Wednesday’s Round 2

In the game as White, I simply mis-budgeted my time, looking for kill-shots early that were never there, like ghosts. BTW, Marc is rated in the 1820’s.

Later, I got an advantage but time had grown short. After a couple minutes I decided to exchange knights, and had around 10 minutes remaining, which took away some advantage but gave me a simpler one in return. I was planning on playing Qg3 when I began to realize that he plays ..f6 at some point and it just wasn’t there. I had made a mistake to wait for an early error on his part and needed to make a draw considering the remaining clock time.

I realize now that if I plan on playing for a win against Mark, it’s probably going to go the distance, as in this analysis.

We spent a long time analyzing this game and also from the final position. Really, the improvements that we found were all Black’s, and some pretty good ones at that.

Probably the biggest difference between now and the last time I lost as White against his Najdorf Sicilian is that back then I went for a reckless misadventure. This time, I had enough sense to look off the silly stuff, but was still too focused on silly stuff instead of working the game.

Hey, there was a snap-mate on move 57 according to Crafty, all I needed was another hour. hehe. Not enough time for openings at this time-control.

To be honest, what I took away from the end of this game is that keeping queens on the board makes play harder (yet better), but takes up more time and requires more skill. Subconsciously, one of my weak spots is I look to ditch the queens too much, otherwise I couldn’t be as effective as I have been in time-scrambles. It’s when queens have stayed on the board that I lost to that 1300 level player, for example (in a time-scramble). This is the biggest reason why I need to save my time more.

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4 thoughts on “Wednesday’s Round 2

  1. Not a badly played draw, although I feel that neither side really wanted to seize the initiative. I’m no expert on the Sicilian but here’s a couple of thoughts, I wonder how much overlaps with your post-mortem. Analyzing this game was fun because both sides have the opportunity to sac a pawn for the initiative which is something I haven’t really learned to do yet.
    I was attracted to 10.Na4!? which I think is a typical sac in these positions. After the precise 10…Nxe4 11.Bb6! Qb8 12.Bf3! Rybka thinks White has good compensation, and if the computer likes a sac it’s probably very strong. Still, what you play in the game is quite good too and easier to calculate. You’re right that you should’ve played 15.fxe4 – the knight on c5 is stronger than the one on f6.
    It’s interesting that Rybka thinks the easiest way for Black to solve his problems after 18.a4! is to just let the pawn drop with 18…Be6!? 19.axb5 axb5 20.Rxa8 Rxa8 21.Bxb5 Na5 – Black seems to have enough counterplay against b2, c3 and e4 and will probably regain the pawn. On any of White’s last three moves b4! would’ve been a big improvement, fixing b5 as a permanent weakness; the computer screams for 21…Nxd8 to prevent it.

  2. Aziridine, I’ll have to look at this again. I think you are right with the Na4 pawn sac. I looked at it during the game, it was my first thought. Bb6 is nice because it gets the bishop out of harms way after Nxe4, and I sort of missed this point. Naturally, I was more afraid that he was getting in his …d5 after taking the pawn. Bf3, I wouldn’t have seen this as gaining compensation, at the board.

    One nice thing about sacking the pawn is that by comparison without the sac Black could have improved by Bb4xNc3, doubling my pawns. I showed him that if I play c4 to get rid of the doubled pawn, he could take on c4, then play …b5 and my bishop goes back to e2, when Black has the advantage. He was seeing ghosts such as Bc5 stops his castling, but I explained he can block that diagonal with …Ne7.

    After my c3, he even considered playing …Ba4!? for a long time, when my NxBa5 strangely puts my knight out of play and allows his …d5 with quick counterplay for Black. IOW, the f3 move really handed the ball over to Black. He took a pass though, and I blew my chances, never really even considered b4, which is best.

    I kept thinking he would win the e4 pawn late, and I would play Bd3 with an attack, but he simply traded down as my opponents at this level usually do, and I was left with not much to look at on the kingside. I didn’t realize the power of my extra pawn on the queenside, but really needed to keep queens on as he showed an Expert defense that seemed to hold – …Rb8, ..Na5, …Bc4

    In the post-mortem, I blundered. He played …Bc4, and I played Rf2 instead of Kf2, limiting the rooks scope. He then played his rook over and down to a1 and was actually able to win my e4 pawn for free with bishop and rook on it – he also got his knight into b3.

    Crafty actually liked a3, to prevent his Bb4, and that’s possibly best. I didn’t want to play it because I knew it would cede initiative to Black; but, it would keep the game more dynamic for White.

    The one thing I liked about not trading knights at the end of the game was that it gave me RxNf6 possibilities that I felt bad for deciding to let go/give away. This is why my rating is rather stillborn at G/90, because what I can and cannot do depends on the clock quite a bit, how I manage it. In a 6 hour game, it very likely goes twice as long and I either win or blunder and lose. Definitely a clock-draw.

  3. One key point about the sac is that 10.Na4 Nxe4 11.Bb6 Qb8 12.Bf3 d5?! 13.c4! is very strong. Of course this could be difficult to see in a game with a short time control.
    Yes 10…Bxc3 11.bxc3 is definitely possible, but Black still has problems – if 11…0-0 then 12.Bc5 and Bd6 or Qd6 is tempting, but if Black plays 11…d5 or 11…d6 first then 12.Bg5 is annoying. This suggests that 10.f3 is just as good as 10.Na4, and that in general your opening moves were straightforward and good and you didn’t need to play silly moves like Crafty’s 9.a3 – that’s just a waste of time. Never trust the computer’s opening suggestions 🙂 Choosing between 10.Na4 and 10.f3 is a matter of taste – Tal would go for the first move, Karpov the second.
    13…Ba5?! looks very strange. 14.a4! is very awkward for Black, e.g. 14…Rb8 15.Nxa5 Nxa5 16.axb5 axb5 17.b4! Nc4 18.Bxc4 with open a-file and the c5-square, or 14…b4 15.Nxa5 Qxa5 16.Nb3! Qc7 17.cxb4 winning a pawn.

  4. Aziridine, thanks for the lesson. 😉 I would never have considered c4. I’ll look at your suggestions when I get a chance.

    BTW, this post somehow deleted itself earlier and I had to repost it, so if I lost any replies that would be why.

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