27 September 2014

Annotated Game #134: Foiled Again!


I was looking forward to this fourth-round tournament game, in order to get revenge for a previous tournament loss against my opponent from Annotated Game #116.  Unfortunately, even with colors reversed, the game followed a similar trajectory and my plans were foiled (again).  I overestimated my chances out of the opening, missed opportunities and played more passively than necessary.  A big psychological blow also occurred when I missed the opportunity to simply take a hanging piece, due to an optical illusion and time pressure affecting my calculations.  Although I recovered somewhat after this, Black maintained the initiative and in the end I could not find the necessary defense against Black's kingside attack.

Other than the calculation and time pressure judgment issues, the main takeaway from this analysis for me is that one should never give up.  Despite everything, I had managed to equalize again on move 34 and then failed to defend properly, in large part due to feeling a sense of desperation.  The psychological lesson is that a player needs to unburden themselves of previous ups and downs in a game, in order to best tackle the actual position in front of them.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class C"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A28"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Houdini/Komodo 8"] [PlyCount "76"] [EventDate "2012.07.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] {A28: English Opening: Four Knights Variation} 1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nc6 { the English Four Knights.} 4. e3 d5 {this is less effective against White's previous move than it would be against other reversed Sicilian-type moves such as g3.} 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Bb5 Nxc3 7. bxc3 Qf6 $6 {while the e-pawn needs to be defended, this premature queen sortie isn't recommended.} (7... Bd6 {is standard.}) 8. Qa4 $146 {this is not a bad move, as it increases the pressure on Black, but I played it more from hoping my opponent would go wrong, than from seeing a clear road to an advantage. Black makes obvious moves in response and easily equalizes.} (8. d4 {is the more straightforward move, in the spirit of opening development, that is universally played in the database. Here is an international-level example:} exd4 9. cxd4 Bb4+ 10. Bd2 Bxd2+ 11. Qxd2 O-O 12. Rc1 Bh3 13. O-O Qg6 14. Ne1 Rad8 15. Bxc6 bxc6 16. f3 Rd5 17. Nd3 Rg5 18. Nf4 Qh6 19. Nxh3 Qxh3 20. Rxc6 Rc8 21. e4 Qh5 22. Qf4 Ra5 23. Rxc7 Rxc7 24. Qxc7 h6 25. Qc8+ Kh7 26. Qc4 Ra3 27. d5 Qe5 28. Rd1 Qb2 29. d6 Rxa2 30. Qxa2 {1-0 (30) Suba,M (2531)-Ljubarskij,J (2344) Bad Zwischenahn 2008}) 8... Bd7 9. d4 exd4 10. cxd4 Bd6 11. O-O O-O {White has a cramped position, comments Houdini via the Fritz interface. This is mainly due to the dark-squared bishop, which is currently "bad" due to the e3/d4 pawn chain.} 12. Bd2 Bg4 {this allow White to get a small positional plus with the following sequence.} (12... a6 $5 {is what I was expecting.}) 13. Bxc6 bxc6 {Black has the pair of bishops.} 14. Ne5 {spotting this type of idea is something that I likely would not have been able to do prior to my latest training. The idea is to threaten to take the c6 pawn and then expose the other c-pawn, which will now be isolated, to further pressure. While not decisive, the maneuver is White's best attempt at an advantage.} Be2 $6 {aggressive but not best. The idea is to swing the bishop around to protect the c6 pawn, which on the surface looks good. However, a lateral pinning tactic then becomes possible following an exchange on e5, as can be seen in the below variations.} (14... Bf5 15. Nxc6 Rfe8) 15. Rfc1 {continuing to focus on the c-file.} (15. Rfe1 { is also a possibility, one that the engine evaluates as better. During the game I thought that would simply allow the bishop to swing over to b5 and not gain me anything.} Bb5 16. Qa5 Bxe5 17. dxe5 Qe6 (17... Qxe5 $2 18. a4 { and the bishop is pinned laterally against the queen.}) 18. a4 Bd3 19. Rac1 $16 ) 15... Bb5 (15... c5 {is preferred by the engines.} 16. Nd7 Qh4 17. f4 $14) 16. Qc2 {a passive retreat that does not take advantage of the queen's position.} (16. Qa5 {is the key move, establishing lateral pressure through to e5.} Bxe5 17. dxe5 Qg6 (17... Qxe5 $2 18. a4) 18. Qxc7 $16) 16... c5 $11 { my opponent now equalizes again with this active pawn break, although I respond well and actively to it.} 17. a4 Be8 {preserving the bishop. Black could also play ... cxd4 here.} 18. Nf3 {I was already behind the time curve by this point and not properly generating good candidate moves. The knight is not placed actively on f3.} (18. Nc4 $5) (18. Ng4 Qe6 19. dxc5 Be7 $14 { White is up a pawn but Black has the two bishops and the pawn structure is symmetrical, which limits White's advantage.}) 18... cxd4 19. exd4 $6 {I chose this recapture in order to maintain a pawn in the center, but it is of limited value in an open position with my opponent having the bishop pair.} (19. Nxd4 { would give the knight an excellent central outpost and not leave White with an isolated d-pawn.}) 19... h6 {Covers g5} 20. Rab1 $6 (20. Ne5 $5) 20... Bd7 $15 {by this point Black has constrained White's pieces quite well - thanks in part to my own choices - while the Black pieces are looking more and more active.} 21. Rb7 Bf5 22. Qc6 Rfe8 $17 23. d5 Be4 {Black can now pursue a kingside strategy with the two bishops, queen and rook all contributing. Meanwhile, I have no counterplay and fewer defending pieces.} 24. Re1 Qg6 ( 24... Re6 {is what the engines spot, with the immediate threat of ...Bxh2.} 25. Qc3 Bxd5 26. Qxf6 Rxf6 $19) 25. Kh1 $2 {this is an inferior way to defend against the threat of ... Bxf3.} (25. Rb3 {is best played immediately, to bring the rook back for defense along the third rank.} Rad8 26. g3 $17) 25... Red8 {the wrong rook.} (25... Rad8 {would bring the queen's rook into the game. } 26. Rb3 Re5 27. Rbe3 Bxd5 28. Qc3 $19) 26. Rb3 $6 {right idea, bad timing.} ( 26. Qc4 Bxf3 27. gxf3 Qh5 28. f4) 26... Rab8 {Black misses a chance to increase the pressure and win the d-pawn.} (26... Qf5 27. Rbe3 Bxd5 $19) 27. Rbe3 $17 f5 {maintaining the bishop on the e4 outpost.} 28. Bc3 {by this point in the game I'm still significantly inferior, but at least my pieces are better positioned than previously and have more potential to make threats.} Qg4 29. Kg1 $4 {this should lose the game rather quickly, although the winning continuation is not obvious. It also marks a two-tempo loss of time, after having pointlessly moved the king into the corner previously.} (29. Be5 Rb6 30. h3 Qg6 $15) 29... Qh5 {Black allows White to escape and come closer to equality.} (29... Bxf3 $1 30. Rxf3 Rb6 {and now amazingly the queen is trapped. }) 30. h3 (30. Ne5 $11) 30... Bxd5 $4 {is an example of an "optical illusion" tactical blunder. Embarrassingly, both my opponent and myself failed to visualize the possibility of Qxd5 properly. I had ruled it out when calculating earlier variations because of the response ...Bh2+. However, capturing on d5 would gain a tempo with check, so there is no problem with it.} (30... Qg6 31. Be5 $15) 31. Qa6 $4 {I had a little over a minute per move left on the clock by this point, in order to make time control, and did not properly check the move. It was a big psychological blow for me to miss the piece capture, and this contributed to Black's subsequent momentum in the game. } Bc5 (31... f4 {would be more effective on the attack.} 32. Re7 (32. R3e2 Rb3 33. Qd3 Bb4 $17) 32... Bxe7 33. Rxe7 Bf7 $17) 32. Re5 Rd6 33. Qf1 Rd7 {this lets up the pressure again.} (33... c6 34. g4 Rg6 35. Qg2 Bxf3 36. Rxc5 (36. gxh5 $4 {[%emt 0:00:04] is impossible because of the following mate in} Rxg2+ 37. Kf1 Rxf2+ 38. Kg1 Rg2+ 39. Kf1 Rg1#) (36. Qxf3 $2 fxg4 37. Rxh5 gxf3+ 38. Kf1 Rg5 39. Rxg5 hxg5 $17) 36... Bxg4 37. Rxc6 Rxc6 38. Qxc6 $15) 34. g4 $11 { although objectively White should hold here, Black still looks threatening and I felt I was desperately trying to save the game.} Qg6 35. Nh4 Qg5 36. Nxf5 $6 {the wrong choice, made under time pressure. Black find the way to punish it.} (36. Ng2 {maintains the defense.}) 36... Qf4 $15 37. Ne7+ $4 {the losing move, a desperate attempt at "counterplay" when defensive moves are called for.} (37. Ne3 {this is the best way to fight back} Rf8 38. Nxd5 Qg3+ 39. Qg2 Bxf2+ 40. Kh1 Bxe1 41. Ne7+ Rxe7 42. Qxg3 Bxg3 43. Rxe7 $15) 37... Rxe7 $19 38. Rxe7 (38. Rxd5 Qg3+ 39. Kh1 Qf3+ 40. Qg2 Qxc3 41. Rg1 $19) 38... Qg3+ 0-1

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