Back On Track

Round 4 – final round of Wednesdays

Tough game, but an interesting and exciting one as well.

My rating for this month finished at 1839!  Back above 1800 yet again.  Man what an ordeal and journey just to get back over 1800.  Wednesdays have proven more fruitful for my rating than Tuesdays where Paul continually poaches off my rating in positions seemingly destined for a draw.  I had some interesting wins against low-rateds on Tuesdays, but they were worth a handful of rating points combined.

Coming into this month, I felt that I would gain a lot of rating points back.  In fact, I finished up 72 rating points from the beginning of the month, but didn’t realize just how many Class A players that I would face to get there.  Out of 9 rounds, I faced 1 Expert, 6 Class A, 1 Class C, and 1 Class D payer.

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2 thoughts on “Back On Track

  1. 30… e4 with the following e3 and e2 was keeping the balance.
    His g3 was a mistake and I am glad you found an escape from a difficult situation.

  2. Thank you!

    I’ll add some notes to this game.

    6…b6?! Technically, this move is okay, but not so strong or popular. If Black wants to play …b6, then should have done it on the last move. Better here would be 6…0-0, or 6…d5, or possibly even …d6, IOW focusing on the center directly. Black’s last move of 5…cxd, sped up the center action, so there’s not so much time for 6…b6 as a follow-up.

    8. d5 The consequence of Black’s 6th move

    9.Nf4 She played this opening quickly, but as I suspected, 9.dxe6 fxe6 is stronger.

    11…Nbd7 She was moving quickly, and I wasn’t familiar with this position, so I wanted to develop quickly. Right after I moved I noticed that I could have played 11…NxN, 12.QxN f5! equalizing.

    13…a5 The speed of which she played 13.Bf5 had a bit of shock and awe effect, as I didn’t calm down to notice that 13…BxB (my first instinct) 14.NxBf5 followed by 15.Nb5 really does nothing as I have two pieces defending my backward d6 pawn. 13…g6 was my second thought and next best, but I played the third best move here as I was a bit spooked.

    It’s important to analyze this 13th move in detail. After 13…g6, 14.Bc2! (covering b3 square) is equal, but White has more options here to build an attack from, so better would appear to be 13…BxBf5, 14.NxBf5 g6 and here I was not confident, fearing 15.Bh6, but simply 15…gxNf5, 16.BxRf8 BxBf8 is -+, winning for Black. The other idea of 15.Nh6 Kg7, 16.h4 will backfire as well, since say h5…Nxh, RxNh5 gxRh5 idea with Qxh5 to follow will be met with …f5! when Black is the one attacking. Lastly, 15.NxBe7 (reducing White’s attacking material, and a good trade for Black)…QxNe7, 16.Bg5 Kg7, followed by 17…h6 more or less equalizes for Black, and I think it’s even easier to play Black’s position after this.

    16…Rfe8 After this, her play slowed down and she thought more about what she was doing . I was looking at 16…a4 (best) from this point forward, but never had the courage to play it, and think it worked. It works because her c4 pawn will become weaker faster than my b6 pawn because of her slow development.

    17…h6 Giving her a free tempo (…a4!) to finally develop her bishop (Be3), but she insists on attacking now, which was perfect timing in the sense that I had spent far too much time on my clock, and my common-sense needed time to find itself in order to defend.

    18…f4?! (18.Rb1 or 18.Be3) This is really a desperate ploy, and I was surprised OTB that she played it, but this is really the position (for why I need to save more time on my clock next time!!) that separates the GM from the amateurs. A GM, as Black, is probably going to win against a Class A player as White from here. 18…a4! (a pawn sac invitation no less), 19.bxa4 Nxa4 (I had seen this much, and that a pawn is dropping in the center), 20.Nb5 is =. But no, 19…Rec8! underscores the weakness of the c-file and the material on it. 20.fxe5 dxe5, 21.Rxe5 Bd6 (common-sense, so far, but these positions still need to be appraised for their worth), 22.Re2, and only now …Nxa4, or …Qg4 is =+ is Black’s favor. This is the point in the game where GMs just “own it”. It should be easy to see from here that White’s c and d pawns could be falling next.

    Even without this winning try in the line above, Black should be fine after 18..exf4, 19.Bxf4 Ng4 (missed this in relative time-pressure) with …Ng4-e5 as the idea here.

    I looked at 18…Ng4, 19.f5 Nf6, but this position looked nebulous to me as I went under 20 minutes and could sense the number of moves left in the position, and my clock, were not compatible (not jibing with each other).

    19.fxe5 I had only anticipated 19.Rb1.

    19…QxQd1? Played quickly, and regretted quickly. Although OTB I consoled myself in that 19…dxe5 (the correct move), 20.d6? looked similar. However, this should be met with 20…Qd4+!! (a maneuver I had seen, but not calculated here). Instead, she would need to finally develop her bishop (connecting the heavy pieces on the back-rank) with 21.Be3, and after 21…Qd7, the position is equal.

    28….Bc7? Okay for a time-pressure move at the Class level, but believe it or not this move should lose to 29.Ra1 (which I pointed out to Sara after the game). The correct defensive procedure here is 28…Rdc8 (offering an exchange of pawns, c4 for b6), 29.Rec1 Rab8, and here Black can hold; e.g., 29.Kf1 Rc7, 30.g4 f6, 31.Ke2 Kf7.

    31…Rc3?! Looks natural, but 31…e5 with 32…e4 idea is the accurate one.

    34.Rc1? After a couple more mistakes by Black in time-pressure, White throws away the win here. For example 34.Rd5 Kf8 (a waiting move), 35.Be1 Rc4, 36.Ba5 (attacking the Rd8. …Rd7 drops the Bb8, and otherwise d6-d7-d8 promotes). If 34…Rc4 (a more likely waiting move), 35.Bd4 f6, 36.Rb7! Black is in a type of zugzwang where the e4 pawn will now fall, as the White king marches up to and grabs it.

    I feel pretty lucky how this one turned out, given the way I mismanaged my clock. The fact that it was a hard-fought draw wore on my nerves a bit, and that is the biggest reason I delayed annotating this game for so long. The missed lines were more complex and deeper than usual.

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