15 October 2011

Annotated Game #14: Comeback

This next game occurred in the first round of the follow-up weekend tournament to the one in which Annotated Game #13 was played.  The previous tournament I had chalked up a score of 0, albeit with some minor consolation from the fact that two out of the three losses I had (as a high Class B player at the time) were to Expert or high Class A players.  The previous tournament had also been my first one for several years after my participation in the Denker Tournament of Champions (see Annotated Game #12) so my competitive play was obviously very rusty.

The win that I scored in this game against an Expert-level opponent helped me make a clean break psychologically with the previous tournament result.  While I had lost my fear of playing opponents in the Class A/Expert range, I was still tired of losing to them, so this win was a significant boost to my spirits, even though it required a major oversight by my opponent at the end.  To be fair, I had more than my share of oversights and had still generally outplayed my opponent, so I don't quite consider the outcome to be a swindle.  (Perhaps for entertainment value at some point I'll annotate my biggest swindle, which was a real howler and afterwards made Fritz cry.)

Here, against the English, Black adopts an somewhat unusual move-order as after 1..e5 he continues with ..Nc6 which is typical of the closed lines, then immediately follows it up with ..Nf6, inviting a transposition into an English Four Knights if I had then played Nf3.  Although that is eventually played, I continue with a typical closed system approach and Black decided to go with the ..d6 and Be6/Qd7 setup which you can also see in Annotated Game #8.  The two positions as of move 6 are nearly identical, the difference in this game being that Black has played ..Nf6 and that he subsequently chooses not to exchange off White's Bg2.  This partly begs the question of why Black chose the Be6/Qd7 development in the first place, since the other normal explanation (a desire to castle queenside) would make little sense in the face of White's standard queenside expansion plan.

The queenside/kingside expansion "race" shown in the previous two annotated games never quite occurs, largely because White strikes first after a tempo-losing move by Black and wins the b7 pawn, but in the process overlooks a superior continuation which would have allowed Black no counterchances.  Black is then able to take over the initiative on move 18, with his more open lines and piece play against White's king position, which however is secure enough as long as accurate defensive moves are played.  The sequence from moves 19-27 isn't completely forced, but essentially the best moves (or close to them) are played on both sides.

After this tense sequence, White gets lucky when the crude threat of doubling rooks on the h-file actually works after Black tries to get too ambitious and play ..h5.  A tactical slugfest ensues where both sides miss interesting possibilities.  White's opportunity to immediately take on h7, found during analysis, didn't register for me in the game, as it would require a fairly sophisticated conversion of the kingside attack (exchanging two rooks for pawn and queen) into a won quasi-endgame where White's queen then runs rampant on the queenside.  The last two moves of the game are the culmination of the tactical exchange, as White misses a mate in 4 (check out the key role played by the "English" c4 pawn in covering d5) and then Black misses a winning rook sacrifice, allowing mate in one by White.

The psychological phases of the game are clearly distinct, with the opening maneuvering (a "feeling out period)" leading to a second, relatively clean tactical phase featuring a quick blow by White and counterpunching by Black, followed by a third phase of messy tactics until knockout.  To further the boxing analogy, a quick series of jabs and blocks gave way to stumbling, roundhouse punches as the fighters had sweat in their eyes and were reeling from one too many blows to the head from the previous rounds.  (Decision fatigue perhaps?)  I won when the opponent walked right into my haymaker.  But overall, it was a good fight.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Expert"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A29"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "1992.??.??"] {A25: English Opening vs King's Indian with ...Nc6 but without early d3} 1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 Nf6 {indicates Black will play for a central strategy, as this blocks in the f-pawn and fianchettoing the bishop on g7 now makes less sense.} 4. Bg2 d6 5. d3 Be6 6. Nf3 Qd7 7. O-O {Ng5 is the most played move in this position, challenging Black's light-square bishop and guarding the h3 square.} Be7 8. Rb1 O-O 9. b4 {White has now established the classic English closed position, against a slightly unusual setup by Black.} Rae8 {Black wastes a key tempo and misplaces the rook, as it's not clear how it can ever be effective on the e-file.} 10. Bg5 {White however returns the favor, wasting time with a sub-par bishop development. Better was immediate action on the queenside with} (10. b5 Nd8 11. Qa4 a6 12. bxa6 Qxa4 13. Nxa4 bxa6 {when White's space advantage and better piece coordination give him a marked advantage.}) 10... Nh5 (10... a6 {is preferred, according to both Fritz and Houdini. The knight is temporarily misplaced on h5 and the move does not generate any threats for Black.}) 11. b5 $14 {correctly ignores the kingside, focusing on taking the initiative on the queenside.} Nd8 12. Qa4 f6 (12... a6 13. bxa6 Qxa4 14. Nxa4 bxa6 {is very similar to the note to move 10, but is now Black's best option.}) 13. Bc1 {This was played with the idea of possibly redeveloping the bishop to a3. Houdini prefers Bd2, which would allow the following amusing sequence:} (13. Bd2 a6 14. bxa6 Qxa4 15. axb7 Qd7 {here if the bishop were instead on c1 as in the game, the Black queen could go to c2, threatening the unprotected Nc3} 16. b8=Q) 13... f5 14. Ng5 {unleashes the Bg2 and looks to trade off Black's powerful Be6.} f4 ({Here the engines prefer} 14... Bxg5 15. Bxg5 {which exchanges off Black's near-immobile bishop.}) 15. Nxe6 $18 Nxe6 16. Bxb7 fxg3 17. hxg3 Nd4 18. Kg2 {Houdini points out the much superior Be3, which connects the rooks and has the idea of exchanging off the Nd4, also allowing Qxa7.} ({White can't be greedy with} 18. Qxa7 {due to} Nxg3 19. fxg3 Rxf1+ 20. Kxf1 Qh3+ {and Black has perpetual check.}) 18... Qg4 { now the initiative shifts to Black. White remains better overall, but needs to find accurate defensive moves.} 19. Qd1 Bh4 {finally making the Nh5 worthwhile} 20. Bf3 Nxf3 21. exf3 Qg6 22. Ne4 Rf7 23. Rh1 Bd8 24. g4 ({Interestingly, Fritz didn't like this and preferred} 24. Be3 {but Houdini points out the continuation} Ref8 25. Bxa7 Nf4+ 26. Kg1 {which gives Black additional pressure. The text move forces Black to commit his knight earlier.}) 24... Nf4+ 25. Bxf4 {the dark-square bishop finally does something very useful} Rxf4 26. Qe2 Ref8 27. Rh3 Qf7 28. Rbh1 {short-sighted, since h6 would shut things down quickly for White.} (28. Qe3 {is an alternative idea.}) 28... g6 $2 {the idea must have been to play h5, but...} 29. g5 {this enables White to play gxh6 if Black advances h5, which ironically may now be his best defense. As we'll see shortly, better is the immediate Rxh7.} Be7 (29... h5 30. gxh6 Kh7 31. Qe3 { and White then makes progress by advancing the a-pawn, although the Black queen is available as a defender.}) 30. Qd1 (30. Rxh7 Qxh7 31. Rxh7 Kxh7 { and the engines give this as an overwhelming advantage for White, since Black can't stop the queen from penetrating on the a-file and wreaking havoc on the queenside in support of the a-pawn. For example} 32. Qd2 Rxf3 33. Qa5 Bd8 34. Nf6+ Bxf6 35. Kxf3 Bxg5+ 36. Kg2 Rf7 37. Qxa7) 30... Qf5 $4 ({Was the last chance to play} 30... h5 31. gxh6 Kh7 $16) 31. Rxh7 $18 {White is finally forced into the best move.} Bxg5 {none of the other tries for Black work either:} (31... Rxe4 32. dxe4 Qxg5+ 33. Kf1) (31... Rxf3 32. Rh8+ Kf7 33. Qxf3) 32. R1h3 {unfortunately, nothing forced White to find the best continuation, which was} (32. Rh8+ Kf7 33. R1h7+ Ke6 34. Rxf8 Qxf8 35. Nxg5+ Kf5 36. Rf7+) 32... Bf6 {the best defense, covering h8, but at the same time killing Black's play on the f-file.} 33. Qh1 g5 (33... Rxe4 34. fxe4 Qe6 35. Rxc7 Rf7 36. Rxf7 Qxf7 {is the best defense Houdini can find, which is still miserable for Black. }) 34. Nxf6+ {White's excellent knight delivers what should be the deathblow.} Rxf6 {allows mate in 4, although the queen capture is nearly as bad.} 35. Rxc7 {...and White completely misses it...} (35. Rh8+ Kf7 36. R3h7+ Qxh7 37. Qxh7+ Ke6 38. Re8#) 35... Rxf3 {but Black returns the favor by overlooking} (35... Rg4+ $1 36. Kf1 Qxd3+ 37. Ke1 Rg1+ 38. Qxg1 Qb1+ 39. Ke2 Qxg1 $19) (35... Rh4) 36. Rh8# 1-0

1 comment:

  1. Hey Chess Admin!
    You got there in the end and that is what matters. It was a strange opening from Black there. I guess that for a true K.I.D set up he needed to have played g6 and Bg7. His bishop was nowhere near as good on e7 was it? I thought your play on the queen's side was good. Then it all went a bit crazy on the king's side.
    Once you had everything lined up on the h-file it was all over.
    Nice one!
    'mezzo

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