06 November 2016

Annotated Game #164: Luck of the draw

In this fourth-round tournament game, we see several transformations of the position and several missed opportunities for both myself and my opponent.  The flank opening my opponent employs eventually turns into a Dutch Stonewall type position, with a classic kingside vs. queenside strategy.  However, neither of us properly pushes forward the correct strategy, failing to find key moves.  For Black, the notable idea of undermining White's central pawns with ...e5 appears a number of times, but I was oblivious to it.  (One of the obvious benefits of analyzing your own games is to spot and remember ideas like this for the future.)  Another key lesson was to reinforce the importance of CCT, as I missed a winning deflection tactic on move 35.  By that point my brain was tired of calculating, but all it took was examining the available checks (not very many).  In the end, I was lucky to get the draw, as my opponent's brain must have similarly been scarred by the battle that had just occurred.
[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class C"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A12"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 9.3"] [PlyCount "93"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 {I like to keep my options open when my opponent opens this way, in part because I assume they have a lot more depth of experience on the positions arising from more commital moves such as 1...d5.} 2. c4 c6 { supporting the ...d5 advance and indicating that I intend to enter a Slav-type structure.} 3. b3 {this was a surprise, as normally players who like flank openings get to the queenside fianchetto quicker, advancing the b-pawn on either the first or second moves.} d5 {my opening plan does not change, however.} 4. Bb2 Bf5 {this is the most played in the position, according to the database, and is the classical treatment of the Slav setup, but placing the bishop on g4 is also popular and more of the modern approach.} 5. d3 e6 6. Nbd2 {done to avoid blocking the Bb2 on the long diagonal.} Nbd7 7. g3 { providing the only viable outlet for the bishop.} Be7 {not a bad move, but an unimaginative placement of the bishop.} (7... Bc5 $5) 8. Bg2 O-O 9. O-O Re8 { done with the intention of potentially supporting an e-pawn advance, although this never happens. It's unclear if it's a waste of a tempo.} (9... h6 { is a better "waiting" type move, as it accomplishes more by covering the g5 square and providing a potential retreat on h7 for the Bf5.}) 10. a3 a5 11. d4 {this is antipositional, as it shuts in the Bb2. It also immediately gives Black control of the e4 square, which I move to occupy.} Ne4 {taking the opportunity to centralize the knight.} 12. c5 {with the idea of gaining space for White. Here I miss a good chance to attack and break up White's formation.} Nxd2 13. Qxd2 Nf6 {originally I had thought that the exchange of minor pieces helped me get this knight into play on f6; the position is fully equal. However, there was a better approach.} (13... b6 14. b4 Qc7 {and Black will be able to play ...Reb8 shortly, perhaps after taking on c5, with pressure on the queenside.} 15. cxb6 $6 {for example does not work out well for White.} Nxb6 { and now c4 will be a beautiful outpost for the knight, also shielding the c-pawn from any pressure down the file.}) 14. Qd1 Ne4 15. e3 Bg4 {again taking advantage of a White pawn advance, this time to pin the Nf3.} 16. Qd3 Bxf3 { here I took because I thought not doing so would be a waste of time, plus I had the next move in mind as a follow-up, so did not think White's light-square bishop would be very "good".} (16... Bf5 {preserving the bishop was probably better, since it has good prospects on the a7-b1 diagonal and I could always exchange a knight on e5 with my other bishop.}) 17. Bxf3 f5 { and we have now reached a Stonewall type position for Black. The Be7 would be better placed on the h2-b8 diagonal, however.} 18. Qd1 Rf8 {here Komodo thinks it is much better to play on the queenside, for example with ...b6, followed by ...Rb8. This would help activate the Be7 and the rooks, among other things.} 19. Bg2 Qe8 {the queen actually isn't better on this diagonal.} (19... g5 $5 { if I'm going to play for a kingside Stonewall attack, better to go all in soonest.}) 20. Qe1 g5 21. Bc1 (21. f3 $5) 21... Qg6 {trying to get the queen into the action, but this is rather awkward, as it doesn't really do anything on either the g-file or the a7-b1 diagonal that's very helpful.} (21... g4 { would anticipate the f-pawn advance and neutralize it.} 22. f3 Ng5 {and now Black can either exchange favorably on f3 or return to e4 if the f-pawn is pushed.}) 22. Bd2 h5 {I choose to ignore the threat to the a-pawn in favor of advancing what I thought would be a decisive attack. I was over-optimistic, however.} (22... Bd8 {however is a fine defensive move, giving up nothing in terms of the bishop's action.}) (22... e5 $5 {is also an interesting idea and a thematic one in the Dutch, undermining White's central pawn structure.} 23. dxe5 Nxc5) 23. Bxe4 dxe4 {these types of pawn recapture decisions can be tough, as it's not clear which one is best.} (23... fxe4 {is preferred by the engine.} 24. Bxa5 Rf7 25. a4 Qf5 {and Black has full compensation for the pawn, given the pressure down the f-file, the threat of the queen penetrating on the kingside, and the threat of the h-pawn advance.}) 24. Bxa5 Rf7 25. Bd2 Raf8 26. Qe2 Rh7 $6 {I thought for a long time here and could not come to a definite conclusion as to the best way to continue the attack. This was definitely not the way, however. The rook was better placed on f7 to support the attack.} ( 26... f4 {with Black's pieces in place, no better time to force the issue.} 27. gxf4 (27. exf4 gxf4 28. Kh1 fxg3 29. fxg3 Rxf1+ 30. Rxf1 Rxf1+ 31. Qxf1 e3 $1 $15) 27... gxf4+ 28. Kh1 f3 29. Rg1 fxe2 30. Rxg6+ Kh7 31. Rag1 $11) 27. h3 { my opponent erred here by continuing to play on the kingside. With an extra queenside pawn, the best strategy would be to mobilize it, if I insist on taking longer than necessary to press things on the kingside.} (27. a4 $16 { and now for example} h4 28. a5 g4 29. a6 bxa6 30. Rxa6 {and Black has to defend the c-pawn or let the White pawns roll through unimpeded.}) 27... h4 28. g4 Rhf7 {admitting that the rook move to h7 was a waste of time.} 29. f3 $6 { unnecessarily giving me another target.} exf3 (29... fxg4 30. fxg4 Rf3 $1 $15 { is the idea the engine finds, which I did not. Not a decisive blow, but still quite good for Black.}) 30. Rxf3 fxg4 31. Rxf7 Qxf7 $15 32. hxg4 (32. Rf1 $2 Qxf1+ 33. Qxf1 Rxf1+ 34. Kxf1 gxh3 $19) (32. Qxg4 $15) 32... Qf3 {here I started to despair a bit, my attack having failed to produce a decisive breakthrough. This was completely unnecessary, however. The text move is OK, but there are better - albeit more subtle - alternatives.} (32... e5 $15 { is one good idea, thematically breaking up White's central pawn chain.}) (32... Qh7 {is another maneuver, with the idea of maneuvering with the queen to get a more favorable position. For example} 33. e4 e5 34. Qc4+ Qf7 35. Qxf7+ Rxf7 $17 {and White's position in the center is undermined.}) 33. Qg2 h3 {a good move, but again I was thinking with more desperation - unnecessarily - than objectivity. My brain was also rather tired by this point after a lot of calculating.} 34. Qxf3 Rxf3 35. Rf1 $2 Rg3+ {this is a good move, but there's a much better one...} (35... h2+ $1 {wins with a deflection tactic, as the king is overloaded trying to protect both the Rf1 and the h1 queening square. I was experiencing tunnel vision, however, and didn't even consider the pawn move. Another example of the importance of CCT in the thinking process.}) 36. Kh1 Rxg4 37. Rg1 Rxg1+ 38. Kxg1 Bd8 {this turns out to be a wasted tempo.} ( 38... e5 $1 {is the idea that I continued to fail to find. It would be winning here.}) 39. e4 {now ...Bc7 won't work, due to e4-e5...or so I thought. I'd stopped thinking properly by this point, failing to consider my opponent's responses.} g4 40. Kh2 $2 Bh4 (40... Bc7+ $1 41. e5 Kg7 {and now the king marches to e4 and victory.}) 41. Bf4 Kf7 42. b4 Bf2 43. Be5 Kg6 $11 44. a4 Kg5 $2 (44... Kf7) 45. b5 {my opponent finds the right idea, mobilizing his queenside majority, but in the end fails to follow through, due to his concern about my kingside play.} Kh4 46. Bf6+ Kh5 47. Be5 1/2-1/2

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