A short sicilian struggle

Jan 26, 2012, 3:50 PM |

Welcome to my new chess blog. I would like to share some of my thoughts about developing the chess ability from the “adult beginner” point of view and present analysis of some of my games which I consider interesting. I will analyze mainly my games played on chess.com

Today I would like to present one of my recent games. This rather short  game ended 12 Jan 2012. I was playing black.

The game started as the sicilian defence. As a second move my opponent choose quite popular anti-sicilian Bc4. I think a better continuation is Nc3 but in non-grandmaster play it is not so important anyway.  I played my accelerated dragon setup as usual.

6.c3 Now my opponent is trying for too much.

Why ? Well, the purpose of c3 is building a strong center with d4 following but in present position it is too slow. The best response should be immediate d5! quickly gaining space in the center for black, but I choose Nge7 which is also OK. After d4, c:d4,c:d4 I played d5 anyway.

Several next moves were quite natural up to 12.h3 which unnecessarily weakens the dark squares near the white king.  In such position it is better to retreat the bishop to e2 to put the queen to d3 to unpin the knight rather than to challenge the bishop with the h-pawn. 

This is a strategical consideration. But first you have to think tactically. And tactically speaking h3 move is bad because it loses the d4 pawn after  12….B:f3, 13.Q:f3, N:d4. What is worse, the lighsquared bishop is exchanged for the knight which costs white the bishop pair. And now the d5 pawn is a passed pawn which “lusts to expand” as Nimzovich used to say… 15….d4! attacking the knight. The knight retreats to its best square e4. Now the black knight go to f5 from where it keeps an eye for an excellent outpost at g3 which is now available because the h2 pawn moved to h3.The passed pawn on d4 and better position allows black to ignore the “threat” of Q:b2 which as it turns out is bad for white. Now what should white do is (1) block the d4 pawn from marching down the board and (2) develop the bishop. Instead white eats up the “poisoned” b7 pawn…

17. Q:b7  Is it obvious that this position is already lost for white ? The material is even, both sides has three undeveloped pieces, the pawn structure is quite similar. But… there are some problems for white. First, the position of white king is compromised. Dark squares are weak and there is a potential possibility of checking his majesty. Second, the d4 pawn is a passed pawn (cannot be captured by a pawn). Third, the position white knight is only defended by the queen which itself stays on a very unstable ground, deep in the enemy territory. We will see how these problems turn into a disaster for white.

17…d3! The pawn marches forward, freeing the d4 square for a potential check. 17. Bd2 is a good move blocking the pawn and developing this piece. Now the strongest continuation would be Rb8 with R:b2 following. Instead I choose the immediate check with Qd4+ which after a proper reply would leave not-decisive advantage for black.  

This is one of those positions where there exist only one proper continuation and all other lose. The right move is 19. Nf2 after which white can continue the fight. Instead white played Kh2. Now came the natural 19…Rab8 and the queen cannot just take the a7 pawn because it drops the e4 knight. So the queen cannot leave the a8-h1 diagonal.

20. Qc6  But now Rfc8 comes and the queen must leave the diagonal and the knight is lost.

22. Rac1 desperately attacking the rook for the second time. This move is contrary to the guideline: when behind in material try to not exchange pieces. Black welcome exchanges because the less pieces on the board the easier it is to turn the one-piece advantage into victory. So 22….R:c1, 23.R:c1. Now the knight goes to h4 threatening simple mate… White king prevents immediate mate going to g3 but he is going into mating net.

24….Q:g2 leaves the knight en prise but  it doesn’t matter, the position of white king is critical.

Now, after 25.K:h4 I made a mistake not playing 25.Qf2+ (with mate in three: 26.Kg4, h5+, 27. Kg5, Qg3#). Instead I played Q:d2 allowing white some rest.  White could try now some tricks checking on c8 but with proper play it should be anyway win for black.

Instead white saved the rook with 26.Rf1 defending also the pawn of f4.  Queen goes to e3 making room for the pawn. White queen goes to d6 attacking the rook on b8 and pawn on d3. Now probably the best would be just R:b2 but just moved the rook on the same file with the queen, not a particular clever move but in such position when you are winning easily it is not important to make every best move but to not make serious mistakes. So my Re8 move although not very clever does not deserve  large criticism. Now my opponent obviously does not have much good moves to choose from.

He played 28.Rd1 attacking the pawn but unfortunately leaving the f2 square free for my queen.  After 29. Kg5 there is a mate in one: Qg3# which I (I have to admit it) I didn’t see either. Instead I went for a “beautiful” pseudo-sacrifice: 29….Bh6+

Now white has three moves but each of them leads to mate:

1.       30. Kf6, Qh4#

2.       30. K:h6, Qh4#

3.       30. Kg4, f5#

The game was ended with the third possibility. I hope you enjoyed this little game and my analysis.