I played Dean. His rating is usually around 1600, but it’s down right now. Dean’s a good player, knows his line and analyzes it afterward with an engine.
I enjoy playing against him because he knows his line, and produces a game worth referencing for later on.
He varied with 8.NxNc6 instead of the routine BxNc6.
The crux of middlegame was that I spent too much time debating whether to play this line that I saw, which I was correct is equal. But I am Black, so I should want equality! Instead, I keep the position complicated, looking for tricks. Here is what I saw:
17..Be4, 18.Qg4 Bc2, 19.Bg6 g6, 20.BxRf8 BxB, 21.b3 BxR (I saw that I can’t win that knight as after 21..cxb? (he has 22.Rd2 zwishcenzug here which I didn’t see), 22.axb Bxb3, 23.Ra1 defends the Na4, which is why I have to play 21..BxR. Still, equal is better than playing for tricks, since I was going to play correctly after 17…Qd7, 18.b3 Rfd8 but my mindset was to bail out of the position already. I had seen that 19.bxc5 is not possible, and so this was a line that I was originally debating to emphasize. If 19.Be3, Black has ..Qc6! which I didn’t see. White can continue 20.Bd4 Rb8, 21.Bxa7, and it’s complicated but only =+. Fruit preferred Rd2 with Rb2 defense I think. I think I actually play this better than Fruit. hehe.
The problem in this game, and I talk about all this other stuff, but I really wanted to mention that my flawed plan was this ..c5,..d4 formation, which he let me have. I thought this was going to be a plus, but it’s mostly a minus because it makes his Na4 sort of good. This misunderstanding of the position is what ruined my winning chances in the latter middlegame.
25..Rb8? blunder. If I trade bishops on g5 or play ..Re8 (indirectly putting pressure on the e5 pawn, after BxBe7 QxB), I am equal. Well, after BxBg5 I am equal, but ..Re8 allows White an edge.
Move 28..Kh8?? quickly played. I saw f6 coming since before he even started the march with f4, but I couldn’t figure out how to defend and hadn’t managed my clock, allowed time for a thoughtful defense. The key idea here was to move the queen so that it won’t be attacked by f6, and as soon as f6 is played I can defend with ..Bg6. Clever bit of defense which I didn’t catch onto. Beautiful defense after f6 Bg6, fxg7 (Kxg7??) ..d3! (pushing the pawn equalizes). ..d2..Rd3, and then get the queen in there trading queens with check on e3 (with White queen on g5), very nice
Also, I probably should have gone with ..Bf5 as a defense as well as I have time to defend against a Qf3, h3, g4 push, and that is probably creating holes for him as well. My common-sense was weak when it came to defending quickly, needed to spend time there. Yes, that attack is slow and cumbersome. I have Qxe5, Qh4 attacking a Re1 and double-attack on g4. Plus even after Bf5-d7 it attacks his knight on a4. BUT, there is a problem with 27..Bf5? though as 28.Qg5!, double-attacking queen and bishop should be winning. The queen trade on g5..Bg6 tempo gained will win the c5 pawn Nxc5. So the best defense was to go with ..Be4, as I had done, but making sure that I can play/defend with ..Bg6 just as soon as White plays f6.
Beautiful defensive line 28.f5 Qc7, 29.Re2 Qc6 and now if 30.Nxc5 (deflection, winning this pawn) QxN, 31.RxB d3+!, 32.Kh1 d2 – White is up a pawn, but at this level the better player probably wins, and even with Fruit I held it to -1.25.
I should have played 29..gxf6, since after 30..Qf8, White has to sac a pawn on g7 to play Qg7+. I saw that he still had 31.Nxc5, but after ..Bg6 the big difference is that I can get my queen back into the game.
30.Nxc keeping queens on is stronger for White, as I suspected (and winning).
31.Ra1 is also winning the endgame.
(I am still adding to this game/notes in reverse).