11 November 2011

Annotated Game #18: Comeback (Round 3)

This is the final game from my "comeback" tournament (previously shown in Annotated Game #14 and Annotated Game #16).  Against a strong Class A player, I face the London System for the first (and only) time in tournament play.  My lack of familiarity with the position-type shows, as I try to apply some standard ideas from the Slav and other d4/d5 openings with poor results.  White seizes the initiative with 8. g4! but fails to put Black away, while at the same time creating some weaknesses in his own camp.  Black shows tenacity by continuing to look for counterthreats and then seizes the moment after White overlooks a mating pattern with two bishops.

In this tournament I scored 2/3 against an opposition with an average 2026 rating, resulting in a 2149 performance rating.  Statistically that is not meaningful across a whole career.  However, it at least showed that I am capable of playing level with Expert rated opposition in a tournament.  Certainly my opponents helped me achieve this result, but that's all part of the performance aspect of chess.  In that context, it's worth noting that I played at a much higher level in the loss (#16) than I did in this win.

For future annotated games, I intend to have them be a mix of past tournament games, starting chronologically from this point on in my career, and contemporary training games.  I find it encouraging that my chess knowledge has increased to the point where I can easily recognize common flaws in my play, including certain types of positional understanding and patterns of thinking.  This game again demonstrates a past ignorance of the relative value of minor pieces and how/when it is best to exchange them, for example the key role of the White knight on e5.  My contemporary play also reflects a "hangover" of these past practices - it is very hard to eradicate bad habits - but acknowledging the problem is the first step to fixing it.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class A"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D02"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Friz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "32"] [EventDate "1992.??.??"] {D02:1 d4 d5 2 Nf sidelines, including 2...Nf6 3 g3 and 2...Nf6 3 Bf4} 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bf4 Bf5 {the third most popular response to the London System. Black keeps the symmetry and some of the standard Slav ideas.} 4. e3 e6 5. Nbd2 {Bd3 is played most often here, the game move and c4 being the secondary choices.} Nbd7 {the bishop development with Bd6 looks superior here.} 6. Ne5 c5 {an incorrect reaction that does not take advantage of the Nd7 placement to exchange the Ne5.} ({Compare with a simple continuation such as} 6... Nxe5 7. Bxe5 Bd6 8. Bd3 O-O {where Black has equalized and has comfortable development. }) 7. c3 Be7 8. g4 {White, no doubt benefitting from his better experience in the system, finds an aggressive (and best, according to Houdini) way to exploit Black's development scheme.} Be4 {while this is a common idea in Slav positions, to provoke a White positional weakness, it doesn't work here. Nxe5 was still the best approach.} 9. f3 $18 Bg6 10. h4 (10. g5 $18 {as Fritz originally pointed out, is the killer move. The problem for Black is that c5 has loosened the queenside and allows Bb5 to pin the knight with a double attack, once the Nf6 is forced to move. For example} Nh5 11. Bb5 O-O 12. Nxd7 Nxf4 13. exf4 Qc7 14. Nxf8 Rxf8) 10... h5 {Black still resolutely ignores his chance to exchange off the Ne5 and forces White to make his best move.} 11. g5 Nxe5 {a little late in coming} 12. gxf6 $18 Bxf6 {Fritz here already spots the coming mate threat for Black, using the two bishops.} 13. dxe5 {one of those times where a capture decision is critical to the position. The e5 pawn now significantly reduces the scope of the Bf4 and with it White's threats, along with relinquishing the d4 square.} (13. Bxe5 Bxh4+ 14. Ke2 $18 O-O 15. dxc5 { and White is doing very nicely.}) 13... Bxh4+ 14. Ke2 c4 {setting up the mate threat.} ({Here Houdini prefers simply castling, with some compensation for the material due to White's king position and uncoordinated pieces.} 14... O-O) 15. Qa4+ Kf8 16. Rd1 $4 {as Fritz puts it, an unfortunate move that relinquishes the win. In practical terms, Black would still be able to make White have to work for it.} (16. Kd1 $18) 16... Bd3# 0-1

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