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Rejoining the fight

Mar 24, 2016, 6:46 PM 2

So, many years ago, I took chess very seriously and rose to achieve the exalted title of National Master. This was extremely beneficial as it gave my future online blitz and bullet opponents an easy comment to make after yet another horrific blunder filled game - "Where did you get your NM title? Crackerjack box?" was a personal favorite. 

However, as time went on, careers began, family was started, and chess fell by the wayside. Recently, I started playing some tourneys again and got a slight bite of the chess bug, so in this blog, I'll be posting the games I have played in my comeback, one game per post. Expect approximately zero variations to ever be posted, and lot of talk about how I felt during the game and what I took away in terms of learning.

[Event "PokerStars Masters"]

[Round "1"]

[White "Pert (IM), R."]

[Black "the big dumdum"]

[Result "1-0"]

[ECO "C04"]

[WhiteElo "2450"]

[BlackElo "2096"]

Well! If you're going to come back with little or no preparation, and coated in rust, you might as well play a player vastly superior in rating, experience, knowledge, and form to yourself. 

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nc6

This is kind of a dubious line, but I liked it for this game for a specific reason; the Tarrasch is kind of a boa constrictor type opening, where white slowly masses his pieces and surrounds the kingside, while maintaining a space advantage. I had little doubt he was well versed in this technique, and 3...Nc6 does aim to force immediate conflict. I was well aware that this immediate conflict was probably going to be not in my favor, but I have always held the belief that when playing a stronger player, it is best to mix it up as much as possible; in a technical battle, you have little chance.

4. Ngf3 Nf6 5. e5 Nd7 6. Bd3 f6 7. exf6 Qxf6 8. Nf1 Bd6 9. Ne3 O-O 10. O-O

 This is kind of a difficult spot for black; his entire piece configuration is based around enforcing a quick ...e5, but this has been blocked by the pressure on d5. For example, if I could magically switch my knight on c6 and pawn on c7, black could snap in e5 here and probably be standing quite well. However, with that not an option, some piece reconfiguration is necessary, the main goal being to find some useful employment for the N/c6.

10...Nb4 11. Ng4 Qe7 12. Be2 c5 13. c3 Nc6 14. Re1


So, remember I said something about a boa constrictor, pieces massing on the kingside, black having no counterplay, etc? Yeah, that happened. Black is really struggling to find useful squares for pieces now. ...e5 still can't be played without losing the d5 pawn after some exchanges, which means the knights are stuck, the light squared bishop is stuck, the queen is kind of defensive...but I have an open f-file? Generally when cramped, you should try to trade pieces, so off I went.. 

14...Bf4 15. h3 Qd6 16. Bb5 cxd4 17. cxd4 Nf6 18. Nge5 Ne4 19. Bxf4 Rxf4 20. Bxc6 bxc6

 So, black has not managed to get in ...e5, and in fact has seen his e5 square occupied. It's actually almost a reversed sveshnikov sicilian; instead of playing Bxf6 and occupying d5, he's played Bxc6 and occupied e5. Unfortunately, it's also very effective. The rest is kind of a sad embarassment as both of our pieces continually move in the same direction - towards my first rank.

21. Qc1 Qf8 22. Qxc6 Rb8 23. Rac1 Nd6 24. b3 Rb6 25. Qc5 Ra6 26. a4 Bb7 27. Qc7 Ba8 28. Qd7 Rf6 29. Re3 Rb6 30. Qxa7 Rb7 31. Qa5 Nf7 32. Rec3 1-0

So, what do you take from such a game? Well, I didn't know the opening well enough to counter a relatively standard plan. Learning 1:  6...Nb4 is the main line and should be played next time.

Learning 2: you cannot wait for ...e5 in this line; if you're going to play a dubious opening, problems like an isolated d-pawn can't bother you. Once Ne3 happens on move 9, black never gets another chance to open things up.

Learning 3: His maneuver of Bb5-Bxc6-Ne5 was really strong. I have a tendency never to consider trading such a light squared bishop. It's an important theme to remember for future.

So, this game isn't a great start to my chess comeback or this blog. However, there are both high and low moments coming in the future..stay tuned.

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