26 May 2012

Annotated Game #47: Oh no, not again!

I have to admit that I rather ruefully went over the following game, which is another excellent example of why improving players should be analyzing their own games regularly.  As occurred not so long ago in Annotated Game #31, a perfectly fine Caro-Kann Advance variation is transformed by Black into a dubious French variation with a tempo down, due to the move 5...e6.  Those who do not remember their past losses are condemned to repeat them.

Black is, objectively speaking, not lost out of the opening, but it's nevertheless clear that I had little real idea of what to do, making the position an uphill struggle both on the board and psychologically.  Perhaps this is why Black misses several equalizing opportunities, most notably on moves 9 and 14.  It's also worth noting that these moves would have required Black to recognize the need for more active play; Black by move 16 looks stuck in a passive, defensive mode.

This is also one of those games whose result can be largely explained by psychological factors.  In this case, I felt like I was struggling the entire time and was lost from a certain point on (around move 19), which became a self-fulfilling prophecy.  In fact, White misses a killer move (29. f6!) and Black equalizes immediately, finally being able to generate counterplay - if only he could recognize it.  The crowning moment of the game is when White apparently picks up a rook due to a Black blunder, which led to my resignation before it occurred.  However, the rook is in fact poisoned and its capture would lead to White being mated.

Moral of the story: remember why you shouldn't play certain opening moves; never resign without running at least one final calculation of the position.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B12"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "67"] {C02: French: Advance Variation} 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 e6 {oh no, not again!} (5... Bg4 {is the equalizing move, freeing the light-square bishop.}) 6. Bd3 Qb6 7. O-O cxd4 8. cxd4 Bd7 {if you visualize how this compares with Bg4, it's rather obvious why this is inferior.} 9. Bc2 Nge7 $146 (9... Nb4 {is found by the engines. This goes against the principle of moving a piece twice in the opening and neglecting other pieces' development. However, White has done the same thing with the bishop and Black has the tactical opportunity to exchange off some of White's better pieces.} 10. Bb3 $11 Bb5 11. Re1 Nd3 12. Re3 Nxc1 13. Qxc1 {and only now} Ne7) 10. a3 { Prevents intrusion on b4, notes Fritz. White has obviously spotted the Nb4 idea.} Nf5 {d4 becomes the focus of attention, says Fritz.} 11. Bxf5 {the only way to save the d-pawn.} exf5 12. Nc3 Be6 {this is essential both to defend d5 and to prevent the future advance of the e-pawn. However, it means the bishop is reduced to the status of a "big pawn"} 13. b4 Be7 14. Bg5 (14. Be3 { overprotecting the d4 pawn is preferred by Houdini.}) 14... O-O {this allows White to keep his positional plus.} (14... Bxg5 {would instead enter a forcing line leading to an endgame that both engines evaluate as equal for Black.} 15. Nxg5 Qxd4 16. Qxd4 Nxd4 17. Rfd1 $11 Nc6 18. Nxd5 Rd8 19. Nf4 Ke7) 15. Bxe7 Nxe7 16. Qd3 h6 {while Black is not lost, he lacks active counterplay, making it a much easier game for White.} 17. Nb5 {is premature. White needs to bring more pieces into play; neglecting rook development is a common amateur error.} (17. Rac1) 17... a6 (17... Bd7 {would instead reactivate the bishop.} 18. Nd6 Nc8 19. Nxc8 (19. Nxf5 $5 {is an exchange sacrifice preferred by Houdini.} Bb5 20. Qe3 Bxf1 21. Rxf1 Kh7) 19... Rfxc8 $11) 18. Nd6 $14 Nc8 {Black is desperate to get rid of the Nd6. Note the difference compared to the Bd7 line given above, where the skewer on b5 is possible.} 19. Nxf5 {White is now up a pawn and Black still has no counterplay. The Nc8 prevents Nd6, but is otherwise useless.} Qd8 (19... Qb5 {would give some meaning to the previous ... a6 thrust.}) 20. N3h4 Ne7 21. f4 (21. Nd6 $1) 21... Rc8 $2 (21... Nxf5 { time to exchange off some attacking pieces.} 22. Nxf5 Bxf5 23. Qxf5 $16 { and at least White no longer has mate threats, although is still winning overall.}) 22. Ne3 (22. Nd6 $142 {and White either wins the exchange or is given a crushing kingside attack.} Nc6 (22... Rb8 23. f5 Bd7 24. f6) 23. Nxc8 Bxc8 24. Nf3 $18) 22... f5 (22... Bd7 {is still possible.}) 23. exf6 Rxf6 24. f5 Bd7 25. Ng4 Rfc6 {a desperate bid for activity.} (25... Rf7) 26. Ne5 (26. Rae1 {would increase White's pressure in a major way, rather than leaving the Ra1 out of the fight.}) 26... Rc3 (26... Rf6 $5 {would blockade the f-pawn and White has nothing better than retreating with Ng4.}) 27. Qd1 Bb5 $6 (27... Nc6 28. f6 Nxe5 29. dxe5 $18) 28. Rf3 {this gives Black a temporary reprieve.} (28. f6 $1 Bxf1 29. Qg4 Qf8 30. Qe6+ Kh7 $18) 28... Rc2 $4 {simply trying to avoid an exchange. Developing the queen to an active square appears to offer Black much more in the way of chances.} (28... Qb6 {is Fritz's choice} 29. Nhg6 Nxg6 30. Rxc3 Rxc3 31. fxg6 Re3 $16) (28... Qc7) 29. Qe1 $2 {after this move, the engines actually evaluate Black as equal.} (29. f6 {instead blows open Black's position. It's interesting to see how White continually missed the pawn push and preferred piece play instead.} Kh7 30. fxe7 Qxe7 31. Nhg6 $18) 29... Qb6 $11 {covering f6 and of course threatening d4.} 30. Rf4 (30. Re3 Qxd4 31. Rd1 Qxd1 32. Qxd1 Rc1 $15) 30... Re2 {this is the non-tactical choice, which is good enough to keep the position equal.} (30... g5 $142 $5 {is the sharp line found by the engines.} 31. Rg4 (31. fxg6 Re2 32. Qb1 Rxe5 33. a4 Bc4 34. a5 Qa7 $17) 31... Be2 $17) 31. Qg3 $11 Re4 (31... g5 $5 {is still best, although no longer winning now that the Qg3 pins the pawn, preventing it from immediately taking either piece.} 32. f6 Rxe5 $14) 32. Rxe4 $14 dxe4 33. Qe3 Rc2 $4 (33... Nd5 {would bring relief, comments Fritz.} 34. Qxe4 Nc3 $11 {and now} 35. Qe3 { is the only move which protects d4, leading to a repetition of moves after Nd5. }) 34. Qb3+ $2 {apparently picks up the rook, but both players overlook a mate for Black if this occurs, based on Qxd4+} (34. Qb3+ Kh7 35. Qxc2 (35. Rd1 $14) 35... Qxd4+ 36. Kh1 (36. Qf2 Qxa1+) 36... Qxa1+) (34. Re1 $18 {and White is comfortably winning, with the e-pawn about to fall.}) 1-0

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