Round 2, Thursdays.
Josh hasn’t played the French against me before, and I haven’t seen it in general in a while. I thought about playing the 6.Be2 line because for some odd reason it struck me that I wasn’t sure what to do about 6…f6 in the 6.a3 line, although I have seen it one time before. In that other game, a C class player played the less sensible 6…f6 and then 7…f5. Oddly enough, Josh played 6…f5, and I was on my own.
I figured that 7.b4 “looked sensible”, but I was afraid of some type of …h6, …g5 avalanche, although thinking about it now could probably stop it with h4. In any case, I quickly calculated that Bd3 was safe and played it, and it was also an attractive option.
I played 10.dxc5 as if it were the best blitz option, and only after playing it thinking “What am I doing? I should be playing 10.b4 there.” which would have been the correct way to handle it.
11…Bd6. I did spend a few minutes mulling over how to defend against 11…Bxf2+ before playing 11.b4, but didn’t get it right, was looking at 12.RxB, but if 12…Ng4, then not 13.Qe2?, but 13.Ra2, and now 13…e5, 14.Bf1! preserves Whites += advantage. So, I had miscalculated this, and luckily he didn’t play it. If he had it would have cost me to burn time differently than in the game, so I may have still played 13.Qe2, or I may have played another move (quite likely).
I played the opening quickly up to here, but now could see that my blitz move 12.Be3 was going to run into 12..Qc7! when his pieces are pointed at my king and scarier still has this pawn roller that can fork pieces when it reaches e4, and even then would lead to a very strong kingside attack.
To let you know how much I valued my next move, I had only 44 minutes remaining after playing 12.c4! challenging Black’s pawn center, and finished the game with 9 minutes remaining. IOW, I spent at least half an hour on move twelve.
13…Qc7. On 13…Nd5, I was correctly not planning on winning his d5 pawn there, as that would show his development to be superior to mine in his likely attack. I did also see, 14…Ne5, where White can use the ideas of Nbd2 and Qb3. 13…Be5 concerned me most, and I wasn’t sure here whether I should play 14.Ra2, which is correct and I felt that, but didn’t want to be inconvenienced by having to play, or 14.NxBe5, which can run into trouble by 14…NxNe5, if I don’t want to be inconvenienced to have to play 15.Be2 because 15.Nbd2 can run into a lot of trouble (I had seen that d3 would be a weak square for his knight to jump into) – 15…Bb5!, 16.Bb2! Nd3, 17.Qe2 and only tactics (pinning the knight to his queen) are holding the White position together. Luckily, I was planning on playing the intermezzo like move 15.Be3 first, which forces 15…Qc7, 16.Be2 and +1, but I hadn’t seen that last part of it yet.
I correctly felt that 14.Bb2 would be strongest, since the reply 14…Nxb4 seemed weak, but decided there was no reason to chance it and play so sharp, so played the second best move 14…Nbd2, knowing it will likely transpose in any event.
14…Ng4?! I was quite happy to see him beginning to lose the thread of the position here, and he spent about half an hour on his next move because he was attracted by 15…Nh2, but I told him that I probably would have played the most principled move there, 16.Re1.
16…NxBc4? I told him after the game that this advanced my attack, that 16…NxNf3 would have been better, but Stockfish is totally correct to point out 16…Kb8 is best because it’s all going to start going downhill for Black on that open c-file. Besides, I didn’t want to waste a tempo moving my light bishop.
17…Be8? This move is obviously weak, but I anticipated that he would play it to hold his g7 pawn. I was expecting to meet the indicated 17…Bf4 with either 18.g3! (apparently, this is strong to Stockfish) or 18.Ne3.
20.Nxd6 At this point, I knew that the position was a win for White, and he had even seen that I could play 20.Rc1 Bc7, 21.b6! with a pretty Nb6 checkmate after exchanging pawns there, but 20…Bc5! is best, although still losing according to Stockfish (20…Bc5, 21.Nd4 b6, 22.Rfe1 +4)
22…Nd7. After 22…Bd7, I was planning to play 23.Qc4 followed by 24.Qc7+ and 25.QxNb8.
27…Rf6. Not good, but this game was basically a wrap here. I saw that if 27…Qb6 (apparently his idea, a Qxf2+ move), then 28.Ne6+ wins the exchange. If 29.Bf7, stopping the fork, I would have played 28.Qc8+ Ke7, 29.Nf5+! (I saw that I had this since the Bf7 blocks the Rf8), and now I will win the Nd7, and more importantly checkmate his king.
I hope that posting my thoughts during this game will help you on your own chess journey! 🙂
This weekend I will play in an open tournament here in CO Springs, Manitou, but I have been going to bed at 6am! So, quite naturally I will likely be completely out of it this weekend, yet playing anyhow. I hope to play some exciting games, but please be understandable about my situation. I will mostly be trying to stay awake, and my guard may be down a bit more than usual, okay maybe a lot more down than usual 😉