20 July 2013

Annotated Game #98: An attacking Slav

This fourth-round tournament game was a ratings mismatch but nevertheless enjoyable and interesting to play - of course when you are the winner, that's easier to say.  What I thought was a poor idea by White in the opening (an early d5 advance) is not necessarily bad, according to Houdini and the database, as White could have gained some development and spatial advantages in return for his gambited pawn.  Instead, faced with the prospect of being down a pawn with no compensation, my opponent sacrificed a piece for what turned out to be only some brief pressure.

This game showed some positive signs of improvement in my thinking at the board.  Overall, it was a blunder-free game on my part, which reflected the care taken to anticipate possible White threats.  The defensive moves are coherent and sound, also reflecting a more sophisticated understanding of using dynamic factors, for example on move 21 when Black's e5 pawn is tactically defended.  The breakthrough tactic on move 23 may be obvious to many players, but for me it was the product of a less strictly materialistic way of thinking, which has been one of my historical handicaps.  (Although it's worth noting that I focused on recovering material rather than delivering an immediate mate as a follow-up.)  Analysis also showed an interesting pawn sacrifice on move 19 which would have lead to an earlier breakthrough.

When annotating games it's necessary to concentrate on your deficiencies in order to avoid them in the future, but at the same time it's also important to recognize examples of good play in order to repeat them in the future.  This was a positive game in that respect, despite the mismatch.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class E"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D20"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "58"] {D20: Queen's Gambit Accepted: e3 and 3 e4} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 {by far the move most seen at the amateur level, instead of Nf3, which is considered standard by theory.} dxc4 4. e4 e5 {...b5 is now the preferred move here and scores significantly better. The text move is a more classical approach, seeking to strike back in the center.} 5. d5 {I had not seen this covered before and was skeptical of it during the game. It seems to overextend White's center.} Nf6 6. Bxc4 Bb4 7. Nge2 {this of course drops a pawn, but Houdini thinks there is compensation for White, who can gain an edge in development and space.} Nxe4 8. Qb3 (8. O-O {is how the one master-level game in the database continued.} Nxc3 9. Nxc3 O-O 10. Re1 cxd5 11. Bxd5 Nc6 12. a3 Bc5 13. Be3 Bd4 14. Qf3 Qf6 15. Qe2 Be6 16. Be4 Rac8 17. Nb5 Bxe3 18. fxe3 Qe7 19. Rac1 f5 20. Bxc6 bxc6 21. Nc3 Rf6 22. Qa6 Rc7 23. Qa5 Bb3 24. Ne2 Rd7 25. Ng3 Bd5 26. Qc3 Qe6 27. Re2 Rg6 28. Rf2 Rf7 29. Rcf1 Rg4 30. Qd2 Qg6 31. e4 Bxe4 32. Nxe4 Rxe4 33. Rxf5 Rd4 34. Rxf7 Qxf7 35. Qc2 Qc4 36. Qf5 Rf4 37. Qc8+ Kf7 38. Rxf4+ Qxf4 39. Qd7+ Kf8 40. Qd8+ Kf7 41. Qd7+ {1/2-1/2 (41) Dankert,P (2265) -Storm,R (2335) Germany 1990}) 8... Bxc3+ 9. Nxc3 Nxc3 10. bxc3 b5 {now White is worse, as after the bishop retreats Black can capture on d5 and White no longer has any significant threats, as can be seen in the next variation.} 11. Bxb5 $2 {White decides to sacrifice for an unsound but active attack, rather than give Black a small, safe advantage.} (11. Be2 Qxd5 12. Qxd5 cxd5 13. Bxb5+ Bd7 $15) 11... cxb5 $19 12. Ba3 {the best follow-up, keeping Black's king in the center.} Nd7 13. Qxb5 Rb8 {the point of Black's previous move, which of course also blocked the a4-e8 diagonal.} 14. Qc6 Rb6 15. Qc4 Ba6 {Black uses his rook to carry out the same idea with his bishop that White had on move 12. White's attack is over and now Black's threats dominate.} 16. Qa4 Qc7 17. Bb4 Qc4 18. O-O-O Bb5 19. Qc2 Ra6 (19... a5 $5 {is a non-obvious sacrifice that the engines find, which gains a tempo on the game continuation and threatens mate in a way I had not seen.} 20. Bxa5 Ra6 {and now White must give up material.} 21. Bb4 $2 Rxa2 {and mate would follow after something like} 22. Qb1 {with} Qf4+) 20. a3 (20. Rd2 {does not save the day, says Fritz.} Nc5 21. Re1 f6 22. Bxc5 Qxc5 $19) 20... Nc5 21. Qf5 O-O {Black calmly castles, which defends everything. The e5 pawn is tactically defended by the knight fork on d3.} 22. Rhe1 Rxa3 $1 {Fritz gave the exclamation point here. This effectively breaks up White's shield in front of his king and leads to mate.} 23. Bxa3 Qxc3+ 24. Qc2 (24. Kb1 {a fruitless try to alter the course of the game, notes Fritz.} Rb8 25. Qc8+ Rxc8 26. Bb2 Bd3+ 27. Rxd3 Qxe1+ 28. Kc2 Qe2+ 29. Rd2 Ne4+ 30. Kb1 Nxd2+ 31. Ka2 Qa6+ 32. Ba3 Rc3 33. Ka1 Qxa3#) 24... Qxa3+ {this of course also wins, but I should have been examining other tactical possibilities, as there is a (somewhat unusual) mate in two here.} (24... Nb3+ 25. Kb1 Qa1#) 25. Kd2 Nb3+ 26. Ke3 Nd4+ 27. Qd3 Bxd3 28. Rxd3 Qc5 29. Ke4 f5+ 0-1

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