14 August, 2010

TL4545 T46 Round 2

A second loss in the tournament, but overall a satisfactory game.

I felt a little angry with myself for losing this one, after I had fought back so well. I thought I had done enough for a draw and was surprised when my offer wasn't accepted, as we were both short on time. This resulted in a drop in the 'chess factor' , and the inevitable blunder happened : unfortunately, mine !

Regardless, here is the game, a Philidor again, although with a very passive White approach in the opening in my opinion.

Initial moves are relatively  straightforward, with the exception of White's 3.e3, which seems a very passive move. I really wasn't sure if he was being experimental in the opening, since he was rated much higher than me, and maybe wanted to try something different ? It made me think a bit more, but I still continued with standard Philidor moves.
Similarly, his castling delay may have been an attempt to frustrate me. Not sure, although he did spend a lot of time in the opening 10 moves.

Here we go...

1. e4 d6 2. Nf3 e5 3. d3?! very passive and denying the Bishop action on c4, its best square in the Philidor. In fact this Bishop did little for most of the game ( even retreating to f1 ) and played only a small role until its exchange  3... Nf6 4. Be2 Be7 5. Nc3 c6 6. Be3  This proved an interesting move as the Bishop isn't usually on this diagonal, and hampered my play a little. 6...O-O 7. h3 Nbd7 I considered  Be6 as well, but thought the Bishop actually was better placed on b7, a standard post in this opening 8. Qd2 Typical position for a B&Q combination in the Pirc 150 attack, but not sure if that was intended, or it was just to free the rank for long castling.8...b5 9. O-O finally, and king-side ! 9...Nb6 10. a3 Bb7 11. Rfd1 a5 12. Bf1...and we reach this position

12. Bf1
I can understand the Bishop retreat ( freeing e2 for the knight ) but I think there are more active moves that can prevent the b4 advance, such as Nh4, which threatens Ng5 and allows the bishop some room.

My plan was an advance of the b- and c-pawns, anticipating either the knight retreat to e2 ( which cramps the bishop ) or b1 which reduces white's mobility and a Rook exchange that clears the a-file for White.

In both cases Black gains space on the Queen-side and time. A possible sequence is 12... b4 13. axb4 axb4 14. Rxa8 Bxa8 (14... Qxa8 ? 15. Bxb6 the Queen capture loses the knight  )15. Ne2 c5 

After 12...b4.13. axb4 axb4 14. Rxa8 Bxa8 15. Ne2 c5
 ..and things don't look too bad for Black.

However, what I thought about was strengthening the attack by supporting with c5, which also stops any d4 advance. I had already played Nb6 to stop the white knight moving to a4, an dBb7 to pressurise d4, but failed to do a final blunder-check and played c5 straight away, instantly losing the b5 pawn !

12...c5 13. Nxb5 Bc6 14. c4 a4 15. Nc3
15. Nc3

15...h6 16. Be2 Nh7 ( allows f5 and also prevents Nh4 ) 17. Nh2 Bd7 18. Bf3 (maybe f4 was better , althuogh this bishop move does threaten the a-rook after exf ) Ra6 19. Rf1 Bg5! 20. Kh1 Be6
21. Nb5 Nc8 22. Nc3


Here, I should probably repeated the position with Nb6, and make White re-think, but instead I went ahead with the f5-plan. f5 23. exf5 Bxf5 24. Bd5+ ( I missed this but it has no great effect ) Kh8 25. Be4 Be6
 26. Nd5
( better was Bxh7) Nb6 27. f4 Bf6 28. Nxf6 ( better was Bxh7 or even fxe5 as it would open up an attack on the Rook and the Knight ! ) Nxf6 29. fxe5 Nxe4 (dxe4 loses the c-pawn ) 30. dxe4 Nxc4 31. Rxf8+ Qxf8 32. Qe2 ( Qc3 was better ) dxe5
...and I have won back the pawn and am at least equal ! However Rb6 was much better pressurising the b-pawn and giving Black the initiative.

 33. Rf1 Qe7 ( Qd6 was better, as after Rd1 Qb6 hits the b-pawn. At this point I had 3 minutes 30 to his 3 so accuracy is tending to drift a bit. I also offered a draw here, which was refused) 34. Bc1 Ra8 35. Rf2 Rb8
36. Nf3 Kg8 37. Qc2 Ra8 38. Nd2 Nb6
( Nd6 was better. Nb6 allows Rf3, Rc3, Nf3 hitting the pawn. At this point I think the initiative passes to White. All the previosu Black moves are adequate given the time situation, but they could be much better ) 39. Rf3 c4 40. Nf1 Rc8 41. Be3 Rb8 42. Rg3 Kh7 43. Qc3 Qd6 44. Kh2 Nd7 45. Nd2 Rc8 46. Nf3 Kg8??
Finally, the last mistake, losing the game for Black. Much better was Re8 or Rf8, but time was not on my side and I think tiredness didn't help.

47. Bxh6 Kh7 48. Bd2 g6 49. Qe3 Bf7 50. Qh6+ Kg8 51. Be3 ( Ng5 was better, but does it matter now ? ) Qf6 52. Nh4 Qh8 53. Rxg6+ ( a rook sacrifice to finish ! )  Bxg6 54. Qxg6+ Qg7 55. Qa6 c3?? ( what was I thinking of ?! although it really makes little difference  )  56. Qxc8+ Nf8 57. bxc3 Kh7 58. Qf5+ Kg8 59. Qc8 Qf6 60. Nf5 Qe6 61. Qc7 Nd7 62. Qd8+ Kf7 63. Nh6+ Kg7 64. Nf5+ Kh7? (Kf7 would repeat the position,) 65. Qh4+ Kg8
66. Qg5+ Kh7 67. Qg7#

Overall, an instructive game and a good one. Not the best result from my viewpoint, but certainly in the way that I formulated a couple of plans, and also fought back after losing the pawn, it was satisfying.

White had plenty of opportunities to win earlier in the match, but certainly his early play was not dynamic and he made quite a few less than optimal moves. As always in amateur chess, the last mistake loses, and unfortunately I made it.!

Luckily, the team won 2 of the other games in the match leaving it as a draw overall.

Next round I should have White, and a player more in my ranking area, but as this game shows, ranking differences don't mean much if a player is "on form"!