02 March 2015

Annotated Game #142: Out of book on move 2 (!)

This third-round tournament game was notable for throwing me out of book on move 2, which is about as quick as possible in a serious game (short of White playing 1. h4 or the like).  In reaction, I chose a solid setup, which while good enough did not challenge White as much as it should have.  My opponent's provocative play starting on move 7 essentially provoked me into seizing a positional advantage, although I did not make the best of it.

The remainder of the game proved to be a seesaw back and forth; my main error was in giving too much credence to White's ephemeral kingside attack.  The unusual material balance that White (correctly) chose (3 minor pieces vs. queen) finally lent some real initiative to him on the kingside, but I spotted a key tactical sacrifice on the d-file that opened the position to my counterplay and should have led to a Black win, although the situation was complicated.  In the end, I was satisified with the draw, while if I had better understood the rook endgame we ended up in, I could have pressed for a win.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A11"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Houdini/Komodo 8"] [PlyCount "94"] [EventDate "2013.01.19"] [EventRounds "7"] {A11: English Opening: 1...c6} 1. c4 c6 {last book move (!) says Fritz, although there are a few database games with White's next.} 2. Qc2 {a first for me to see. I suspect my opponent of being a "system" player who plays these moves regardless of what Black does.} d5 {played in two of the four database games.} 3. b3 {now we're completely out of the database.} (3. d3 Nf6 4. e4 dxe4 5. dxe4 e5 6. Nc3 Bd6 7. Bg5 h6 8. Bh4 Qe7 9. Be2 O-O 10. Nf3 Nbd7 11. h3 a5 12. g4 Nc5 13. g5 hxg5 14. Bxg5 Ne6 15. h4 Nd4 16. Qd3 Bc5 17. O-O-O Rd8 18. Nxd4 Rxd4 19. Qf3 Rxd1+ 20. Bxd1 Qe6 21. Rg1 Nh7 22. Na4 Nxg5 23. hxg5 Bd4 24. c5 Qh3 25. Rg3 Qf1 26. g6 Be6 27. gxf7+ Bxf7 28. Qg4 g6 29. Nb6 Rd8 30. Rg1 Qxf2 31. Rg2 Bxb2+ 32. Kb1 Rxd1+ 33. Qxd1 Qxg2 34. Qd8+ Kg7 35. Nd7 Qf2 36. a4 Bd4 37. Qf8+ Kh7 38. Kc1 Be3+ 39. Kb1 Bh6 40. Nf6+ Qxf6 {0-1 (40) Kuba,S (2300)-Buldrova,M (2138) Czechia 2000}) 3... Nf6 4. Bb2 Bg4 {this looks a little strange, but I wanted to get the bishop outside of the pawn chain before playing ...e6.} (4... d4 $5 {is the more straightforward way of exploiting White's setup in order to get a strong center. This possibility of playing such an early pawn advance did not occur to me during the game, as I was focusing on piece development.}) 5. Nc3 {White continues to play in "system" fashion, evidently developing his entire queenside first before turning to the kingside.} e6 {deliberately playing conservatively against the unorthodox White development scheme. I figured that if I chose a solid setup that I was familiar with and achieved easy equality, I could then go from there, rather than trying to directly refute White's play.} 6. Nf3 Nbd7 7. e4 $6 {despite my conservative play up to this point, White's weakening move now provokes me into seizing an advantage.} (7. e3 $5 Bxf3 8. gxf3 Ne5 9. Be2 $11 { in this variation, the important difference is that the e3 pawn covers d4.}) 7... Bxf3 $17 8. gxf3 d4 (8... Ne5 $1 {is even better, as pointed out by the engines. It generates multiple threats, including to f3 and by lending support to a d-pawn advance. For example} 9. Be2 $2 (9. exd5 Nxf3+ $17) 9... d4 10. Na4 d3 11. Qb1 Nfd7 12. f4 dxe2 13. Bxe5 Nxe5 14. fxe5 Qd4 15. Kxe2 Rd8 $19) 9. Ne2 $15 c5 {at this point I thought that the opening looked like a bust for White, although it is far from being a disaster.} 10. h4 g6 {only around this point did I start looking at tactics involving ...Ne5, given the vulnerability on f3 and the pawn fork possibility on d3. I did not see anything concrete, so chose a different path.} (10... Ne5 $17 {is still best, according to the engine. The knight is certainly far better placed there than on d7, even without any specific tactical gains.}) 11. f4 {White now contends for the e5 square.} Bh6 { the point of the previous move. This pressures the pawn on f4 and also targets d2 behind it. I was unsure if this was wise, or perhaps a more conventional development with ...Bd6 or the defensive ...Bg7 would have been better. The engine validates my choice, however.} 12. Bh3 $6 (12. e5 {seems to make the most sense.}) 12... O-O {I recognized that this was may not have been the best decision, although I didn't want to leave my king in the center.} (12... Nh5 { could have been played immediately.} 13. O-O-O Nxf4 14. Nxf4 Bxf4 15. h5 Qf6 $17) 13. O-O-O {my opponent evidently had similar instincts regarding king safety.} (13. e5 Nh5 14. Qe4 Qc7 $17) 13... Nh5 $17 14. Rdg1 {here I began to worry about my own king safety and the appearance of a White attack, which however is not real.} Bxf4 {this is not in fact bad, although the knight capture is a little more effective and less complicated.} (14... Nxf4 15. Nxf4 Bxf4 16. h5 {looks menacing along the g-file, but Black has several options to neutralize any threats.} Ne5 (16... g5 $5) (16... Qb6) 17. hxg6 hxg6 {followed by ...Kg7}) 15. Bg4 {I completely missed this move, which threatens to capture on h5 with a pin on the g-pawn, and went into panic mode. As a result, I went back to the ...Ne5 tactic from earlier, rather than calmly defending.} Ne5 ( 15... Ndf6 $5 16. Bxh5 Nxh5 17. Nxf4 Nxf4 $17 {and now if} 18. h5 $2 Ne2+) 16. Bxh5 $11 d3 17. Nxf4 {I was definitely not expecting this.} dxc2 18. Bxe5 { now White's play makes sense. Material is roughly even, but I felt White had some advantage with his pieces swarming over Black's king position. White has the initiative while Black certainly has the more difficult position to play and I quickly go wrong.} Re8 $6 {played to give the king an escape square.} ( 18... b5 {a difficult move to find. The basic idea is to play ...Qa5 and generate counterplay by attacking the a-pawn, but without this move White is able to play a4 in response.} 19. Bg4 Qa5 20. Kb2 Qxd2 $11) 19. Kxc2 $16 Kf8 { at this point the asymmetrical material balance in fact favors White significantly, as Black's heavy pieces have no outlet for their energies, while White's pieces are all actively placed.} 20. Bg4 {Black has a cramped position, notes the engine via the Fritz interface.} Qa5 {I believed that I could not simply play defense, but had to activate the queen. Correct idea, but should have been implemented earlier.} 21. h5 {White continues to be fully offensive-minded, although he likely intended to set a trap with the a-pawn as well. I of course immediately stumble into it.} Qxa2+ $4 (21... Rad8 22. Rd1 Qxa2+ 23. Bb2 $16 {and now the queen cannot be trapped due to ...Rxd2+}) 22. Bb2 $18 {only after this, I noticed that Black's queen could be trapped after Ra1. I could have retreated, but this would seem to have given the initiative completely over to White.} Rad8 {I spot the idea of the rook sacrifice on d2.} (22... Qa5 $2 23. hxg6 $18) 23. d4 $2 {a simple error by White, who continued to play as aggressively as possible.} (23. d3 $18) 23... Rxd4 $15 {now I have the open d-file and counterplay.} 24. hxg6 hxg6 (24... Red8 {was the other option, but I was not able to see how it worked.} 25. Rd1 (25. g7+ Kg8 $19) 25... Rd2+ 26. Rxd2 Rxd2+ 27. Kxd2 Qxb2+ 28. Ke3 Qxb3+ 29. Nd3 hxg6 $17) 25. Rh8+ $2 (25. Rd1 Red8 26. Rh8+ Ke7 27. Rxd8 Rxd8 28. Nd3 $11) 25... Ke7 $19 26. Rh7 {somewhat surprising, although probably best. I saw no good alternative to going ahead with the rook sac on d2.} (26. Rxe8+ Kxe8 27. Ng2 a5 $19) 26... Rd2+ $1 27. Kxd2 Qxb2+ 28. Ke3 Qxb3+ 29. Ke2 Qxc4+ 30. Kf3 Qc3+ (30... g5 { and Black wins, notes Houdini. I was too focused on piece play to spot this idea, however.} 31. Ng2 Qc3+ 32. Ne3 Rh8 $19) 31. Kg2 $11 {in contrast with the previous variation, White now has this square to hide his king.} Kf6 { in American football, this would be known as "stepping up in the pocket". The king moves forward into his protective pawn shield, although is still surrounded and in danger.} 32. Rgh1 (32. Rd1 $5 {might be a viable alternative} Qe5 33. Rd7 $15) 32... Qe5 $17 {continuing to try to pose as many problems as possible for White.} 33. Kf3 $2 (33. R1h3 Qxf4 34. Rf3 Qxf3+ 35. Kxf3 $17 { and Black's three connected passed pawns are definitely worth a bishop.}) 33... Rd8 $19 {as with the queen earlier, the rook needs to get in the game. I saw the sacrifice on f7 but did not want to wait passively for White to assault the king position.} 34. R1h6 Rd4 35. Rxf7+ {necessary, otherwise Black breaks through by taking on e4.} (35. Nh5+ {does not improve anything} Kg5 36. Kg2 Kxg4 37. Nf6+ Qxf6 $19) 35... Kxf7 {also necessary.} (35... Kg5 36. Rxg6+ Kh4 37. Ng2#) 36. Bxe6+ Qxe6 $2 (36... Ke8 {ends the debate, states Houdini. I was too afraid of a possible mate at this point, however, being short on time.} 37. Bd5 Rd2 38. Rxg6 Qc3+ 39. Kg2 Qd4 $19) 37. Nxe6 $17 Kxe6 38. Rxg6+ Kf7 { and we now have a much more conventional position, for the first time in this game.} 39. Rh6 Kg7 40. Re6 Rd7 41. Re8 $2 Rc7 $6 (41... b5 $1 {passed pawns must be pushed!} 42. Ke2 b4 $19) 42. Ke3 (42. Rb8 a6 $15) 42... c4 {finally I play a good idea.} 43. Kd2 Kf7 $11 {however, I cannot figure out how to best follow up and successfully mobilize the queenside pawns while stopping White's kingside pawns, so I head for the draw.} (43... Rd7+ 44. Kc3 b5 45. Rb8 a6 $17) 44. Rh8 Kf6 45. f4 Kg7 46. Rd8 b5 $15 47. Rb8 a6 1/2-1/2

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