03 March 2012

Annotated Game #34: Importance of the Initiative; Dueling Formats

This game, the last in the tournament, features some instructive strategic errors and missed tactics.  After Black plays 6...Na6, he fails to follow up with the logical redeployment to c7, although White unintentionally makes the knight useful by trying to carry out an accelerated pawn push to b4.  White carries out a suspect operation of exchanging dark-square bishop for knight, after which Black has a slight positional plus and the easier game strategically, with play on the kingside.  Similar to the knight development, Black begins moving towards this logical setup with 17...Kg7, but then simply hands White the initiative and allows a strong knight outpost to be established on c5.

Although White gets his wish of focusing on queenside play, where he has some long-term prospects for an advantage, he also neglects Black's threats and unwisely weakens his king position, redeploying his fianchettoed bishop.  White's lack of a real plan shows in his move 28 blunder, which would allow an excellent tactical shot by Black, which (luckily for White) is a possibility ignored by both players.  Black continues to cede the initiative and loses to a tactic that employs a seventh-rank pin.

The role of the initiative struck me the most about this game, as psychology is the primary explanatory factor for both sides' performance in the middlegame.  Aside from the tactical missed opportunity by Black and White's ability to spot the winning one eventually, the middlegame maneuvers were not forced and White had no real prospect of making progress without Black's acquiescence.  If Black had followed up on what he started on move 17, he would have instead had the initiative and likely whatever winning chances there were in the position.

Here's the game in ChessFlash, which I normally use:

And here is the game published with the Chess King software.  Once I've had more experience with it, I'll share some impressions of its utility in other areas.  Unfortunately, it doesn't seem practical for publishing annotated games, because there is no scroll box associated with the text; after around move 18 you either can't see the board or the game notation and annotations.

ChessAdmin - Class C

Result: 1-0
Site: ?
Date: ?
[...] 1.c4 ¤f6 2.¤c3 g6 3.¤f3 ¥g7 4.g3 O-O 5.¥g2 c6 first deviation from a normal King's Indian setup
6.O-O ¤a6 a handful of games in the database feature this move. Normally the idea is to play Nc7 at some point, or alternatively hop into b4. The latter seems unlikely to be fruitful, however, as White can cover the square with a pawn.
7.¦b1 looking for accelerated play on the queenside. In light of Black's previous move, however, a better strategy would be to develop normally and leave the knight stranded doing nothing useful. The rook also proves misplaced on move 9.
(7.d3 would be a more normal English setup) 7...d5 now out of the database 8.cxd5 no reason to let Black have a free hand in the center
8...cxd5 9.d4 ¥f5 10.¦a1 ¤b4 11.¥g5
(11.¥f4 seems superior, seizing an excellent diagonal.)
11...h6 12.¥xf6 carrying through White's positionally suspect plan for exchanging bishop for knight.
12...¥xf6 13.a3 Houdini prefers more active developing options, such as Qb3 or Ne5. The text move simply forces the knight to a better long-term square for it.
13...¤c6 14.e3 e6 Taking stock, the game is level, with a slight plus to Black due to his superior light-square bishop. White has far to go to generate something meaningful on the queenside, his only real strategic option.
15.¦c1 ¦c8 16.b4 a6 Secures b5, notes Fritz. 17.¦e1 ¢g7 this would normally be an indication that Black is seeking play down the h-file, with the king moving out of the way so he can play Rh8. However, Black doesn't follow up on this.
18.¤a4 b6 although this prophylactically covers c5, Black is now reacting to White, who has something of an initiative with his queenside play.
(18...a5 is preferred by the engines 19.b5 ¤e7 20.£b3 £d6)
19.¥f1 this was the reason for White's move 17, redeploying the bishop. However, this leaves his king position significantly weakened (namely f3).
(19.£e2 would instead develop the queen to a useful square as well as forcing Black to make a positional concession with either a5, b5 or Nb8.)
19...b5 allowing White a strong outpost on c5. 20.¤c5² ¤b8
(20...£d6 would be more active play. 21.¤xa6 ¤xd4 22.¤xd4 £xa6)
21.a4 White finds the correct idea to break through on the queenside.
21...£b6 22.axb5 axb5 23.£e2 ¥g4 24.h3 ¥xf3² forced 25.£xf3 ¦fd8 26.£e2 ¤c6 27.¦a1 ¦a8
(27...e5 the engines correctly identify the need for Black to generate counterplay in the center.
28.¦a6 £b8 29.£xb5 £xb5 30.¥xb5 ¤xb4 31.¦a7 ¦a8 32.¦ea1 ¦xa7 33.¦xa7 ¦b8 34.dxe5 ¥xe5 35.¤d7 and White has a positional plus due to the weak d-pawn, but it's probably not decisive.)
(27...¤xb4 fails after 28.¦eb1 ¤c6 29.¦xb5)
28.f4?? this misguided attempt to cover e5 gives Black a winning tactical shot, something both of us missed during the game.
(Houdini finds White to have a big advantage after the straightforward 28.¦xa8 ¦xa8 29.¦b1 with Black tied down to defending the b5-pawn as best he can while White also prepares to break through on the a-file.)
28...¦xa1?! this is sufficient for an advantage, but misses the win.
(28...¤xd4 and Black has it in the bag, says Fritz.
29.£d3 (29.exd4 ¥xd4+ 30.¢h1 ¦xa1) (29.£g2 ¦xa1 30.¦xa1 ¤f3+ 31.£xf3 ¥xa1) 29...¤f3+ 30.¢f2 ¤xe1 31.¦xe1)
29.¦xa1 ¤xb4? Black has let it slip away
(29...¤xd4 still works, if not as well as before. 30.£d1 ¤f5µ 31.¦a6 £b8 32.¢f2 and Black is a clear pawn to the good.)
(30.£d2 ¤c6 31.¦a6 £c7 32.¥xb5 is a more effective method of recapturing the pawn, using the fact that the queen is tied to defending the Nc6.)
30...¤c6 (30...¤a6 31.£xb5 £xb5 32.¥xb5 ¤xc5 33.dxc5²) 31.¦xb5² £a7? this removes the queen from the action, allowing a nasty tactical follow-up.
(31...£c7 32.¦b7 £d6² and e6 is protected.)
32.¦b7ќ £a8?! cannot solve the problems of the position, notes Fritz.
(32...¤xd4 although the engines find this line limiting Black's material losses, it's difficult to find this sort of thing over the board. Black is still losing, in any case.
33.¦xa7 ¤xe2+ 34.¥xe2)
33.¤xe6+ ¢g8 34.¤xd8 ¥xd8 35.£b5 and the rest is easy for White, being the exchange and a pawn up while dominating the position.
35...£a3 36.¢f2 the engines say go ahead and take the Nc6, but I saw no reason to give Black even a hope of counterplay.
36...£a2+ 37.¥e2 £c2 38.£xd5 ¥e7 39.¦xe7! Eliminates the defender e7, trumpets Fritz, who gave the move the exclamation point. Houdini is less impressed and things Rc8 winning the knight is better. The text move simplifies down and gives White an easy and clear win, however.
39...¤xe7 40.£d8+ A double attack 40...¢g7 41.£xe7 £f5 42.g4 £d5 43.£e5+ with the queens off, Black will inevitably fall. (43.£e5+ £xe5 44.fxe5ќ)


  1. This looks great but I fail to make progress with my blog. Exactly where should I add the HTML code?

  2. If you look at the post with instructions for publishing with Aquarium, it's the same thing as setting up the blog style sheets.


  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Part II of the Best of Chess Blogging
    is now posted! Added your chessloser link, thanks much.

  5. I don't like the size of ChessFlash, but appreciate the stability of the game score beside that renders the comments readable while playing through the moves. ChessKing's board is the right size for my viewing pleasure, but the comments are inaccessible without scrolling. Could there be a way to combine the best aspects of both, and easy publication in blogger, wordpress, and other formats, I could get excited.

  6. I actually like the Aquarium 2011 publishing feature best, as far as functionality and looks, but unfortunately on Blogger any time a game is published with it, no other posts are then visible after it on the main page. This makes it unusable for those who want more than one post showing on their blog. Rather frustrating.