05 February 2012

Annotated Game #29: Back as Black

Following the second phase (post-scholastic) of my chess career, which ended with Annotated Game #28, several years passed before I played any serious games.  The next one was in fact Annotated Game #6, from the world record simultaneous exhibition in Mexico City.  I saw a notice for the event and remembered that I liked to play chess, so why not participate?

Over another year passed, however, before I came back to tournament play.  This first-round game showed that I was still capable of hanging with the competition, despite a disappointing final result.  In a Classical Caro-Kann, my Class A opponent made two separate attacking demonstrations (on moves 16 and 26) which however ended up being nullfied, due to a lack of a robust follow-up on his part and some good defending on mine.  A dynamic endgame then ensues, with a material imbalance of R+R vs. R+N+pawns.  After some tense play, I make some judgments which allow White to stop the pawns and then go on to win.  No doubt fatigue played a role, as this was a long, hard-fought game.  However, the primary factor was probably my weak endgame knowledge.

Some lessons learned from reviewing the game:
  • Look at getting in the ...c5 break in the Classical Caro-Kann as early as possible (move 14)
  • In this variation, always keep in mind the potential weakness of e6 and tactical ideas associated with that for White (moves 16, 25)
  • Look beyond superficial one-move positional analysis when deciding on piece placement (move 19)
  • Passed pawns must be pushed! (move 41)
  • Take advantage of concrete advantages when they occur and calculate the consequences (move 48)

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class A"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B19"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "135"] [EventDate "2002.??.??"] {B19: Classical Caro-Kann: 4...Bf5 main line} 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 { This instead of Nc3 makes no difference to the main line continuation, but does have a point if Black prefers to play 3...g6, as then White can play c3.} dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. Nf3 Nf6 {more standard here is Nbd7} 7. h4 h6 8. h5 Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 e6 11. Bd2 Nbd7 12. Qe2 Be7 13. O-O-O {the normal move here, going for an opposite-sides castling middlegame.} O-O {taking up the challenge. Queenside castling would be more awkward and reduce Black's possibilities of counterplay on that side of the board.} 14. Ne5 Qc7 ({The immediate break with} 14... c5 {is the most popular move by far. I had wanted to remove my queen from the d-file before playing it.}) 15. Kb1 c5 {last move in the database, with one other game listed (a win for White).} 16. Ng6 { Nxd7 was played in the other game. Ng6 came as a surprise to me, although Houdini finds the possibility right away. White thematically exploits the weakness of e6, which is a spot all Caro-Kann players need to watch.} Rfe8 ( 16... fxg6 17. Qxe6+ Kh8 18. hxg6 Qd6 19. Rxh6+ gxh6 20. Qh3 Ng8 21. Bxh6 Qxg6 22. Bxf8+ Qh7 23. Qxd7 {I didn't see this whole line during the game, but did evaluate White as having a nasty attack after move 17, so avoided it.}) 17. Nxe7+ Rxe7 18. dxc5 Nxc5 {so, after the excitement of the sacrifice offer on move 16, we're back to a relatively equal position.} 19. Bc3 Nd5 {This move appears rather obvious, centralizing the knight and avoiding Bxf6, but it is only superficially useful and weakens Black's kingside.} (19... Ne8 {Houdini finds this "computer move" which avoids the weakening exchange on f6 while protecting g7.} 20. Be5 Qc6) 20. Be5 {excellent improvement of the position of White's bishop, seizing the key h2-b8 diagonal, which Black cannot challenge.} Qc6 21. c4 Nb6 22. Rd6 {White has the initiative and is pushing Black around on the queenside, as well as having more space on the kingside.} Qc8 (22... Qxg2 $5 {is recommended by the engines; this would at least give Black some material compensation, although opening the g-file to White's rooks doesn't look like a fun prospect for Black.} 23. Rhd1 f5) 23. Rhd1 Ncd7 24. Bc3 Nxc4 25. R6d4 (25. Nf5 {could have been played immediately, exploiting the pin on the e6 pawn.} exf5 26. Qxe7 Nxd6 27. Rxd6 {with a major attack coming on Black's king.}) 25... Ncb6 (25... Nce5 $142 $5 {should not be overlooked, says Fritz, as a better defense, as it would have blocked the pin on the e-file.} 26. Bb4 Re8 $14) 26. Nf5 $1 $16 {now it comes.} Qc5 27. Nxe7+ (27. Nxg7 { is much more dangerous for Black, winning a pawn and cracking open the king position.} Kxg7 $4 28. Rc4+) 27... Qxe7 28. Qd3 (28. g4 $142 $5 $16) 28... Nd5 $14 {immediately neutralizes the pressure along the d-file. Black still has problems, but White is no longer running away with the game.} 29. Rg4 N7f6 30. Bxf6 Qxf6 31. a3 {wastes a crucial tempo, losing a pawn.} Qxf2 {now material is equalized and Black is fine.} 32. Rf1 Qe3 33. Rf3 Qxd3+ 34. Rxd3 {the strategy of trading queens (validated by Houdini) further reduces White's attacking chances, leaving a straight-up endgame.} Rc8 35. Rdg3 Nf6 36. Rb4 ( 36. Rxg7+ Kf8 {and the Rg7 has nowhere it can immediately go, gaining Black time to push his e-pawn.}) 36... Rc7 ({Instead of} 36... Nxh5 37. Rh3 a5 38. Rxb7 {with more active prospects for White on the queenside.}) 37. Rc3 Rd7 38. g4 Kf8 {time to activate the king} 39. Rc8+ Ke7 40. Rb8 b6 41. Ka2 {moving the king to the edge of the board and away from the action.} Rc7 (41... e5 { would have been the correct response. Passed pawns must be pushed!}) 42. Kb3 Nd5 43. Rc4 Rd7 44. Rc1 Kf6 45. Rg8 g5 46. Rh8 (46. hxg6 {would have opened more lines for White's rooks.} fxg6 47. Rh8) 46... Kg7 47. Rcc8 (47. Rhc8 $5 { is what the engines prefer.}) 47... Nf6 $19 {the g4 pawn should now fall.} 48. Rhd8 (48. Kc3 {the king needs to get in the fight} Nxg4 49. Rhg8+ Kf6 $19) 48... Re7 (48... Rxd8 {now was the time to exchange rooks, with the prospect of winning the g4-pawn and having connected passed pawns on the kingside.} 49. Rxd8 Nxg4 $19) 49. Rc4 e5 50. Rd1 e4 51. Rg1 {makes it over just in time to protect the pawn.} Nxg4 {this was not the best decision, banking on the connected passed pawns vs a whole rook.} (51... e3 $5 $17 {would have kept pressure on White and partially justified Black's play.}) 52. Rxg4 $11 f5 53. Rg1 f4 54. Kc2 Kf6 (54... e3 {keeps the pressure on}) 55. Kd2 (55. Rc6+ { and Black would have little choice other than to trade off his remaining rook.} Re6 56. Rxe6+ Kxe6 {and White should be able to stop the pawns.}) 55... Kf5 56. Rc6 (56. Rd4 a6 $11) 56... g4 57. Rg6 $2 (57. Ke1 $11) 57... g3 $2 {Black lets it slip away, says Fritz.} (57... e3+ $142 58. Ke1 (58. Kd3 Rd7+ 59. Kc2 f3 60. R6xg4 f2) 58... f3 59. R6xg4 Rc7 {back rank mate threat} 60. Kd1 Rd7+ 61. Kc2 Rd2+ 62. Kc3 f2) 58. Rd1 Rd7+ {this gives the game to White.} (58... e3+ $142 { and Black keeps the draw in hand.} 59. Ke2 Ke4 $11) 59. Ke1 $16 Rxd1+ 60. Kxd1 f3 $4 {a blunder in a bad position, says Fritz.} (60... a6 $142 $16) 61. Rxg3 $18 Kf4 {the idea behind the previous move, but insufficient to queen a pawn.} 62. Rg6 e3 63. Ke1 f2+ 64. Ke2 {and Black is stymied, no longer able to make progress while White cleans up with his rook.} b5 65. Rxh6 Kg5 66. Rh8 Kf6 67. Rg8 Kf7 68. Rg2 1-0

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