15 October 2011

Annotated Game #14: Comeback

This next game occurred in the first round of the follow-up weekend tournament to the one in which Annotated Game #13 was played.  The previous tournament I had chalked up a score of 0, albeit with some minor consolation from the fact that two out of the three losses I had (as a high Class B player at the time) were to Expert or high Class A players.  The previous tournament had also been my first one for several years after my participation in the Denker Tournament of Champions (see Annotated Game #12) so my competitive play was obviously very rusty.

The win that I scored in this game against an Expert-level opponent helped me make a clean break psychologically with the previous tournament result.  While I had lost my fear of playing opponents in the Class A/Expert range, I was still tired of losing to them, so this win was a significant boost to my spirits, even though it required a major oversight by my opponent at the end.  To be fair, I had more than my share of oversights and had still generally outplayed my opponent, so I don't quite consider the outcome to be a swindle.  (Perhaps for entertainment value at some point I'll annotate my biggest swindle, which was a real howler and afterwards made Fritz cry.)

Here, against the English, Black adopts an somewhat unusual move-order as after 1..e5 he continues with ..Nc6 which is typical of the closed lines, then immediately follows it up with ..Nf6, inviting a transposition into an English Four Knights if I had then played Nf3.  Although that is eventually played, I continue with a typical closed system approach and Black decided to go with the ..d6 and Be6/Qd7 setup which you can also see in Annotated Game #8.  The two positions as of move 6 are nearly identical, the difference in this game being that Black has played ..Nf6 and that he subsequently chooses not to exchange off White's Bg2.  This partly begs the question of why Black chose the Be6/Qd7 development in the first place, since the other normal explanation (a desire to castle queenside) would make little sense in the face of White's standard queenside expansion plan.

The queenside/kingside expansion "race" shown in the previous two annotated games never quite occurs, largely because White strikes first after a tempo-losing move by Black and wins the b7 pawn, but in the process overlooks a superior continuation which would have allowed Black no counterchances.  Black is then able to take over the initiative on move 18, with his more open lines and piece play against White's king position, which however is secure enough as long as accurate defensive moves are played.  The sequence from moves 19-27 isn't completely forced, but essentially the best moves (or close to them) are played on both sides.

After this tense sequence, White gets lucky when the crude threat of doubling rooks on the h-file actually works after Black tries to get too ambitious and play ..h5.  A tactical slugfest ensues where both sides miss interesting possibilities.  White's opportunity to immediately take on h7, found during analysis, didn't register for me in the game, as it would require a fairly sophisticated conversion of the kingside attack (exchanging two rooks for pawn and queen) into a won quasi-endgame where White's queen then runs rampant on the queenside.  The last two moves of the game are the culmination of the tactical exchange, as White misses a mate in 4 (check out the key role played by the "English" c4 pawn in covering d5) and then Black misses a winning rook sacrifice, allowing mate in one by White.

The psychological phases of the game are clearly distinct, with the opening maneuvering (a "feeling out period)" leading to a second, relatively clean tactical phase featuring a quick blow by White and counterpunching by Black, followed by a third phase of messy tactics until knockout.  To further the boxing analogy, a quick series of jabs and blocks gave way to stumbling, roundhouse punches as the fighters had sweat in their eyes and were reeling from one too many blows to the head from the previous rounds.  (Decision fatigue perhaps?)  I won when the opponent walked right into my haymaker.  But overall, it was a good fight.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Chess Admin!
    You got there in the end and that is what matters. It was a strange opening from Black there. I guess that for a true K.I.D set up he needed to have played g6 and Bg7. His bishop was nowhere near as good on e7 was it? I thought your play on the queen's side was good. Then it all went a bit crazy on the king's side.
    Once you had everything lined up on the h-file it was all over.
    Nice one!