20 August 2011

Annotated Game #6: World Record simul

This game was played at the October 2000 Guinness World Record simultaneous exhibition in the Zocalo (central square) of Mexico City.  The event, part of that year's chess festival, broke the world record for number of games in a single-day simul,with 448 Mexican masters facing slightly over 10,000 players.  The later 2006 Zocalo simul is more famous and continues to hold the record for a single-day event, with 13,446 participants.

The opening is a Slav Defense with 3. Nc3, which although not the main line, has occurred in the majority of games I have played with it.  I believe this occurs largely because Class players are unfamiliar with the Slav and think that it can be treated similarly to a Queen's Gambit.  Although some top-level players use 3. Nc3, it seems that it is mostly against opponents who end up playing the Semi-Slav (featuring e6) against them.  When Black then plays 3..dxc4, this tends to throw most of my opponents.  The main point of it is that Black still has the undermining move e5 that can come, along with b5 in certain cases.

My opponent varies from theory early on with 4. Bf4, which while not bad, does nothing to challenge Black, who ends up with a very comfortable game early on.  I would say that by move 8, Black has achieved all of the standard ideas in the Slav and has no problems whatsoever.  As I was not playing for a win, I was content to exchange down pieces into a very drawish position on move 14.  However, the counterattacking features of the opening - one of the main reasons I employ it - were soon on display, as White becomes overly aggressive and optimistic, allowing Black to penetrate on the kingside, undermine White's advanced pawns, and bring his rooks into the game.  On move 24 I "cash in" the attack prematurely and with best play it should have simplified down to a draw.  However, once again my opponent is over-optimistic and overlooks Black's remaining possibilities, leading to a win for me.

One of the things the analysis process has reinforced for me is the need to always be critical about chess engine evaluations.  Fritz 6 performed the original game analysis and considered White to be equal or better in the sequence starting after move 22, while Black's attack is being pressed; however, Houdini gave a significant (if not winning) plus for Black.  I believe Fritz at that point over-valued the material advantage that White had, a common failing of many engines.

While going over this game, I was encouraged by the fact that I was able to see the attacking ideas in the position, especially with 21..g5, which is not a stereotypical safe, solid move.  The position in fact looks more like a Dutch Defense after that is played.  The ability to play according to the needs of the position, also highlighted in Annotated Game #5, is something that I need to continue to cultivate.

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