28 May 2017

Annotated Game #175: Epic Stonewall exhaustion

This final round tournament game followed Annotated Game #174 and was the first time that I had essayed playing the Stonewall Dutch, outside of a simul game with GM Sam Shankland.  It taught me a lot about the opening, above all the need for patience (which I did not have enough of) when constructing a kingside attack.  There are many ups and downs in the course of the game - the critical phase starts at move 28 and goes all the way to the end of the game - and we were one of the last ones to finish in the round.  The toll of fighting a complicated battle for 30 moves straight along with the psychological downward trend in the end did me in, as I was exhausted from what felt like an epic fight, with my opponent on the ropes but eventually coming back.  However, there will be other opportunities.  It's also another data point telling me that energy management is something critical to watch (and improve) for my overall performance.

On that note, it's worth recalling something GM Viktor Kortchnoi said when asked about when someone should start playing a new opening they are in the process of learning.  Basically he asserted that you should just go ahead and start playing it in serious games, why not?  Losses will be inevitable, but there's really no other way to get better at it.  I like this outlook, which shouldn't be taken too literally by Class players - some preparation and study is essential, beyond just knowing the first few moves of a chosen opening - but it helps avoid the perfectionist trap of always thinking that your preparation is never "good enough" to play.  At some point, you just need to fire away.

Class C - ChessAdmin

Result: 1-0

A85: Dutch Defence: 2 c4 Nf6 3 Nc3
[...] 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.¤f3 e6 (3...¤f6 is the Slav Defense.) 4.e3 f5 with this move-order we have what is called a "Slav Stonewall". 5.¤c3 ¤f6 6.¥d3 ¥d6 the Modern Stonewall, instead of ...Be7. 7.O-O ¤bd7 ...O-O immediately is much more common here. No reason to wait. 8.b3 a standard plan for activating the dark-square bishop. 8...O-O 9.a4 done to allow the bishop to get to a3 and exchange off its counterpart on d6. 9...¤e4 a standard and often necessary move for Black in the Stonewall. In this position it is forcing, as the Nc3 is unprotected. 10.¤e2 £e7 keeping my options open and also deterring Ba3. 11.¤e1 I welcomed this, as I felt it was a waste of time for White. The intent is obvious, to push f3, but moving the knight back to the first rank does not seem worth it. 11...g5 I was in an aggressive mood from the start of the game and this move shows it. Not a very sophisticated approach.
11...a5!? would be good prophylaxis against White's queenside play. 12.f3 ¤g5 13.£c2
12.f3²12...¤ef6 13.¤c2 g4 a logical follow-up, as Komodo agrees.
13...¢h8 however might have been best to play immediately, as the king needs to vacate the g-file for a rook and I only do this much later in the game.
14.¥a3 c5?! not a good decision, although my opponent does not take advantage of it.
14...¥xa3 is what the engine considers best. During the game, I wanted to preserve the bishop for use in the kingside attack. 15.¤xa3 ¢h8²
15.dxc5
15.cxd5!? dissolves the center to White's advantage. 15...¤xd5 16.e4 gxf3 17.exd5 fxe2 18.£xe2±
15...¤xc5 16.b4? now my opponent is too aggressive. 16...¤xd3³17.£xd3 b6?! it seems that I am not really looking hard at the position and its requirements. Developing the Bc8 is a nice idea, but there are other things that are more urgent, given the pawn tensions at f3 and c4 and a potential weakness at h2.
17...gxf3 would be the direct approach. 18.¦xf3 dxc4 19.£xc4 b5 20.£xb5 £c7³
17...£c7 gives White no good options. 18.cxd5 ¥xh2+ 19.¢h1 ¥e5³
18.cxd5 this would have been strong earlier (move 15), but now I'm OK. 18...¤xd5
18...gxf3!? is better, as once the Nf6 moves away it no longer can recapture on g4 and get a good outpost. 19.gxf3 (19.¦xf3 ¥b7³) 19...¤xd5³
19.b5 my opponent now looks to simplify.
19.fxg4 would break up Black's kingside to good effect. 19...£c7 20.g3 fxg4 21.¤cd4²
19...¥xa3 20.£xa3 ¥b7 21.£xe7 ¤xe7 we now have a very equal-looking middle/endgame position. 22.f4 ¦ac8 23.¤cd4 threatening e6. 23...¢f7 24.¦ac1?! this "obvious move" gives me the initiative as my Ne7 now springs to life. (24.¢f2) 24...¤d5³ returning the favor by threatening e3. 25.¢f2 ¤b4 threatening the fork on d3. 26.¦b1 (26.¦fd1 ¦xc1 27.¤xc1 ¥e4³) 26...¤d3+ this is still a strong move. 27.¢g3µ White's king safety is now something of a problem, which along with my nicely centralized Nd3 gives me an advantage. (27.¢g1 h5µ) 27...h5 here I correctly find the logical follow-up, which raises mate threats. 28.¦fd1? this should lose, but the winning continuation is not obvious. (28.h4 gxh3 29.¢xh3 ¦g8µ) 28...¥e4 a good follow-up move, but not nearly as good as the best move.
28...h4+ secures the point, comments the engine via the Fritz interface. 29.¢xh4 ¤f2! now the White king has no way back. 30.¢g3? (30.¤xe6 ¦h8+ 31.¢g5 ¢xe6−⁠+) (30.¤xf5 ¦h8+ 31.¢g3 ¤e4+ 32.¢xg4 ¦cg8+ 33.¢f3 ¤d2+ 34.¢f2 ¦xg2+−⁠+) 30...¤e4+ 31.¢h4 ¦h8#
29.¤c6µ eyeing the jump to e5 and threatening a7, something I gave too much weight to. 29...¦h8? now I'm not thinking aggressively enough.
29...¢f6 removes the check on e5. 30.¤c3 h4+ 31.¢xh4 ¤c5µ
30.¢h4 this is enough to restore equality.
30.¦xd3! is a simple forking tactic that gets two pieces for a rook. 30...¥xd3 31.¤e5+ ¢f6 32.¤xd3±
30...¤c5 31.¦b4 this solves the dual threat to the Rb1 and a4, but not in the best way.
31.¤e5+!?31...¢f6 32.¦bc1 and now Black cannot go pawn snatching: 32...¥xg2 (32...¤xa4??33.¦d7! with mate coming.) 33.¦xc5 ¦xc5 34.¦d7 and now 34...¦xe5 is forced. 35.fxe5+ ¢xe5 36.¤f4² snagging the bishop, as a fork on g6 is threatened.
31...¥xg2³
31...¥xc6 was the other option. 32.bxc6 ¦xc6³ this had the advantage of getting rid of preventing the knight from reaching e5.
32.¤e5+ I was quite aware of the fact that I had potential mating threats, but now so does White, given the location of his knight and potential rook action on the 7th rank. 32...¢f6 33.¤g3 naturally the h5 pawn is poisoned and can't be taken, due to the subsequent pin against the king. 33...¥d5 34.¦bd4?! (34.¦c1!?) 34...¤b3 the best move, but at this point I was tired and had relatively little time on the clock, so I didn't have a coherent follow-up plan. 35.¦4d3? looks obvious, but should lose.
35.¦xd5 is necessary and only leaves White slightly worse. 35...exd5 36.¦xd5³
35...¦c2−⁠+ again another best move and obvious follow-up, but without clear vision of a winning continuation. However, the next series of moves are simple enough. 36.¤f1 ¦hc8 37.¤d7+ ¢e7 38.¤e5 ¤c5 good but perhaps not best. I felt I should at least keep making threats, feeling somewhat frustrated that I could not find a breakthrough. 39.¦d4 ¢f6 played to take away the g5 square from White's king. 40.h3 now I felt I should be able to break through. 40...gxh3 41.¢xh3 ¥g2+ unfortunately here I could not find a winning idea, under pressure.
41...¤e4!? would bring another necessary piece into the attack, since d7 does not in fact need to be guarded. 42.¤d7+ (42.¦xe4 fxe4 43.¤g3 ¦c1−⁠+) 42...¢e7 43.¤e5 ¦g8 44.¦xe4 ¦g1−⁠+ and mate threats mean White loses material.
42.¢h4 ¥d5 43.¢h3 ¦g8 (43...¤e4 again is the key. 44.¦xe4 fxe4 45.¤g3 ¦c1−⁠+) 44.¤g3 h4
44...¦g2 Black missed this excellent chance, comments the engine. 45.¤xh5+ ¢e7 46.¤c6+ ¢d6−⁠+
(44...¦h8 is also good, preparing to push the h-pawn.) 45.¤h5+µ45...¢e7 46.¤c6+ ¢f8 now we're back to equality... (46...¥xc6 47.bxc6 ¦gg2µ) 47.¤f6? except that this (again) should lose for my opponent.
47.¦xd5 leads to a perpetual. 47...exd5 48.¦xd5 for example 48...¦g1 49.¦xf5+ ¢e8 50.¤f6+ ¢f8 51.¤h5+ ¢e8 etc.
47...¦gg2 48.¦h1 ¤e4?! unfortunately this was a good idea several moves ago, not now.
48...¦g3+ and Black wins 49.¢xh4 forced 49...¦g6 with a double attack on the Nf6 and the h6 square (threatening the Rh1 via a skewer check). 50.¦xd5 exd5−⁠+
(48...¦g6?! immediately doesn't work, as White simply replies Nxd5.) 49.¤xe4³49...¥xe4 50.¦d8+ ¢g7 51.¦d7+? again my opponent offers up an opportunity. (51.¤e5) 51...¢h6−⁠+52.¤e5 ¦g3+ a great idea...on move 48. Here it blows the discovered attack by the Be4 on the Ra1, since the Rg3 will be hanging.
52...¦gf2 moving to e2 works fine as well. 53.¢xh4 forced 53...¥xh1 54.¤f7+ ¢g7 55.¤e5+ ¢f8−⁠+
53.¢xh4 by this point I'm totally exhausted and out of ideas. 53...¦g7 simplification is actually a good route to go and should result in a draw. 54.¦h3 ¦xd7 55.¤xd7 ¦g2 keeping hopes of a mate threat alive. 56.¤e5 The knight dominates, comments the engine (correctly). 56...¥c2 57.¦h1 ¥xa4 58.¦a1 ¥xb5 59.¦xa7 ¥e8? this really made no sense, but my brain was too tired from all the calculating and I missed the simple follow-up. The original idea was to dominate the Ne5. (59...¦g7 was simplest.) 60.¦e7 at this point I just gave up, seeing that I would lose the two pawns and was exhausted. The game is far from over, though. (60.¦e7 ¥a4 61.¦xe6+ ¢g7 62.¦xb6²)
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