22 October 2011

Annotated Game #15: Blogger Throwdown (RLP)

I have been playing the occasional training game (at 60 5 time control, i.e. 60 minutes for the game with a 5 second increment) with Robert L. Pearson, who is a tough yet gracious opponent.  We seem well matched, although I believe he has a small edge overall in play (which so far has translated to a much bigger edge in results), likely a benefit of his more recent OTB tournament practice. (Edit: you can see RLP's commentary now here.)

In this game, my opponent angles from the beginning to maximize his kingside expansion potential as part of the opposite-wing strategy in the English, which was described in more detail in Annotated Game #12.  The result is an excellent illustration of the value of training games in general.  After a tense struggle where I miss some key strategic ideas during the opening-middlegame transition, along with a couple of saving tactical chances after the tide turns against me, I swindle a draw in a K+P endgame when we both have only seconds remaining on our clocks.  Even before turning to detailed analysis, I was able to recognize some patterns in my play that need correcting, most notably the temptation to go for an apparently safer closed pawn structure rather than maintaining dynamic play (see move 18).  Another, more specific issue highlighted was the failure to develop the dark-square bishop adequately (see move 11), which has been a consistent challenge for me in this type of opening.  (Effectively playing down a piece is never good.)

I found analyzing this recently-played game to be of even greater benefit than looking at my older tournament games, since I was able to recall my thought processes with much greater clarity.  Seeing the alternative move possibilities presented by Rybka therefore had more impact, since I was able to better understand why I did not consider them (or failed to give them enough weight).  It was also useful to see where Rybka validated my choices, positive reinforcement being as effective an improvement tool as its negative brother.

8 8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
ChessAdmin - RLP
1/2-1/2, 10/15/2011.
[#] 1.c4 g6 +0.22 2.Nf3 +0.15 Bg7 3.g3 Nc6 +0.18 4.Bg2 +0.15 e5 5.Nc3 Nge7 +0.18 with the clear aim of advancing f7-f5 in the future 6.O-O O-O 7.d3 d6 8.Rb1 +0.15 Bg4 9.h3 Bxf3 +0.37 an interesting strategic choice by Black. This enables White's light-square domination, but in exchange removes a defender from the White kingside. 10.Bxf3 f5 +0.52 N First move out of the database. Rb8 is given in the Aquarium database, with Qd7 also suggested. 11.Nd5 +0.37 this thematic occupation of d5 is perhaps a little premature. Finding a useful square for the c1-bishop would be better here.
[11.Bg5 is a common idea designed to provoke a Black weakness 11...Bf6 (11...h6 12.Bd2 develops the bishop and gives White a potential target at h6) 12.Bxf6 Rxf6 13.e3 and Black's strong dark-square bishop is gone.]
11...Rb8 +0.41 12.b4 Nxd5 a good exchange for Black, although White retains control of d5. 13.Bxd5+ Kh8 14.e3 I had a long think about this, eventually deciding that control of f4 was worth shutting off the diagonal. Rybka agrees with the idea. 14...Qd7 15.b5 Ne7 16.Bg2 keeping an eye on h3, given the Black queen on the c8-h3 diagonal. 16...d5 +0.89 at this point Black has several alternative moves/plans to choose from, none of which are particularly obvious.
[16...c5 17.bxc6 bxc6 18.Bd2 Rxb1 19.Qxb1 Qc7 +0.48 is Rybka's preferred line for Black.]
17.Qb3 +0.56
[A more effective option for White, activating the dark-square bishop to great effect, is 17.Ba3 dxc4 18.dxc4 Qe6 19.Bd5 Qf6 (19...Nxd5 20.cxd5 Qd7 21.Bxf8 ) 20.Qa4 +0.89]
17...c6?! +1.55 while analysis shows this as not objectively best, it poses White some thorny problems, which he fails to solve.
[17...dxc4!? 18.Qxc4 Nc8 19.Rd1 Nd6 20.Qc5 Ne4 +0.56 is Rybka's preference.]
18.f4?! +0.41 Here I was focused more on Black's potential kingside attack and decided to pre-empt it. I actually had briefly considered the subvariation where White exchanges the queen for two rooks and considered it positive, but then failed to consider it again in my decision-making process. The main variation Rybka gives below is rather wild.
[18.bxc6!? dxc4 (18...bxc6 19.Qxb8 Rxb8 20.Rxb8+ Nc8 with a significant plus to White, who has the two bishops and can eventually combine rooks to deadly effect.) 19.cxd7 cxb3 20.Ba3 bxa2 21.Rb5 +1.55]
18...e4?! +1.17
[18...Rfc8!? 19.Bb2 Qc7 20.Rfe1 Rd8 21.cxd5 Nxd5 +0.41]
19.d4? -0.11 a bad decision, shutting down White's dynamic play and allowing Black the initiative on the queenside.
[This was the last chance to go for 19.bxc6! bxc6 20.Qxb8 Rxb8 21.Rxb8+ Ng8 22.cxd5 +1.17]
19...dxc4 20.Qxc4 Nd5 21.Bd2 Rfc8 now White is clearly on the defensive. 22.bxc6 Rxc6 23.Qb3 another long think here, this time about where to put the queen, this being the best/least bad square. White's piece activity is being increasingly circumscribed. 23...Bf8 24.Rfc1 Rb6 25.Qc4?! -0.85 here I simply miss Black's strong follow-up, negating White's play on the c-file.
[25.Qd1!? Ba3 26.Rc4 Rxb1 27.Qxb1 b5 28.Rc2 -0.11]
25...Ba3 26.Rd1 -1.02 Rc8 27.Qf1?! I couldn't decide between placing the queen on f1 and e2 and eventually decided that the coming pin on the second rank was better avoided.
[27.Qe2!? Rc2 28.Rxb6 Nxb6 29.Bf1 Qd5 30.Qe1 -1.02]
27...Rc2 28.Rb3 -2.38 this is a tricky move that makes it much more difficult for Black to find the best continuation, although Rybka points out the rook exchange is objectively best.
[28.Rxb6!? Nxb6 29.Qe1 Nd5 30.Rb1 b5 31.Bf1 -1.06]
28...Rxb3 29.axb3 Qc7?! -1.55 a bit of a letup for White, as I'd been expecting
[29...Bb4!? 30.Qf2 Bxd2 31.Rxd2 Rc3 32.Re2 Rxb3 -2.38]
30.Qe1 b6 -0.41 also leads to a decrease in pressure, Qb6 would have kept it on. 31.Bf1 -0.93 by now I was feeling the time pressure and played the obvious move to bring the bishop into the game. My opponent was also getting short on time, allowing me to scrape my way back into contention.
[31.Ra1 Bb2 32.Ra2 a5 33.Bf1 Rxd2 34.Qxd2 -0.41]
31...Bb2?! -0.33
[31...Nc3!? 32.Ra1 Bb2 33.Ra6 Bc1 34.Bxc1 Rxc1 -0.93]
32.Bc4 Qc6?! +0.26
[32...Nc3!? 33.d5 Qd6 34.Qf1 Kg7 35.Kh1 b5 -0.37]
33.Rb1 b5 34.Bxd5? -0.89
[34.Qd1! I considered this along with Bxd5, but under time pressure hallucinated a refutation for Black. 34...bxc4 35.Qxc2 c3 36.Rxb2 cxb2 37.Qxb2 +0.26]
34...Qxd5 35.b4 Qc4 36.Rd1 Bc3 37.Bxc3 Rxc3 38.d5 -1.06 the only way to try and stave off Black crushing me. 38...Rd3 -0.72 39.Rxd3 -0.80 exd3 40.d6
[The immediate 40.Qa1+ leads to a perpetual check, far beyond my thinking horizon. 40...Kg8 41.Qe5 Qxb4 42.g4 Qc5 43.Kf2 fxg4 44.hxg4 b4 45.Qe6+ Kf8 46.d6 d2 47.Qe7+ Kg8 48.Ke2 Qc1 49.Qd8+ Kf7 50.Qe7+ Kg8 51.Qd8+ ]
40...Qd5 41.Kf2 Qxd6?! -0.29
[41...Kg8!? 42.Qa1 Qxd6 43.Qc3 d2 44.Qb3+ Kg7 -0.80]
42.Qa1+?! -0.80 I'd been focused on this check possibility for so long that the c3 alternative was ignored.
[42.Qc3+!? Kg8 43.Ke1 a6 44.g4 h6 45.Kd2 -0.29]
42...Kg8 43.Qd4 -11.50 at first glance this looks good (even necessary), but it leads to an eventually losing K+P endgame. This however does not occur until move 53. 43...Qxd4 44.exd4 Kf7 45.Ke3 Ke6 46.Kxd3 Kd5 47.g4 h5 48.gxh5 gxh5 49.h4 a6 50.Kc3 Ke4 51.d5 Kxd5 52.Kd3 Kc6 53.Kd4 Kd6 in time trouble as well, my opponent doesn't find the somewhat counterintuitive winning line
[53...Kb6 54.Ke5 a5 55.bxa5+ Kxa5 56.Kxf5 b4 57.Kg5 b3 58.f5 b2 59.Kxh5 b1=Q ]
54.Kc3 Kd5 55.Kd3 Kc6 56.Kd4 Kd6 57.Kc3 Kd5 -11.50 Game drawn by repetition [1/2-1/2]


  1. It looks to me like one of the key lines you point out that I didn't see, even in analysis, is at Black's move 29: Bb4 looks very strong, and the point I never noticed then is that e3 needs to stay covered, thus 30. Qf2. That would have made for an easier path to victory, because the next few moves were where I was pretty unsure of how to proceed and lost any advantage.

  2. Being tied to e3 was indeed the bane of my existence at that point.