26 June 2016

Annotated Game #160: Focus and accurate calculation

In this last-round tournament game, I was able to elevate my level of play significantly when compared to the earlier games, which I attribute to a better level of focus on my part.  Correct application of opening principles (countering in the center on move 4, for example) led to me having a comfortable position as Black in a Slav Defense. After a minor misstep on move 12, I was able to recover and accurately see the best continuation, including the most effective in-between move (14...Nxe3). Most importantly, I was able to concretely parry the temporary initiative that my opponent generated, then find the tactical refutation to his too-aggressive play. I was pleased to be able to continue the accurate play afterwards and correctly ignored his kingside attack while setting up my own fatal blow.

While it's always important to look for improvements in your wins (for example on move 12) as well as your losses, I think that for improving players it's also important to take some pleasure in good play (it's always great to see the engine agreeing with your choices over multiple sequences).  Even more important, though, is seeking to remember and emulate the factors that led to that good play, for use in future games.

Class A - ChessAdmin

Result: 0-1
D10: Slav Defence: cxd5 (without early Nf3) and 3 Nc3
[...] 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.¤c3 dxc4 4.a4 immediately preventing Black from playing...b5 to reinforce the c4 pawn. 4...e5 countering in the center like this is a dynamic way for Black to play, taking advantage of the fact that White is temporarily a pawn down, so having the e5 pawn taken would not even be a gambit. 5.e3 exd4 capturing is indicated here, otherwise the e-pawn is too difficult to defend for Black. 6.exd4 ¥e6 the natural developing move that also keeps the c4 pawn. 7.¤f3 ¥e7 I played this to continue to control g5, which would not have been the case after ...Nf6.
7...¤f6 would be fine, though. 8.¥g5 (8.¤g5 ¥d5µ) 8...¤bd7 followed by ...h6 gives Black a plus.
8.¤e5 ¤f6 9.¥xc4 ¥xc4 10.¤xc4 ¤a6 11.O-O O-O 12.¥f4 ¤b4 13.£d2 ¤fd5 14.¦ad1 ¦c8 15.¥e5 ¦e8 16.¦fe1 ¥f8 17.¤e4 ¦e6 18.f4 b5 19.f5 ¦h6 20.¤e3 ¤xe3 21.¦xe3 ¤d5 22.¦f3 f6 Kazansev,A (2275)-Ovsjuchenko,S (2199) Krasnodar 2002 0-1 (44)
8...¤f6 (8...¤d7!? would help combat White's next idea more effectively.) 9.¤e5 working to recover the pawn on c4. 9...¤bd7 10.¤xc4 here Komodo gives a slight edge to Black. The knight is somewhat misplaced on c4 and Black has a small development advantage (4 pieces to 3).
10.¥xc4 ¥xc4 11.¤xc4 now compared with the game continuation, both White and Black have equal development (three pieces).
10...¤b6?!11.¤e5 (11.¤xb6 £xb6 just helps Black's development) 11...¥d6 12.¥d3 ¤bd5³
11.¥d3 ¤d5 12.O-O ¥g5 not a terrible move, but not addressing the needs of the position. It is more important to utilize the knights effectively and the bishop is fine where it is. The text move would be great for Black if White captured on g5, but that's not going to happen. (12...¤b4!?) (12...¤7f6) (12...¤7b6) 13.£h5 an effective way to equalize for White. 13...h6 this is now forced, due to the double threat against the Bg5 and h7. 14.f4?! this is overly aggressive.
14.¤xd5!? must definitely be considered, comments the engine via the Fritz interface. 14...¥xd5
14...¤xe3³ a beneficial in-between move for Black, who does not have to react directly to the threat against the Bg5. 15.¤xe3 Black now has the pair of bishops.
15.fxg5?15...¤xf1 16.gxh6?16...g6 17.¥xg6 ¥xc4−⁠+ and White does not have enough pieces in the attack to do anything to Black's king.
15...¥f6³16.¤c2 a somewhat passive follow-up to the overly-aggressive f4 push.
16.d5 would be more in the spirit of the previous aggression. 16...¤b6 (16...cxd5 17.f5 ¥xc3 18.bxc3 ¤f6 19.£f3 ¥d7³) 17.dxe6 £xd3³ with a more complicated picture and opportunities for White.
16...¤b6µ increasing pressure on d4 from the Qd8. 17.¤e2 (17.¢h1 ¤c4µ) 17...¥c4 the correct square (c4) to focus on, but the bishop is not the most effective piece.
17...¤c4!? now Black has a series of threats to the b-pawn that White has a very hard time dealing with. 18.b3 (18.¥xc4 ¥xc4 19.¦fd1 ¦e8 20.¤c3 £b6−⁠+) 18...¤d2 19.¦fd1 ¤xb3−⁠+
18.£f5 g6 the obvious response, which is rather awkward for White. 19.£h3 ¥xd3 this prematurely releases the tension.
19...¦e8 this indirectly protects the h-pawn, by attacking the Ne2 and not allowing White to exchange on c4 without subsequently taking care of his knight. 20.¥xc4 (20.¦fe1 ¥h4µ) 20...¤xc4 21.£c3 £d5µ
20.£xd3³20...¦e8 I still have a small positional advantage, including being able to target the isolated d-pawn, but White has fewer problems to worry about now. 21.¤g3 c5 the idea - which the engine agrees with - is to take advantage of the pin on the d-pawn against the hanging Qd3, but White's next move is the best response and one that I did not anticipate. 22.a5 ¤d7 23.f5 g5 24.¤e4 White is enjoying some initiative here and I definitely felt pressured during the game. However, I am able to focus and calculate properly. 24...cxd4 25.¤d6?? my opponent gets too aggressive and fails to see the tactical response, which wins for Black.
25.¤xf6+!?25...¤xf6 26.£xd4 £xd4+ 27.¤xd4 ¦ad8µ here Black's rook activity provides an endgame edge.
25...¤c5−⁠+ simultaneously attacking the Qd3 and Nd6. 26.£h3? desperation, although White has no good alternatives. (26.£g3 ¥e5 27.¤xf7 ¢xf7−⁠+ and Black is a full piece ahead.) 26...£xd6 27.£xh6 d3 the quickest way to victory. 28.¢h1 dxc2 29.h4 ¦e2 30.hxg5 due to his own vulnerable king, White simply doesn't have time to do enough with his kingside attack, which I can effectively ignore. 30...£g3
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24 June 2016

Viktor Kortchnoi stops playing chess

'I will only stop playing chess when nature forces me'
The last New In Chess interview with Viktor Kortchnoi

This month, GM Viktor Kortchnoi stopped playing chess.

Some of this blog's commentary on the legend and his games: