17 June 2013

Annotated Game #95: Rocky Rook and the Caro-Kann Advance

This was played relatively recently against Rocky Rook on FICS at a 60 5 time control and was an interesting struggle in the opening and early middlegame.  Black achieves a dream setup against White in a Caro-Kann Advance variation (by transposition), but I failed to capitalize on this tactically on move 19, after an unsuccessful (lazy?) attempt to calculate the permutations of ...Nxd4!  Instead I picked a safe option which I knew was somewhat passive, but then was fortunate when White overlooked a latent skewer threat and the game was essentially over.  Some additional tactical possibilities in the subsequent analysis provide some entertainment, although in the game I largely stuck with moves that I calculated would win sufficiently rather than win brilliantly.  I believe this is part of the secret of high-performance chess, so I don't feel so bad about the wonderfully better moves the engine pointed out during analysis.  A good game for training purposes.

[Event "rated standard match"] [Site "Free Internet Chess Server"] [Date "2013.04.06"] [Round "?"] [White "RockyRook"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B10"] [WhiteElo "1667"] [BlackElo "1732"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Houdini"] [PlyCount "64"] [EventDate "2013.??.??"] [TimeControl "3600+5"] {B10: Caro-Kann: d3 and c4} 1. e4 c6 2. Nf3 {usually this means that White has no set idea about what to play against the Caro-Kann. It typically is used to get to a Two Knights variation at the professional level, although with some exceptions.} d5 {the only consistent move for Black if he wants to play a Caro-Kann.} 3. e5 {this will transpose into the Advance Variation.} Bg4 { should ideally be played in the normal ...c5 variation of the Caro-Kann advance, so I judge it's best to get it in immediately.} 4. d4 e6 5. Be2 c5 { Black scores nearly 80 percent here in the database.} 6. c3 Nc6 {Black now has a standard version of the Advance Caro-Kann where his pieces are ideally placed.} 7. Be3 cxd4 8. cxd4 Nge7 {Fritz/Houdini comments that White has a very active position. White in fact may have more squares, but he cannot do much of anything with them at this point.} 9. O-O Nf5 {while the Bg4/Nf5 pieces look awkward together, the Bg4 can exchange itself at any time and the Nf5 is well placed for many possibilities.} 10. Nbd2 (10. Nc3 h6 $11) 10... Qb6 {I was reluctant to play this in an earlier game, so made sure to get the queen out this time.} 11. Nb3 {this looks necessary at first glance to protect the d4 and b2 pawns, but Houdini rejects this in favor of more active play, considering that Black now has a small advantage. The d4 pawn is in fact protected tactically, as either knight would be pinned against the Qb6 after taking it. The b2 pawn would be an excellent one to gambit for White, as shown in the variation.} (11. h3 Bxf3 (11... Bh5 12. g4 Nxe3 13. fxe3 Bg6 $11) 12. Nxf3 Be7 $11 (12... Qxb2 $2 13. Rb1 Qxa2 14. Rxb7 $18 {the extra pawn is more than offset by White's piece activity and Black's vulnerable king position.})) 11... Be7 $15 12. Rc1 {this looks like an obvious move, but may in fact be premature, with the rook able to play a better role on the a- or b-files.} O-O 13. a3 {While this usefully controls b4, it also leaves the Nb3 a little precarious and does nothing to secure b2.} Rac8 {Black continues playing normal moves and improving the position of his pieces, not being in the position to make any major breakthroughs.} 14. Qd3 {During the game I didn't see much benefit to this, unless White wanted to try Be2-d1-c2 to line up on h7, in which case Black can simply play ...g6. It leads Houdini's choices, though, in part because it creates the possibility of Qb5 while covering e2/e3. } Rc7 $11 {here I missed (but later saw) the idea of the ...a5 push, either now or after exchanging on f3. The idea would be to drive away the Nb3 or force White to further weaken the queenside.} (14... Bxf3 15. Bxf3 a5 16. a4 Qb4 $15) 15. Rc2 {creating the conditions for a skewer on the h7-b1 diagonal.} (15. Rc3 a6 $11) 15... Rfc8 16. Rfc1 Nxe3 17. Qxe3 {forced due to the the skewer.} (17. fxe3 $4 Bf5 18. Rxc6 Rxc6 19. Rxc6 Rxc6 $19 (19... Bxd3 $2 20. Rxc8+ Bf8 21. Nc5 Bb5 22. Kf2 $11)) 17... h6 {this now sets up another potential skewer on the h6-c1 diagonal, as well as taking g5 away from White.} 18. Rc3 a5 {I thought for a while here. Black did not seem to have any other active prospects and the idea of driving the knight away from protection of d4 seems sound.} 19. Nc5 $6 (19. Bf1) 19... Qa7 $6 {Here I should have taken immediate advantage of the tactical idea of ... Nxd4, which removes a key defender of the Nc5 and opens up a Black attack on it.} (19... Nxd4 20. Qxd4 Bxf3 (20... Bxc5 $6 21. Qxg4 Bxf2+ 22. Kf1 Rxc3 23. Rxc3 Rxc3 24. bxc3 $11) 21. Nxe6 Qxd4 (21... Qxe6 $6 22. Bxf3 (22. Rxc7 $2 {seems attractive but will lead to severe problems} Rxc7 23. Rxc7 Bxe2 $19) (22. gxf3 $6 Rxc3 23. Rxc3 Rxc3 24. Qxc3 b6 $11) 22... Rxc3 23. Rxc3 $11) 22. Nxd4 Rxc3 23. bxc3 Bxa3 $17) 20. Qf4 $2 {this allows multiple tactical possibilities for Black to appear, either directly or by threat, and is the turning point of the game.} (20. Na4 $11 { is just about the only chance}) 20... Bxf3 $19 {removing White's ability to exchange on g5 and therefore winning for Black.} 21. Rxf3 Bg5 22. Qg4 Bxc1 23. Nxe6 {I had spotted this possibility and decided that the bishop retreat worked well enough to defend and keep a winning material balance.} (23. b4 { cannot change what is in store for White} axb4 24. axb4 $19) 23... Bg5 (23... fxe6 {is what the engine prefers by far, but this seems to give White unnecessary chances in practical terms.} 24. Qxe6+ Kh8 $19) 24. Nxc7 Rxc7 { Black has a piece for a pawn and threats to d4 and down the c-file, so I was confident of victory by this point.} 25. h4 (25. Rd3 Bc1 26. h3 Qb6 $19) 25... Nxd4 {Black is now a full piece up and his pieces dominate the board.} 26. Rg3 Nxe2+ 27. Qxe2 Bxh4 {going for the easy, sure thing.} (27... Rc1+ {would chase the king into another forced pin and effectively end the game immediately.} 28. Kh2 Bf4 $19) 28. Rh3 Qd4 (28... Bxf2+ {makes use of a fine back-rank deflection tactic.} 29. Kh2 (29. Qxf2 $2 Rc1+) 29... Qd4 $19) 29. g3 Bg5 30. e6 Rc1+ 31. Kh2 Qe4 32. exf7+ Kxf7 {RockyRook resigns. . . . . . .} 0-1

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