03 March 2012

Annotated Game #33: Stonewall Attack

This next tournament game serves up a mix of positional play and tactical play, along with a heaping portion of blunders on both sides.  The Stonewall Attack was completely unknown to me at the time (the computer classifies the opening as a transposition to a Caro-Kann Exchange variation, which is essentially true after move 5.)  However, I still equalize easily enough by move 10, when White misplaces his queen.

It's the middlegame where I go astray, but this in fact is related to my unfamiliarity with the opening and its resulting plans.  The Stonewall emphasizes using the knights to occupy key outposts at e5/e4, so challenging this idea is critical.  Black's 12...Nb6 is therefore a positional blunder and also demonstrates the classic amateur error of neglecting rook development with the alternative 12...Rac8 (a recurring theme from my tournament play during this period).  White plays the correct follow up, but then fails to take full advantage and misses a key pawn break on move 15, letting Black back into the game.

What follows from Black's point of view is a seesaw game where he is largely responding to White threats without much of an independent plan.  My tactical calculating ability at the time was also relatively undeveloped (shall we say), which meant that I missed a number of equalizing or winning opportunities, failing to think coolly under pressure.  Some days the bear gets you...

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class C"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B13"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "79"] [EventDate "2002.??.??"] {B13: Caro-Kann: Exchange Variation and Panov-Botvinnik Attack} 1. d4 d5 2. e3 Nf6 3. Bd3 c5 4. c3 cxd4 (4... Nc6 {is most typically played here, as in this game fragment which features a true reversed Stonewall:} 5. f4 g6 6. Nf3 Bf5 7. dxc5 Bxd3 8. Qxd3 Ne4 9. b4 Bg7 10. Nd4 e5 11. Ne2 O-O 12. O-O exf4 13. Nd4 a5 14. b5 Nxc5 15. Qc2 Ne5 16. exf4 Nc4 17. Na3 Re8 18. Rd1 Ne3 19. Bxe3 {Berkes, F-Toth,A/Paks 1998/EXT 99/0-1 (38)}) 5. exd4 Bg4 6. Nf3 e6 (6... Nc6 {is the preferred move, with more flexible development.}) 7. Bg5 (7. Qa4+ Nbd7 8. Ne5 a6 $11) 7... Be7 8. Nbd2 O-O 9. O-O Nbd7 10. Qb3 (10. Qc2 {was a more promising square for the queen and consistent with the Stonewall Attack kingside strategy, generating pressure on the b1-h7 diagonal.}) 10... Qc7 $11 11. h3 Bh5 12. Rac1 Nb6 {moves a key defender away from the e5 square.} (12... Rac8 {was best here; once again, I fall into the common amateur pattern of error of not developing rooks early enough.}) 13. Ne5 Bd6 14. f4 Nfd7 { fixating on the e5 square and removing another defender from the kingside.} 15. Rce1 (15. c4 $1 {with a multitude of threats.}) 15... f6 {and Black has regained equality.} 16. Nxd7 Nxd7 17. Bh4 (17. Rxe6 $5 {is found by the engines } Nb6 ({not} 17... fxg5 18. Qxd5 {and the threat of discovered check along with White's attack is very strong.}) 18. Bh4 Bxf4 19. Qc2 $11) 17... Bxf4 { now with an extra pawn, Black is better equipped to ride out White's kingside attack.} 18. Nf3 (18. Qc2 {bringing the queen into the fight is necessary.}) 18... g5 (18... Rae8 {why not activate the do-nothing rook?} 19. Qc2 h6) 19. Bf2 $15 (19. Rxe6 {is again possible here, although it doesn't work quite as well.}) 19... Kh8 $6 (19... Bxf3 20. gxf3 Rae8) 20. g4 {although my opponent evidently wanted to stop Bxf3, this simply helps Black defend.} (20. Rxe6 $142 $5 Bf7 21. Re7 Rae8 22. Rfe1 Rxe7 23. Rxe7 Bd6 $11) 20... Bf7 $15 21. Qc2 h5 22. Bg6 ({Not} 22. gxh5 Bxh5 {gaining a tempo on the undefended Nf3 and creating kingside threats for Black as well.}) 22... hxg4 23. hxg4 Kg7 24. Bxf7 Kxf7 $4 {overly materialistic thinking, focusing on the immediate threat to e6 and not the queen penetration.} (24... Rxf7 25. Rxe6 Nf8 26. Re2 Ng6 {and it is Black who has winning chances.}) 25. Qh7+ Ke8 26. Rxe6+ Kd8 27. Rfe1 $16 Bd6 $2 {this is bad, but Black is otherwise still unsuccessfully struggling to try and defend both e8 and the pawn on d5 while White stomps all over him.} 28. Bg3 $4 {instead of simply winning the game, comments an incredulous Fritz.} (28. Qg6 {and White wins.} Qc6 29. Nxg5 Kc7 30. Nf7 Rxf7 31. Qxf7) 28... Bxg3 $19 29. Qe7+ Kc8 30. R1e2 (30. Qxf8+ {doesn't work:} Nxf8 31. Re8+ Kd7 32. R1e7+ Kd6 33. Rxc7 Rxe8 34. Rxb7 Re2 35. Rxa7 Rxb2 36. Ra6+ Ke7 37. Ra7+ Nd7 $19) 30... Qd8 $2 {doesn't lose, but fails to capitalize on the possibilities of active play.} (30... Qf4 {and Black has prevailed, notes Fritz. The c7 square is cleared for the king and Black now has major kingside threats.}) 31. Qa3 Kc7 (31... Kb8 {is the safer square, not leaving the king exposed to further checks.}) 32. Kg2 Bf4 33. c4 (33. Qa5+ Nb6 34. Qc5+ Kb8 35. Qe7 $19) 33... dxc4 34. d5 (34. Qa5+ {is insufficient:} Nb6 35. Qc5+ Kb8 36. Qb5 $19 Qc7) 34... b6 $2 {a beginner's error, creating more holes around the king and allowing White perpetual check.} (34... Rh8 $142 $19 {nails it down, states Fritz.}) 35. Nd4 Kb7 $4 (35... Nc5 36. d6+ Bxd6 37. Nb5+ Kc6 38. Nd4+ Kc7 39. Nb5+ {etc. is the shortest line for repeating the position, but there are others.}) 36. Qa4 $4 { not a good decision, because now the opponent is right back in the game, says Fritz.} (36. Re7 {pinning the knight wins:} Rc8 (36... Qc8 37. Qa4 Rd8 38. Ne6) 37. Ne6 Rc7) 36... Rc8 $4 {the mutual blunders continue.} (36... Be5 $142 { defending by interfering with the connection between the rooks.} 37. Nc6 Qc7 $17) 37. Nb5 $4 {stumbles just before the finish line, remarks Fritz.} (37. Nc6 $142 {with double threat of mate on a7 and taking the Qd8.} a6 38. Nxd8+ Rfxd8 39. Re7 $18) 37... Bb8 $2 (37... a6 $142 {and Black has triumphed} 38. Nd6+ Bxd6 39. Rxd6 Rf7 $19) 38. Re7 $11 Rc7 $4 {throws away the game} (38... Rc5 $11 {leads to another perpetual check.}) 39. Nxc7 $18 Kxc7 {(played with 5 seconds left on Black's clock)} 40. Qc6# 1-0

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