb3 21.Qc2 Rc8 22.e4 Be7 23.a5 Rd8 24.Ra4 Rb4 25.Rxb4 Qxb4 26.e5 Nd5 27.Nxd5 cxd5 28.a6 Qb5 29.Qd3 Rb8 30.Qxb5

I welcomed the Queen exchange. I knew I would have the better endgame, with my bishop and pawns color coordinated for maximum mobility. I just needed to get my king into the action. 30...Rxb5 31.Rd3 Ra5 First order of business is to equalize material. 32.Be3 Rxa6 33.b3 Ra1+
Second order of business is drive his king to the side of the board. 34.Kh2 Ra3 35.Bc1 Ra1 36.Be3 Rb1 37.Kg3 Bb4 Now that I blocked the advancement of the b-pawn, I can bring my king around onto the Queen's side. 38.Kf3 Kf8 39.g4 h6 40.h4 Ke7 41.Bf4 He has no real moves. 41...Kd7 42.h5 Kc6 43.Ke2 Rb2+ 44.Kf3 Rc2

This is critical. Now that the b-pawn is blocked and my king is within striking distance, I can now challenge white's rook. 45.Be3 Rc3 46.Ke2 Kb5 [46...Rxd3? 47.Kxd3 Kb5 48.Kc2 White has time to get his King in position. That's why I didn't initiate the exchange on d3] 47.Bf4 Rc2+ 48.Kf3 Be1 (Diagram on left) This is a sweet move.

It presents a threat as well as vacates b4 for my king. 49.Be3 Kb4 50.Rd1 Bc3 51.Rc1? This only entices the exchange and makes it favorable for Black. 51...Rxc1 52.Bxc1 Kxb3 53.g5 hxg5 54.Bxg5 Bxd4 0–1
I now have 2 passed pawns, an active bishop, an active king position with no way for White to defend my pawn march. White resigned in this position. In the parking lot, he was having a conversation with another of our Eastern European players and commented " I can't beleive he tried to keep the pawn in the QGA! " I said," It was the Slav and part of the main line ... but I misplayed it." I knew walking out of there where the game went wrong on move 7. Lucky for me I play in the class section where losing the opening is not necessarily a death sentence to the game! I can be a tenacious Blunder-dog!

Hope you got something out of this game. It isn’t pretty. It still shows I need to work on things, like my opening but I really don’t lose sleep because I feel I am having a better go with my middle and end game playing.

Only two more posts to finish the NY1924 series. Stay tuned next up Capablanca.