Tuesday, May 03, 2005
The Streak Is Over. Oh the Horror
I had managed to stretch my unbeaten streak to 21 games (+18 =3), which included two masters (both wins), and 16 people over 1600, and I had also won 17 of the 18 games. This period also saw my rating go from 1699 to 1915. All good things must come to an end, I guess. I lost a battle with a 2000 rated player during a time scramble. Both of us had under 3 minutes and I blundered first. I’m not too distressed because I know I played a solid game.
The opening began favorably for me. I’ve had good results with the Grand Prix. I was actually 7-0 with it before this game.
1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 d6 3. f4 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Bc4 Nc6 6. O-O Nf6 7. d3 O-O 8. Qe1 Be6
I decided trading the bishops here would open the h-file for him and add a pawn in the center.
9. Bb5 a6 10. Bxc6 bxc6 11. Qh4 Nd7 12. f5 gxf5
Here I thought for a good 10 minutes. There are many different possibilities and continuations to consider. The other variation I looked at was 13. Ng5. after 13…Ng5 14. fxe5 Bd5 15. Ne4 Bxe4 16. fxe4 I saw this position. I didn’t really know how to continue from here. Perhaps 16. Nxe4 would be better? Perhaps Rf3 could follow. I chose to continue the way I did because I wanted to get the bishop in the game before “blocking” it by knight. It may have been the move to make but it’s quite difficult to decide at the time.
13. Bh6 f6 14. Qg3 Rf7 15. exf5 Bxf5 16. Nh4 Be6 17. Nf5 Bxf5 18. Rxf5 Kh8
13…f6 is an excellent defensive resource. My 14th move also took a long time to think. There are several things to consider. If I allow the light squared bishop to go to g6, any attack is stopped. I also don’t want to allow his rook to control the g-file. I want to bring my other pieces into the attack, but also am aware of how long that will take. Ne5 looks to be like another defensive resources. His dark squared bishop isn’t great, so I’m also not in a rush to trade it away. I looked at 14. Bxg7 Kxg7 15. Qh4 pinning the f pawn to the bishop. I even looked at Ng5 sacrifices, but I don’t think they worked. I decided on the line I played because it allowed my knight to move out of the way for my rooks to come into the game.
The line I looked at took me here. I didn’t want to trade bishops as mine is better. His really just gets in the way.
19. Bd2 Rb8 20. b3 Ne5 21. Rh5 Qd7 22. Qh4 Bf8 23. Rf1 Qg4
Here black is able to force a trade of queens. Perhaps 23. h3 would have been better. At this point I have about 6 minutes to his 30 minutes. I spent so much time trying to find the correct attack.
24. Ne4 Rg7 25. Qxg4 Rxg4 26. h3 Rg6 27. Kh2 Nf7 28. Rf4 Rh6 29. Rh4 Rxh5 30. Rxh5 Bg7
Now black’s pieces are coming alive and he’s up a pawn. However I think my piece aren’t bad at all. Black has three isolated pawns to guard and it won't be too hard to pick off one. After 32. Rh4 I have the option of Ra4 as well.
31. Ng3 e6 32. Rh4 f5 33. Nh5 Be5+ 34. Bf4 Rb7 35. Bxe5 Nxe5 36. Nf4 Rb4 37. Kg3 Kg8 38. Nxe6 Rxh4 39. Kxh4 Kf7
The rooks get traded and we go into a knight and pawn endgame. I think I have a significantly better position here. I think with time, I could have won this position. He has three isolated pawns. However, he’s got about 4 minutes at this point, and I’ve got about 3. That’s the downside of a G/60…the endgame will suffer. I might have even started to play TOO quickly. At one point, after about move 43 or so, I even had more time than him. However, I was moving somewhat blindly at 5 seconds a move or so. Resulting, I walked into a pawn fork. I’m not too disappointed with the loss. I know I played solidly. Perhaps next time I will have a better feel for the attack and not have to spend as much time on planning it over the board.
40. Ng5 Kg6 41. Ne6 Kf6 42. Nf4 d5 43. a4 Nf7 44. Kg3 Ke5 45. Ne2 Nd6 46. Kf3 Nh6 47. Ke3 f4+ 0-1
So far I’ve played Morra Gambit but better players just decline it and go for c3 Sicilian. It makes one wonder what variations a D-A class player using Sicilian most often face. My guess is Morra, Grand Prix and possibly even wing gambit…