22 November, 2017


At times I wonder how I manage to look at a board and not see the obvious.

Take the below. I felt drained when presented with Rg2+, and yet it was so simple.

Concentration and observation, I think.

White to play

15 November, 2017

White to Play, and win a .....?

Black saw the discovered check from the Rook, but missed it was a double-check, so his intended Bxd6 isn't possible and Kd8 is forced.

White to play and win a ...

White to play after 18.Nd6+ Kd8

08 November, 2017

White to play 11 : Queen exchange !

 One of those tactical puzzles that its good to see in real life !

White to play and win

01 November, 2017

Great Combinations

Maybe 'combination' isn't the precise word here, as I'm sure it has a particular definition, but its good enough for me.

The European Team Championship is on in Crete at the moment, and, in the time I found to watch it I was lucky enough to see a very nice finish by Sophie Millet in her game against Borka Franciskovic.

Black has just played Qd8 and after a couple of minutes thought White replies with a simple move, but a devastating combination follows...mate in 5.

White to play

Solution [ 31.Qd6+ Kc8 32.Na7+ Nxa7 33.Rc1+ Nc6 34.Rxc6+ bxc6 35.Ba6#    ]

Another good combination, this time from me.

I've mentioned before that, although I don't always play them, these days I tend to see more interesting moves bubbling up from my subconscious.

This time I calculated a bit more and decide to try it. Not a mate, but more than enough to win, and very enjoyable to play.

Black didn't play the optimal moves, but that's what happens in amateur chess, especially when surprised with an unexpected thrust !

I managed to calculate 4 and half moves on this, which put me in a winning position, so I gave it a go !

15... Nc4  White to play

Subsequent moves16.Nxd7 Kxd7 17.Nxd5 exd5 18.Bh3+ Kd8 19.Bxc8 hxg5 ? 20.Qf5 Nf6 21.hxg5 Nd6 22.Rxh8+ Nde8 23.gxf6  1-0  ]

27 October, 2017

The downside of Blitz

I'm sure we've all experienced the downside of blitz chess.

Not the mistake you make because of a lack of time or calculation, but the painful game where you realise after a few moves that your opponent is a complete novice  at chess and either you choose to resign, to save more suffering on both parties, or you play on and prove that you know what you are doing !

Below a recent 'play on' choice which produced the obvious result in 8 moves. It was Rh3 that confirmed I was up against an almost complete novice, although the big clues were 1.h3 and 2.a3, despite the fact that these are sometimes played by bullish players as a psychological prod to the opposition.

A blitz mate !

As minor compensation the next game in the session gave an opportunity for a nice mate. Yes, I realise Black is way ahead on material, but serious blitz players rarely give up !

Black to play


18 October, 2017

Calculation in Chess

Calculation in chess is a wonderful skill to develop, as well as being an essential one in almost any position.

Its probably a major difference between the various levels of chess player, with a GM seemingly displaying a grasp of calculation that is far in excess of anything an amateur can achieve.

This is perhaps the key : a GM is a professional chess player, so although a GM displays this incredible skill, it is probably not innate. 

There might well be a natural core available, but I suspect it is extensive practice and experience that allows the skill to develop to the levels seen in GM-play.

I found the below demonstration and exposition of calculating skills by GM Nadezhda Kosintseva to be quite amazing.

She takes a position (shown below) and proceeds to analyse it deeply and fully, bringing out a remarkable amount of information from what appears to be a straightforward position at first glance.

Its a long video ( an hour ) but worth watching for the way she analyses and how the methods can be learned.

Helpful ( or maybe, educational ) to think about the position first, before watching. 

White to play [1rb3nr/1pN1kppp/p7/4p3/3nq3/4B3/PPP1BPPP/R2QK2R w KQ - 0 1]

Chess calculation by Nadezhda Kosintseva


11 October, 2017

Tactics : White - Queen's Play

I am told that variety is needed in training, so, as a change from my usual d4 & London System I have started to play 1.e4 as white, .

It is quite pleasant meeting king pawn openings again, though I admit that since I am playing e4 to aim for my own choice of openings, although I do encounter the Sicilian at times ( met by a twist of the Réti Gambit ) or the French ( met with the plain Réti Gambit ), I usually see e5, and end up playing a variation of the Centre Game, at one time the preferred way for me to avoid main e4 openings.

An enjoyable, and tactic-filled opening, especially if Black follows the 'main line' and accepts the gambit pawn. 

Declining it, or playing less known variations allows a more placid and manoeuvring game, which is perfectly enjoyable.

In a recent 15 minute game, I had much the better of the play, but in the position below, I missed a lovely opportunity to display my tactical genius, as well as take a significant advantage in the game.

White to Play
As I was putting the focus on my Queen, and the plans around the attack down the g-file, I missed the best move.

I had considered Black's response of b4, so that was uppermost in my mind, but the major failing was not to replay previous analysis, and sticking with a pre-planned and fixed idea.

I played the decent move of Qe3, but if I had looked all around the board and thought a bit more I would have found a much better move, as I am sure, dear reader, you will  !

04 October, 2017

Tactics : White to Play

Although I wonder about the direct link between training tactics, and actual improvement over the board, not having the time ( or direct experience)  to perform a controlled self-experiment to check this, I can go only by impression and feeling.

Using these, I feel the biggest improvement is in my behaviour at the board. 

Generally, I take more time to look around it board before I move, and try to check more often if tactics are present.  

This doesn't mean that I always "see" the tactics on the board, but I feel sure it helps my game overall.

Sometimes, though, my mind deceives me

It sees a solution, and something clicks that overrides the trigger to check again, resulting in a poor move.

For example, in this Chess Tempo problem below, I saw what had to be the solution, as I was looking for checkmate. 

37.a4   Black to play

I played and was wrong, the solution was about winning material ( so if you already thought 37...Nc5, intending Nd3 to cover the King's escape square, just re-think that ! )

Maybe my chess mind is still in its 'romantic 19th Century style' for a lot of the time and wants flamboyant and crowd-pleasing checkmates, rather than steady modern moves gaining material or positional advantage ? Who knows.

I can take some small comfort in the fact that 4500 others ( a third of the attempts ) made the same mistake on the above problem, but it doesn't help that much, and that comforting 'all-failures-together' feeling lasts even less.

Below is a rapid game played recently. 

My play had been to focus along the d-file ( in fact aiming at the d8 square) and also re-position pieces that were preventing this.

When Black played the natural 19...Rd8, my tactic-sense spotted what proved to be a resign-provoking move ! 

Not too hard to see, but good to spot it, and even better to play it !

White to play

27 September, 2017

Tactics : Black to Play...carefully

I know that if this was in a blitz game, there would be a very high chance of me failing to play this correctly.

I think its a great problem, where a solution jumps out at you, but when you calculate it, you see the lurking issue that stops your idea and have to re-think.

Well, at least I did. 

My re-appraisal found a better solution, then I had to go through it again as, in my mind, I saw the king on the 'wrong' square, so that solution didn't work either. Except it did, when I adjusted my vision !

Its probably simpler for you...

Black to play

20 September, 2017

Tactic :White to Play

A holiday, and other less pleasant distractions, kept me on a low run-rate with Chess Tempo, and has driven my RD ( Rating deviation ) up, meaning that failures cost a lot of rating points !

However, a recent dedicated run of 20+ problems in a single session has put me back on track, gaining few points with it, but some interesting positions.

I suspect tiredness played its part in taking far too long on the below.

The point of the problem was whether White could take the hanging Rook on a3.

There is no White mate ( Ng8 will stop it ) and the passed pawn cannot win the Rook via any Queen sacrifice, but I could not get past the fact that after 1. Qxa3 Qc1+ and Black would regain the Rook.

Maybe in a real game I wouldn't have looked for longer, but knowing that ChessTempo only views +1.75 pawns as a correct solution, eventually, it clicked...

White to play

Enjoy, and here's the solution.

30 August, 2017

Tactic : Black to Play

If this isn't in ChessTempo's database already, I am sure it will arrive soon.

Black to play

As with so many "real game' tactics, its always easy to see after the fact.

Doubtless Kasparov had little time left on his clock if the reports of his comeback tournament are to be believed !

23 August, 2017

Réti annotation from 'Morgenzeitung', 1929

I admit that, despite my desire to understand, and appreciate, "super-GM chess", most of the time, even with explanatory commentary from a GM 'live in the studio', it is beyond my grasp.

Richard Réti, understandably given his position as the inventor of one of the pivotal hyper-modern opening systems, had a different opinion of positional chess, at least later in his life.

I picked up Harry Golembek's "Réti's Best Games" second-hand recently ( 6 Euros for a 1974 Dover paperback, which seems expensive until you see that the same thing reaches 265 GBP on Amazon ?!) and in  English descriptive notation : some nostalgic times ahead when I read the games !

The book's introduction takes a form of a memoir of Réti and finishes with part of his annotation, from 1929, to a game from Moscow between two Russian players, Pobedin and Lukomski, describing the following position, and it's flamboyant finish:

Lukomski-Pobedin, Moscow, 1929.White to play

ti wrote...."Something like this is not only pretty, but has the advantage of being much easier to understand than a difficult positional game. Thus it is only natural that the greater part of the chess world should be displeased with the fact that one seldom sees anything similar happening in modern master tournaments.

But the blame should be laid, not on the masters, but on the tournament organisers.

The latter must decide to invite to great-master tournaments some Pobedins as well. Then the public would see so many sacrificial combinations of this type that they would soon find them as banal and uninteresting as the writer of these lines - please forgive me for this confession - finds this Queen sacrifice."

Tartokower, however, described it is as "splendid", at least according to the Daily Express !

From my amateur level of chess, my heart certainly sides with Tartarkower on this, at least on the finish of the game, but my head is firmly with Réti for the general approach.

As a problem, the solution is simple, even trivial ! but see the full game below. 

Lukomski could have played 14...Qg5, and made Pobedin fight for it, but that would have been pointless, since the game is already over.

He lost it with the abysmal and thoughtless blitz-style move 11 of Bxd4, which, surely, even Tartakower would never have described as 'splendid' !

[Event "?"] [White "Lukomski"] [Black "Pobedin"] [Site "Moscow"] [Result "1–0"] [Date "1929"] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 b6 4.e4 Bb4 5.e5 Ne4 6.Qg4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 Bxc3+ 8.Kd1 Kf8 9.Rb1 Nc6 10.Ba3+ Kg8 11.Rb3 Bxd4 12.Qxg7+ Kxg7 13.Rg3+ Kh6 14.Bc1+ Kh5 15.Be2+ Kh4 16.Rh3#

16 August, 2017

Tactics : A new high

I exceeded my old "highest rating" in standard tactics this week after solving the below problem.

Not only that but I also manged the solution in less than the average time of 4m 5s, and calculated the whole sequence of moves required.

Well, I was pleased with myself, anyway, especially as in the game it was taken from, White missed the tactic.

White to play


I was also happy with finding the solution to the following, as it was another area I fail often, the quiet move ( ah, given you a hint there).

Black to Play

For this one, Chess Tempo required an extra move for a change. 

In many CT problems, having calculated a sequence of moves, when you play them, the solution ends much earlier than expected, leaving you feeling a bit cheated, as if the time hasn't been invested properly.

This is particularly frustrating when CT stops after one move played. Having spent some time satisfying yourself that it is correct, you feel you want to show CT that you have actually worked it out, and not just guessed !

Finally, below is the highest rated problem I've solved so far ( standard 1656, Blitz 1899 )

White to play

 I spent some time on the 'wrong' solution, but have to give myself credit, in that I looked for something else, since the "solution" I had wasn't really good enough.

A fresh look produced the required result !


09 August, 2017

August Update

Its August, Summer holiday-time, and the majority of my work-colleagues are either on them, or about to take them, so probably a good time to recap on what I’m doing in the chess arena.

ChessTempo (CT) is ongoing, and with the change of approach I made, ie not focusing completely on what CT calls rated “standard tactics”, its proving to be a success for me.

So far, I have managed 47 days continuous tactics, averaging about 40 minutes per day.

Weekends more, weekdays less, but spending time daily on some sort of tactics training has done me good.

I can’t put that in rating terms, but I can say that I have reduced the tendency to re-capture automatically, I appear to see the opportunity for targets better, perhaps meaning a geometrical view on combinations such as pins and skewers, and it seems that more ‘out-of-the-box’ ideas are bubbling up to the surface as well.

Here, for example, although I ended up playing 16...Ra8, I actually considered the exchange Rxf3, which I doubt I would have thought about 6 months ago. Its not a bad move, but I didn't feel confident enough playing it at the time.

Black to play

Of course, there are days when I feel there is not enough time to do justice to a number of new tactics problems, in which case I have a set of ‘failed’ problems that I can practice with, consisting of about 15 or so that I can solve in less than 10 minutes.

I try to include at least one standard rated problem each day, but its no longer essential, as long as the daily workout is done.

Apart from tactics, I’m also working my way through Valeri Broznik’s “Techniques of Positional Play” after it was recommended to me by my local chess shop. So far still in chapter1 – Restricting the enemy pieces – but it does cover 7 of the 45 techniques he discusses in the book.

Lastly, to cover the opening phase of the game, I’m also working through Nigel Davies’ DVD “b6 for practical players”.

This is most enjoyable.

Although ostensibly a DVD on Owen’s Defence ( 1...b6) , he is actually showing how to use b6 as a useful transpositional move within your existing repertoire, or a move to ‘spruce up your repertoire’ and throw your opponent onto his own resources early in the game.

He particularly shows how it can be used as an adjunct to a French Defence (which is useful to me, since that it what I play as Black) but also offers what he calls economical or theory-light lines in the actual Owen's and in the English Defence against d4, c4 and Nf3.

In this way, the DVD can also offer a relatively complete Black repertoire, should you wish it.

In my opinion, Davies has an excellent presentation technique, and is a great teacher, especially as he aims most of his material at the player who has limited time to study.

To finish off, here’s an example that he gave of a tactic arising from a Tony Miles game.

Black to Play
Black to play [ Solution  14...Qxg2 15. Kxg2 Nxe4+ ]

02 August, 2017

Tactics : A beautiful combination

A beautiful combination...

Black to play


26 July, 2017

Tactics : Desperado

Another tactical motif weakness has shown itself and it is proving a slippery one to grab hold of and digest.

Its important to understand how ChessTempo defines it, since that will affect the way you view such problems. In particular it's the phrase "...in order to gain a more favourable material balance at the end of the sequence of captures" that I feel is key.

It may be obvious, but the action of solving problems on ChessTempo should be to arrive at the solution via a large dose of logical analysis, with perhaps a sprinkling of intuition/experience, rather than the other way around.

In which case a Desperado problem might seem to be the opposite, ie illogical and emotional, as its name suggests a situation where you hit out desperately for a solution.

Actually, as I have discovered via my many initial failures, it isn't illogical at all.  

Unlike the historical  "Desperado", the outlaw of the American West, the solution is  to gain a benefit via planning and analysis of exchanges that eliminate the main threat, and leave you with material up or an overwhelming position.

That's the clue as to why this has arisen as a weakness for me, because most of the time it will involve the motif of counting, and ensuring that the move order of the exchanges is correct as well.

After all, there's no point in blowing a hole in the jailhouse, if the timing means that the prisoner is still standing against it !

Here are a couple of examples of the motif in action...

White to Play
The White Queen is under attack, while at the same time White hits the Black Queen, both involving a knight. You can just exchange the Queens, but that won't fulfill the requirements of the motif, namely "more favourable material balance at the end of the sequence of captures".

I saw the key idea, but jumped to a conclusion and didn't re-check. I was wrong via a move -order error.


Black to play
Seemed to me that I couldn't go wrong in this case, and I didn't !

Since Desperado reminded me of the Eagles, and I couldn't find their BBC "Whistle Test" performance, here's something even better !


19 July, 2017

Black to Play 3

Maybe practicing tactics does pay off ....

From a recent game

Black to play
 Solution [  23...Nxc5   ]

12 July, 2017

Tactic : ChessTempo 2

Here's an example of one of my 'problem areas', classed as "Pins" by ChessTempo.

Black to play
The current problem rating is 1455 and average time to solve is 2 minutes .


I took a little longer than average, and saw the main thread and solution, but not the depth that chesstempo gives as the full continuation after the solution (and here I mean 11 moves in this case ).

Its also worth noting that the tactical motif  isn't always straightforward. It will be there, but not always the obvious one you see on display (or even if it is on display).  Often the solution is to extract yourself from it, or to create it for your advantage, all of which add variation to the solutions.

The comments, as always, are illuminating, in that there is a wide range of thinking on display. 

As a paid up member I see the full solution, with all ( well, a lot ) of incorrect moves and variations available to check, which answer many of the comments posted.

However, there is often an instructive comment giving an underlying explanation, expanding on the variation solutions given : well worth reading.

05 July, 2017

White play : mate in 4

I realised I have posted many 'Black to Play' positions, so for a change, here is 'White to Play": and mate in 4, courtesy of the London System and a naive opponent.

White to play

Yes, this is just a blitz game, but it was still amazing to see Black's last move of 9...f5. 

I didn't need to think much before moving, and after that, the mate just played itself.

This is a simple, and obvious, example of not thinking in the opening. Black just wanted to set up his "system" of crenellated pawns, saw a direct attack possible on the bishop , and played it. Result misery...at least eventually.

You don't need me to post the solution !

28 June, 2017

Tactic : Chesstempo

After the psychological disaster of my return to ChessTempo a few weeks ago, I re-appraised how I could use it.

Now, instead of just using the 'Standard' set and allowing a rating to "judge me", I have also created what are called "personal" sets and am training with them.

The statistics on the x-hundred problems I tried initially, gave me two main areas where I was failing, namely what ChessTempo calls "Counting" and "Pins".

So now I have custom sets that I can use, and its not such a major ratings hit if I fail on a problem.

I also created a set of standard problems that I have always failed at, and went through that too ( in fact going through it for the second time, as there are still about 60 problems I have not solved correctly ).

Although this might be viewed as an indirect approach by not being rated via the standard set, it has encouraged me to keep practicing tactics on an almost daily basis for 15 -30 minutes, so I would say the end  (improving my tactics skills ) justifies the means employed !

An unexpected bonus with using these personal sets is that most errors are usually associated with not "seeing" the entire board, ie missing a threat or a piece, rather than with the problem motif itself. Somehow, I think that points to the probable root cause of most missed tactics or blunders !

Here's a neat problem taken from one of my personal sets. 

It is so simple once you see the motif, but was very satisfying to solve.

21...Bf6  White to Play

The ChesssTempo link ( with solution )  is here.

21 June, 2017

Black to play : best move ?

What is Black's  best move ?

22. Nf5  Black to play

Top of the class for [ 22... Qf6 ], but second place for [ 22...Qxd3 23. Nxe7+ Kh8  ]

15 June, 2017

Tactic: Black to Play 2

Black to play and win

Black to Play

Full marks for [ 22.... Qxc1 23. Rxc1 Rxc1 a very neat win ]

In the game Black ( nor I, as White ) saw this, instead continuing [ 22...Ng5 ]

08 June, 2017

Tactic : Black to Play

From a recent game. 

Black to play. 

Black to play

I almost found the correct line, but under time pressure missed the killer move, and faded into an advantage for Black, rather than a win.

Fully correct is [27...Re3 28. Qg4 Ne5 29. Nd2 Nxd3 30. Kg1 Qxf4 31. Qxf4 Nxf4 32. Rf1 Nd3

I played [ 27...Re3 28. Q5 Qxg5 29. Bxg5 Rxd3 30. b4 cb 31.ab a6 32.b5 Nb4 33. Bd2 ] where I could still have been much better, but I wasn't :)

Highlight between the brackets to see the moves...

31 May, 2017

A French Defence

After a long time of not using Chesstempo ( the tactics site ), recently I tried to pick up from where I left off in January.

A terrible experience, to be honest. 

I managed to miss simple mates, easy tactics, and plainly obvious combinations, and felt very useless, to be honest.

Switching to something else and returning later, seemed to make it worse, and by the time I tried 'a last one' just before bed, and missed a simple bishop capture and fork I realised that this just was not good.

As a result I stopped chesstempo ( after losing about 100+ rating points ) and next time around played a couple of 15-minute games, one of which I enjoyed, and then spent about an hour annotating afterwards, mainly without an engine, just switching it on at the end.

Anyway, here's the game I played and annotated.  

I think the chessbase widget works, but it does seem not to show the buttons under the board fully. I will leave this post up while I tweak. Click on the move in the text on the right, and use the arrow keys to move works for me. 

Feedback ( game or widget use ) welcome.


[Event "unrated blitz match"] [Site "FICS"] [Date "2017.5.27"] [Round ""] [White "guestALAN"] [Black "signalman"] [Result "0-1"] [Eco "C01"] [Annotator ""] [Source ""] {I have just returned to using chesstempo ( the tactics site) and am experiencing a bad time, showing up my months away from regular practise. After missing a simple combination tactic, and feeling like I was completely useless, I decided to stop the tactics session, play one blitz game, and try to think rather than react.} 1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 {I don't know why this variation, with a very early Nf3, is so popular with white. It reaches a standard French Exchange position, but invariably as Black I manage to get a decent position. I understand that Nf3 is the way that Kasparov played this variation, so maybe that is the reason. Additionally, if Black doesn't follow up with d5, I would guess that White feels good that the French Defence is avoided.} ( 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nf3 {This is the standard way to a French Exchange} ) d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.d4 Bd6 {This is the most popular move and the way I prefer to play, but Nc6 has much better results in Team League ( ie Amateur chess). I prefer Bd6 as it ensures that both Bishop and Knight will be developed aloows quick castling, and gives options on c6. The move Nc6 allows Bb5 to pin the knight. Not much to worry about, but I'd rather not play that way.} ( 4...Nc6 5.Bb5 Bd6 ) 5.Bd3 Ne7 6.Bg5 {I'm never clear why this is played. The riposte of f6 is so simple and obvious, and white loses a tempo.} ( 6.O-O O-O ( 6...Nbc6 7.c3 Bg4 8.Re1 ) 7.Bg5 f6 8.Bh4 ) f6 7.Bh4 O-O 8.O-O Bf5 9.c4 {I remember when I first started playing the Frence Defence and saw this move, I was surprised. However, I have since learned that it is a good, challenging move against the centre, plus an early c4 in the French is recommended by John Watson ( not Sherlock's sidekick, but the Chess theorist !). However in this position, it is way down the list of moves played} ( 9.Bg3 {The most popular} ) ( 9.Re1 {The most succesfull} ) Bxd3 {I want to get rid of my light-bishop, and also reduce White's attacking threats.} 10.Qxd3 c6 {d-pawn is secured.} 11.Re1 {With this move, as far as I can tell, we leave "theory" if that means anything much at amateur blitz level} ( 11.Nc3 ) ( 11.c5 ) Nd7 {A developing move. I wanted to play Bb4 immediately, but resisted.} 12.Nbd2 {A good move. Linking rooks and self-protecting the knights} Bb4 {Pinning the knight, and intending to exchange pieces.} 13.a3 {I considered this a wasted move by White , since I intended to capture anyway : hence no need to attack the Bishop.} Bxd2 14.Nxd2 {A good move and the likely response, since the knights were protectuing each other, plus the Queen still points at h7.} Re8 {I am planning Ng6, followed by Nf4, so want to dispute the e-file} 15.Nf3 Qc7 {Part of the Ng6-Nf4 plan.} 16.Re6 {Not expected, but I assume to double Rooks on the e-file.} ( 16.Bg3 {This is surely better than Re6 ?} ) Ng6 17.Rxe8+ {Bg3 is better as it forces the Queen to move and Black loses a tempo.} ( 17.Bg3 Qc8 ) ( 17.Rae1 Rxe6 18.Rxe6 Nxh4 19.Nxh4 ) Rxe8 18.Bg3 {Now Bg3 is forced, but Nf4 blocks the danger} ( 18.Re1 {Not a good idea !} Rxe1+ 19.Nxe1 Nxh4 ) Nf4 {As planned, but White actually has the advantage now after Bxf4.} 19.Qf5 {A complete surprise. Not even considered in my plans, and not quite sure why it's played. It does keep the Black Queen protecting Nd7, but gives Black an attack. I guess he missed Ne2+.} ( 19.Bxf4 Qxf4 20.cxd5 cxd5 21.Qb5 Qc7 22.Qxd5+ {I didn't see this line at all.} ) Ne2+ {! ..but equally, I see this move, and the following moves that break up the white pawn protection and give white doubled pawns. It must be a good thing !} 20.Kf1 Nxg3+ 21.fxg3 ( 21.hxg3 {This is probably better as it gives more centre protection from the f-pawn} ) dxc4 {A pawn up ! I almost missed this ( believe it or not ) but taking extra time and looking around the board, it was spotted and checked for any traps, which I did not find.} 22.Rd1 {Not sure why. I had little time left to explore why...} g6 {Short of time, I attack the Queen.} 23.Qg4 f5 {..and again. I am gaining clock-time.} 24.Qh4 {I can see what is coming ( vs h7 ) but have time to defend.} Qd6 {I think intending Qf6 to prompt an exchange, or more likely Nf6 to defend h7. Also making the Queen more active.} 25.Ng5 Re7 {Defending h7} 26.Re1 Rxe1+ {Simplifying} 27.Kxe1 Qe7+ {Defending h7, and pinning the knight, as well as check and gaining time!} 28.Kf2 Nf6 {Further h7 defence, and perhaps Ne5 , for an exchange and a passed centre pawn.} 29.Nf3 Nd5 {Offering a Queen exchange, but also quick as I am short on time.} 30.Qxe7 Nxe7 31.Ne5 {Now white will go after my pawns.} Kg7 {Activate king, but I miss a crucial move that puts us equal on material !} ( 31...b5 {! So much better, but I had less than 30 seconds on the clock.} ) 32.Nxc4 Nd5 33.Nd6 b6 {This will secure all Queen-side pawns.} 34.Nc8 a5 35.Nd6 {All things considered these white knight moves were wasted. I'm sure activating the king woudl be better, but given I was short of time, and white wasn't, I guess he was relying on me making a mistake and losing a pawn.} Kf6 {Going for the centre} 36.Nc4 Ke6 {I offered a draw at this point, but as White had about three minutes to my 45 seconds, he declined.} ( 36...a4 {Even now, this should be played. Why do I not see this as essential for such a long time ?} ) 37.Ke2 Kf6 38.Kf3 g5 {I should have been thinking a4 now, and for the next few moves.} 39.h3 h6 {In retrospect h5 is better, but I played h6 to allow a second move of the pawn, and more time.} 40.g4 f4 {Blocking the position, or so I felt. I offered a draw again, which was refused. In fact, engine analysis gives an advantage to white. The move to play was a4 !} 41.Ke2 {I can understand this move, as it gets the king moving to the queen-side, but I would probably have played Ke4 myself. Engine analysis gives Ne5 and a4 as the best for white, but these both edge to a draw. Equally, the engine gives Black an advantage now, but I didn't feel it at the time.} ( 41.Ke4 ) ( 41.Ne5 ) ( 41.a4 ) Ke6 42.Kd3 {Again, I understand why, but the engine wants to play a4.} a4 {Finally, I play it !} 43.Ke4 {This now looked bad for me, as I believed White was heading through to the king-side pawns. I was thinking about Ne3 a lot at this point. Surprisingly, engine analysis gives a significant Black advantage now. How come, I didn't realise that ?} ( 43.Ne5 ) b5 {The only move and an obvious attack on the knight, which allows Ne3} 44.Nd2 Ne3 ( 44...Nf6+ {This is the suggestion from the engine, which I see now a s a good move, but I was short on time and fixated on a plan of Ne3} 45.Kd3 {þ`0`0 `0} Nd7 {þ`0`0 `0} 46.Ke4 {þ`0`0 `0} Nb6 {þ`0`0 `0} 47.Kd3 {þ`0`0 `0} Nc8 {þ`0`0 `0} 48.b3 {þ`0`0 `0} Nb6 {þ`0`0 `0} 49.bxa4 {þ`0`0 `0} Nxa4 {þ`0`0 `0} 50.Ke4 {þ`0`0 `0} Nc3+ {þ`0`0 `0} 51.Kd3 {þ`0`0 `0} Nd1 {þ`0`0 `0} 52.Ne4 {þ`0`0 `0} Ne3 {þ`0`0 `0} 53.g3 {þ`0`0 `0} Ng2 {þ`0`0 `0} 54.Kc3 {þ`0`0 `0} fxg3 {þ`0`0 `0} 55.Nxg3 {þ`0`0 `0} Nf4 {þ`0`0 `0} 56.Nf5 {þ`0`0 `0} Nxh3 {þ`0`0 `0} 57.Nxh6 {þ`0`0 `0} Nf2 {þ`0`0 `0} 58.Kb4 {þ`0`0 `0} Kd5 {þ`0`0 `0} 59.Kc3 {þ`0`0 `0} Nd1+ {þ`0`0 `0} 60.Kc2 {þ`0`0 `0} Ne3+ {þ`0`0 `0} 61.Kd3 {þ`0`0 `0} Nc4 {þ`0`0 `0} 62.Nf7 {þ`0`0 `0} Nxa3 {þ`0`0 `0} 63.Nxg5 {þ`0`0 `0} Nc4 {þ`0`0 `0} 64.Nh3 {þ`0`0 `0} Nb2+ {þ`0`0 `0} 65.Ke3 {þ`0`0 `0} Kc4 {An example of what an analysis engine would do, not that I envisaged it ! þ`0`0 `0`;`0} ) 45.Kf3 {?? Not a good time to make a mistake....} ( 45.g3 Nd5 46.gxf4 Nxf4 {This was much better, and is a draw.} ) Kd5 {Black will win a pawn !} 46.Ne4 {White cannot protect the d- or b-pawn, and will take too long to threaten Black's queen-sdie pawns. The game is over.} Kxd4 ( 46...Kc4 {This is probably much better, as it threatens a lot more and keeps the pawn-capture available} ) 47.Nf6 Nd1 {After this, Black will gain another pawn, and I doubt if even I could lose the game now ! guestALAN resigns} 0-1