I guess the question is, could I keep the unbeaten streak alive? Paul Anderson kindly wrote in Colorado Springs Chess News: “Current City Champ, Brian Rountree continues his unbeaten streak in round 1 of the November Swiss 90. Look out GM Ding Liren!”
This is only David’s second rated chess tournament, his first rated tournament was the City Championship where he actually won two games (it took me multiple tournaments before I won my first rated game). Not bad for a first tournament!
I thought about playing other variations, but really wanted to play what I know against a new opponent for me.
4.c4 Why not? Certainly, the idea of a future cxd…cxd to weaken b5 for the Nc3, was enough for me.
6…exd Surprising choice of recapture.
8…c4 His pushing the play, with each chance he gets, is a little too predictable, or predictable from a much lower-rated opponent. 8…Ne7 looked solid.
10…h6 This must have been either to support …g5, or prevent a Bg5 pin on a knight, and struck me as too optimistic for Black.
12…Rg8? 12…Ng4 would have been the most critical reply, although …BxNc3 and …Nh7 are possible. After the game, I mentioned to David that 12…Ng4, 13.h3 h5 (aka the Fishing-Pole), might be possible here. Also unclear were 12…Ng4, 13.Nd5 Ba5, and 13.Ne4. This is a position that is crying out for some creative insight!
13…gxf6? Relatively pointless, although it sure looks enticing from a visual perspective. I was expecting 13…Nxf6.
18.Nxf6+ This game is long over, but I was sorely tempted to play a fantasy variation (ha! no pun intended) just to keep the game interesting. We both had half an hour or more remaining at the end of the game, and so the line goes 18.exf Rxg+, 19.QxR BxQ, 20.fxBe7 Qc8 (say), 21.KxB. Black has all six minor pieces versus queen and rook, and the king is trapped to where it can’t castle.
[Event “November Swiss”]
[White “Brian John Rountree”]
[Black “David Tomy”]
[TimeControl “G/90, Inc 30”]
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 Nd7 4. c4 e6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. cxd5 exd5 7. Bd3 c5 8. Ne2 c4
9. Bc2 dxe4 10. fxe4 h6 11. O-O Ngf6 12. e5 Rg8 13. exf6 gxf6 14. Nf4 Bd6 15.
Qe2+ Be7 16. Nfd5 Ne5 17. dxe5 Bh3 18. Nxf6+ Kf8 19. Bxh6+ Rg7 20. Bxg7+ Kxg7
21. gxh3 Bc5+ 22. Kh1 Kf8 23. Ncd5 Rc8 24. Qg4 Qxd5+ 25. Nxd5 1-0
Me and Sam always have these highly contentious positional battles, and it looked like Sam had me in this one. However, there is always the clock, and as we both got down to five minutes remaining (in less than 20 moves!) one of those inevitable possibilities happened.
1.b3 Sam always plays The Nimzo-Larsen Attack.
3…d6. 3…d5, 4.Bb5 is often considered as a positional error for Black, because BxNc6 will be so strong in this variation. So, this is one way to avoid that, and just like that I am in some new line where I don’t have a clue.
6…g6. My first reaction, and almost played, was 6…a6, but 7.BxN NxB looks strange, as I sort of want to castle queenside then, well I suppose …d5 and …Bd6 and …f6 type plan would be possible, thinking of it now. If 7.Bd3 Nb4 was unusual, and I wasn’t sure. In hindsight, it looks rather strong for Black, as 8.a3 NxBd3, 9.cxN looks like it strenghtens White’s center, but really gives Black a tempo in a way, with freer and clearer development. I thought he should have played 6.d4, but we are talking instincts in an unknown position. I would play …a6 here, given another chance.
12.d4 This is the move that I overlooked when playing …Nb4.
12…Qe7. I spent a long time looking at 12.Qg5, but we both saw that this move at least protects the …Nb4.
14.Nc3 A solid positional move that I missed.
15.Qd3! Very nice. Protecting e3, and connecting the rooks.
15…f5 I reached to play 15…Rad8 (with idea of …Bc8 with possible …Bb7 redeployment), which helps me knight get back into play with …Nc5 (or …c5) type moves, but in one line I saw I didn’t have time, and so this move played was more out of a feeling of necessity.
16.Rae1! He is onto this position.
16…e4 Not what I desired to play, but the only practicable move that I could find. 16…exd, 17.exd Qd6, 18.Red1 with c4 coming, hitting the loose …Na6 is what I was worried about there. If 16…Rad8, then 17.e4 f4, 18.Nge2 g5 might have been best, with …Bf5 to come, but I was a bit aghast that this seemed forced, and didn’t have the nerve to try it. If Black doesn’t play 17…f4 in this line, then White will take on f5 and e5 and has more centralized play – the …Na6 is offside, and the isolated pawns are not encouraging.
17.Qd2!? This came as a surprise. I was only expecting 17.Qe2.
17…Be6? This is a mistake. 17…c5 looks warranted, as Black needs some play, even at the cost of a temporary knight incursion to d5. 17…c5, 18.Nd5 Qd6
18.Na4! Came as a surprise, as 19.Qa5 is threatened.
18…Rab8?! A likely blunder. 18…Rad8 was the other move I was considering.
19…Bc8 I offered a draw here, as this seemed the time to do it, since we were both down to 5 minutes (I had another half minute), and I was only expecting his queen to retreat rather than block itself in with 20.b4! He accepted my draw offer immediately, as we’ve had some crazy time-scrambles together where I did rather well in all but the last one.
After the game, Sam showed me 20.b4, threating 21.b5! winning the knight. I made good on some ridiculous tries in the post-mortem, such as 19…f4, but White must be simply winning here. I would not have offered the draw, had I known that I was completely losing and dropping a piece, as that’s not my style, I don’t make insulting draw offers, or at least haven’t made one yet, in that sense. In any case, Sam was rather happy and pleased with what we got done in the time we had, as was I of course. So, for us at least, it was another fun night of playing chess.
[Event “Strong Swiss”]
[Site “Club Chess!!”]
[White “Sam Bridle”]
[Black “Brian Rountree”]
[TimeControl “G/90, Inc 30”]
1. b3 e5 2. Bb2 Nc6 3. e3 d6 4. Bb5 Bd7 5. Ne2 Nge7 6. O-O g6 7. f4 Bg7 8. Ng3
O-O 9. Bxc6 bxc6 10. fxe5 Nd5 11. c4 Nb4 12. d4 Qe7 13. a3 Na6 14. Nc3 dxe5 15.
Qd3 f5 16. Rae1 e4 17. Qd2 Be6 18. Na4 Rab8 19. Qa5 Bc8 1/2-1/2