09 March 2016

Annotated Game #150: Drawing a Win

This third-round game features a seesaw battle in the Symmetrical English, which in fact turned out to be rather unbalanced.  My opponent was evidently unfamiliar with the opening, although I misunderstood some key ideas as well (see for example move 13).  I get my plan back on track and by around move 22 am doing quite well.  Black of course does not give up and complicates things in the next several moves, while I only find lesser moves in response.

The main error on my part comes on move 26, when I make a false assumption about the solidity of my position and make an "obvious move" (see Annotated Game #149) which is tactically refuted by my opponent.  Nevertheless, I fight back and do the same to my opponent on move 31, coming up with a winning "in-between move" rather than the obvious recapture.  However, in the end I fail to find the winning idea with time running out on my clock, so I force a draw.  Disappointing, but at least the lesson learned in analysis of how I could have won the position will be with me for the future.
[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class B"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A38"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 9.3"] [PlyCount "76"] {A38: Symmetrical English vs ...g6:4 Bg2 Bg7 5 Nf3 Nf6} 1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. O-O O-O 7. d3 d6 {I suspected my opponent had not faced the English much and therefore decided to copy my moves for lack of any other ideas.} 8. Bd2 h6 {breaking the symmetry finally. Since the bishop had just moved to d2, I assume that the pawn advance was aimed at preventing a future Ng5, although this does not seem particuarly urgent, so developing a piece would make more sense.} 9. Rb1 e5 {this seizes space in the center, but leaves a big hole on d5.} 10. a3 {with the idea of forcing through the pawn advance b4.} a5 {the obvious reaction} 11. Ne1 {opening up the long diagonal and looking to transfer the knight to support b4.} Re8 12. Nc2 Nd4 (12... a4 13. b4 axb3 14. Rxb3 Nd4 {would be an improved version of the idea.}) 13. Nxd4 {this was unnecessary and distracted from the whole point of the previous plan to build up the b4 advance.} (13. b4 axb4 14. axb4 $14) 13... exd4 $11 14. Nd5 (14. Nb5 $5 Bg4 15. Re1 Qd7 $11) 14... Nxd5 15. Bxd5 {the bishop looks nicely placed, but has no real follow-up threats and can eventually be attacked after preparing ...Be6.} Qe7 16. Re1 Bh3 $6 {bishops on h3 like this always look menacing, but without an ability for Black to further attack the g2 square (for example, with his queen), the bishop in fact is out of play here.} (16... Be6 17. Bg2 $11) 17. b4 $14 {I finally return to the main idea of the position for White.} axb4 18. axb4 Ra7 19. bxc5 $16 dxc5 20. Rb6 {threatening to win material after Rxg6, due to the pin on the f-pawn (the Bd5 actually contributing now to concrete threats).} (20. e4 $5) 20... Kh7 21. Qb1 {now it's my turn to line up the heavy pieces against a pawn, to greater effect.} Bc8 (21... Be5 22. Rxb7 Rxb7 23. Qxb7 Qxb7 24. Bxb7 Rb8 25. Bg2 $16) 22. Bf4 $16 {now this bishop finally gets in the game, with a strong threat to fork on d6.} g5 $2 {missing the point of the last move.} (22... Rd8 $5 $16) 23. Bd6 Qd7 24. Bxc5 {White now dominates and has a winning position, although the game itself is still far from actually won.} Qg4 $2 {here I fail to think more creatively to take advantage of Black's error.} (24... Ra5 25. Bd6 $18) 25. f3 {this is fine for maintaining the advantage, but not decisive.} (25. Bxf7 { secures the win, notes Komodo 8 via the Fritz interface.} Rg8 (25... Rd8 26. Rxh6+ Bxh6 27. Qb6 {forking the Rd8, Ra7 and the g6 square with the queen.}) 26. Rxh6+ {this is the key idea I failed to find, which features both a discovered attack on the Ra7 and opening lines against Black's kind; see also the previous variation.} Bxh6 27. Bxg8+ Kxg8 28. Bxa7 $18) 25... Qf5 26. Be4 $4 {an unfortunate move that relinquishes the win, states Komodo 8. Also an "obvious move" that I should have checked more throughly.} (26. Qb2 {is a simple way to continue.} Kg8 27. Rd6 $18) (26. Rxh6+ {also still works.}) 26... Rxe4 $16 {Black is able to exchange the rook for two bishops, which is quite favorable and something I failed to account for, with the hanging Bc5. The false assumption was that the Be4 was immune to capture, being protected by pawns, but going the one step further in calculation would have pointed out this fallacy.} 27. fxe4 $2 {the curse of the "obvious move" strikes again!} ( 27. Rb5 {would still leave White slightly better.} Rxe2 28. Rxe2 $14) 27... Qxc5 $17 28. Rf1 {still not taking into account my opponent's best replies.} ( 28. Qb5 Qc7 29. Rb1 $17) 28... Be6 $6 (28... Bh3 $5 {now would be quite effective, since it would threaten White's king on the back rank.} 29. Rd1 (29. Rxf7 $4 Qxb6 30. Qxb6 Ra1+ 31. Qb1 Rxb1+ 32. Kf2 Rf1#) 29... Qc7 $17) 29. Rxb7 $11 Rxb7 30. Qxb7 {the position is now equal, as White's extra pawns and active queen position compensate for Black's two bishops.} Bxc4 $4 {this should be the losing move.} (30... Qa5 $142 $11 {was possible}) 31. Rf5 $18 { the simplest way to win. Here I give myself credit for not just automatically playing the obvious dxc4 (which is also good according to the computer, but creates a much more complex and unclear situation). Instead I see that the queen can be chased away from protecting the c4 square first.} (31. dxc4 d3+ 32. Kg2 dxe2 33. Rxf7 e1=N+ 34. Kf1 Qxc4+ 35. Kxe1 {is the complex computer line, which also gives Black a lot of queen checks to follow, although it's rated better for White (eventually).}) 31... Qa3 32. dxc4 Qc1+ 33. Kg2 (33. Rf1 {is simpler and better, as the rook is not as useful on the f5 square.} Qe3+ 34. Rf2 Qc1+ 35. Kg2 Qxc4 36. Qxf7 Qxf7 37. Rxf7 $18) 33... Qxc4 34. Rxf7 Qxe2+ 35. Rf2 Qe3 {in comparison with the above variation, now it's much harder (at least for me) to find a line where White can make progress. With time low on the clock, I instead end up repeating moves and drawing.} 36. Rf7 (36. Qd5 { is the best move, getting behind Black's passed d-pawn while maintaining support of the e4 pawn and enabling the queen to move laterally to the f-file. The idea is to check on f5 - which Black cannot block - then threaten to redeploy the rook to the 8th rank to target the Black king.} g4 {technically best, in order to divert the queen to the g-file after Qf5+.} (36... d3 37. Qf5+ Kg8 38. Ra2 Bf8 39. Qg6+ Kh8 40. Qe8 Kg7 41. Rf2 {and wins.}) 37. Qf5+ Kg8 38. Ra2 Qf3+ 39. Qxf3 gxf3+ 40. Kxf3 $18 {and the endgame win for White is trivial.}) 36... Qe2+ 37. Rf2 {Twofold repetition} Qe3 38. Rf7 Qe2+ $11 1/2-1/2

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