Wednesday’s round 4 game

I had Black against Marc M. (3rd Black for me in this tournament).

We were both quite late to the game. I went down on time first and thought that may become an issue, but then he went into some long thinks himself trying to find a win. At the end, I had 11 minutes left and he had just gone under 6 minutes when I offered him the draw and he accepted.

It’s really even, but he said he accepted because he knew that he’d remain in first place with 3.5/4. The TD said that Isaac had 4 wins, but I didn’t remember til later that I had won against Isaac in round 1, so I’ll have to email him about that.

It’s pretty tough to be on top when you get get 3 games as Black and 1 as White. hehe.

Next Wednesday is the final round – round 5.

Mark said that Bd7 (to prevent his Bb5) in the opening, followed by Bc6 was the way to play it. He had seen a game of Petrosian vs. Spassky in this line. Actually, we were following Crafty’s book, though, for the first 11 moves.

This is how Black should play the rest of the game, Crafty’s analysis and seemed right to me. If White plays …b5, Black uses the a-pawn and file as a lever to get the bishop out that way (Ba6). Otherwise, Black works for the c-pawn lever. It’s an equal game. That’s what I noticed as well, that the a-file was the only one that was harmless to Black, and otherwise the only natural break left was the c5 lever – only d5 in response was my concern during the game, but Black’s 7th/8th rank is also a concern.

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5 thoughts on “Wednesday’s round 4 game

  1. Interesting, the Burn with …gxf6. I’ve been tempted to play this line for a long time (since I’ve always played …Bxf6 but don’t always enjoy it because it’s a bit passive) but I haven’t given in yet; I don’t think my positional understanding is good enough to handle these positions with shattered pawn structures. To be honest this game kinda shows why; it can be hard to find the right plan in such an unusual position and I think both players had trouble with this and made many very strange moves as a result.
    7…b6?! is really not the way to go. 8.Bb5+ is actually a mistake, even though the intention is good – to force Black to play …c6. The thing is if White just plays 8.Bc4 instead and continues as in the game Black is still going to have to play …c6 at some point to stop White’s d4-d5, so White is just losing a tempo with Bf1-b5-c4.
    Maybe you should take Crafty’s Ba6 idea more seriously! What could be simpler: get rid of Black’s bishop pair so he has less to compensate for his bad pawn structure, and weaken the queenside defences in the bargain. No-brainer really. In fact this is why when Black plays the …gxf6 line these days he almost always plays 7…a6 instead of 7…b6 – it eliminates the possibility of this exchange. I don’t like Mark’s suggestion of …Bd7-c6 either – the bishop is more exposed to attack on c6 than on b7.
    16.h4! shows that Black’s last three moves only weakened his position, since the pawn is weaker on h5 than on h7 and the knight weaker on g6 than on d7.
    Unfortunately White’s obstinate refusal to play Ba6 for the rest of the game leaves him shuffling his pieces with no plan to follow either – he also missed a chance for 20.d5!.
    You got away with this one, but I wouldn’t recommend repeating this line, especially against a stronger player. This line’s a bit too anti-intuitive to be played without in-depth study.

  2. Aziridine, thanks for the insight!

    Yes, the fewer pieces the worse my pawn structure looks. The knight is my best piece to keep, then the rooks.

    I didn’t like this line before, but decided to give it a go OTB for variety’s sake. In the game, I considered …h6 and then …f5 as he gave me the tempo’s to do this. He could have stopped it with h2-h4-h5, but spent one of those tempos on a2.

    I simply made a quick move with …h5 because he was playing quickly at that moment, but with …h6, I could always change my mind and play …h5 later, but I was worried about him pushing to h5 first.

    I’m not sure that his idea for Bd7-c6 is bad, but I did think that he should have been playing for c4 to begin with, so perhaps he does shut it in with d5 at some point, if I can’t trade it for a knight on e4 or c3.

    Regarding ratings, playing 1700’s at most and the one random 1900, the best I do over time is to have my rating drift back to 1800. One simply doesn’t get enough rating points without playing in a pool of people with much higher ratings. I thought it funny, the ratings calculator, if I beat the 1200 level player I actually get ZERO rating points. hehe. My only chance for rating points are those random tournaments where I need to be a morning person and play well against players that I have never played against before. I find it very difficult to do well the first time I play someone, if I have never seen any of their games and generally know nothing about their styles, preferences, mindset, experience, etc.

    Also, if I lose to these players that I see regularly, it’s not a closed system where I get my rating points back later when I win against them. I lost those 3 games to Mark, but what does he do, he goes and plays some tournament where he loses all 3 games and is back to the rating where he started when I first met him.

    Just tried giving Crafty everything it wanted, a Black pawn on a6 and c6, so bad bishop, just to see how White’s only endgame hope could play out. Crafty kept saying that White has 2+ advantage but I simply keep doing nothing as Black and he never improves, breaks through as White. That is bizarre.

    Aziridine, I calculated 20. d5 during the game and thought I was okay, Crafty gives it in the +.3 range. I think you are right that it is the best way for White to go, though, open it up vs. that pawn and king structure. He actually contemplated sacking a piece for 3 pawns in the center (I was worried about it too), but I am not sure where the available moment for that was.

  3. The game in general looks equal.
    Fritz gives 20. d5 half a pawn advantage and doesn’t like 23…f5, giving it ~0.9 if White takes with a pawn – 25. hxg5.
    Yeah, the structure looks suspicious, frankly, I wouldn’t play gxf6, but … what the hell … In the end, it’s just ~0.35 for him.

  4. It’s a pretty sorry variation, isn’t it? This is one of those .35 advantage as to what the computer can currently see, type of variations.

    I was going over a QGD game today, a game by Timman as Black, which Soltis gives as a line as if it were theory. It’s a pawn sac with no visible compensation. I would just be losing if I tried playing it. This is why I have a hard time studying theory, a lot of it would simply lose unless I fully understood it or was the person playing it and my opponent did not also know that same theory, and even then some of it looks bad to me.

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