17 December 2017

Annotated Game #181: Deceptive quiet

This first-round tournament saw a very drawish-looking position appear already as of move 13, the result of a somewhat unexpected equalizing line that I took in the Caro-Kann Classical; by my opponent's reaction, he hadn't seen the 12...Qa6 idea before.  However, it's been a weakness of mine in the past to evaluate a position as "equal" or "drawish" or "quiet" and then lose interest in it.  If your opponent doesn't agree and wants to continue, that kind of attitude can lead to significant problems, since they will undoubtedly put more effort into the game than you will.

It's better, I think, to treat each position as a puzzle to be solved, a truth to be discovered, or whatever metaphor of your choice, so you can invest real concentration in divining its most important characteristics.  This leads to better play, as you more deeply understand the needs of the position, rather than just playing decent-looking moves without real interest.  Analysis of move 14 already shows the benefits of this type of approach, as the only database game (14...Nb4) and Komodo's recommendation (14...c5) are both more dynamic responses to White's knight sortie.

The endgame is actually rather instructive, as White's 3-2 pawn majority could have proven a more significant advantage, but at the same time I could have followed better paths to neutralizing it.  Particular attention should be paid to the rook's role on the 5th rank as a defender.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B19"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 11.2"] [PlyCount "89"] [EventType "simul"] [EventRounds "6"] {B19: Classical Caro-Kann: 4...Bf5 main line} 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nf6 8. h5 Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 e6 11. Bf4 Qa5+ {a logical reaction to White's more aggressive placement of the bishop, rather than on d2.} 12. Bd2 Qa6 {something which makes this a unique line, rather than simply retreating the queen.} 13. Qxa6 (13. c4 {is the other main try, avoiding the queen exchange.} Nbd7 14. a4 c5 15. O-O cxd4 16. b4 Rd8 17. Qxd4 Nb6 18. Qxd8+ Kxd8 19. b5 Qxa4 20. Rxa4 Nxa4 21. Ra1 Nb6 22. Ne5 Kc8 23. Rxa7 Bc5 24. Nxf7 Rf8 25. Ne5 Nxh5 26. Ne4 Kb8 27. Ra2 Bd4 28. Be3 Bxe3 29. fxe3 Nf6 30. Nc5 Rd8 31. Kf2 Rc8 32. Nxe6 Re8 33. Nxg7 Rxe5 34. Rc2 Rc5 35. Kf3 Nxc4 36. Kf4 Nd5+ 37. Kg3 Ndxe3 38. Rf2 Rg5+ 39. Kh4 Rxg7 40. b6 Nxb6 41. Kh5 Rxg2 42. Rf3 Nec4 43. Rf4 Ka7 44. Kxh6 Ka6 {0-1 (44) Gochelashvili,D (2432) -Motylev,A (2675) Sochi 2017}) 13... Nxa6 {the position is now very drawish, as neither side has any real weaknesses or advantages.} 14. Ne5 {a bit overly aggressive.} Be7 {solid but unimaginative.} (14... Nb4 15. Bxb4 Bxb4+ 16. c3 Bd6 17. f4 c5 18. dxc5 Bxc5 19. Ke2 Ke7 20. Kf3 Rhd8 21. Rad1 Bd6 22. Ng4 Nxg4 23. Kxg4 f5+ 24. Kf3 Rac8 25. Ne2 Kf6 26. Rhe1 Bc5 27. Nc1 Bb6 28. Nd3 Rd5 29. Ne5 {Trenchev,J (2260)-Loos,R (2239) Bayern 2003 0-1 (68)}) (14... c5 $5) 15. O-O-O O-O 16. c4 Rac8 17. Kb1 Rfd8 {developing the last of my pieces.} 18. Be3 c5 {always a key pawn lever in the Caro-Kann Classical. It both hits White's center and allows Black's pieces greater activity.} 19. dxc5 {after the following exchanges, White gets a 3-2 queenside pawn majority, but my piece activity compensates.} Bxc5 20. Rxd8+ Rxd8 21. Bxc5 Nxc5 22. Kc2 Nce4 23. Nxe4 Nxe4 24. Rh4 {this is a slip by White, but again I play too solidly rather than actively.} Nf6 (24... Rd2+ $5 25. Kc1 Re2 $15) 25. f3 {Consolidates e4+g4} Kf8 {activating the king, now that we've reached the endgame.} 26. Nd3 Rc8 27. b3 Ke7 28. Kc3 b6 {Covers c5} 29. a3 a5 {here I was playing for restriction, but should have been more aggressive about disrupting White's pawns in subsequent moves.} 30. Rh1 Nd7 (30... b5 $5 {would have continued the minority attack idea, well supported by the Rc8.} 31. c5 Nd5+ $11) 31. g4 Nc5 32. Nxc5 Rxc5 {this makes it easier for White to make progress.} (32... bxc5 $11 { and the two isolated pawns are not in fact weak, since White cannot exploit them, plus they double-cover b4. For example} 33. b4 axb4+ 34. axb4 cxb4+ 35. Kxb4 Rb8+ 36. Kc3 Ra8 $11) 33. Re1 g6 {an unnecessary distraction. I was thinking I could try to make progress on the kingside, but it's really better to focus first on the queenside.} (33... Rg5 {keeps the rook deployed along the 5th rank, to good effect. After this, ...g6 makes more sense.}) 34. hxg6 fxg6 35. b4 axb4+ 36. axb4 Rg5 $6 {it's funny how much sequencing effects a position. Now the idea of bringing the rook over causes me problems.} (36... Rc8 $11) 37. Kd4 $6 (37. Ra1 $5 $16 {and now White penetrates on the 7th rank.} ) 37... h5 $11 38. gxh5 (38. Rg1 hxg4 39. Rxg4 Rf5 $11) 38... gxh5 {and now the strengths on the different flanks balance each other out nicely.} 39. Rh1 Kd6 40. Ke4 Rf5 41. f4 Ke7 42. Rh4 Kf6 43. Rh1 e5 44. fxe5+ Rxe5+ 45. Kf4 1/2-1/2

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