Herman – Rountree Match

Game 1

9….Na5  The Tchigorin Defense.

12…Bd7?!  Over-thinking it, the simple 12…cxd4 was best.

14….Rb8?  Already a tired move, it’s goal is that if White plays a4 and axb5, then there would be no hanging rook on a8.

Me and Alex spend a couple hours looking for his phone the night before, and he bought me a couple drinks at the bar, and I could feel the energy loss before the game.  Went home after this game, ate dinner, and hit the bed, although as I write this I then only slept for three hours.

17…Nf8?!  Around this point, I didn’t have the experience to play this sort of position, and went awry.  LM Brian Wall said after the game that I had no feel for the Lopez.  A part of that is that I almost never play the Chigorin, for example.  I do struggle in the different Ruy Lopez variations, but on the other hand I haven’t played the Lopez that much as black in OTB tournament chess, it’s mostly been the Open Variation, and this might the first rated Chigorin I’ve ever played OTB as Black.

In fact, I may have played it twice before, and of those time against Daniel, the two games were over a two month span as well, but I’m not sure because normally I play Archangelsk, which seems similar but …Bc5, not ….Be7 (which is why I don’t remember ever playing the Chigorin).  The Howell Attack, with Qe2 often gets a similar type of feel to the Chigorin, but is also very different from it.  I’ve also played the Breyer online quite a bit, as well as the fianchetto variation.  I like to play new variations, and I might play another new variation, for me, next time!

17….Nb6! would have been much better, as Black needs to make headway on the queenside.

18…BxN?!  Black should have tried keeping this bishop on the board, as …g6 might be a desirable move in the future.

It can be very easy for Black to drift into a strategically lost position in the Lopez, and this game helps show why.  Even had I not sacked a pawn, the engines were practically winning it for White, in a sort of “shootout” style.


[Event “Rountree-Herman match”]
[Site “Panera Bread”]
[Date “2018.05.26”]
[Round “1”]
[White “Daniel Herman”]
[Black “Brian Rountree”]
[Result “1-0”]
[BlackElo “1835”]
[GameNo “-1”]
[WhiteElo “2046”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3
O-O 9. h3 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. d4 Qc7 12. Nbd2 Bb7 13. d5 Nd7 14. b3 Rab8 15.
Nf1 Bc8 16. Ng3 Re8 17. Nf5 Nf8 18. N3h4 Bxh4 19. Nxh4 Ng6 20. Nf5 Nb7 21. h4
c4 22. b4 Ne7 23. g4 Ng6 24. h5 Nf4 25. Bxf4 exf4 26. Qf3 Bxf5 27. gxf5 Qe7
28. Qxf4 Qe5 29. Qe3 Re7 30. f4 Qf6 31. Kf2 Rbe8 32. Qg3 Kh8 33. Rg1 Qh6 34.
Qg5 Qxg5 35. fxg5 Nd8 36. a4 f6 37. g6 h6 38. axb5 axb5 39. Ra6 Nb7 40. Rb6
Rb8 41. Ra1 Ree8 42. Rxb5 Kg8 43. Ra7 Re7 44. Rb6 Kf8 45. Ba4 Nc5 46. Rxb8+ 1-0


Game 2

Sometimes, the craziest positions get played on intuition.  At least for my part that’s how the second half of this game went.  I can’t really understand all the computer suggestions, would probably take a long time to go over this game thoroughly by engine.

I got good sleep the night before.  Daniel played a long game earlier in the day over the internet.


[Event “Herman-Rountree Match”]
[Site “Starbucks”]
[Date “2018.05.27”]
[Round “2”]
[White “Brian Rountree”]
[Black “Daniel Herman”]
[Result “1-0”]
[BlackElo “2046”]
[ECO “B43”]
[EventDate “2018.05.27”]
[TimeControl “G/90, Inc 30”]
[WhiteElo “1835”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. Bd3 Nf6 7. Qe2 d6 8. O-O
Be7 9. Be3 O-O 10. f4 Nbd7 11. Nb3 b5 12. a3 Bb7 13. Rad1 Rac8 14. g4 d5 15. e5
Ne4 16. Bxe4 dxe4 17. g5 Nb6 18. Nd2 f5 19. gxf6 gxf6 20. Qg4+ Kh8 21. Qxe6 Bc5
22. Rde1 f5 23. Kh1 Bxe3 24. Rxe3 Qc5 25. Rfe1 Rc6 26. Qb3 Qe7 27. Qb4 Qxb4 28.
axb4 Nc4 29. Nxc4 Rxc4 30. Rd1 Rf7 31. Rd8+ Kg7 32. Rg3+ Kh6 33. Rdg8 e3+ 34.
Kg1 Bf3 35. Rh3+ Bh5 36. Rg5 Rxf4 37. Rhxh5# 1-0

Game 3

I survived Daniel’s attack, but did not survive time-pressure.

45…Nd5??  As soon as I had picked up the knight, I saw that I was blundering the bishop, and no square would save it, down to 37 seconds.  I saw both plans of …Kg7 and …Qf6, but also wanted to play, as I pointed out after the game, and I can even do it in this position 45…Be5, 46…Bd4, 47…Qxf2+ sacking the bishop and trading queens to reach this won endgame.

However, it was too much sustained time-pressure for my brain.  Daniel was playing for this last trick, and I couldn’t think anymore, worried about perpetuals that no longer existed once I won the exchange, didn’t have time to mentally note the change in the position.

I dropped under 4 minutes, 3:57 remaining when I played 21….f5.  Later, when I played 30…Rd6 (giving him another chance to perpetual), I meant to play 30…Rd5.  What happened is that I had some debate between 30…Qd6 and 30…Rd5, and I somehow blended the moves together to form 30…Rd6.  It’s as if Daniel were playing for his chances in my time-pressure, melt-down, and this worked.  Perhaps if I had had more time he would have been more careful, I dunno.  It felt like a brain melt-down on my part, could not think and played a hope-move.  Somehow, I recovered after that.  Sometimes, a couple quick-moves in someone’s time pressure, namely mine, can do that.

Naturally, Daniel’s big attack should have worked, but he got a little too cavalier in his play.  It felt like we were both trying to find computer-lines in the peak of battle.  No one is totally immune from time-pressure, though, as Daniel had 44 minutes when I had 4 minutes, and he finished the game with under 20 minutes.

I guess I should have said that I did survive time-pressure.  I think that at the master-level in chess that skills and consequences are often joined at the hip, but below that level the talent level can show, in this case Daniel’s, while consequences sort of veered off into another direction after so many moves.

This is what I’ll refer to the psychological pressure of not ending the game, when perhaps had another opponent been faced with the same moves they would have collapsed already (both of us hung tough in this game).  I hung tough in terms of obscuring the win from being obvious, and by drawing the game, not just completely falling apart after all the mistakes.

At one point, I was down to 3 seconds, and at another point 7 seconds.  It would have been easy to flag in a winning position, but this is where I say there is that separation between skill and consequences at the pre-master level.  To draw a game in chess shows that both players were aware of both skill and consequences at the end of a game.

If I could have played the end of this game over again, I would have played more simple moves to build up time, and focused on square-control first, and plans and ideas second.

I think it’s important to give Daniel credit for the trick he pulled off, and like he said after the game, he purposely tried to disguise it by playing 44.Qe3, and then 45.Qd2, which netted him a piece after my blunder.  In Volume 1 of Judit Polgar’s autobiography, chapter 1 is entitled “Tricks”, she says “Players are especially vulnerable to falling for tricks when they relax prematurely or find themselves in time-trouble.”  She also says in her book, regarding tricks “For kids, there is nothing more rewarding than tricking their opponent!”.  And, like they say, there is no luck in chess.

This game is a nightmare to computer analyze.

13….Na5  13…Nb4!

15…Qb6?  16…Nb6 or 15…cxd4

18.Ne4?  18.Bf5 or 18.Qe2 (which I was expecting).

19…h6?  19…Qh6, as Daniel had figured on during the game, is best.

20….Nc4??  20…BxNe4

21.e6?  21.Ng3

21…f5??  21…fxe is best.  I wanted to play this move during the game, but calculating from this position is crazy, and I had no time to do it.

22.Nf7  I never saw this or the next move coming.

28.Be5?? 28.Re5 was winning quickly.

38…Qf6.  38…Qh4 is the crush.

Black could have still walked into a loss or perpetual, but a neat piece configuration for Black to have aimed for would be …Be7, …Nf6, …Rd8-d2, ….Qh7-e4  Takes time to come up with a plan like this, though.


[Event “Match”]
[Site “Village Inn”]
[Date “2018.05.28”]
[Round “3”]
[White “Daniel Herman”]
[Black “Brian Rountree”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[BlackElo “1835”]
[GameNo “-1”]
[WhiteElo “2046”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O b5 6. Bb3 Be7 7. Re1 d6 8. c3
O-O 9. h3 Nd7 10. d4 Bf6 11. Be3 Bb7 12. Nbd2 exd4 13. cxd4 Na5 14. Bc2 c5 15.
Bf4 Qb6 16. e5 dxe5 17. dxe5 Be7 18. Ne4 Rad8 19. Nfg5 h6 20. Qh5 Nc4 21. e6
f5 22. Nf7 fxe4 23. Nxh6+ gxh6 24. Qg6+ Kh8 25. Qxh6+ Kg8 26. Qg6+ Kh8 27.
Rxe4 Nf6 28. Be5 Bxe4 29. Qxe4 Nxe5 30. Qxe5 Rd6 31. Re1 Rd5 32. Qf4 Rh5 33.
Bg6 Qb8 34. Qe3 Nd5 35. Qd2 Rg5 36. Bf7 Qf4 37. Qe2 Bd6 38. g3 Qf6 39. h4 Re5
40. Qd2 Rxe1+ 41. Qxe1 Nc7 42. Qe2 Rxf7 43. exf7 Qxf7 44. Qe3 Ne6 45. Qd2 Nd4
46. Qh6+ Kg8 47. Qxd6 Qf3 48. Qg6+ Kh8 49. Qh6+ Kg8 50. Qg6+ Kf8 51. Qd6+ Kg7
52. Qxc5 Qd1+ 53. Kg2 Qf3+ 1/2-1/2


Game 4

Since Daniel has beaten my Alapin Sicilian every time that I’ve trotted it out, and I can only get away with g4 pushes in Open Sicilians for so long (g4 is the ‘push your luck move’ for White in the Open Sicilian), I decided on an old variation from yore.  I believe it was Okhotnik, who played this line as White, and was first shown to me in Gary Lane’s book on the C3 Sicilian – great book, but paper acidified, and had to eventually throw it in the fire (I’m sensitive to old books, and paper dust).

I once beat Mark McGough in this line, in a miniature, way back when we played at the East Coast Deli.  After that, we played about ten scotches, where I won most of them.  Anything was better in his mind than to get torched in this line.  So now I am playing Daniel, and need a win somewhere to at least draw this match.

[Event “Match”]
[Site “Panera Powers”]
[Date “2018.06.02”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Brian Rountree”]
[Black “Daniel Herman”]
[Result “1-0”]
[BlackElo “2046”]
[GameNo “-1”]
[WhiteElo “1848”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. c3 Nf6 4. e5 Nd5 5. d4 cxd4 6. cxd4 d6 7. Bd3 Nc6 8. a3
Be7 9. O-O O-O 10. Qe2 Qc7 11. Qe4 f5 12. exf6 Nxf6 13. Qh4 e5 14. Nc3 e4 15.
Nxe4 Nxe4 16. Qxe4 g6 17. Bh6 Rf5 18. Bc4+ Kh8 19. Rac1 Qd8 20. Bd5 Bd7 21. g4
Rf6 22. Rfe1 Bf8 23. Bg5 Bg7 24. h3 Qf8 25. Bxf6 Qxf6 26. b4 Rf8 27. Kg2 Re8
28. Qd3 Rf8 29. Bxc6 bxc6 30. Re2 Be6 31. Nd2 Bd5+ 32. f3 Qf4 33. Qe3 Qxe3 34.
Rxe3 Bh6 35. Rd3 Bxd2 36. Rxd2 Rxf3 37. Kh2 Rxa3 38. Re1 Kg7 39. g5 Rb3 40.
Re7+ Kg8 41. Rde2 Rxb4 42. Rxa7 Kf8 43. Rxh7 Rxd4 44. Rb2 Kg8 45. Rd7 Rf4 46.
Rb8+ Rf8 47. Rxf8+ Kxf8 48. Rxd6 Kf7 49. Kg3 Be4 50. Kf4 Bg2 51. h4 c5 52. Ke3
Bh3 53. Rf6+ Kg7 54. Kd3 Bg4 55. Kc4 Bh3 56. Kxc5 Bg4 57. Kd6 Bh3 58. Ke7 Bg4
59. Rf7+ Kg8 60. Kf6 Bh5 61. Ra7 Kh8 62. Rg7 Bg4 63. Rxg6 1-0


Game 5 – will not be until Friday at 4pm.  Daniel will have White.  Daniel needs a win to tie the match.

By not playing on Monday, I was able to finish flipping over my sleep schedule, went to bed at 7pm and woke at 5am.    Before this, and for the entire match, I had been having to break my daily sleep into two separate days, sleeping a couple hours here, and a couple hours there, and thus never having enough energy to exercise, for example.  On Sunday, I caught up on sleep, but it wasn’t enough of a break to flip over my schedule (I woke up at 1:30 am on Monday, for example).  A five-game match was too long to live that way, hence the continued break on Monday.

btw, I did jog a few miles, and pulled the weeds along my sidewalk, no naps, so this was a successful transition to a regular sleep schedule.

Onto the game.  This might be the first Petroff I’ve played in a rated OTB game.

10…c6!  Novelty, and probably strong.

11…Qa5.  This isn’t even the best drawing line.  My original plan had been to play 11…d5 and, …Bd6.  This plan can work, but Black does need to play carefully after 12.Qf4.

14….Bd7  I didn’t see …Bf5 until after I made this move.  The time to play …Bf5 would be now, as White should play 15.Qf4 to prevent this.

Incidentally, this would be the time to play 14…hxNg5 during this early stage of the game, as White’s next move cuts it out.  However, I was rightly worried about 14…hxNg5, 15.hxg Ng4, 16.Bh7+ (best move.  Daniel didn’t believe in this move so much, intuitively, and his tries didn’t work out so well for him).  I even had faith in the continuation for White that after 16…Kf8, 17.Bf5 Kg8, 18.BxBc8 RaxB there must be something the White queen can do here, and it’s Qd3.  In the post-mortem we tried 19.Qd3 f5, 20.Qh3, but he didn’t follow it up right, he was moving too fast in the post-mortem IMHO, but I guess he had nothing to prove at this point, having won the game.  21.Rde1 is the next move.

15…b5?  I did look at 15…Nd5!, and noticed it stopped Qf4, but failed to appreciate the importance of stopping this move.  I also figured that it blocked my queen out from defending the 5th rank, and that at least if I pushed the b-pawn two squares that my queen would be back in play, but it’s too slow and doesn’t work.  I didn’t notice until after 16.Qf4 that ….b4 fails to 17.BxNf6 and 18.cxb4.

Actually, this 15…Nd5 is another nice maneuvering idea.  Just as …Qa5 serves the purpose of a lateral defense, supporting a …Bf5 move, this  …Nd5 could be used in conjunction with playing ….c5, Be3, then …Nd5-f6, knight can now go back to this square, where it could also support a …d5 push if needed.  One of my chess weaknesses has been understanding maneuvering in top-level games, particularly those of the 19th and 20th centuries, and this game is a good example of these types of maneuvers.

I did spent a lot of time on this move before finally giving into the clock, playing …b5, and effectively saying to him “Okay, do your worst!  Actually, I knew his next two moves after …b5, simply didn’t spend the time to calculate his attack, which wouldn’t have been too difficult in hindsight, as it reduces material as it goes.

First, I spent some more time on the capture on g5, but then I spent most of my time on 15…Bf5, and should have played it.  It’s true that this line can get tricky, and I did lose this game just as much on the clock as on the board, as Daniel’s only two moves that surprised me in this game were Ng5 and Qxg5.  So, for example, 15…Bf5, 16.Qf4 BxBd3, 17.cxd3, this was as far as I had calculate, but then 17…Qd5, 18.c4 Nh5, 19.Qe3 Qf5.  Also, it’s important here to notice the necessary resource 19.Qg4 Nf6 (aiming for a perpetual), 20.BxNf6? Qxd3+, 21.Kh1 BxBf6, netting a pawn for Black.

It’s also important to show how 14….Bf5, played a move earlier, also works.  14…Bf5, 15.Qf4 BxB, 16.RxB Qd5, 20.c4 Qxg2! (works because the rooks are disconnected).

16….d5  Played quickly, as I hadn’t noticed until he played 16.Qf4 that d6 was hanging.  Actually, this was another huge mistake, playing this quickly.  Black is lost after 16…Qd8, but not because of 17.BxNf6 BxB, 18.Qxd6?? RxR+, 19.RxR hxNg5.

20. Qxg5  During the game, we both saw 20.hxg5 Re1+, 21. RxR Qd8, but 22.Qh6 wins, as does 20.Bh7+, as LM Brian Wall saw instantly when he looked at this game.  I played til mate for formality sake, it’s easier for someone seeing the game to understand better that way.

I should have focused on defending, as even Daniel mentioned after the game that one of the purposes of the doubled c-pawn is to defend the king better in an opposite-side castling attacking game.

My rating finished at 1879.  A draw would given me an 1898 rating instead, but I was nowhere near strong enough on the clock, not efficient enough at calculating, and sort of threw my hands in the air instead of choosing the best strategic direction for the game, at least, where I would have had some of his time to calculate.  After all, his moves were not so difficult to find, as it was.










[Event “Match”]
[Site “Panera”]
[Date “2018.06.08”]
[Round “5”]
[White “Daniel Herman”]
[Black “Brian Rountree”]
[Result “1-0”]
[BlackElo “1848”]
[GameNo “-1”]
[WhiteElo “2046”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Nc3 Nxc3 6. dxc3 Be7 7. Be3 Nd7
8. Qd2 Nf6 9. Bd3 O-O 10. O-O-O c6 11. Ng5 Qa5 12. Kb1 Re8 13. Bd4 h6 14. h4
Bd7 15. Rde1 b5 16. Qf4 d5 17. Rxe7 Rxe7 18. Bxf6 gxf6 19. Qxf6 hxg5 20. Qxg5+
Kf8 21. Qh6+ Kg8 22. Qh7+ Kf8 23. Qh8# 1-0



4 thoughts on “Herman – Rountree Match

  1. Game 1 – Ruy Lopez Chigorin variation requires a serious book knowledge, the more the better.
    12… Bb7 is refuted by d5, you have to start over by playing Bc8.
    The book move is 12… cxd4, it would make your counter-play easier by the way.

    Usually it is bishop going to f8 after Re8.
    Starting from move 26 computer several times wants you to play a5.
    Then you got under a strong pressure and it is difficult to give an advice there.

  2. Thanks!

    Yeah, you are right, I did a lot of wrong things and should have known better, should have played …cxd4 and …Bd7 like you like to play.

  3. Game 2 – that attack on the kingside looks too sharp to me, the center is not secured.
    20. Ncxe4 would eliminate the “e” pawn, that pawn proved to be dangerous later.
    Computer says that 23. Kh1 was a losing move, Rf2 was defending against Rg8+ threat.
    But he hurried with 23… Bxe3.
    His 30… Rf7 was a crucial mistake allowing a forced mate.

  4. 20.Qg4+ Yeah, I’ve done a lot of wrong pawn captures in this match. Thanks! I never even considered this move until now, I should look at this game again. You are right, 20.Nxe4. I think another move (from computer) there may have been 20.exf6, which looks good to my eye.

    23.Kh1 At first, I wanted to play 23.Kf2, but he gave me time to look at this position, and then I wanted to play 23.Rf2. 23.Kh1 was this third thought on the position. I didn’t know how it would turn out, just that it took away some immediate fears, but added others yes. I should analyze this position and game more – right, it was a blunder.

    30…Rf7 was a shocker, yes, not just because it lead to mate, but because it wasn’t getting his king into the game – he had feelings at the time that it wasn’t so safe to do so, but I showed him after that game that it was strong for him to get his king into play.

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