27 January 2012

Annotated Game #28: End of a Second Era

This game marked the close of the second phase in my chess career, similar to how Annotated Game #12 highlighted the end of my first, scholastic phase at the Denker Tournament of Champions.  After this tournament was completed, I was away from competition for several years and did not give much real thought to continuing with chess as a pastime.

At least the game was a win, a good way to head into semi-retirement.  It illustrates well the types of positional mistakes that Class players are subject to making, in this case on both sides of the board.  I pick a solid but unremarkable defense to my opponent's King's Indian Attack setup and quickly obtain equality, but without much active play.  After neglecting development of my queenside and allowing my opponent to gain space with the d5 push, however, I find counterplay and go about undermining my opponent's queenside pawns.  After he permanently passes up control of the b4 square, my otherwise neglected knight soon establishes itself in that outstanding outpost, where its exchange only leads to my opponent's demise.

One of the tendencies I've noticed in play at the Class level is that opponents will often opt for a much quicker road to a loss by sacrificing material for nonexistent counterplay, rather than try to defend an inferior position under pressure.  This type of sacrifice occurred at move 24 in the below game.  This doesn't seem to be the best approach in terms of maximizing one's results, although I respect the attempt to play for a swindle in a losing position; at some point in the future I'll post my best one.  Most of the time, however, there is not enough of a threat to warrant a swindle attempt and the material is simply lost.  That said, it is certainly more difficult psychologically to suffer for a longer period of time in the hopes of your opponent making a mistake, rather than just hoping for the best and then getting it over with quickly.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class C"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B10"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "70"] [EventDate "1995.??.??"] {B10: Caro-Kann: d3 and 2 c4} 1. e4 c6 2. d3 e5 {This is a solid but unimpressive way of treating the King's Indian Attack, with the intention of playing ..d6 to defend e5.} ({Better is the variation with} 2... d5 3. Nd2 e5 4. Ngf3 Bd6) 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. Ngf3 d6 5. g3 Be7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O h6 {more common here is developing the queenside with Nbd7 or Qc7. The move was played as prophylaxis against White using g5 for piece play.} 8. h3 Be6 9. d4 Qc7 10. b3 {consolidates c4, noted Fritz. The position is equal, with White perhaps having a little easier play, with the obvious plan of pushing c4.} c5 {This move is illustratrative of common positional errors for class-level players. Control of a key square (d5) is given up, while at the same time piece development is neglected.} ({Simple development with} 10... Nbd7 {would be fine.}) 11. d5 {White gets more space, says Fritz.} Bd7 12. c4 (12. a4 { is pointed out by Houdini. This type of prophylactic and space-gaining move is typical of master-level play, where in comparison to the game continuation, Black would have less chance to subsequently undermine White's pawn structure.} b5 13. axb5 Bxb5 14. Re1 a5 {and White's pieces will have much more scope for activity than Black's.}) 12... b5 13. Qc2 bxc4 ({The alternative plan of} 13... b4 {followed by pushing the a-pawn is suggested by the engines.}) 14. bxc4 (14. Nxc4 {is the superior capture, giving White a fine knight on c4 and Black nothing to exploit on the queenside.}) 14... a5 {Houdini had liked this move as an earlier alternative, but now favors enhancing piece activity with moves such as Qc8 or Na6.} 15. a4 {a major positional error, giving up control of b4 and allowing Black to establish a dominant knight there.} Na6 $15 16. Ba3 { this developing move actually worsens White's position, as the bishop for the time being is biting on granite at c5 and it also interferes with the protection of the a4 pawn. The only reason for it to be there, to exchange the b4 knight, will simply convert Black's positional advantage into that of a strong protected passed pawn.} Rfb8 $17 17. Rab1 Ra7 ({Better is the immediate } 17... Nb4 18. Qd1 Qc8 {with the double threat of winning either the h3 pawn or the a4 pawn (after Qe8).}) 18. Rxb8+ $15 Qxb8 19. Rb1 Rb7 20. Rxb7 Qxb7 { Black remains dominant on the queenside and retains the initiative after these exchanges, as White will have difficulty protecting all of his weak points.} 21. Nb1 (21. Kh2 {protecting h3 might be a better try} Nb4 22. Qd1 Qc8 $17) 21... Nb4 (21... Bxa4 {immediately was better, using a tactical deflection theme against the Qc2/Nb1 configuration, but I didn't spot how to exploit the Nb1 until later.}) 22. Bxb4 {essentially the losing move, without which Black would have been better, but with much more difficulty in breaking through.} axb4 23. Qb2 Qa6 {now it is clear that Black will win material and start a steamroller on the queenside. White, not wanting to lose this way, picks a different way by sacrificing material in the hopes of a counterattack.} 24. Nxe5 dxe5 25. Qxe5 Bd6 26. Qb2 Qxa4 27. e5 Bxe5 {here the unprotected Nb1 pops up again in a tactical theme.} 28. Qxe5 Qd1+ 29. Kh2 Qxb1 30. Qc7 Qc2 31. Qxc5 {superficially this looks good for White, but now we're in an endgame where the passed pawn trumps all.} b3 32. Qd4 b2 33. Bf1 Bf5 34. d6 b1=Q 35. Bg2 Qcd1 0-1

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