| 16 | Middlegame

In my last two articles, I showed two of my games from the Quebec Invitational in Montreal. With this article, I hope to wrap up the tournament with my last round game as black against GM Mark Bluvshtein.

Going into the game, Mark was in clear first with a massive score of 7.0/8. GM Anton Kovalyov was in clear second place with 6.5/8. Neither player had lost a game. I was in clear third place with 5.5/8, having lost one game to GM Bator Sambuev earlier in the round-robin event.

This game was interesting for a number of reasons. In the early middlegame, the game centered around whether or not Black could ever free his light-squared bishop on b7 with ..a6/...c5 or ...b4/...c5 pawn advances. However, the real fireworks began when Black, from a seemingly passive position, quickly mobilized all his forces and overran White's position. After the game, Mark was shocked at how quickly things had devolved for him, while FM Lefong Hua, having seen the position after about 20 moves, said "What???" when he found out that I won the game. So without further ado, I bring to you Bluvshtein-Bhat, Montreal 2009.


Question 1: What would you play as Black here, after 14.Nd4?


Question 2: What would you play as Black here, after 18.b4?


Question 3: What would you play as Black here, after 22.Bg5?


Question 4: What would you play as Black here, after 31.Kh1?


And here's the entire game in one viewer:

There are no hard and fast rules for when you should take your foot off the gas. Mark was a victim of not sensing the danger - by the time he realized what was going on, it was already too late. Often one sign that you shouldn't be pushing too hard is when your gut feeling is that you are better, but after a long think, you cannot find a single line with an advantage. In that case, it's often time to reassess the position and go from there. Had Mark reassessed the position after his nearly 20-minute think after 24.Nd4 Re8, he might have decided that he was not really any better and acquiesced to a 3-time repetition with 25.Nf5.

As a supplement, I'll show another game of mine (quite old!) where Black's forces were unleashed in a similar manner.

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