10 April 2016

Annotated Game #154: For the want of a pawn...

This second-round tournament game is a good illustration of the importance of the d-pawn (and the d4 square) in French Opening-style pawn structures.  My opponent as White neglected this key aspect and I was able to take advantage of it, winning the d-pawn relatively early on.  Some significant improvements for Black came out in the analysis afterwards, so it was worth looking at in order to tweak my game, for example on move 13.  The strategic endgame errors my opponent made are also typical, primarily involving simplifying down into less complex (but worse) positions.

Class E - ChessAdmin

Result: 0-1
Site: ?
Date: ?
B12: Caro-Kann: Advance Variation
[...] 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 ¤c6 5.¤f3 ¥g4 Black has achieved a standard setup against the Advance variation played by White, with his bishop outside the pawn chain. This is the basic idea of the 3...c5 variation. 6.¥e2 e6 7.O-O ¤ge7 this was my first real think in the game. It's a standard way to develop the knight, but Black has other possibilities. (7...¥xf3) (7...£b6) 8.h3?! this essentially forces an inferior continuation for White. (8.¤bd2!? should not be overlooked) 8...¥xf3 9.¥xf3 ¤f5 not a bad move, but not the most effective continuation. I should have looked more deeply into the cxd4 option and its various effects.
9...cxd4 10.cxd4 £b6 11.¥e3 ¤f5 12.¤c3 (12.¥g4 ¤xe3 13.fxe3 £xb2µ) 12...¤cxd4 13.£a4+ £c6µ
10.¥g4!? is the reason why Black should have taken earlier on d4. Now White can trade off the knight and inflict some pawn structure damage.
10...£b6 again, capturing immediately on d4 would be better, although the text move is fine. 11.£d2 now Black is going to be a clear pawn ahead with no compensation. (11.¤d2 ¥e7³) 11...cxd4µ12.cxd4 ¤cxd4 Black does not have to worry about the pin on the Nd4, since it can be dissolved two ways (...Nxf3+ or ...Nxe3). 13.¥g4 (13.¥xd4 ¤xd4 14.¥d1 ¦c8µ) 13...¥c5
13...¤xe3!? is significantly better, saddling White with additional weaknesses and giving Black additional significant threats, notably to both the weak e5 and e3 pawns. I had focused exclusively on the text move in my thinking. 14.fxe3 (14.£xe3?14...¤c2 15.£xb6 axb6−⁠+) 14...¤c6−⁠+
14.¥xf5 (14.¥f4 O-Oµ) 14...¤xf5 15.¥xc5 £xc5 I had focused on this position when originally calculating the sequence. Black has an extra central protected passed pawn and the e5 pawn is weak. 16.£d3 this seems to be too slow. White could have used the tempo to try to develop his pieces quicker. (16.¦c1 £d4µ) 16...O-O 17.¤d2 evidently the idea behind White's queen move, clearing the d2 square for the knight. 17...¦ac8 18.¦ac1 (18.¤f3 ¦c7µ) 18...£d4 here I also strongly considered the queen for double rook trade, which I think would be more clearly winning, although the text move also leads to a significant advantage.
18...£xc1!?19.¦xc1 ¦xc1+ 20.¢h2 ¦fc8−⁠+ looks good for Black, as the rooks control the only open file and should be able to parry any White threats by the queen.
19.£xd4 ¤xd4−⁠+20.¦xc8?! I was happy to see this, giving me uncontested control of the c-file. (20.¢h2!?) 20...¦xc8 21.¤f3 a common endgame error by Class players - simplifying down material only magnifies your opponent's advantages, in this case the protected passed d-pawn. The doubled f-pawns also do nothing for White. 21...¤xf3+ 22.gxf3 at this point the endgame is completely winning for Black, so I concentrated on making sure that I would be safe and maintain the advantage, rather than on winning in the most rapid way. 22...g6 cautiously giving the king an escape square off the back rank, while also dominating the f5 square. While not the absolute best move - probably that would be an immediate ...Rc2 - the text move keeps the win firmly in hand while lessening the number of things that I have to worry about. This is what Dan Heisman refers to as the "go to sleep" principle in the endgame. 23.b3 f6 the idea here is to eliminate the e-pawn and open the f-file, although White could have defended against the ideas. (23...¦c2!?) 24.exf6 allowing me to execute my idea. (24.f4!?) 24...¢f7 25.¦e1 ¢xf6 now the Black king is more centralized and White's weak f-pawns are isolated. 26.¦e2 e5 27.¦d2 ¦d8 28.¢g2 White now commits his king to the kingside, rather than to stopping Black's central passed pawn. He had no good options here, but this makes my task easier in the center. 28...d4 passed pawns must be pushed! 29.¦d3 ¢f5 30.¢g3 ¦c8
30...e4 is also possible. 31.fxe4+ (31.¦d2 d3) 31...¢xe4 32.¦d2 d3−⁠+ and now Black's king can't be stopped from going to c3 and clearing the way for the pawn to queen.
31.a4?! this just weakens White's queenside pawns. 31...¦c3 32.¦d2 ¦xb3 33.¦c2 e4?! this is unnecessarily complicated and opens up the king to checks from the side.
33...¦b4 is better in consolidating the position. 34.a5 d3 35.¦a2 ¦d4−⁠+
34.¢g2 White misses his chance to harass my king and put up some more active resistance. (34.¦c5+ ¢e6 35.¢f4 e3−⁠+) 34...¦xf3 35.a5 (35.¦c5+ is now not as effective. 35...¢e6 36.¦c7 d3−⁠+) 35...¦c3 36.¦b2 ¦c7 37.¦b5+ ¢e6 38.¦b4 ¦d7 39.¢f1 ¢f5 40.¦b5+ (40.¢e1 desperation 40...d3 41.¦c4−⁠+) 40...¢f4 41.¢e2 e3
41...d3+ is more to the point. 42.¢d1 ¦c7 and now the f-pawn will fall if White keeps the king on the d-file.
42.fxe3+ dxe3 43.¦b3 ¦d2+ 44.¢e1 ¦a2
44...b6 makes it even easier for Black 45.axb6 axb6 46.¦xb6−⁠+
45.¦xb7 ¦xa5 46.¦xh7 ¦h5 this seemed obvious at the time but it allows White to take the outside passed a-pawn, which is less advantageous trade. (46...¦a1+ 47.¢e2 ¦a2+ 48.¢e1 a5−⁠+) 47.¦xa7 ¦xh3 48.¦f7+ ¢e5 49.¢e2 g5? with Black's two passed pawns only two files apart, this gives White good defensive chances.
49...¢e4 is the only move that preserves the advantage, in fact. 50.¦e7+ ¢f4 51.¦f7+ ¢g4 52.¦e7−⁠+52...g5 now the pawn advance comes with a guaranteed win.
50.¢d3 and White is still in the game, even equal according to the engine. The White king and rook combine well to shut off Black's king from making meaningful progress. For example 50...¢e6 51.¦f8 and Black has no way to advance the e-pawn without losing it.
50...¢f5 51.¦xe3? immediately loses the king and pawn endgame. (51.¦f7+ ¢g4−⁠+) 51...¦xe3+ 52.¢xe3 ¢g4 53.¢f2 ¢h3 54.¢g1 ¢g3 55.¢h1 ¢f2
55...¢f2 56.¢h2 g4 57.¢h1 ¢g3 58.¢g1 ¢h3 59.¢f2 g3+ 60.¢f1 ¢h2 61.¢e2 g2 62.¢d3 g1=£ 63.¢c4 £g5 64.¢b4 ¢g2 65.¢c4 ¢f3 66.¢b4 ¢e3 67.¢c4 £a5 68.¢b3 ¢d3 69.¢b2 £b4+ 70.¢a2 ¢c3 71.¢a1 £b2#
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  1. As soon as white plays c3, I suggest you look at the move cxd to open up the position, Iv'e had some sucess with that immediate pawn break myself as I play the c5 advance myself

    1. Thanks for the comment. The idea certainly seems playable, when followed up by ...Nc6 and ...Bf5. It does give White a more open and free game as compared with the other ...c5 lines, which are generally designed to try and shut down White's piece play, and may transpose back to 3...Bf5 variations. However, it might be a simpler approach and doesn't appear to give Black a minus.