25 August 2012

Annotated Game #60: Hung by Hanging Pawns

This third-round tournament game features an unusually quick rout of my English Opening, with the game effectively over after 20 moves.  Black chooses to enter a Queen's Indian Defense setup and White fails to take into account the specific requirements of the developing position, instead playing his own opening setup by rote (for example on move 7).  White continues to make developmental mistakes, including prematurely moving and misplacing his queen on move 9, where it will later become a liability.

Strategically, the decision to go for a hanging pawns structure (with Black pawns on c5 and d5 as occurred in the game) was an interesting one by White, but probably not the best choice.  Hanging pawns that are that well-protected from the start will be difficult to attack and White was not developed well enough to target his pieces against them.  Black's use of the hanging pawns to subsequently dominate the center and pressure White is instructive, as are some of White's other erroneous choices (such as 16. h4) which eventually lead to his downfall.

That particular error is worth noting, as earlier this week while reviewing Bronstein's Zurich 1953 tournament book, I found in his annotations a criticism of a similar type of h-pawn move.  Bronstein made the useful point that these types of moves should only ever be played when no alternative exists; here, White had the alternative of simply retreating the knight to avoid Black's tactical threat.  I enjoy finding these types of examples in my own analysis which reinforce master-level guidance, as it helps my ability to identify and eliminate errors.  This is also a good illustration of how analyzing your own games and studying master-level annotated games can generate a real synergy in your training.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class B"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A17"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "92"] {A17: English Opening: 1...Nf6 with ...Bb4} 1. c4 e6 {a flexible move which is usually used by players looking to enter a QGD setup.} 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 b6 { Black instead opts for a Queen's Indian Defense setup.} 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. d3 {this is not the best try by White. The largest number of games in the database simply transpose to a QID with d4 here, with Re1 a close second choice that has been used to good effect by Kramnik.} d5 8. cxd5 exd5 { this decision to retake with the e-pawn allows the hanging pawns structure to be created.} 9. Qc2 {it seems premature to develop the queen at this point and c2 is not a particularly good square for it, as will be seen later.} (9. Bf4 { is a superior alternative for development.}) 9... c5 10. d4 {the preferred move according to Houdini, which means that the earlier d3 just wasted a tempo. } Nc6 11. dxc5 {deciding to create the hanging pawns structure of c5+d5. The pawns are well supported, however, so pehaps this was not the best choice.} ( 11. Rd1 {is the other alternative.}) 11... bxc5 12. a3 {takes away the b4 square from the knight.} Rc8 13. Rd1 Qd7 {while this takes away the possibility for White to play Bh3, it still leaves the queen lined up on the d-file with White's rook.} 14. Bf4 Nd8 $6 {Black has several possibilities here, but the knight retreat - evidently intending to head for e6 - is too slow and awkward.} (14... Rfd8 {seems like a good developing move.}) 15. Ne5 { White goes for an obvious, easily countered threat and misses a good opportunity to improve his position.} (15. e3 $142 $5 $14 {was Fritz's original suggestion, fighting for the d4 square. Then upon} Ne6 16. Ne5 { is more effective} Qd8) (15. Nxd5 {is the tactical option Houdini spots.} Nxd5 16. e4 Ne6 17. Ne5 {and White is much more aggressively placed, also having eliminated the d-pawn and breaking up Black's center.}) 15... Qe6 $15 {unlike in the above variations, Black is simply able to put his queen on this square, an improvement from d7.} 16. h4 {this preempts the threat of ...g5, but significantly weakens the kingside. The simplest way to avoid Black's tactical threat would be to retreat the knight.} (16. Nf3 d4 17. Ng5) 16... d4 {Black now really starts rolling.} 17. Nb1 $2 (17. Bxb7 Nxb7 18. Nb5 $17) 17... Bxg2 $19 18. Kxg2 Qd5+ (18... Bd6 {is found by the engines, which would have immediately given Black a winning material advantage.} 19. Nd3 c4 20. Bxd6 cxd3 {White's vulnerable queen placement makes this possible.} 21. Qxd3 Qxd6) 19. Kg1 Ne6 20. Nf3 $2 (20. e3 {would allow White to fight on.}) 20... Nxf4 $19 21. gxf4 Bd6 (21... Qh5 {would be more effective, allowing the queen to penetrate into White's kingside. However, the text move is still winning for Black.}) 22. Qd3 Bxf4 23. b4 {White is simply desperate at this point, with no play for his pieces, a vulnerable kingside, and Black dominating the center.} Rfd8 24. bxc5 Qxc5 25. e3 Bh6 (25... dxe3 $2 26. Qxd8+) 26. exd4 Qh5 {now Black starts to exploit the weakened kingside.} 27. Nbd2 Bxd2 (27... Qg4+ $5) 28. Rxd2 Qg4+ 29. Kh2 $4 {the pressure is too much, White crumbles, says Fritz.} (29. Kh1 $142 $19) 29... Nd5 30. Rg1 Qf4+ {this now gains a tempo, with the king on h2.} 31. Rg3 Rc3 $1 32. Qe2 Rxf3 $1 {Eliminates a defender of both h4 and d2.} 33. Qxf3 {Deflection from d2} Qxd2 34. Rg4 Qc3 35. Qg2 {being a piece down with no compensation, White could simply resign, but decides to go down fighting.} Qc7+ 36. Kh1 g6 37. h5 Qc1+ 38. Kh2 Qc7+ {a useful move to get closer to the time control on move 40.} 39. Kh1 Nf6 40. Rh4 Qc1+ 41. Kh2 Qc7+ 42. Kh1 Rb8 { usefully brings the rook into the fight, sealing White's fate.} 43. Qg1 Qc6+ 44. Kh2 Qd6+ 45. Kh1 Qd5+ 46. Kh2 Nxh5 {and now lacking hope of any counterchances at all, White resigns.} 0-1

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