07 September, 2010

TL45 T46 Round 5

My 7th straight loss, but despite this I had an excellent opening and middle-game,  although mis-calculating in the endgame to lose.

Another Philidor, and I have to say that I handled it very well to reach a fine middle-game position, where not only did I know what I was doing, but also had the advantage....

On to the game, and a fairly straightforward few opening moves...

1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nbd7 4. Nf3 e5 5. dxe5 dxe5 6. Bg5 c6  the alternative is an immediate Be7, but c6 prevents Nd5 and loses little as the Knight is already developed at d7, so the loss of the c6 square is minimal...

7. Bxf6 Qxf6 8.Bc4 Be7  although the f6 exchange isn't quite 'standard', the rest  is more-or-less a standard Philidor. The alternative to Be7 is 8... b5 [ see the additional game Hristos - Angelos for an example of this ] which is a 'thematic' response to drive the Bishop away, gain space on the Queenside and prepare for the centre attack   

9. O-O O-O 10. Ne2 I think this and the subsequent few moves 11 through 13 are individually small mistakes that when combined with Black's natural responses give him the advantage  and an obvious plan

10.Ne2 ?! Gives Black Targets and loses tempo

10...Nc5 Attacking e4 11. Ng3 Defending e4 and threatening Nh5 attacking the Queen 11...Rd8 Grasping the d-file. An alternative on this move and others is  b5 following the normal Philidor themes  

12. Qe2 A possibility is 12.Nh5 hoping for an exchange of Queens with 12... Rxd1 13. Nxf6+ Bxf6 14. Raxd1 but this is a loss of a piece for Black as the Knight gives check ! Instead 12...Qd6 13. Qxd6 Bxd6 is what Black can play  

12... Bg4! b5 is possible again, but Bg4 is surely better 13. h3 asking Black the question 13...Bxf3 which he is happy to answer as the Queen exchange will break up White's pawn structure
14. Qxf3 Qxf3 15. gxf3 Rd2 here 15... b5 is a good alternative with a follow up of Rd2. I also considered an immediate Rd4, which may have the same effect as the line played as the Bishop is more-or-less trapped and it seems that White will lose a pawn
15. gxf3 
An excellent position for Black.  He has the d-file and obvious targets at c2 and c4. An alternative to Rd2 is b5, which also targets the Bishop on c4 directly. It has nowhere to go.

16. Rac1 Bg5 17. b4 Rd4 a critical position is reached...
17. Rd4!
This is highly favourable to Black, and practically any White move loses material. In particular the squares a2, b4, c3 are all targets for the Knight on subsequent moves. This really is a position that Black should win from with ease.
18. Bxf7+ almost unexpected, although a practical solution. Rb1 is better and how I thought play would continue 18. Rb1 Rxc4 19.bxc5 Rb8 for example, where Black still has the advantage 18...Kxf7 There is no catch to the capture ...

19. c3! I think this deserves the exclamation as it complicates matters and results in Black's inaccurate play next 19... Bxc1 Acceptable, but 19... Nd3 20. cxd4 Nxc1 21. dxe5 Nxa2 is much better. I kept on seeing the Bishop capture on c1 and the Knight on d3 afterwards, and didn't switch them around ( Knight capture and Bishop on g5)  hence missing the better combination. (Update: 19...Rc4 is also suggested and would be a solid move )
20. cxd4 Ba3  21. dxc5 Bxb4 22. Rc1 Rd8 23. Rc2 Rd2 24. Rxd2 Bxd2 25. Nf5! a good move 
25...b6  if 25... Bb4 26. Nd6+ Ke6 27. Nxb7 winning material, is what I saw, but in fact the knight is trapped and the pawn has to be given back, with a probable draw. I should have analysed a little further !
26. cxb6 axb6 27. Nd6+ Ke6  if 27... Ke7 28. Nc8+ !  28. Nc4 Ba5 29. Kf1 c5 30. Ke2 g5 I thought this was good to prevent f4, but in fact it pushes the balance to White 31. Kd3 h6 32. Nxa5 bxa5 33. Kc4 Kf6 and another critical moment...

After this mistake, the result is sadly inevitable, and points to an serious endgame tactical deficiency. The error came about as I calculated that my King could reach and capture the h-pawn before White could promote the a-pawn. I did not take into account that it was easier for White to now ignore the a-pawn and push the e-pawn instead ! The natural  33...Kd6, protecting the c-pawn would draw.

34.Kxc5 Kg6  Even a4 from Black will not help 35. a4 not really required 35...Kf6 Too late, I realise that the Queenside is actually blocked and that White's target is  to promote his a-pawn. Only a mistake on White's part will stop this happening...

36. Kb5 Ke6 37. Kxa5 Kd6 38. Kb6 Kd7 39. Kb7 Ke7 Nothing can be done. White's King is protecting the Queening square, and Black cannot work around him 40. a5 Kf6
41. a6 Kg6 42. a7 Kh5 43. a8=Q 1-0

Overall a  game to enjoy, but the mistakes in the endgame combined with the inaccuracy in the combination at move 19 means a loss, and not the result that I should have taken from the game.

Tactics ( or possibly calculation ) is where the immediate solution lies, as the sharper moves at move 19 would have given Black a bigger edge,  but this is an improvement on recent games.


Andreas said...


Very well played until move 19! I didn't consider the strong Bg5 move, which makes life very easy for Black.

The simple 19...Rc4 is also good and very natural because you move the rook away from the danger zone and still another pawn.

At move 28, moving the bishop to a5 saves the pawn but results in a perfect example of "good knight vs. bad bishop". Maybe it's worth considering to sacrifice the pawn and putting the bishop on a more active square? Just an idea, don't know if it works.

Move 33 was an outright blunder. Your three pawns on the king side are capable of stopping White. After h6-h5 White cannot easily move the f-pawn nor the h-pawn anymore because you threaten to break through.

This is quite an interesting endgame position and worth to be studied. After 33...Kf6 it was all over. The points to remember for an endgame are a) don't hurry b) don't give away your pawns and c) piece activity (!)


Andreas said...

Oh, one more thing. "Tactics" is not exactly right, it's rather the calculation skill that needs to be improved as well.

At move 19, you can try to calculate the variations just 2 moves deep but as accurately as possible. You will quickly see that the text move is not the best.

I think the tip with the "precise 2 move calculation" came from Charles Hertan. This doesn't really work in the endgame but in the middlegame it's a good rule. Starting from there you can calculate all forcing moves until the end, which obviously requires a lot of training from the aspriring chess student.

Signalman said...

Hi Andreas,

I mostly agree with you and have amended the post accordingly.

I can't remember who said it regarding publishing your analysis, but even though it is harsh to do and to see mistakes pointed out, hopefully it will have the desired effect !

By two move calculations I guess you mean for Black and White, ie 4-ply. I also recall a suggestion that you should always try to go one more move/ply just to see what else could be there. Difficult, but it would have paid off when considering Ba4 on move 25 for sure.

One thing that I realise now, is that I subconsciously speeded up in the endgame, prompted by my opponent doing the same.
I had no time trouble ( as I had consciously worked to this ) so there is no real reason to do so. More time, more care may have switched it back to a draw when considering the Kf6/Kd6 option for example

Andreas said...

It's good to see you in such an optimistic mood and that you are able to get something out of the game.

The two-move calculation means 4 plies, yes. It's a good start, in the end you need to calculate forcing lines to the end but this requires a good visualization and will take time.

When an opponent is Blitzing you, you have to resist, it's you against your clock so you should only think about your own time managment. Easier said then done of course, but easier on ICC than OTB where the pressure is even higher.