30 April 2017

Annotated Game #174: Choke

For those not familiar with the word "choke", it refers in English slang to when an individual sportsperson (or sometimes an entire team) is presented with a clear winning opportunity during an important moment, but instead they screw it up and lose.  This next tournament game is a great example of this phenomenon.  After three wins in a row I was paired against the leader of the section and had a chance to move into first place with one round left to play.  Instead, after doing well in an aggressive English Opening (yes, the English can be aggressive), I was one move away from victory, but instead had a major thinking process failure on move 24 (trapping my opponent's queen...except for the one move that beat me).  It had been a rather exciting and somewhat exhausting game up until that point, so even though it was relatively early on move-wise, I had expended a good amount of clock time and a lot of mental energy on calculating variations since the unexpected 17th move from my opponent.  Basically I lost patience and decided to skip the process...with unfortunate consequences.  Lesson learned.

ChessAdmin - Class C

Result: 0-1

A13: English Opening: 1...e6
[...] 1.c4 e6 2.¤f3 d5 3.e3 ¤f6 4.b3 ¥e7 now in a standard QGD type setup for Black. 5.¥b2 ¤bd7 6.¥e2 b6 7.O-O ¥b7 8.¤c3 (8.d3 is an option, with the idea of Nbd2.) (8.cxd5!? immediately is more common than the text move.) 8...O-O 9.cxd5 this seemed the logical follow-up. I've previously had bad experiences with Black building a strong pawn center and this takes care of that problem. 9...¤xd5
9...exd5 10.¦c1 ¦e8 11.£c2 ¥f8 12.¦fd1 c6 13.d4 ¥d6 14.¥d3 £e7 15.¤e2 g6 16.¤g3 ¤g4 17.¦e1 f5 18.¥xf5 gxf5 19.¤xf5 £f8 20.e4 ¥f4 21.e5 ¦e6 22.¦cd1 ¢h8 23.g3 £g8 24.¢h1 Gunina,V (2529)-Kriebel,T (2461) Novy Bor 2015 1/2-1/2 (157)
10.¤xd5 is more common. The Nc3 isn't a great piece and it's better to exchange it, also opening up the long diagonal for the Bb2 (and the c-file for a rook). 10...¥xd5 11.£c2 c5 12.¦ad1 ¦c8 13.£b1 £c7 14.d4 £b7 15.¦c1 cxd4 16.¥xd4 ¥f6 17.£b2 ¥xd4 18.£xd4 ¤f6 19.h3 h6 20.£a4 a5 21.£d4 ¦c7 22.£e5 ¦fc8 23.¥a6 1-0 (23) Alekseev,E (2679)-Rusanov,M (2440) St Petersburg 2014
10...¥f6 11.d4 here I decided the benefits of the pawn advance outweighed shutting off the Bb2. First of all, Black's Bf6 is also shut out, and I also get a strong central pawn that influences e5 and c5. The a3-f8 diagonal also looks like a good one for my bishop. 11...¦c8 a slow move and one that allows the following sequence, giving me a measurable edge. (11...¤xc3 12.¥xc3 c5) 12.¤xd5²12...¥xd5 (12...exd5 13.¤e5 ¤xe5 14.dxe5 ¥e7 15.¥g4 ¦a8 16.£c2 c6 17.f4²) 13.¥a6 this is the problem with the earlier rook move, Black loses a tempo and his queenside is looking awkward. 13...¦b8 14.¥d3 I had been worried about a possible future ...b5, blocking the bishop in. Another square might have been better, though. (14.¥b5)
14.£e2 is another option the engine likes, controlling the diagonal (and b5) while connecting the rooks and protecting the Bb2, which is otherwise loose.
14...c5 the logical reaction by Black, taking advantage of the unprotected Bb2 to rule out capture on c5. 15.¤e5 a somewhat risky and aggressive decision that was not the best. I didn't mind the exchange on e5, and it is evaluated by the engine as equal. (15.£e2 cxd4 16.¤xd4 ¦c8²) 15...¥xe5?! a case where the standard rule of not exchanging bishops for knights applies. (15...cxd4!?16.exd4 ¤xe5 17.dxe5 ¥e7) (15...¤xe5 16.dxe5 ¥e7) 16.dxe5² White has the pair of bishops, but also the Nd7 has no useful squares at the moment. 16...£g5 this surprised me, but I was able to find an effective countermove. 17.e4 now I have the initiative. 17...¥c6 18.f4 the queen's location becomes a problem for Black. 18...£h4 19.¦c2
19.¦c3!? is probably a better version of the idea of transferring the rook to the kingside (after Bc2) and one that I considered for a while. In the end I rejected a plan of a piece attack on the kingside for one based on a pawn advance. 19...£e7
19...¦bd8 20.g3
20.£e2± getting off the d-file and overprotecting e4 was an excellent idea.
20...£h3?! this over-optimistic move justified my play to this point. (20...£e7) 21.¦d2± screening the Qd1 and protecting the Bd3 again. 21...f6? causes even greater problems, in part because the Qh3 now has no safe retreat. It also weakens e6, which I take advantage of (but not well enough). (21...¤b8± looks sad, but otherwise Black has serious problems.) 22.f5 I thought for a while here and felt good about the move, which presses the attack, but is rather complicated given the various captures on e5, f5 and e6.
22.¥e2 is found by the engine the threat being to play Bg4 with a fork on e6. 22...f5 (22...h5 23.exf6 ¥xe4 24.¦f2 gxf6 25.¥xh5+⁠−) 23.¥c4 ¦fe8 24.¦d6 ¥xe4 25.¦f2 £h6 26.¦fd2+⁠−
22...¢h8? (22...£h6 23.¥b1 £e3+ 24.¦ff2+⁠−) 23.¦f4! this should be sufficient to win. The threat of course is Rh4, trapping the queen. 23...£h6 24.¦h4?? here I moved too quickly and had a major thinking process foul. I had assumed that the queen was trapped, but of course it now has e3 to go to, with devastating effect. This was a case of the actual piece placement (Rf4) interfering with my mental visualization of the future board (Rh4, Qh6), where the diagonal is no longer blocked. Naturally if I had followed my thinking process, I could have corrected for this.
24.fxe6! and wins. 24...fxe5 25.¦xf8+ ¤xf8 26.e7+⁠− I had in fact looked at this variation, but was tired and having trouble visualizing. And then it occurred to me (mistakenly) that I could just play Rh4.
24...£e3+−⁠+ after this it is game over, although I fight on for a few moves in the vain hope for a swindle. 25.¢f1 ¤xe5 26.£h5 £f3+ 27.¢e1 £xh5 28.¦xh5 ¤xd3+
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