In the past month, after skipping the Colorado Open, and since the previous tournament at Club Chess, I have been studying chess quite a bit, and mostly tactics from books, and openings, but also some games of Nimzovich and Nezhmetdinov.
It’s interesting because when you study tactics, you wonder if it will ever apply and often lazily go about it; whereas, when you study openings, even though you may not play them for quite a while, you feel like you’ve got to get them right (even if you don’t).
Studying games is, as I’ve said in the Chess Book Collectors FB page, is important to do over a board, as it’s important to increase your vision of which pieces are hanging. This type of board-vision is very important because it’s based on speed. When looking at a diagram, you don’t have a clock to worry about, but when looking at a board, you can feel your speed at spotting loose pieces. This game proved me right, that I need to do more of this! Also, I feel like my extended analysis of my previous game helped me OTB in this game, when it came to analyzing lines/moves.
5.d4 OTB, I knew that 5.d3 was the move, but I didn’t have the discipline to play it and also I didn’t realize that Black’s reply was possible.
6.c3 Of course, here is where I realized that after 6.dxc Qa5+! Houdini likes this line for White, however, with 7.Nbd2 to follow, thinks it’s equal.
7…Nf6 Here, I felt lucky not to see 7…Ba6. The engine would then choose to play on without castling, which is ugly to watch, even though 0-0-0 is only slightly worse.
10.Nc3 I played the knight here to keep a grip on the position. It felt as though his knight were doing more than mine. I thought he might play 10…Ba6, with …Nd3xBc1, getting the bishop-pair against my knight pair, although the engine says this is equal. He only needed a draw to win this tournament, so I was happy to see 10…NxN, as I felt that it only sharpened the position.
12. Bd2 I didn’t realize that 12.c4 Qc3, 13.Bg5 (I also missed 13.Qb3+) was possible here, or I likely would have played that instead (then the queen can come to d2) …f6, 14.Rc1 Qa3, 15. exf exf, 16.Bf4 Qxa2, 17.Re1 += , but a line I might like even better than that is 12.Bg5 f6, 13.exf exf, 14.Bd2, when …f5 weakens Black’s position even more, and Qb3+ is the way to develop the queen. Both lines look interesting, and are more active than in the game.
13…Qb5 He must have seen what I had been looking at as well, that 13…a5 is met by 14.c4 Ba6, 15.Rc1, followed by 16.Re1. Still, the most active try, given by Houdini, is 13…c5.
14. c4 My longest think of the game. I could see that 14.QxQ axQ, 15.a4 Ba6 (otherwise, I like this line) is headed toward a draw. The other line I spent a long time looking at was 14.Qe2-e4-h4, but didn’t see a concrete attack that I could force, and I didn’t want to get my queen stuck over there, if something didn’t appear. Still, all three choices are equal.
15.Rfc1. I wanted to play 15.Rfb1 Ba6, 16.Rb4 Qc2, 17.Rf1 Qf5, and even showed Pete after the game that I saw this line, I simply hadn’t considered his playing …Rb8 and …Rb2, the moment I played it.
16.Be3?! I considered both 16.Bg5 and 16.Bf4 which are better than this move. 16.Bg5 f6, Bf4 is nice. 16.Qd3 is also possible. As soon as I had played 16.Be3, I regretted not having played 16.Bf4 to dissuade …d5, let alone …f6, but this can be met once again by 17.Bf4.
17.Nd2 quickly played. Here, I didn’t stop to consider the logic of this new position, as it relates to the pawns. The trump of 16.Be3 was that it closed the e-file from attack, so taking on d6, and then playing 17.Qc2 or better 17.Rab1! was in order.
17…Rab8 I missed 17…c5! here. He spent a lot of time, but played the only move that I was thinking of for Black.
18.f4?! Played impulsively. I spent most of my time looking at 18.Qg4. This, and even 18.Qf3 and 18.Bg5 are all better moves than the text. Once he finally played his move, I felt like I was never going to figure this position out, and so blurted out this move, knowing at least it gets my king luft, hints at the attack (f5), and oddly even cuts out the …c5 move, which I still hadn’t noticed. Often, my brain gets this fixed notion of which pawns won’t move, and I think it’s a human tendency as well, and well worth overcoming! 😉
19.Qd3 I missed a very tricky line here, starting with 19.Qe1 Qa3, 20.Nb3 Bxc (…bxc, 21.Nc5!), 21.Qa5 QxQ, 22.NxQ! Obviously, I was spending more time looking at attacks, and not these defensive tries. hehe. I should pay more time to defense and endgames, however, realistically speaking.
19…dxc4 I was glad to see this. 19…Rfb8 is better, but it’s getting very tricky and Black must feel he has to find the win where there is none!
21.Ne4. Best is 21.Nb3 Qa3, 22.Nc5 QxQ, 23.RxQ Bc8, and now even 24.Rxc is possible. Again, didn’t save a whole lot of time or effort for defense, mainly used his clock.
22.Bd2 Perhaps in the old days one could say ?!!, in Lasker-like fashion, as it gives Black more problems to consider than a forced line where the answer is obvious. 22.QxQb4 is the slightly better move, but this one is trickier. Correct after 22.Bd2 is 22…QxQ, 23.BxQ Rb6 (after 23…Re2, 24.Nc5! +=, and now his rook is danger of being trapped. 25.Kf1)
22…Qb6? As I had hoped! However, it’s still only +=! Both of us were getting short of time, but this is one of the few games ever where I managed to stay up on the clock!
23…RxB?? A blunder in a tough position in time-pressure, and what’s more he had burned up yet more time on this move. It’s not easy to appreciate by simply looking at the position (Nd7 and Na4 forks are threatened), but 23…Qb5, 24.a4 Qb6, 25.Nd7 Qd8, 26.NxR QxNb8 has the benefit of hanging on to the c4 pawn, plus the pesky knight has been removed. Clearly, he was playing more for tricks here, with his following moves. At the board, of course, this move seemed as good as any to me as well.
28.Rb4 This is where it pays to be yet stronger, tactically, than I was in this game. 28.Nb3 and 28.Na6!! both win the c6 pawn, 28.Na6 BxN, 29.QxR (I see this, not long after I notice the computer’s eval), so the line is 28.Na6 Qd8, 29.Qxc6 BxN, 30.QxB Bf8, 31.Rc8 will be too strong on the back-rank, around +7, whereas 29…Bf5, 30.Rb8! the knight supports the rook to skewer the queen to the king. The pity is that I had the time, but my nervous excitement was making it seem uncontrollable, so I felt that I wouldn’t find anything and preferred a quick move instead. This is where it pays to coolly finish the game.
29.Rb2 29.Rb5 would be sickeningly cool. 29…cxR, 30.QxR. My intuition wanted to play the best move 29.Ra4, but I found it too difficult for my nerves to play such a cool-handed move here.
30.g3 I didn’t feel this was the best move, and was looking at 30.Na6, but I couldn’t put it together in my head why, not calmly seeing the QxR tactic, but also spending time trying to see if I could get to his back-rank. Still, I was nervous and just as nervous for sake of the clock, though I was still up on time! Well, believe I did see this tactic here, simply was not able to calmly calculate in time-pressure, since I saw that 30.Na6 Qd8, 31.Qxc6 BxN, 32.QxB Bxf4, and feared ….Be3+, but Rc8 skewers the queen and wins.
31.Rf1 I actually did look at 31.Nb7, but didn’t know what it does, since I can’t trap his rook. hehe. I probably saw 31…Qd7, and simply missed 32.Qxc6 or was more worried about his taking twice on f4. Again, in time-pressure, this is the point of the game where it’s easy for White to forget he is up the exchange, and merely needs to trade queens, which for example the 31.Nb7 or 31.Na6 line would do.
34.Rff2 This was my last long-think of the game. I spent a few minutes on this move before matching him on the clock when I made my move, at maybe just under three minutes. Black’s last move 33…Kh8, was to prepare 34.Rxe5, and my blitz move would have been to play 34.Ne4, only looking as far as 34…Bf5, and how have I improved my knight? But I missed looking more deeply into this line, as possible is 35.Qxc6! BxN, 36.QxBh6 (missed this entirely) Rxd4, 37.Rfd1 RxR, 38.RxR QxR, 39.Qf8 mate! – for example.
35.Qc3 I debated between this and 35.Qd3 stopping …Bf5. A silly debate, I simply wanted my queen to stay out of pins in time-pressure, regretted not playing 35.Qd3.
36.Nb7 I considered 36.a4, but wasn’t sure if I wanted to weaken b3 square yet. In time-pressure, there is such this onus on whoever is supposed to be winning, while the “losing” party merely continues to scan the board for spoiling chances. The position is close to only +1, but I guess in my hubris, I felt White must be winning something and overlooked that the a5 pawn is defended! If I had realized this after 36…Qc7, I wouldn’t have wasted a moment to play 37.Rb2. Oddly, after dropping the piece I was up on the clock here, like nearly 5 minutes to 3 and considered this as my trump!
37….Rxa5? After the game, Larry, Peter, and I all felt that 37…Qxa5! was winning for Black, although it’s only +1, and I wasn’t feeling that negative OTB.
38.d5! I knew that I had to find something on this move to stay in the game, but still felt that Black should be better (it’s still almost -1), but as it turns out, it’s much easier to play White! I considered his best move, which is 38…Ra8, but he didn’t play it. Possibly it’s one of those things where your first inclination is not to play a defensive move when winning (the onus of the “winning” party strikes again!).
38…c5?? Instinctively, I felt this move was a blunder and that I could win, and it is one. He had basically dawdled his last little “big think” on this lemon, and there was no time to recover, except for his 30 second increment. This basically amounts to a wasted move in a critical position. After this, I was seeing all of the wins, and sacs in all lines it seemed, and wasn’t nervous at all about executing them, even though I did take some unnecessary time, instead of pounding them out.
When he resigned with seconds left, I still hadn’t seen that I was winning his Bf8 until I got home and plugged in my last move from my scoresheet.
[Event “September Swiss”]
[White “Brian John Rountree”]
[Black “Larry Wutt”]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. d4 Bg7 6. c3 cxd4 7. cxd4 Nf6 8.
e5 Nd5 9. O-O O-O 10. Nc3 Nxc3 11. bxc3 Qa5 12. Bd2 Qd5 13. Qe2 Qb5 14. c4 Qa4
15. Rfc1 Ba6 16. Be3 d5 17. Nd2 Rab8 18. f4 Rb2 19. Qd3 dxc4 20. Qc3 Rfb8 21.
Ne4 Qb4 22. Bd2 Qb6 23. Nc5 Rxd2 24. Qxd2 Rd8 25. Qc3 Bc8 26. Rab1 Qc7 27.
Qxc4 Rd5 28. Rb4 a5 29. Rb2 Bh6 30. g3 g5 31. Rf1 Qd8 32. Rd2 gxf4 33. gxf4
Kh8 34. Rff2 Bh3 35. Qc3 Bf5 36. Nb7 Qc7 37. Nxa5 Rxa5 38. d5 c5 39. d6 Qd8
40. dxe7 Qxe7 41. Qxa5 Be4 42. Qd8+ Bf8 43. Rfe2 Bf5 44. Rg2 Be4 45. Rg3 h5
46. Rd7 1-0
After this game, my rating improved to 1893. There is a Thursday tournament starting in October, called “Strong Swiss” that is 1800+, so I think that I will play in both that, and the annual City Championship, which is on Tuesday nights, as well. Then, I might play in the 2nd annual Medieval tournament which is at the end of October at Club Chess, but all four rounds are G/90, d/5. There is a simul against WGM Katerina Nemcova that Saturday before round 1.