Sunday, March 13, 2005


Tournament Review - Round 2

I'm continuing reviewing my games from my recent tournament. My second game, I was white. I had been working on different variations of the Sicilian as there are many variations of the open Sicilian that take a long time to work on. I’ve ventured into exploring the Alapin variation which is 1. e4 c5 2. c3. It seems promising, but I don’t see white gaining much of an advantage. At some point, I’ll write an article about it. I’ve been exploring variations of the Grand Prix.

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 d6 3. f4 Nf6 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Bb5 a6 6. Bxc6 cxb6 7. d3 g6 8. O-O Bg7 9. Qe1 O-O 10. Qh4 Bg4!?

I had actually looked at a variation like in my home preparation, so I was completely comfortable with my first ten moves. At this point I believe I had a small advantage and was making plans to attack on the kingside. However, Chessmaster 9000 (CM), my analysis tool calls it -.018. Bg4 was an interesting move, one I hadn’t seen. Well, do I try to keep the knight? My plan was to play f5 and then Bg5 or Bh6. I decided to forego the knight and continue with the plan.

11. f5 Bxf3 12. Rxf3 Nh5. CM liked 11. e5 Bxf3 12. Rxf3 Nd5 Ne4 giving a 0.16 versus my -0.20 score. Here I sunk into thought. Do I play 13. g4 or 13. Bg5. So I thought 13. g4 Bf6 14. Qh3 Bd4+ 15. Kh1 Nf6 versus what I played. I didn’t actually prefer this position although CM gives it a 0.38, the better score. I, instead played 13. Bg5 Bf6 14. fxg6 fxg6. With 14…Bxg5 15. Qxh5 wins a piece. 15. Raf1! Qb6! First I pin the bishop, but black effectively counterattacks. Coincidently CM liked the immediate 13… Qb6 and gave me a small advantage after black's 13th move. However, I can feel the tide of the game turning against me. I had considered black playing Qb6, but the possibilities of the position didn’t quite sink in until he actually played it.

16. Bxf6 Rxf6. His bishop is better than mine and it’s time to trade it. CM agreed but recommended continued with a trade of rooks. 17. Rxf6 exf6 18. Na4 Qc7 19. b3 (0.57). However, I was still thinking attack and wanted to keep pieces around. 17. Na4 Qb4 18. b3 Qd4+. Here I considered 19. Kh1 Rxf3 20. gxf3 Re8 21. f4 (CM says -0.03) or 19. Qf2 Rxf3! 20. gxf3 Nf4! 21. Qxd4 cxd4 (CM says -0.52). Why I played Qf2 was that I decided to simplify into the endgame and try to attack black’s weaker pawns on the queenside. However, black is better here. His knight is well placed on f4.

22. Kf2 (preventing Ne2 and the knight wandering over to the queenside) 22…Rf8 23. Re1 e5. Here I wanted to force e5 so my target pawns were on c6 and d6 instead the chain ending on e7. Otherwise, I would have played e5. 24. Nb6 (getting my knight active) 24… Nh3+? Here is black’s first major mistake. There is no reason to pull his well placed knight off of f4. 25. Kg3 Ng5. Now black’s knight has maneuvered to an inferior square. Better was to start moving the king in and rolling the kingside pawns. 26. Rf1 Rf4?? The move looks natural but really is a huge mistake. This loses a pawn by force for black. Who was it that said “The person who wins a chess game is the one to make the second to last mistake.” 27. Nc8! Kf8 29. Nxc6+ g5. Now I am eyeing Nxd4 30. a4 which stops the a-pawn so I can attack it without it going to a4 and ruining my pawn structure. 30…g4?! was the move I was hoping for.

31. Nxd4! Ke7. It’s surprising that CM recommends g4, but followed by Ng5. 32. Nf5+ I also looked at Ne2 followed by f4. 32… Kf6 33. Rf2 h5 34. Ne3 . This threatens a fork while allowing me to play fxg4, without black playing Rxg4+ 34…Kg5 35. fxg4 hxg4 36. Nd5! Obviously trading rooks right away would allow him to pawn fork my king and knight.

36…Rxf2. With the rooks off the board, I can start moving the queenside pawns. Up two queenside pawns, the rest is just a matter of elementary technique. 37. Kxf3 Kh4 38. Kg2 Ng5 39. b4 Nf3 40. b5 axb5 41. axb5 Ne1+ 42. Kg1 Kh3 43. Ne3 Nf3 44. Kh1 Nxh2 45. b6 Nf3 46. Nxg4 Nd4. Although I could have immediately played 46. b7, with only 8 minutes left, I wanted to remove any hope of black getting any play. 47. Nd4 b6 Nc6 48. Nf6 Nb8 49. Ne8 Kg3 50. Nxd6 Kf3 51. Nc4 Nc6 52. Nxe5+! 1-0

Although I won this game, I made several 2nd best moves. This is the game I feel I needed some serious analysis. I wonder where my attack exactly went wrong. I can’t find one particular blunder using Chessmaster. It’s somewhere between move 11 and 15. Should I have allowed the knight to get traded? Perhaps I didn't look far enough into the 13. g4 line. So again 13. g4 Bf6 14. Qh3 Bd4+ 15. Kh1 Nf6 is what I evaluated and the position looks "okay" for black.

now perhaps 16. Ne2 Be5 17. gxf6 fxg6 18. Bh6 Re8 19. g5 Nd7 20. Qe6+ leaves white with a much better position. I think I may see a position like this in the future, so it is a valuable learning lesson.

Nice game
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