Easter torment part 1
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Easter torment part 1

Mar 31, 2018, 3:36 AM |

Yesterday was Good Friday, but it was not so good for me. The Easter tournament began with the initial three rounds. Round 1 and 2 were rapid games, and I got two easter eggs. Round 3 was a classical game (time control 90|30 + 30), featured below. My opponent was rated 1769, which is a tough matchup, but not impossible. On move 12, he sacrificed a bishop on h7, and a few moves later, he sacrificed a knight as well. 

I did not consider the bishop sacrifice until after I had made my 11th move. Once I started looking for checks and captures, I immediately saw the sacrifice and the follow up. It looks a bit scary, but I wasn't sure it was sound.

Is the sacrifice sound?


I was two pieces up, but under heavy pressure. One false step could lead to mate. In fact in the position below, it is tempting to take the unprotected bishop. But is that playable?

16...Rxf4 - Is it safe?
My opponent was clearly frustrated that his attack wasn't as easy as he had expected.  On move 18, he spent about 25 minutes before playing Qh7+, and after my response (which is forced), he spent another 10 minutes! He spent a lot of time calculating and considering whether to continue the game or force a draw with perpetual checks. After repeating the position a few times, he decided to castle and play on. Then he played another check, which turned out to be inaccurate. I saw the correct move, but did not believe in it. 

Feel free to give the position below a try (without looking at the solution).

Black to play and 'win'

I was considering Ng6, but I thought that after Rh3-f3, the check would drive the king away from f7, and the knight would drop. I failed to see that e5 would allow the queen to protect the knight laterally. I need to improve my board vision! This being said, it is not easy to see black's advantage in the resulting position, and at my level, it is not so easy to play. But I should have at least seen the possibility.

After 24. Rh6 I thought that the position was good for me, and that I would have time to get my remaining pieces into play and use my extra material to play for a win. I failed to recognize the strength of the g-pawn. An improvement on the game is to play 31...a6 and then Ra7. But the computer claims that white is still winning. However, my opponent was low on time, so it might given him sufficient opportunities to go wrong in a relatively complicated endgame. A draw would not be impossible under the circumstances.

My learning points from the game:

  • Always look for checks, captures and threats!
  • Look at the entire board, and all pieces before rejecting (or selecting) a candidate move.
  • If you want to make a move, look for all possible ways to make it work.

Do you see anything in the game that you think I could develop? Please post a comment below.