I thought that I might get paired with Alex, but he didn’t show (probably couldn’t get a ride), so I was paired with Dan instead, whom I won against last Thursday.
This time I was White, and decided to play my trusty Advanced Var. even though I’ve already pegged him as being strong in closed positions, so it would surely be a good game all-around.
In this game I managed my time much better than usual in the opening, still had 45 minutes after 20 moves, but then began to get pulled into this attack that was going nowhere, and using up a lot of my clock time. At first, I figured after he traded rooks on c3 that he was probably lost and I could simply play QxQ, but then the downward spiral began. Last thing I wanted was to get my queen or rook trapped (I saw variations), but I could not find a way to break in, and at last I traded queens when my goal became to not make his king good, and try to win his advanced h-pawn. I did miss some interesting tidbits such as after Qd6, I could play a4 to allow a retreat square for my queen on a3 (I’m not so great with queens, let alone closed positions, but I try). Fruit says that I was supposed to be playing g6, but that wasn’t clear to me, although it makes sense now considering how many of his defenders were over there on the queenside. So basically, I failed to play both sides of the board as well as I should have.
But I was already playing 28.Nd2 with a heavy-heart, realizing that if I win the h-pawn, he can play Nxd4 winning his pawn back for instance, drawing the defender off from the piece that would be capturing the h4 pawn. Just thinking about it now it occurs that I could probably defend d4 with a rook instead.
After move 36, I stopped keeping score, we were both in time-trouble. I was up 3 minutes to his 2 at the end of the game. He asked for a draw once or twice and I refused. I feel really bad for him because he played a great game and probably neither of us understood what was happening in the position, but just when I was beginning to experience some difficulties, he traded off my bad bishop and then let me trade bishop for knight. At this point I was back on track to try for a win, and somehow instead of ..Rg6 (not possible, I see now, drops h-pawn), blocking, he let my obvious pawn push in and it was won.
At the end, he picked up his king, then saw his rook was hanging. He said “I guess I have to move my king.” I was not Mr. Nice guy, and I made him play his king, so he resigned. I showed him that I was winning with Rxe6+ and Rxb6, but also I didn’t want to have to play out that win with so little time remaining.
So after all of those terrible losses, I’ve managed to preserve an 1800 rating somehow, although tomorrow I would have to face Anthea.
Funny, it looks like I had the game in hand somehow, going over it now, but I did not see that so clearly at the board.
This game was a good example of a game not being determined by tactics, but rather by strategy and calculation. These sort of performances are supposedly a rare-bird at our 1700 and 1800 rating levels.
This endgame is too good to not show you, RollingPawns. You’ve gotta see this one:
Black can take the ..Bc5, but White recaptures with a pawn, and that passed pawn chain will be winning. It’s around +1.65 according to Fruit. I played these dark bishop moves, but Fruit found the Bc5 shot.
What I didn’t realize is that the endgame is won for White. Even in the game, when he played ..Ne4 and then traded it for my dark-bishop. Assuming he hadn’t made that trade, I still had Nh2-g4-h6 which is winning. Craayyyzy endgame! Some Master level wins were possible from it 🙂
My live-rating at this moment is around 1792. Lose to a 1580 and draw a 1440 and you may as well purchase your own grave ahead of time. hehe. There’s no way I am playing at this low 1792 strength within my own opening systems, particularly as White. Even then, I am getting lucky that my opponents are not booked better. Really have to save time for the endgame at G/90, that is a big part of it.
With the g6 move, the idea is to play gxf7..Kxf7, pulling the king away from the 7th rank c-file entrance. It’s a more dynamic way of exploiting both the h4 pawn, and the weak 7th rank – it adds another coal to that fire. Of course, I was concerned about defense during the game, and didn’t notice how strong g6 was.
The idea of opening it up is that Black lacks tactical defensive space in this French opening, it is the true downside of the opening. One needs to have space to defend, not only to attack. White can get bishops, all pieces involved against Black’s king for the temporary price of a g-pawn (g6 allows Bg5).