[Event “Classical Wednesdays”]
[Site “Club Chess!!”]
[White “Teah Williams”]
[Black “Brian Rountree”]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 a6 6. Bg5 d6 7. Nbd2 h6 8. Bh4
Qe7 9. h3 Be6 10. Qb3 b5 11. Bxe6 Qxe6 12. O-O O-O 13. Rac1 Bb6 14. d4 Qxb3
15. axb3 Nh5 16. dxe5 g5 17. exd6 gxh4 18. Nxh4 Nf4 19. Kh1 cxd6 20. Nf5 Nd3
21. Rc2 Nxf2+ 22. Kh2 h5 23. Nxd6 Bc7 24. Rxf2 Bxd6+ 25. Kh1 Bg3 26. Rf5 h4
27. Nf1 Bc7 28. Rg5+ Kh7 29. Rh5+ Kg6 30. Rxh4 f5 31. exf5+ Rxf5 32. Rg4+ Kf7
33. Ng3 Rd8 34. Rg7+ Kxg7 35. Nxf5+ Kf6 36. g4 Ne5 37. Rf2 Kg5 38. Kg2 Nd3 39.
Ng7 Nxf2 40. Ne6+ Kh4 41. Nxd8 Bxd8 42. Kxf2 Kxh3 43. Kf3 Bg5 44. c4 Bc1 45.
cxb5 axb5 46. g5 Bxg5 47. Ke4 b4 48. Kd3 Kg3 49. Kc2 Kf3 50. Kd3 Bf4 51. Kc4
Bd2 52. Kd3 Be1 53. Kc2 Ke2 54. Kc1 Bd2+ 55. Kc2 Bf4 56. Kb1 Kd2 57. Ka2 Kc2
58. Ka1 Kxb3 0-1
4.c3 It’s important to have your early pawn-breaks memorized in 1.e4 e5 openings. Here, 4.d4 would need to be met by either the unpopular 4…Bd6 or by 4…dxe4, 5.cxd4 Bb4+ (with …d5 to follow) to avoid giving White a material advantage.
6.Bg5 This looks sort of automatic, but perhaps more successful tries are 6.0-0 with 7.Be3, or 6.Bb3 (to remove the bishop to the other diagonal at the right moment). Both of these options give Black one more chance to play …h6, when White can then get in Be3 with a sort of gain of tempo.
Believe it or not, Black can already play …h6, …g5, and after a bishop trade on e6, if White castles queenside, then Black can also castle queenside, for a slight advantage, versus kingside, which would only be equal.
5…d6. Playing this move instead of …h6 here may seem insignificant, but White could now take the game into a very different direction with 7.e4 instead of 7.Nbd2.
9…Be6. 9…Bd7 would be a decent waiting move, to see which side Black castles on. 9…Bb6 is another fine waiting move, but the DB prefers …Ba7 in all 7 tries, so either way.
10…b5?! Better here, for Black, is 10…Na5, 11.Qa4+ Bd7, 12.Qc2 (12.QxNa4? b6, 13.Qxa6 RxQ, 14.BxR b5!, which is close to +1 for Black).
13.Rc1 White aims at winning the c7 pawn after a d4 push, but this ignores the reality of the situation. Not only should Black now play 13…Nh5, but White’s more valuable e4 pawn would also come under fire, after trading on d4, in the game continuation.
16.dxe5 During the game, I was expecting the best continuation, 16.d5 Nb8, which I was still pleased about. After the game, I suggested to Teah that she could have avoided my trappy play with 16.Kh2, but even here Houdini shows Black gets an advantage after trading on d4, and then playing …Re8, where playing Rfe1 to guard the e4 pawn could end in a fork to …Nh5-f4-d3.
17…exd6. Houdini considers 17.g4 to be the better line, which surrenders the exchange for a pawn. I had seen this line before playing …Nh5, but judging by the speed of her reply, I would guess she did not look at this continuation. In any case, it’s not an easy determination, OTB.
18.Nxh4? This loses +1.5 of score, according to Houdini. Best was to take on c7, which deflects the bishop from it’s diagonal, or requires two moves from a rook to recapture, and the knight was going to take on h4 and then play to f5 anyway. I think she moved too quickly here, not seeing a potential knight skewer on the d-file (if her knight recaptured on d6) until after she had moved. Perhaps more importantly, though, Nxh4 ignores the reality of Black’s next move.
18…Nf4 Here, I did look at 18…Ng3, 19.Rfe1, but missed that 19…Ne5! will then win on exchange after …Nd3 or will win the d6 pawn outright, as well as the f2 pawn. It’s worth noting here that the …Ng3 controls the f5 square that her knight wants to jump to, and if her king moves, then …Bxf2 will also protect the Ng3, and the two here offer interlocking protection as well, the …Ng3 controls f1. Even more amazing is that if White plays a Rc2 followed by say b4 and Nb3, then …Ng3xe4 will defend the …Bf2, which is now attacking the Nh4, and in between all those moves Black would already have a rook protecting the won d6 pawn.
It’s worth noting that 18.Kh2, instead of 18.Nxc4 would have stopped this tactic, although this one move hesitation, would have allowed Black to successfully defend both d6 and h6 pawns by playing …Rfe8-e6.
19.Kh1? At the board, given the time she spent (not a quick move), I somehow suspected this move, and yet it is a gross mistake. Best is to move the Rc1 to get out of the fork, but even 19.Kh2 is -1, whereas her move is -2. The immediate problem is that she avoids one fork, but now allows Nxf2+, and that check represents an extra tempo for Black. The fear of putting the king on the h2 diagonal was a very far-off threat, and not so pertinent. At the board, it’s easy to get a bit paranoid and to fear the far-off threat; a Master might refer to these as “ghost” threats.
19…cxd6? Not accurate. 19…Nd3 should be played now, with the reason given in the next note – 19…Nd3 would prevent White from stopping the …Nd3, …Nxf2+ line.
20…Nf5? Returning the favor. 20.Ndf3 should be played now to avoid the variation where Black plays Nxf2+. After 20.Ndf3 Nd3, 21.Rc2, f2 is protected and Black can’t take it with check, either. After 20…Ndf3, 21.Rc2 Rad8 (..Nc5 is better), 22.Nh4f5 Kh7, 23.N3d4! White has protected all of it’s loose pawns, but in doing so made sure Black can trade off a night, have a great unnattacked pawn center, with a monster Nf5 and rooks without worries. So, by just protecting everything, our hero the Class A player, could end up with a lot less of a position, as Black. What’s worse is that White’s pieces are much more interconnected here, easily able to defend all of it’s practical weaknesses. The key is that White is not focused on material, but rather on consolidating his/her position – “playability” in a nutshell.
22…h5 This move is not as accurate as 22…Kh7. For one, the pawn is more a liability than an asset (pushing it considers it to be an immediate asset), and two the king is brought into play, covering a couple third-rank squares that could deny the knight or rook access. It should be noted that the “weak f7” pawn is obstructed by the good knight on f5. After 22..Kh7, f7 could be viewed an alarming weakness (not defending the second rank with the king, with check), but here we have to say “ghost threat” as not only is the …Rf8 defending the square at the moment, but so is the …Nf2, and …Nf5, too many obstructions for White.
23.Nxd6? It’s amazing how much, we as human beings, love pawn-counting. Better ideas were 23.b4, to mark Black’s a6 pawn as a permanent weakness, and it also mobilizes White’s mass of pawns, which is better for later attacking with it, and defending it. Taking the d6 pawn mostly opens up the d-file for a Black rook, it doesn’t improve White’s pieces by comparison at all, since White is not asking the question “Darn, if I only had a knight on d6, all my other pieces could strike immediately!” This fall’s under the principle given by Timur Gareev “Don’t be the one to open up the position if your position (piece-development) is worse!” The other idea, given by Houdini, is to play 23.g3 with the idea of Kg2, where the king adds its control to f2.
23…Bc7?! Inaccurate. It’s easy to see this move is a product of the trading of pieces in time-pressure, to gain a more manageable position. 23…Rad8, followed by 24…Rfe8 is the stronger plan here. It’s easy to fear White playing Ra1, taking that pawn, and skewering the pieces on the third-rank, but by then Black is trading the a6 pawn for the more valuable e4 pawn, and also can step out of this skewer with …Bc7+, followed by …Ne7, attacking Whites Nf5.
25…Bg3 A miscalculation in time-pressure, not seeing that White could eventually win Black’s …g3 pawn with Rg5+, a few moves down the road. Two top moves here are 25…h4 (a far more accurate move-order than …Bg3), and …Re8 (best). I considered …Re8, as well as …Be5, and …Ne5. I could see that …Re8 ties down White the most, but I was as impatient as my clock to find something more definite seeming, in terms of a forcing-sequence.
It’s critical, for our chess-development, to look at 25…Re8, to “gain the idea” of why it is so strong; e.g., 25…Rfe8, 26.Rc1 Rad8, 27.Ra1 Bg3, 28.Rf5 RxNd2, 29.Rg5+ Kf8, 30.RxBg3 Rd1+, 31.Kg2 Rxe4, 32.Rxa6 Ree1 (threatening …Ra1 mate), 33.Ra8+ Nd8, 34.Rg5 h4! shutting the door on a mating-trap, where White must give up the exchange on d8 in order to buy time to eat the h4 pawn, stopping the mate.
27…Bc7?? This is just panic in time-pressure, not wanting to lose a pawn on g3. The bishop could be moved to e5, and if 28.Rg5+ Be5-g7, and then centralizing the rooks, is just fine for Black, and still winning. Also, there was no need to fear the “loss of the g-pawn” as in the variation where the bishop goes to g7, White hardly ever has time to recapture that pawn, her position is too bad, and in any case it can be given up for a relatively easily winning position in the line 27…Rfe8 (or 27…Rae8), 28.NxB hxN, 29.Rg5+ Kf8, 30.Rxg3 Rxe4! 27…Rfe8 is more accurate than 27…Rae8, because you want to be able to defend that f7 pawn, and even it press it forward to …f5. I wasn’t sure about what to do with the knight, OTB, but besides attacking in the center, the move …Na5 attacks White’s weakned pawn-structure, where b4 could follow, then …Nc4, and …Nc4-d2, attacking the backward b3 pawn is something to look for.
30.Rxh4?? Ironically, the thing that probably saved me is that I was blitzing my moves, which perhaps got her to believe me as she blitzed back, even though she had 30 minutes on her clock to my 2 minutes. 30.Rc5 skewers my minor pieces, and wins one of them.
30…f5?! Blitzed. This is a concession in time-pressure, even if it doesn’t look like it and makes Black’s position seem more manageable. …Ne5, …Re8 and …Rd8, sitting on the position are all more sensible moves (not relieving the tension), but again it’s hard to sit in time-pressure when one gains more feeling of control by taking measureable action. Also note that …Na5 can be met by Ne3 where Black walks into a perpetual.
31.exf?! Again, 31.g3 would aim for a rook perpetual on the g and h files, if Black takes on e4 when a White rook is on f2, which could happen when White doesn’t capture right away on e4. 31.g3 also allows the king to get to g2, and recapture of the pawn on e4 with a rook, versus letting Black capture on f5 with a rook.
33.Ng3?! I figured this was a mistake the moment I saw it. I was starting to look at 33.Nd2, as 33.Ne3 didn’t look so challenging, but is in fact best, as White will get the more active piece outcome from this variation. The problem with 33.Ng3 is that it cannot be simply played. For example, I was prepared to play 33…Rad8, 34.Rc1 BxNg3, 35.RxB Rd2, 36.Ra1 a5 (…Ne5 is a little better)
35…Kf6! Instinctively played, even after considering that …Rf2 likely follows at some point. A …Kg6 move could be met by a …Re6+ move, at some point.
36…Ne5?! Not accurate, as a 36…Rd3! move, after 37.Kg2 Ne7, 38.NxN KxN, 39.Re2+ Ke7 with …Rg3+ to follow will win the h3 pawn or the g3 pawn.
37.Rf2?? 37.Nd4+ can keep Black’s position afloat a while longer (-1 for White).
37…Kg5 I figured this was a mistake when I played it, but felt it would challenge her more in my time-pressure. I was preparing to play 38.Ng7 Kh4 (-.7 for White), but missed this idea of 38.Nd4 (-.24), since after 38…Kh4, 39.Kg2, White threatens to mate with 40.Nf3+!, so Black would be compelled to sac his knight for the g and h pawns to stop this threat (+1.16). After …Nd4, 39.Kg6 is the move.
The real reason 37…Kg5 is so bad, though, is that Black is winning a rook after 37…Rd1+!, 38.Kg2 (Kh2 walks into discoveries like …Nxg4+) Nd3, 39.Rf1 (Rf3 gets forked by Ne1+) Nf4+, 40.Kg2 Bb6+ (Black can take on h3 first, then repeat this position) wins the Rf1.
38.Kg2? Given she had a long think here, I figured she was trying to set up Ng7, rather than pull the trigger on it immediately.
39.Ng7? 39.Rf1 Nf4+ 40.Kf3 Nxh3 wins the h3 pawn, but the game continuation is worse.
41.BxNd8?? I felt 41.Nxh3 was better, but this move is the epitome of the classic time-pressure “game management” concession. After 41.Nxh3, I am gaining both the g and h pawns, and have a bishop for a doubled-pawn. In the game continuation, I am playing into the unknown, not knowing I have walked Black’s position into a simple draw.
43…Bg5 The kicker is that she offered a draw here, which I said I would consider, but quickly made my move anyway with just under two minutes remaining. I’d come to realize that draw offers are defeatist, particularly in time-pressure, which is largely about confidence. The other thing is that by offering a draw, in a position probably only she felt was equal, caused her to lower her guard, which has ironically also been the source of many of my defeats.
44…Bc1?? Losing, because she has two protected passed pawns she can push, not just one, but she evidently didn’t work out a variation for this draw, as she traded pawns after not too much time spent on thought. 45.c5 Bxb2, 46.c6 Be5, 47.Ke4 (probably what she missed) Bc7, 48.g5 wins.
45.cxb?? Draws, 45.c5 wins.
46.g5 46.b4 either here, or on the next move, draws.
47.Ke4?? A drawing line here could be, for example, 47.b4 Be7, 48…Ke4 Bxb, 49.Kd5 Be7, 50.b4 Bxb, 51.Kc6 Ba5, 52.Kxb5. In the game continuation, Black needed only avoid a simple stalemate trick of capturing on b2 while the White king is on b1 and the Black king on b3.
This probably just looks like a lot of analysis over just another chess game, but I think I have found the secret of chess, at long last. Maurice Ashley once said that the secret of chess was “drawbacks”, as in what is the drawback of a particular move. I would extend this further and say that the secret of chess is “comparative analysis”; i.e., comparing one variation to another, one idea to another.
I studied tactics patterns (still forget them), how to attack (and hopefully defend), how to calculate, blindfold a bit, but in all of these you can still lose to an otherwise passive (or active) strategic player, if you let them win the battle of “comparative analysis”. This is why study of one’s own games, in depth, is the key to improving in chess. If you don’t get better at this one trait, OTB, then it will be easy to find ruin at any turn in the game.
I guess another way of saying this is to go ahead and study all of these different parts of chess – endgames, openings, etc, etc, but once that is what it is, it’s the comparative-analysis which determines how well one synchronizes all of these abilities into one coherent whole during the course of a game. That is your yardstick for improving your chess during a game.