23 June 2012

Annotated Game #51: Closing with a victory

This game was in the last round of the tournament and was another victory, this time with Black.  A very unusual attacking variation of the Caro-Kann was used by White.  It's not clear whether this was a pet line of my opponent,or if he simply liked to conduct brazen attacks when not prepared for a particular opening.  I've included some more extensive opening notes than usual, since the line with 2. Nf3 (and certainly the follow-up 4. Ne5) isn't covered by opening manuals.

Despite White's unorthodox attacking play, Black is able to handily neutralize it and a balanced position results by around move 10.  White then conducts some artificial-looking maneuvering with a time-wasting and weakening move (13. b3), which Black immediately pounces on.  Black's relentless queenside pressure eventually leads to a breakthrough on the c-file and game-ending material losses for White.

I had the impression that I tend to do well in the last round of tournaments, regardless of my overall performance in them.  This was indeed one example of this.  However, after reviewing my database of tournament games, in reality there doesn't seem to be a clear trend.  Perhaps I just better remember the times that I succeeded in being mentally tough in the last round and focused on playing well, rather than the times I didn't put as much effort into the game.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B10"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "60"] {B10: Caro-Kann: d3 and 2 c4} 1. e4 c6 2. Nf3 {normally an indication that White has nothing prepared against the Caro-Kann.} d5 {nothing better than to proceed with the fundamental pawn push.} 3. exd5 (3. Nc3 {would transpose into the Two Knights variation.}) 3... cxd5 {Black scores around 65% from this position.} 4. Ne5 {the attacking idea behind this choice of opening, evidently. Morozevich has in fact used this before (see below).} Nf6 {this is one of two main defenses used, logically developing a piece and preventing Qh5.} (4... Nc6 {is the other one, for example used in a victory by Topalov in 2008.}) (4... e6 {was used by Bareev in the following game with Morozevich. Very few other examples of the ...e6 line exist.} 5. d4 Nc6 6. Bb5 Qb6 7. c4 Bb4+ 8. Nc3 Nge7 9. O-O O-O 10. Bxc6 bxc6 11. Na4 Qd8 12. Qc2 Bd6 13. Re1 Qc7 14. Bd2 Nf5 15. Nf3 dxc4 16. Qxc4 a5 17. Nc5 Qb6 18. Rac1 h6 19. b3 Rd8 20. Qc2 Bf8 21. Be3 Rd5 22. h3 Qb5 23. Na4 Bb4 24. Red1 Bb7 25. a3 Bxa3 26. Nc3 Nxe3 27. fxe3 Bxc1 28. Nxb5 Bxe3+ 29. Kh1 Rxb5 30. Qe4 Bg5 31. Nxg5 Rxg5 32. Rd2 Rf5 33. Qe3 Rd5 34. Qf4 Rd7 35. Qe5 Rd5 36. Qc7 Rb5 37. Rd3 Rc8 38. Qd7 Rf8 39. Kh2 Ba8 40. Rc3 Rb7 41. Qd6 Rbb8 42. Rg3 Rb5 43. Qe7 Rf5 44. Qh4 Kh8 45. Qe7 Kg8 46. Kg1 g6 47. Qa7 Rd8 48. Qc7 h5 49. Qxd8+ {1-0 Morozevich,A (2741)-Bareev,E (2709)/Monte Carlo 2005/CBM 105 ext}) 5. Bb5+ {only appears in a few games in the database.} (5. d4 {is what is normally played, for example:} Nc6 6. Bb5 Bd7 7. Nxd7 Qxd7 8. c3 e6 9. Nd2 Bd6 10. Nf3 O-O 11. O-O Ne4 12. Re1 f5 13. c4 a6 14. cxd5 axb5 15. dxc6 Qxc6 16. Ng5 Nxg5 17. Bxg5 Qd5 18. Bd2 Ra6 19. Qe2 b4 20. Kf1 Re8 21. Qd3 Rea8 22. Re3 Rxa2 23. Rxa2 Rxa2 24. Qb3 Qb5+ 25. Kg1 Ra1+ 26. Be1 Qd5 27. Qxd5 exd5 28. Kf1 Kf7 29. Ke2 Rc1 30. Bd2 Rc2 31. Rf3 Rxb2 32. Rxf5+ Ke6 33. Rf3 b3 34. Kd3 Rb1 35. Re3+ Kd7 36. Re1 Rxe1 37. Bxe1 Kc6 38. h4 Kb5 39. Bd2 Ka4 40. Bc1 Ba3 41. Bg5 h6 42. Bf4 Be7 43. h5 Ka3 {0-1 Navara,D (2663)-Izoria,Z (2606)/ Ermioni Argolidas 2005/CBM 107 ext}) 5... Bd7 6. Nxd7 Nbxd7 7. c3 {now out of the database.} (7. d4 {would seem much more productive for White, including not blocking the c3 square for his knight.}) 7... a6 8. Ba4 b5 9. Bc2 {perhaps the original idea behind c3, but it seems artificial and awkward.} e6 10. d4 Be7 {the position is dead equal now.} 11. Bf4 O-O 12. Nd2 Nb6 13. b3 {although this stops the knight from reaching c4, it significantly weakens the whole queenside, most immediately c3. White also ends up stranding his king in the center.} (13. O-O $5 $11 {has some apparent merit, notes Fritz.}) 13... Rc8 { the obvious response.} 14. Rc1 (14. Nb1 $5 $15 {should be considered, says Fritz, although Black then obtains an excellent queenside initiative due to White's passive pieces.} Bd6) 14... Ba3 $17 {a strong and necessary in-between move.} (14... Rxc3 $2 15. Bxh7+ {and the Rc3 is lost.}) 15. Rb1 Rxc3 16. b4 ( 16. Nf3 $5 $17) 16... Qe7 $19 {Black is able to continue to play strongly using obvious moves.} 17. Nf3 Rfc8 18. Bd3 Na4 {heading for b2 to further pressure the Bd3.} 19. Ne5 {a desperate attempt to gain some counterplay.} (19. O-O {is objectively best, but stilll leads to loss of material.} Nb2 20. Rxb2 Bxb2 $19) 19... Nb2 20. Qe2 Nxd3+ (20... Qxb4 {is picked by the engines, with the point not being to snatch the pawn, but create the threat of Nxd3+ with the Rb1 hanging.} 21. O-O Qxd4 22. Rxb2 Bxb2 $19) 21. Nxd3 Ne4 (21... R8c4 { is how Houdini would conduct the attack.} 22. Rb3 Ne4 {and now either the d4 or b4 pawn will fall.}) 22. O-O {best, although a little too late.} a5 { played due to a mistaken concern over Nc5.} (22... Rc2 {would maintain the initiative better.}) 23. f3 Rc2 24. Qe1 $2 (24. Qd1 {keeps an eye on the Rc2} Nd6 (24... Nc3 $2 25. Qxc2) 25. Bxd6 Qxd6 26. bxa5 Qa6) 24... Nc3 {now the knight is able to penetrate.} 25. Rb3 Ne2+ 26. Kh1 Nxf4 27. Nxf4 {this removes a necessary defender of c1.} Rc1 {White's coming material losses will now be fatal.} 28. Rxa3 Rxe1 29. Rxe1 Qxb4 30. Rae3 Qxd4 (30... Qd2 {is another elegantly tactical way to win. For example:} 31. R3e2 Rc1 32. Rg1 (32. Rxd2 $4 {[%emt 0:00:01] is followed by mate in} Rxe1#) 32... Qxf4) 0-1

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