Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Best Game, Same

One of my worst problems I have as a chess player is losing a won game. Whatever I do, it just comes back and psychologically destroys my tournament. This game just shows what I mean. The advantage I got in the first 10 moves is +2 and by about 20 moves becomes +5, a rook. It`s the same advantage I got 2 years ago against a 1800-2000 rated player when I was still rated about 1600. I horribly lost that game after moving too fast and letting my opponent promote a queen when I could have just sac my rook and promote three knights for the finish. I was against Rakov Pavel. He played the Sicilian and responded with Nc6 letting me play my Bb5. he played the same line Calugar used against me in the nationals but deviated in the critical position which actually gave me my +2. It was far better to have just taken the pawn. The line I`m talking about is the sharp Qa4!? of the Rossilimo. Game with annotations are below:

2009 CYCC U14 (BC)
White: Jan Edmund Lazo Round 5 July 23, 2009
Black: Rakov Pavel Board 5 90 mins. + 30 secs.
Opening: B31 Sicilian Defense, Rossilimo Variation with 3. g6 and Qa4!? (!)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. c3 Bg7 5. 0-0 Nf6 6. Qa4!? (!)

This recently made sharp line is quite dangerous answering Black's Dragon set-up with aggressive set-up of his own. White defends his e4 pawn, supporting d4, attacks the Nc6 knight and therefore prevents Black from playing the freeing move d5 without losing a pawn (Bxc6 bxc6 Qxc6), and giving the f1 rook the d1 square to be used if needed. The alternative Qe2 does most of what Qa4 does but allows Black more freedom to break the centre. The main line move Re1 is also good but gives freedom for Black. More reasoning for choosing Qa4 is will be shown in the next few moves.

6. ... 0-0 7. d4! cxd4
If Qe2 was played instead, then Black would have answered d4 with d5! and therefore has equalized or almost equalized. So, 7. d4 d5! 8. e5 (exd5 Qxd5 9. c4? Nxd4 10. Nxd4 Qxd4
11. Nc3 (Rd1 Qe5) Be6 and Black has more active and better pieces, mobility, etc.) Ne4
9. Nbd2 cxd4 10. cxd4 Qb6 or Bg4 is not only good for Black but perhaps also much more comfortable to play than White. If Qa4 was played, then ... cxd4 8. cxd4 d5 9. e5 Ne4 and White has the choice to get a pawn for Black's counterplay with 10. Bxc6 bxc6 11. Qxc6 or play more quietly with 10. Nbd2.

8. cxd4
Finally, the critical position arises. The choices are:
A. d5 - answering with a countergambit
- allowing White to get a pawn
- gets initiative, open lines, more comfortable position, more active pieces, etc.
B. Nxe4 - accepting the gambited pawn
- gives the initiative to White due to undeveloped (sleeping) pieces
- precise play is required for both sides because one move can effectively decide the

Anything else will
1.)allow to play the full strength of his center pawns with e5 and/or d5 further restricting the opponent's pieces (ex. Qb6)
2.) weaken control of key squares especially the dark squares (ex. e6)
3.) lose a pawn for insufficient compensation (ex. d6).

My verdict on this is not yet final but just based on my two games and some analysis. In my first Qa4 game, I played against Arthur Calugar in the 2009 nationals. He responded with e6?! and got in an uncomfortable position which got worse little by little. Unfortunately, the pressure, desire to beat him in the middlegame instead of simplifying into a won endgame backfired and I lost but not because of the opening. Further analysis showed that he could have improved but the disadvantage of e6 still remains which are the hole on d6 and the trapped light-squared bishop.

Anyway this how the he responded:

8. ... Qb6?
This move not only allows full central control with pawns and pieces but also gives me more development. It also wastes more time for black. I'm sure if he can ever faces this position, he will not play this move again. Not only because Fritz 11 give me about +2 here but the unknown position that arosed led to agony but not like hell...well, maybe. It's better to ask. It was far better to play Nxe4 or d5 or something else to at least getting something (initiative with comfortabilty or a pawn with not much suffering to defend and find ways to wake up his pieces).
This is a common move in this variation but not in this time because of...

9. d5!
Boldly pushing the center pawn causing the knights and queen to retreat back to the their base. If 10. e5 was played first, then Black steps in with Nd5 and latter break with d6 since the c6 knight is well defended. So, 9. e5 Nd5 10. Nc3 (how else to challenge the piece) Nc7! and Black has gotten the upperhand with d5! if the bishop retreats and Be6/g4 if Bxc6 dxc6 or Ba6 if Bxc6 bxc6. If instead 9. Nc3, then a6 forces the bishop to move and only then is d6 played but if it takes the knight, then both replies bxc6 and dxc6 are reasonable although I would prefer dxc6 because every move flows (Bg4, Nd7, e5, etc.). This is similar to the Bxc6 line and seems to be an improved version. So, to summarize this, if I don't play d5, I lose my advantage because Black equalizes and maybe even get the better position.

9. ... Nd8 (forced) 10. Be3! Qc7 11. Nc3
This and Rc1 are reasonable but I prefer this so black can't play a6 and b5 since it loses the exchange (a6? Bd3 b5 Bxb5 axb5 Qxa8 +-) unlike Rc1 Qb8 which gives the possibilty of Black to free its pieces from prison with a6 and b5. As said before, Fritz gives this position +2(last time I saw it, it was about +2.10), the value of two full pawns. The reasoning for Nc3 is that it prepares e5. So, if Black prevents this with d6. then White plays Bxa7.

11. ... Qb8 12. e5! Ne8 13. Bxd7
13. e6 would reduced my advantage to about +1 because of 13 ... fxe6 14. dxe6 Nxe6
15. Bxd7 Nf6 16. Bxc8 Qxc8. This move just gets a pawn and threatens the e7 pawn. It is also possible to play 13. Rfe1 to indirectly defend the e pawn but 13. ... a6 14. Bd3 d6 gets the e pawn attacked and opens up the c8 bishop.

13. ... Bxd7 14. Qxd7 Bxe5 15. Nxe5
A simpler way to play this is to just take the pawn. 17. Qxe7 Bf6 18. Qe4 Qd6 maintains the edge. I honestly didn't see this. Probably, my way of thinking is more on the positional aspects of the position rather than the material. My idea of just taking the bishop is to remove the so-called dragon bishop and exploit the dark square weaknesses in the kingside while maintaining my edge in development and initiative.

15. ... Qxe5 16. Bh6?!
Better was Bc5 threatening Bxe7/Qxe7 and so having an extra isolated central pawn. At first glance, it seems that I won the exchange but actually didn't because of ...

16. ... Nf6!
Attacking the queen and giving his rook some room. To maintain my edge, I have to retreat to a4 so I transfer my queen to h4. Moving the queen to h3 fufills the purpose of allowing the queen to go to h4 but doesn't temporarily halt the movement of Black's queenside pieces
(b5, Nb7, Rac8, etc.). 16. Ng7 Rfe1 just gives me a pawn.

17. Qa4 Re8 18. Bf4?!
Obviously better was the simple 18. Rfe1 threatening the queen and attempting to set traps involving the pin on the e-file. 18. Rfe1 Qf5 19. Ne4! just kills so 18. ... Qh5 is forced. The main line goes 18. Rfe1 Qh5! 19. Ne4!! Ne6 20. dxe6 Qxh6 21. exf7+ Kxf7 22. Qb3+ Kg7 23. Qxb7 with White having the safer king, better pawn structure, and an extra pawn. 18. Bf4 allows the text which gives Black a better position than 18 Rfe1 since Ne4 can be answered with Qxf4.

18. ...Qf5 19. Rfe1 a6?!

Better was just b6 preventing a possible Bc5, giving support to the knight when it comes to c5, and lets black play Nb7 one move faster. My queen was going to h4 anyway so this move looks slow to me.

20. Be5 Rf8 21. Qh4 Ng4
Only way to escape the doubling of pawns and setting up a trap of his own. It also attacks the dark-squared bishop which is vital for White to keep if he wants to maintain his advantage.

22. Bd4 e5?
Blocking the diagonal but opening up letting me come with tempo.
Better was 22. ... g5 23. Qh3 with White having threats of taking the e-pawn or just the knight. This allows the text move and Ne4 threatening to get the exchange. Fritz 11 gives this position at least +4.40. I recall before it was about +4.90 in first few seconds. In other words, the advantage almost equal to a rook.

23. Bc5! Re8 24. f3?
Missing the big picture. White simply wanted to connect the pawns but it turns out that he could have just played 24. Ne4!! threatening the exchange and the knight so from here, Black has to give up the exchange allowing 24. ... h5 25. Nd6! Qd7 26. Nxe8 Qxe8 with a clear advantage. It's either White mixed up the move orders or didn't see it at all. I think I didn't see it.
(too much poker)

24. ... Nf6 25. Ne4 Nxe4 26. fxe4 Qd7 27. Rac1 b5 28. Re3 Nb7 29. Rh3?!
Probably not a good idea because it give Black the h7 square to escape when in trouble and
29. ... h5 30. g4?? is answered with the simple Qxg4+!! Better is 29. Qf6.

29. ... h5 30. Qf6 Nxc5 31. Rxc5 Qg4
Threatening Qd1+ Kf2 Qd4+ and Qxc5

32. Rf3!
Blocking the diagonal with a threat of Qxf7+

32. ... Ra7 33. Qc6
Attack the e8 rook

33. ...Rd8 34. d6
Securing the pawn and successfully maintained the advantage.

34. ... Qe6 35. Rd5 Rc8
Going for exchanges of pieces to lessen the pressure.

The game goes on with the only pieces in board moving around and around trying to improve one position until one breaks and that is when Black got greedy.

36. Qb6 Rc1+ 37. Rf1 Rxf1+ 38. Kxf1 Qf6+ 39. Kg1 Ra8 40. Qb7 Rd8 41. Qe7 Kg7 42. Qc7 Qg5
43. Rd1 Qg4 44. Qc2 h4 45. h3 Qe6 46. Qc7 Rc8 47. Qa7 Qxa2?
Finally, he takes the a-pawn which weakened his control over the d-file and lost communication with his rook. Now, White responds with continuous threats.

48. d7 Rd8 49. Qc7 Qb3
Threatening 50. Qxd8 Qxd1+ Kh2 Qd2!! with an unescapable perptual check unless White decides to leave his passed pawn. But, this is not over yet.

50. Qxe5+
Without this move, it could have been a draw. Now, White next moves should decide the entire game with constant threats.

50. Kg8 51. Qe8+!! Kg7 52. Rf1! Qe3+ 53. Kh1 Qg5
No more checks! Now, FINISH HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

54. Rxf7+ Kh6 55. Rf8??
White makes a fatal error due to time pressure since both sides only had about 5 mins. each.
White missed the simple Qe7!! threatening mate so Qxe7 Rxe7 is forced with a completely won endgame as e5, e6, Re8 are coming with Black not being able to do anything about it or the mocking Rf1!! (exclam because of its unique idea and psychological effect) planning e5, e6 and Qxd8!! White will just place his rook to g1 until Qxd8 Qxd8 Rd1 is possible. Well, all is not over but it could have been.

55. ... Qc1+! 56. Kh2 Qc7+! 57. e5 Rxd7 58. Rh8+ Rh7 59. Qf8+ Qg7 60. Qf4+ g5
61. Rxh7+ Kxh7 62. Qf5+ Qg6 63. Qd7+ Qg7 64. e6 Qf6 65. Qc8+??

Now White lost it all with Black having this perpetual...sigh...all this annotating which took like 10 hours just to remember how I lost it all...sigh...but eventually White didn't want this draw and later lost which is even worse but at least it wasn't a draw. I didn't place in my notebook the rest of the game which shows how I lost because it was just horrible. If I played Kg1 instead, I would have added the moves because it shows that I`m playng for a win.

65. ...Qf8 66. Qc3?? Qd6+! 67. Kh1 Qxe6 0-1

Another horrible lost making this tournament the first and hopefully the worst CYCC tournament because next time, I should take it seriously and only play poker when clear first, not just qualify. One thing I can learn from this is that generally, one should not play chess like poker although my style is slowplaying and sometimes going all in and I did in this game and lost all my money (material). Well, past is past but one thing for sure is I won't quit playing this line if I keep getting positions like this.

Well, thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the game and liked the notes. As for next games, it would be the 2009 Toronto Labour Open games on Sept 5-7. I'm kinda preparing and cleaning up the place I'm currently staying in so I'm kinda busy. Hope that you would come back and check my blog! Thanks and goodnight

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