30 April 2017

Annotated Game #174: Choke

For those not familiar with the word "choke", it refers in English slang to when an individual sportsperson (or sometimes an entire team) is presented with a clear winning opportunity during an important moment, but instead they screw it up and lose.  This next tournament game is a great example of this phenomenon.  After three wins in a row I was paired against the leader of the section and had a chance to move into first place with one round left to play.  Instead, after doing well in an aggressive English Opening (yes, the English can be aggressive), I was one move away from victory, but instead had a major thinking process failure on move 24 (trapping my opponent's queen...except for the one move that beat me).  It had been a rather exciting and somewhat exhausting game up until that point, so even though it was relatively early on move-wise, I had expended a good amount of clock time and a lot of mental energy on calculating variations since the unexpected 17th move from my opponent.  Basically I lost patience and decided to skip the process...with unfortunate consequences.  Lesson learned.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class C"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A13"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 8"] [PlyCount "56"] [EventDate "2016.10.10"] [EventType "schev"] [EventRounds "5"] {[%mdl 8192] A13: English Opening: 1...e6} 1. c4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. e3 Nf6 4. b3 Be7 {now in a standard QGD type setup for Black.} 5. Bb2 Nbd7 6. Be2 b6 7. O-O Bb7 8. Nc3 (8. d3 {is an option, with the idea of Nbd2.}) (8. cxd5 $5 { immediately is more common than the text move.}) 8... O-O 9. cxd5 {this seemed the logical follow-up. I've previously had bad experiences with Black building a strong pawn center and this takes care of that problem.} Nxd5 (9... exd5 10. Rc1 Re8 11. Qc2 Bf8 12. Rfd1 c6 13. d4 Bd6 14. Bd3 Qe7 15. Ne2 g6 16. Ng3 Ng4 17. Re1 f5 18. Bxf5 gxf5 19. Nxf5 Qf8 20. e4 Bf4 21. e5 Re6 22. Rcd1 Kh8 23. g3 Qg8 24. Kh1 {Gunina,V (2529)-Kriebel,T (2461) Novy Bor 2015 1/2-1/2 (157)}) 10. Rc1 (10. Nxd5 {is more common. The Nc3 isn't a great piece and it's better to exchange it, also opening up the long diagonal for the Bb2 (and the c-file for a rook).} Bxd5 11. Qc2 c5 12. Rad1 Rc8 13. Qb1 Qc7 14. d4 Qb7 15. Rc1 cxd4 16. Bxd4 Bf6 17. Qb2 Bxd4 18. Qxd4 Nf6 19. h3 h6 20. Qa4 a5 21. Qd4 Rc7 22. Qe5 Rfc8 23. Ba6 {1-0 (23) Alekseev,E (2679)-Rusanov,M (2440) St Petersburg 2014}) 10... Bf6 11. d4 {here I decided the benefits of the pawn advance outweighed shutting off the Bb2. First of all, Black's Bf6 is also shut out, and I also get a strong central pawn that influences e5 and c5. The a3-f8 diagonal also looks like a good one for my bishop.} Rc8 $146 {a slow move and one that allows the following sequence, giving me a measurable edge.} (11... Nxc3 12. Bxc3 c5 $11) 12. Nxd5 $14 Bxd5 (12... exd5 13. Ne5 Nxe5 14. dxe5 Be7 15. Bg4 Ra8 16. Qc2 c6 17. f4 $14) 13. Ba6 {this is the problem with the earlier rook move, Black loses a tempo and his queenside is looking awkward.} Rb8 14. Bd3 { I had been worried about a possible future ...b5, blocking the bishop in. Another square might have been better, though.} (14. Bb5) (14. Qe2 {is another option the engine likes, controlling the diagonal (and b5) while connecting the rooks and protecting the Bb2, which is otherwise loose.}) 14... c5 { the logical reaction by Black, taking advantage of the unprotected Bb2 to rule out capture on c5.} 15. Ne5 {a somewhat risky and aggressive decision that was not the best. I didn't mind the exchange on e5, and it is evaluated by the engine as equal.} (15. Qe2 cxd4 16. Nxd4 Rc8 $14) 15... Bxe5 $6 {a case where the standard rule of not exchanging bishops for knights applies.} (15... cxd4 $5 16. exd4 Nxe5 17. dxe5 Be7 $11) (15... Nxe5 16. dxe5 Be7 $11) 16. dxe5 $14 { White has the pair of bishops, but also the Nd7 has no useful squares at the moment.} Qg5 {this surprised me, but I was able to find an effective countermove.} 17. e4 {now I have the initiative.} Bc6 18. f4 {the queen's location becomes a problem for Black.} Qh4 19. Rc2 (19. Rc3 $5 {is probably a better version of the idea of transferring the rook to the kingside (after Bc2) and one that I considered for a while. In the end I rejected a plan of a piece attack on the kingside for one based on a pawn advance.} Qe7) 19... Rbd8 20. g3 (20. Qe2 $16 {getting off the d-file and overprotecting e4 was an excellent idea.}) 20... Qh3 $6 {this over-optimistic move justified my play to this point.} (20... Qe7) 21. Rd2 $16 {screening the Qd1 and protecting the Bd3 again.} f6 $2 {causes even greater problems, in part because the Qh3 now has no safe retreat. It also weakens e6, which I take advantage of (but not well enough).} (21... Nb8 $16 {looks sad, but otherwise Black has serious problems.} ) 22. f5 {I thought for a while here and felt good about the move, which presses the attack, but is rather complicated given the various captures on e5, f5 and e6.} (22. Be2 {is found by the engine the threat being to play Bg4 with a fork on e6.} f5 (22... h5 23. exf6 Bxe4 24. Rf2 gxf6 25. Bxh5 $18) 23. Bc4 Rfe8 24. Rd6 Bxe4 25. Rf2 Qh6 26. Rfd2 $18) 22... Kh8 $2 (22... Qh6 23. Bb1 Qe3+ 24. Rff2 $18) 23. Rf4 $1 {this should be sufficient to win. The threat of course is Rh4, trapping the queen.} Qh6 24. Rh4 $4 {here I moved too quickly and had a major thinking process foul. I had assumed that the queen was trapped, but of course it now has e3 to go to, with devastating effect. This was a case of the actual piece placement (Rf4) interfering with my mental visualization of the future board (Rh4, Qh6), where the diagonal is no longer blocked. Naturally if I had followed my thinking process, I could have corrected for this.} (24. fxe6 $1 {and wins.} fxe5 25. Rxf8+ Nxf8 26. e7 $18 { I had in fact looked at this variation, but was tired and having trouble visualizing. And then it occurred to me (mistakenly) that I could just play Rh4.}) 24... Qe3+ $19 {after this it is game over, although I fight on for a few moves in the vain hope for a swindle.} 25. Kf1 Nxe5 26. Qh5 Qf3+ 27. Ke1 Qxh5 28. Rxh5 Nxd3+ 0-1

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