24 March 2012

Annotated Game #37: Swindle

This next game, from round 3 of the tournament, should have been a loss (which would have resulted in "castling long" on the tournament scorechart, 0-0-0).  Black played an inferior English Four Knights variation with 7...f6 and White had winning tactics available as early as move 9, which however were ignored.  At the time, I had relatively poor tactical sight and rarely even looked for tactical possibilities in the opening; this failure to consider tactics in the opening phase is still something of a blind spot for me.

In any event, I continued playing "normal" developing moves and achieved a positional plus out of the opening, only to lose a piece to an unusual pinning tactic by Black.  Showing tenacity, however, I decided to fight on and play aggressively, looking for whatever counterchances might be there.  This was psychologically the right choice, as Black passes up multiple chances to exchange material and simplify down to a position where White has no real threats.  White then weaves a net of force with his major pieces and Black stumbles into it, losing material and then resigning just before mate.

While this was not a high-quality game, it had its moments and it was a significant turning point for the tournament, showing that I was in fact capable of winning - in an ugly but effective manner - after a year's absence from serious play.  This is also a good example of a successful swindle, where the player who should lose refuses to go down easily and works hard to generate threats, which can hit home if ignored or mishandled by the opponent, as happened here.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class B"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A28"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "65"] [EventDate "2003.??.??"] [TimeControl "240+2"] {191MB, Fritz8.ctg, LAPTOP A28: English Opening: Four Knights Variation} 1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. e3 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Bb5 f6 {one of three ways to protect e5, the other two being (with game examples):} (6... Qd6 7. d4 exd4 8. Nxd4 Nxc3 9. bxc3 Bd7 10. Bd3 Ne5 11. Be2 c5 12. Nf3 Qxd1+ 13. Kxd1 Nxf3 14. Bxf3 O-O-O 15. Ke1 Be6 16. Bb2 c4 17. h4 Be7 18. a4 Bf6 19. g4 Bd5 20. Bxd5 Rxd5 21. g5 {Duverlie,V-Bonati,C/Cannes 2000/EXT 2001/1/2-1/2 (50)}) (6... Nxc3 7. Bxc6+ bxc6 8. bxc3 Bd6 9. Qc2 f5 10. d4 e4 11. Nd2 O-O 12. f4 Kh8 13. Bb2 Ba6 14. c4 c5 15. d5 Bb7 16. O-O-O Qe7 17. g4 fxg4 18. Rdg1 Rf7 19. Rxg4 Bc8 20. Rxg7 Rxg7 21. Rg1 {Syvanen,J-Pitkanen,J/Lahti 2000/CBM 79 ext/1-0 (47)}) 7. d4 {at this point the database only shows three games for White, all of them wins.} Bb4 8. Bd2 {safe development, protecting c3 again.} (8. Qb3 {would be the aggressive choice, directly pressuring Black's unwieldy group of pieces.}) 8... Qd6 $4 {this allows a winning tactic, which White however misses. It was reflective of my play at the time that I didn't look for tactics in the opening (still something of a weakness).} (8... Bxc3 {this exchange would help simplify Black's issues on the queenside.} 9. Bxc3 Nxc3 10. bxc3 {and White is still better positionally, but Black no longer has to worry about dropping a piece.}) 9. O-O (9. dxe5 $1 {exploits the fact that the Nc6 is pinned and therefore no help to its comrades.} fxe5 (9... Nxc3 10. bxc3 fxe5 11. cxb4) 10. Nxd5 Bxd2+ 11. Qxd2) 9... Bg4 $2 (9... Bxc3 $5 {is better, in order to remove the tactical vulnerability} 10. Bxc3 e4 $14) 10. Ne4 (10. dxe5 {was again possible.}) 10... Qe6 (10... Qe7 {was necessary to protect the bishop.}) 11. Bxb4 $18 Ndxb4 12. Qa4 $6 {a good positional move, but again some tactics are missed.} (12. a3 $5 Nd5 13. Nc5 Qc8 14. h3 Bd7 15. dxe5 {with a discovered attack on the Nd5} Nb6 16. exf6 gxf6 {and Houdini considers White's attack to be worth over a piece in value, although there's no immediate knockout.}) 12... O-O 13. a3 {this comes a move too late. Now Black's rooks are connected and he can hit back with ...a6.} (13. Nfd2 Qe8 $16) 13... a6 (13... Bxf3 $5 {is preferred by the engines.} 14. gxf3 a6 $14) 14. axb4 $16 (14. Be2 b5 15. Qd1 Nd5 16. Nc5) 14... axb5 15. Qxb5 (15. Qxa8 Bxf3 16. d5 Qxd5 $16 17. Nc3 { is the unanimous choice of the engines.}) 15... exd4 {my opponent evidently missed the counterattacking reply} (15... Bxf3 16. gxf3 Rxa1 17. Rxa1 exd4 18. Qxb7 dxe3 19. fxe3 $11) 16. Nc5 $14 Qd5 {this imposes a somewhat unusual pin on the Nc5, which I did not recognize at that time, so played} 17. Nxd4 $4 Nxd4 18. exd4 b6 $1 {exploits the lateral pin of the knight.} 19. h3 Be6 (19... bxc5 {is clearly weaker, comments Fritz.} 20. hxg4 Qxd4 21. Rxa8 Rxa8 22. Re1 $14) 20. Rad1 bxc5 21. dxc5 {the position is now clearly won for Black, as the two pawns that White has for the piece are easily bottled up on the queenside.} Qb3 22. Rfe1 {White's only hope is to try to create some threats with his better-coordinated and centralized pieces.} Bc4 (22... Rae8) 23. Qc6 Qxb4 24. Re4 {White continues to play aggressively, although not objectively best according to the engines.} Qb3 (24... Qb5 25. Qxc7 Rfc8 26. Qb6 Qxb6 {would be an easy way for Black to simplify towards a win.} (26... Rxc5 {is what the engine like, which however lets White get in a series of checks. Computers don't mind defending under pressure.} 27. Rd8+ Kf7 28. Re7+ Kxe7 29. Qd6+ Kf7 30. Rxa8 Re5 31. Ra7+ Kg6)) 25. Rde1 {more sloppy than aggressive.} (25. Rd7) 25... Bd5 26. R4e3 Qc4 (26... Bxc6 {would simplify down and remove most of White's possible threats.} 27. Rxb3 Rfe8 28. Rxe8+ Rxe8) 27. Qxc7 Rac8 28. Qd7 Qxc5 $2 {walks into} 29. Rc3 Qa5 $4 (29... Bc4 {is not easy for a human to find as a defense.} 30. Rec1 Rcd8 $11 31. Qg4 Rd2 32. Qh4 Rxb2 33. Rxc4 { and it's drawn.}) 30. Re7 $18 {with mate threats.} Bf7 (30... Rxc3 $4 {[%emt 0: 00:03] fails to mate in} 31. Rxg7+ Kh8 32. Rxh7+ Kg8 33. Qg7#) 31. Rxc8 Qa1+ 32. Kh2 Qxb2 {an amusing pawn grab before the curtain comes down on Black.} 33. Rxf8+ (33. Rxf8+ Kxf8 34. Rxf7+ Kg8 35. Qe8#) 1-0

5 comments:

  1. Hehe I do love a good swindle! Sometimes lost games are the easiest to play since you've already made peace with the fact you're probably going to lose anyway. It looks like you just tried to make things as difficult for Black as possible and he just collapsed in conjunction to he probably thought the game would win itself up a piece for a couple of pawns. Good notes.

    I'm personally not much of an English Opening fan, but this game goes to show that EVERY opening no matter how open/positional does bear plenty of tactical opportunities, even earlier on in the game.

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    1. Thanks for the comments. One of the things that analyzing my games has shown me is the repeated lesson about the need to always check for tactics in the opening (even a "safe" opening). It's almost impossible to lose on tactics in the opening phase in the English, but that doesn't mean you should be oblivious to tactical wins when they are there.

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  2. I'v been playing over more Grandmaster games recently (Capablanca and Nigel Davies 1. e4 e5 book mainly) for study purposes than I ever have before, and it's really noticeable how much resistance really good players (often) put up in "lost" positions. Usually the winner has to surmount a series of "hurdles" to close out the game. At our (say 1600-1800 USCF) level, the odds of the opponent avoiding all traps is not that high, so play on and keep trying!

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    1. I agree and think that tenacity can be as much of a determining factor in chess performance/results (as opposed to pure chess skill) as any other element of our play. Refusing mentally to lose often means that you don't!

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  3. The Best of Chess Blogging Part III: What a Wonderful World has been posted.

    Have a look and please post a link! (and thanks for your recent comments)

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