So after having not played a rated game in weeks, I wondered how my form would be. We played quickly initially, but then I really didn’t keep up with the demands of the clock. I felt that for Dean, instead of spending too much time, he would make moves like a3, h3, Kh2, these moves that are relatively safe and don’t really disturb much of anything – he also played centralizing rook moves. I, on the other hand, didn’t make any artificial moves until I got into time-pressure, and then it’s obvious because I kept moving my queen back and forth between b4 and e7.
16.BxBb6 So far, Dean had been knocking out all the moves of a theoretical line better than I had seen him do before. Here, though, he lets me equalize.
17…g6 My longest think of the game. Of course, I saw the computer recommendation of 17…Bf5 (which is what I wanted to play), but after 18.Nd4 Qd7, 19.NxB QxB, 20.Qe2 when it is White ready to assault, in this even material position, with g4, f5. I also, for example, looked at 17…Bf5, 18.Nd4 Be4, 19.Nxc6 Qc5+, 20.Nc4 Bxc2, 21.Rc1! I eventually played …g6 in order to keep the bishop vs knight imbalance alive, and to stop f5.
20…Bf5 This move is probably not the most accurate one. I considered 20…Bg4, 21.Rg3 Bf5 (which wins a tempo, if White merely plays his rook back to f3), although was afraid of a future Rg5, but this can be countered by an …f6 break. With the rook on g3, it would also block White’s queen from getting to h4. If I could simply up my risk-tolerance in a game a bit, this might turn out well for Black. Also, the rook on g3 prevents White from playing g4, which is another thing I had considered. In passing, it’s worth noting that c3 does weaken more light-squares, as I was expecting White to do.
22…h5 This move may look fairly automatic, but Stockfish shows that there is a solid draw in the position after 22…Be4, 23.Re3 (23.Rg3 is met by the same move) f6! (the Be4 shields this pawn-break), 24.exf6 Qxf, 25.Nd2 Qxf, 26.NxB exN, 27.Qc2, White will win back the e4 pawn, and it looks like there will be nothing left to really play for.
26….d4? I wanted to play 26…Qe6 here, which is the engine suggestion, but didn’t notice until right now that I can follow it up with …Qe6-c6-xa4 which was my goal, to get him to play a4 and then win that pawn, but I didn’t see how OTB. I only saw that after …Qe6, …d4, cxd that his Rf3 would be defending his Nb3, so that …d4 would merely drop a pawn. In the game, it’s not easy to the ….Rf3-a3 move from the point of the pawn sac. I was under 9 minutes, and said heck with it I got to do something, and so played it without seeing all the details.
27…c4?? This move is losing. If Black could see danger headed his way, and that the pawn on a4 cannot be captured, then 27…Be6! would have saved the draw. The bishop would be threatening to trade on b3, and then win the d4 pawn back, thus 28.dxc5 RxR, 29.NxR bxc, 30.Ne4 Bd5 (else Nd6), 31.Rd3 BxN, 32.RxB Rb8, 33.Rc4 Rb4, and here White can play either 34.Qxc5 QxQ, 35.RxQ to enter a rook endgame with an extra e5 pawn, or play 34.RxR and enter a queen endgame with the extra e5 pawn. In both cases, the position should be drawable for Black with best play, although certainly not desirable without a second time-control, or some honed endgame technique, or both!
28…Qb4?? This move is losing, due to the simple fact that 29.Na2! Qxa4, 30.Nc3 ready to push d5 is too fast. Technically, Black is losing anyway, so the “correct” defense could take a long time to discover still.
29…Qe7 This is a dumb move, per se, according to the engine, but I was still trying to figure out how to deal with his queen, passed-pawn, and pawn-wave now. I figured that Nc1-a2-c3 was coming. I totally missed the point of 29…c3 OTB, which I had noticed from the engine, but now can see why. After 29…c3, 30.Rxc3 (bxc3?? QxRa3) Qxa4 my chances should be much better than in the game – or no, 30…Rxd4 first, to stop his d-pawn.
32…Qb4? The best practical try in this position appears to be 32…f6.
33…Qe7? This is dumb because an f6 push would fork king and queen. I was looking to defend. I should have played 33…Rd5, which I was looking at, but then saw 34.f5? appeared to be making progress, but just now I noticed that Black would then have 34…Rxe5! Actually, 33…Rd5 is just losing for Black because after 34.f5 Rxe5, 35.Nf4 White just lets that pawn go and is playing for a mating attack.
34.g4? The move I was worried about here was 34.f4, which I thought was an obvious move, and then I wasn’t planning on taking it because then h5 would fall. 34.f4 Qb4 (which is probably what I would have played), and now I notice that it also discourages 34.Nf4 because of 34…Rxd4. After this, my play was all instinctual.
38.Qe3 The rook trade was not ideal for White, and 38.Qf3 would be more accurate here. White is lazily falling in with Black’s plans, while moving quickly in Black’s time-pressure.
39.f5?? I was happy to see this, as I felt that Black’s attack would either draw or win first. The problem, to my mind, with this g4-f5-f6 plan is that it is simply not consequential enough. If chess plans could exist in a vacuum, and still work, then this would have been a good plan for White. I mean, I saw this …Qe1 pin coming up when I played …Qb4, just had to wait to execute it. And here, actually, 39.Kg2 is still equal.
40.Kg2?? White is lost. After 40.Kg3 Qe1+, 41.Kf4 Rh2, 42.Ng3 Rf2+ it’s apparently a win for Black, but the computer struggled at first, and thought it was a draw the first time through.
42.Qf2. The position is dead-lost for White, since on 42.Qd3 or Qc3, I have 42…Qh1+, 43…Rh2+, followed by 44…Rh3+ winning his queen for rook at the least, which I immediately showed Dean that I would have played, after he resigned.
A tough battle, and an interesting game. The most shocking thing for me, though, was how I just hadn’t gotten it done during the game, at this G/90, 30 sec inc time-control, and had to rely on his blundering into a mating-net, which isn’t one of those things one counts on when playing from behind, that’s for sure. All of those subtle things that I had been playing for, I simply didn’t have time and zest to put away OTB when I had the chance to, but tactics came in to save the day!
[Event “September Swiss”]
[White “Dean Brown”]
[Black “Brian Rountree”]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Bc4 Nf6 5. e5 d5 6. Bb5 Ne4 7. Nxd4 Bd7 8.
Bxc6 bxc6 9. O-O Bc5 10. Be3 O-O 11. f3 Ng5 12. f4 Ne4 13. Nd2 Nxd2 14. Qxd2
Qe7 15. Nb3 Bb6 16. Bxb6 cxb6 17. Rae1 g6 18. a3 Rad8 19. Rf3 c5 20. Qf2 Bf5
21. c3 Rd7 22. h3 h5 23. Kh2 Rfd8 24. Rd1 Kg7 25. Rd2 a5 26. a4 d4 27. cxd4 c4
28. Nc1 Qb4 29. Ra3 Qe7 30. Ne2 Bd3 31. Raxd3 cxd3 32. Rxd3 Qb4 33. b3 Qe7 34.
g4 hxg4 35. hxg4 Rh8+ 36. Rh3 Rxh3+ 37. Kxh3 Qb4 38. Qe3 Rd8 39. f5 Rh8+ 40.
Kg2 Qe1 41. f6+ Kg8 42. Qf2 Rh2+ 0-1