29 May 2016

Annotated Game #159: The dangers of distraction

This next tournament game illustrates the dangers of getting distracted from the central features and truths of a position.  As White, I achieve a comfortable game out of the opening and have a clear target in the form of my opponent's king in the center.  Then, at a key point (move 15) I allow myself to be distracted by my opponent on the queenside and a couple of moves later he has equalized, which was a disappointing turn of events.  Luckily, he then distracts himself with potential queenside prospects and moves his queen offside, allowing me to resume an attack in the center after all.

While there are some interesting tactical and positional points in the analysis, the main overriding theme for the game is the need to focus on central control and find any way to get at the opponent's king, including sacrifices to open lines (such as the variation on move 14).  Another personal theme revealed is my difficulty, which is something that has been highlighted repeatedly in analysis, of visualizing attacks, especially mating nets.  I had trouble looking at the series of moves from 22-25 and selecting the most effective ones, although my opponent had even more trouble finding his way and was fatally distracted by snatching a queenside pawn.  As a result, I was able to clearly see the sequence starting on move 26 and win.

ChessAdmin - Class C

Result: 1-0
A16: English Opening: 1...Nf6 with ...d5
[...] 1.c4 d5 2.cxd5 exchanging a flank pawn for a central pawn is usually a good idea and this early on there are no potential drawbacks. 2...¤f6 3.¤c3 ¤xd5 4.¤f3 ¤xc3 5.bxc3 White is quite comfortable here, with a small lead in development and no challenges from Black. 5...¥f5 this move is something of a time waster.
5...g6 is the main idea for Black here, developing the kingside and staying flexible.
6.£b3 a (good) obvious move to take advantage of the bishop leaving the queenside. 6...£c8 ...b6 or ...Be4 are alternatives to protect the b-pawn, but White still gets more out of the Qb3 move than Black does in any of his options to counter it. 7.¥a3 not a bad move, but I should be focusing on control of the center and completing my own development. The idea is to make Black's own kingside development more difficult by restraining ...e6 due to the threat of Bxf8. My opponent decides (erroneously) that this is fine, however, so the move turns out well for me.
7.g3 e6 8.d3± and after Rb1 and Bg2, Black is going to have problems defending threats down the b-file and the long diagonal.
7...c5 is a way to resolve the problem, costing a pawn but leaving White without any remaining threats. 8.¤e5 ¥e6 9.£b5+ ¤d7 10.¤xd7 ¥xd7 11.£xc5 £xc5 12.¥xc5²
8.¥xf8±8...¦xf8 this leaves Black's king more centralized and therefore vulnerable. (8...¢xf8) 9.d3
9.d4!? is more to the point, with Black's king stuck in the center, as White needs to seize territory and pry open the position.
9...h6 while preventing a knight hop to g5, this is dangerously slow for Black's development. (9...¤c6 10.¤h4±) 10.e4 not a bad continuation, but I could have done more with the position.
10.g4!? for example is now possible, since taking the pawn would lose to a queen fork on a4. 10...¥h7 11.¦b1 and now the b-pawn is doomed, for example 11...b6?!12.¥g2 c6 13.¤d4 e5 14.¤b5! and the Bg2 proves its worth on the long diagonal, since taking the Nb5 loses material for Black, but the knight's attack on the d6 square anyway becomes decisive. 14...£d7 15.£a3 f5 16.¤d6++⁠−
(10.¦b1 is also good.) 10...¥h7 11.¥e2 ¤d7 12.O-O ¦b8 13.¦ad1 now that Black has defended the b-pawn adequately, the obvious place to put the rook is on d1, to support a pawn advance. The Rf1 should stay where it is, as it can be better used on either the f- or e-files. 13...c5 14.e5 played to enable a follow-on push by the d-pawn, but this was not in fact necessary.
14.¤d2 is a solid move that would support the e-pawn and help reposition the knight to a better square.
14.d4!? immediately is something the engine likes. 14...¥xe4 15.¦fe1 ¥d5
15...¢e7 16.d5 ¥xd5?! (16...¦d8 17.dxe6 ¤f6 18.exf7 ¢f8 19.¥c4±) 17.¦xd5+⁠−
16.¥c4 ¥xc4 17.£xc4 cxd4 18.£xd4± White is a pawn down but Black is under heavy pressure in the center, with kingside weaknesses. For example
14...b5 trying to get some space and counterplay on the queenside. This in fact works, as it distracts me from the task in the center. (14...¢e7 15.d4 ¦d8 16.¤d2²) 15.¦c1 (15.d4± continues the plan without distraction.) 15...£c7 16.d4 c4 now it's clear that the rook moves back and forth have just wasted time. 17.£d1?!
17.£b2 makes much more sense, keeping control of the b4 square. 17...a6 18.a4 this is a common positional theme, temporarily sacrificing a pawn to render the entire structure weak. 18...bxa4 19.£a3±
17...¤b6 Black now defends the d5 square and prevents a White breakthrough. I now have to regroup and come up with a different approach. 18.¤d2 ¤d5 the optics of the centralized knight look good, but the practical consequences are bad for Black. (18...¢e7 19.¥f3) 19.¥f3² the bishop would be happy to exchange itself for the Nd5 and open the way for the e-pawn to advance. (19.a4!? is again a good idea as well.) 19...¥d3 the Black bishop springs annoyingly back to life, although this is not a real threat. 20.¦e1 £a5? this removes Black's most powerful piece from the defense of his king, which is about to become the target of White's operations. (20...¤f4!?21.g3 ¤h3+ 22.¢g2 ¤g5 23.¥e2 ¥f5±) 21.¥xd5 exd5 22.e6+⁠−22...fxe6 23.¦xe6+?! premature. I thought for a long time here about the queen moves, but my brain by this point was fuzzy and I could not see a clear way to an advantage. My opponent however does not find the one defensive move that works.
23.£g4 seems obviously superior in hindsight, although it's a long variation to get to the final advantage. 23...¦f6 24.£xg7 £d8 25.¤f3 ¦g6 26.£h8+ ¢e7 27.£xd8+ ¢xd8 28.¤e5 ¦g8 29.¤c6+±
(23.£h5+ ¢d7 24.£e5±) 23...¢d7?
23...¢f7 and Black is OK. 24.£g4 ¦b6 25.¦ce1 ¢g8 26.¦e8 £a3
24.¦e5 again, Qg4 would be better, but now this is sufficient for the win.
24.£g4 and White wins, comments Komodo via the Fritz interface. 24...g6 (24...¥f5 25.£xg7+ ¢xe6 26.¦e1+) 25.¦a6+ ¥f5 26.£xf5+ ¦xf5 27.¦xa5 b4 28.¦xa7+ ¢d8+⁠−
24...¢c6 (24...¢c7 25.£g4 ¦f7 26.¦xd5 ¦d8 27.¦c5+ ¢b8+⁠−) 25.£h5 I thought again for a while and picked the wrong queen move. (25.£g4 £d8 26.£xg7+⁠−) 25...£xa2?? this is the real losing move, as the queenside finally proves a fatal distraction. (25...¦bd8±) 26.¦e6+ now I am able to construct the win with clear calculation, not worrying about getting there the fastest, just the surest. 26...¢c7 27.£xd5 only the third fastest route to mate, according to the engine, but a sure one.
27.£e5+ ¢c8 28.£xg7 £a6 29.¦xa6 ¦g8 30.¦c6+ ¢d8 31.¦d6+ ¢e8 32.£d7+ ¢f8 33.¦f6#
27...£a3 28.£c6+ (28.¦c6+ ¢b7 29.¦d6+ ¢c7 30.£c6#) 28...¢d8 29.¦d6+
29.¦d6+ £xd6 30.£xd6+ ¢c8 31.¦e1 ¥e2 32.¦xe2 ¦b6 33.£xf8+ ¢b7 34.¦e7+ ¢a6 35.£c8+ ¢a5 36.¦xa7+ ¦a6 37.¦xa6#
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  1. Hey there! An interesting game. I enjoy reading your annotations. Best regards,

    1. Thanks for stopping by Bryan. It's always good to see that the annotations can be entertaining and perhaps occasionally useful, beyond doing them for my own training purposes.