I told Dan, after the game, that I like playing the King’s Gambit because of the novel positions that I get from it (versus a Lopez). You can almost count on getting a unique position when playing the KG, and sure enough we got one.
I have a 6 million game (ChessKing) database, and I want to show how unique these positions are. 2..Nc6 was a really interesting line to get into. 3…d5 looked a bit dubious at first. 3…d6 has been played 730 times, but 3…d6 only 58 times. Surprisingly, OTB I was most worried about the move 4…Nd4!, which Stockfish says is the #1 move, and curiously has never been played before! 52 out of 54 times, 4…Qxd5 was played; …e4 and …Bg4 were the other two tries.
After 5…Qd8, this position has been reached a total of 8 times. My blitz reaction was to play 6.fxe5, but after half a minute, I really wanted to try 6.Bb5. It took me a solid twenty minutes or more to finally convince myself to play 6.Bb5. I figured taking the pawn was wasting a tempo, when he could just get in …Bc5 and …Bg4, the pawn may fall anyway, and it looks like I might be playing d3 in that line, or at least Qe2 which I did consider on a couple of positions. 6.Bb5!? attacks the center right away, and leads to that great pawn center I get later on. If 6…exf4, I figured 7.d4 was an important move to get in. I felt that 7…Bd6, 8.0-0 would be the follow-up, but I liked my practical chances here. Interestingly, 6.Bb5 has never been played before (of the 6 million games)! So, after only five and a half moves we have reached a unique position!
On move, 6.Nxe5 for example, I did finally realize that my Nc3 was covering e4, so …Qh4+ variations are not a threat, but figured after 6…Bc5, 7.Bc4 (attacking f7) Be6 he might be okay, not considering that I had the threat of 8.BxBe6 fxB, 9.Qh5+! threat. Still, it (Houdini now) gives 7.fxe5 as best, probably because 8…NxNe5 in that line above is messier.
When I saw 6…a6, I figured instantly that 7.BxN followed by 8.Nxe5 would be winning, but then I started to worry about 8…Bc5, preventing d4, but the refutation is then 9.Qe2! when best is 9…Qh4+, 10.g3, Qe7. 9…Ne7?? doesn’t work because 10.Qc4! forks both the f7 square, and the loose bishop on c5.
I looked at 10.Bg5, but figured there was no reason to bother with it, and played the best move 10.0-0
After 12.h3, 12…Nf5 caught me off guard because I was intending to lessen the strength of that move with what I had played, but I’ve studied way too many chess positions to trust that his move was not premature. 13.Bf2 was sort of my plan, anyway, and if 12…Bh4, I had intended 13.Nc3-e2 eyeing f4, and preparing 14.c3 to control the center. Apparently 13.Qd3 would have been a touch stronger, and that was my second choice.
14….Nxd4? This move is not solid, but 14…Ne7! is.
I decided that 15.BxN doesn’t do anything because, for example, I saw this whole line OTB: 15… Bxd4+ 16. Kh1 O-O 17. Rad1 c5 18. Ne2 Qe7 19. Nxd4 cxd4 20. Rxd4 Qxe5, which is still +=, but I wasn’t so sure of that at the time. 15…Qd4+ was another way to try and go about this as Black, but I have some e6 try in that line.
I chose 15.Qg4 because it seemed so direct, but more to the point was 15.Qe4++-, which I considered but didn’t see the point of, but here example 15…Ne6 is not possible because 16.Qxc6+ is winning quickly.
15…Nxc2?? I had calculated 15…Ne6, 16.BxBb6 bxB, 17.Qf3 (earlier, I had considered Ne4 followed by Nf6+ in this sort of situation, but somehow had forgotten to try it here) 0-0, 18.Qxc6 Rc8, which didn’t seem to promise much (I said to Dan after the game), but actually I missed 18…Qd4+, 19.Kh1 Qxe5 which is why 17.Rad1 is the move, cutting this out.
But after 15…Nxc2?? I knew he was toast, and played quickly 16.Qxg7. One can practically play this line on the increment: 16… Rf8 17. Rad1 Qc8 18. Bxb6 cxb6 19. Ne4 Qe6 20. Nd6+ Ke7 21. Rf6 Qxa2 22. e6. 16…BxBf2, 17.RxB NxRa1, 18.QxRa8+ Ke7, 19.Qf6+ Kd8, 20.Qxf7 mate was another line I had calculated, but I had cut off my analyses right before seeing that it was mate, although I had seen that mating idea on f7 already because I knew Black had nothing to stop me with in this line.
Dan seemed disappointed by his loss, that he was paired up, but he gave it a great try, and personally I feel like I am one of the strongest players there in these types of positions, so it wasn’t like it was a simple lack of effort that caused his loss. A short, but very interesting game. I can feel that Dan is much stronger than his (unfortunate) rating would indicate.