01 April 2012

Annotated Game #38: A most instructive loss

This fourth-round tournament game is a strong contender for my most instructive loss.  My opponent, perhaps around twelve years old, played the Panov-Botvinnik Attack against my Caro-Kann, which transposed into a Queen's Gambit Declined-type position; the computer in fact classifies it as a Queen's Gambit variant.  The opening goes eleven moves before leaving the database, something of a rarity at the Class level.

The middlegame features a tense duel between White's pressure and Black's countering moves.  Black makes some inferior moves in the early middlegame (moves 15-16) but White then becomes overeager and plays a premature rook lift on move 17.  The pendulum shortly afterward swings back in favor of Black, although after some back-and-forth the position simplifies into what should be a drawn rook and minor piece endgame.  Shortly after this occurs, I play carelessly and White immediately takes advantage of this, creating multiple threats against my pawns that I cannot parry.  Although I hold out until we reach a bishop endgame, White gains a decisive advantage and I resign.

During the post-mortem analysis in the skittles room, my opponent's teacher/trainer sat in and provided some useful pointers.  My opponent was originally rather cocky about his position in the opening, but his trainer then corrected his evaluation and pointed out how Black was doing just fine until the endgame error.  Because of the key nature of this opening system and the typical tactical and strategic themes that were shown during this game, I feel like gained a great deal from playing and then analyzing it.  Interesting how a loss can become a gain, in that respect.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D26"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "83"] [EventDate "2003.??.??"] [TimeControl "240+2"] {D26: Queen's Gambit Accepted: 4 e3 e6 5 Bxc5 c5 sidelines} 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 {the Panov-Botvinnik attack} Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 {the other two moves played here are Nc6 and g6; the text move is probably the most conservative one.} 6. Nf3 Be7 {the other choice here is Bb4, which gives the position more of a Nimzo-Indian flavor, as opposed to the text move, which is more akin to the Queen's Gambit Declined.} 7. Bg5 {cxd5 is the main line.} dxc4 {here castling is by far the most popular option. I played the text move based on a recommendation from the book "The Caro-Kann in Black and White"} 8. Bxc4 O-O 9. O-O Nc6 10. Re1 Re8 {here b6 and a6 are the most played moves, looking to develop the light-square bishop. One sample game:} (10... a6 11. Rc1 b5 12. Bd3 Bb7 13. Bb1 Rc8 14. h4 g6 15. Ne4 Nxe4 16. Bxe4 Bxg5 17. hxg5 Qd6 18. d5 exd5 19. Bxd5 Nd8 20. Rxc8 Bxc8 21. Re3 Ne6 22. Rd3 Qc7 23. g3 Bb7 {1/2-1/2 Adams,M-Dreev,A/Las Vegas 1999/CBM 72 (23)}) 11. a3 a6 {first move out of the database.} 12. Qd3 b5 13. Bb3 Bb7 14. Bc2 g6 {while somewhat ugly, this is a common theme in this variation, with g6 necessary to stop a battery on the b1-h7 diagonal. In return for weakening the squares around his king, Black blunts the force of White's pieces.} 15. Rad1 Na5 (15... Rc8 {would have been better here, getting the rook to its most useful file immediately and deferring placement of the knight.}) 16. Ne5 $14 {White makes the obvious knight sortie to a central outpost.} Rc8 (16... Nd7 {would immediately challenge the outpost and prove exchanges, reducing White's central and kingside pressure.}) 17. Re3 {a little premature.} (17. Qh3 $5 $14 {is recommended by the engines.}) 17... Nh5 18. Rh3 (18. Bxe7 $5 {preserves more of White's attacking chances.} Rxe7 19. d5 exd5 20. Qd4 $11) 18... Bxg5 $17 19. Rxh5 {Demolition of pawn structure} f5 (19... gxh5 {naturally doesn't work:} 20. Qxh7+ Kf8 21. Qxf7#) (19... Rc7 {is found by Houdini, guarding against the mate and therefore allowing the pawn push f6 in this variation.} 20. Rh3 f6 21. Nf3 Nc4 22. Nxg5 Nxb2 23. Qg3 fxg5 $17) 20. Rh3 $15 Bf4 21. Qe2 Qg5 22. g3 Bxe5 23. dxe5 Red8 {wrong rook, according to Houdini. (Isn't it always the wrong rook?)} 24. f4 (24. Rh4 Qe7 $15) 24... Rxd1+ 25. Bxd1 Qd8 26. g4 Qd4+ (26... fxg4 27. Rd3 (27. Qxg4 Qd4+ 28. Kf1 Rf8 29. Qxe6+ Kh8) 27... Qb6+ 28. Qf2 Qc6 { is much preferred by Houdini.}) 27. Qf2 Qxf2+ {this simplifies into what should be a drawn ending.} 28. Kxf2 $11 Rc7 29. gxf5 gxf5 30. Rd3 Nc6 $2 { an example of lazy play where I didn't think about my opponent's possible threats (failure to falsify).} (30... Nc4 {is obvious and best.} 31. b3 Nxa3 32. Rd8+ Kf7 $11 {according to Houdini.}) 31. Bb3 $16 Kf7 (31... Bc8 {doesn't work either after} 32. Rd6) 32. Rh3 (32. Rd6 Re7 33. Nd5 exd5 34. Bxd5+ Ke8 35. Bxc6+ Bxc6 36. Rxc6) 32... Kg6 {deciding to give up the e-pawn.} (32... Re7 33. Rxh7+ Kf8 34. Rxe7 Kxe7 {would have been somewhat better, as White's h-pawn has a long way to go.}) 33. Bxe6 Nd4 {this will shortly land the knight in trouble.} (33... Ne7) 34. Rg3+ Kh6 35. Ba2 Rd7 (35... a5 $142 $18) 36. Rd3 { taking advantage of the knight's lack of flight squares to pin it against the Rd7.} Bc6 37. Ne2 {White decides to simplify down.} Nxe2 38. Rxd7 Bxd7 39. Kxe2 Be8 40. Be6 {it's now all over, as Black's pieces cannot defend against all of White's threats.} Bg6 41. b4 Kg7 42. Bc8 1-0

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