Rejoining the fight - game 4

NM dsanchez1973
Mar 30, 2016, 3:11 PM |

This is a blog about a former NM who basically retired from serious chess for about 15 years to pursue family and career, trying to make a mini comeback without studying too much or working too hard. Each blog will see me annotate a game from my tournament play, with a general smattering of my thoughts during the game, and what I hopefully learned from it.

So, onto the next round of this tourney. If you've done any research you can probably figure out who I am, and you'll notice that despite this being my fourth game, it's actually round six; due to work, I've had to take a couple of byes, so my head may be somewhat less in it. Nonetheless, I face off against an opponent I lost to many years ago and I have no idea what to expect in the opening.

[Event "PokerStars Masters"]

[White "Sipos, S."]

[Black "the big dumdum"]

[Result "1/2-1/2"]

[ECO "C01"]

[WhiteElo "2003"]

[BlackElo "2096"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Bd3 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Ne2 cxd4 6. cxd4 dxe4 7. Bxe4 Nf6 8.Bd3 g6 9. O-O Bg7 10. Nbc3 O-O 11. Bb5

After what could charitably called a less than critical attempt against the french, white has been left with an isolated pawn. While I'm familiar with the general principles of the position, it's not the kind of thing I handle best. White will have an initiative, black will try to blockade the pawn and trade pieces. To that end, I am going to try to put a knight on d5, supported by another knight. This will control important squares and force exchanges, while the fianchetto'd bishop will look greedily at d4. So far, so good.

11...Ne7 12. Bg5 a6 13. Bd3 Bd7 14. Qd2 Bc6 15. Rad1 Ned5 16. a3 Qc7 17. h3 Rac8 18. Rfe1 b5

In all honesty, I figured I'd gotten a dream position. The d4 pawn is completely blockaded, Rfd8 is coming, and black will have basically the ideal setup. How it all went wrong from here is a pretty sad indictment on my play.

19. Bh6 Qb7 20. Bxg7 Kxg7 21.Nxd5 Bxd5 22. Nf4 Bc6 23. Re5 Rfd8 24. Rde1

So now, white abandons the d4 pawn, with hopes of an attack. I did see the upcoming move, but dismissed it as flim flammery that was not going to go anywhere. This was a really poor decision on my part as this is a key moment in the game. I have tons of time and could certainly invest some doing a deep look (or at the bare minimum a shallow look!) at the position to see if really is dangerous. Instead, I just snapped off the pawn without a care in the world.

24...Rxd4 25. Nh5+ Nxh5 26. Rxh5 gxh5 27. Qg5+ Kf8

Only now to my horror did I notice 28.Qc5+, winning back his rook and leaving my king in tatters. Maybe its lost, maybe it's not, but certainly my dream conversion of his isolated pawn has turned to dust. Instead, my opponent shocked me with an outright blunder

28. Qf6

So, white is threatening..nothing? I mean, yeah, he's got Rxe6, but so what? I'm going to be a rook and a piece up. Once again, instead of doing any kind of look into the position (in part due to relief that he hadn't played Qc5+), I once again snapped away at material foolishly, when a simple move like Qd7 guards everything and leaves me a clean rook up and him with a resignable position.

28...Rxd3 29. Rxe6

 Ok whoop dee doo, he's played Rxe6, so what. Hmm, slight threat of Qh8mate. Hmm, rather serious threat of Qh8mate. OMG how do I stop Qh8mate?! I can check him around a bit, but he can always escape. Finally after some thought I found the only way out.

29...Kg8 30. Qg5+ 1/2-1/2

Game 3 in this blog was a tough one to take, but I was playing a strong opponent and misplayed the opening and he didn't let me recover. This game was an entirely different animal; playing an opponent I expected to have decent chances to win against, getting a great position, and then just blundering repeatedly really took the wind out of my sails. Nonetheless, I did (when I could stomach looking at it) take away a few things...

Learning 1: the isolated queen pawn setup is pretty good if you get arranged properly. I had no issues and I don't need to devote any immediate time learning how to deal with it.

Learning 2: When you are in a concrete position, take your time and calculate. No one is giving you free points, and when you are going to be attacked, you need to calculate and not just take a superficial assessment of "I don't believe it". 

Learning 3: When you catch an amazing stroke of luck and your opponent seemingly blunders, take a good pause and make sure you're not missing anything. Any time material is changing significantly (for better or worse), you need to be really sure of what's going on. 

Coming soon - another attempt to prove that I can fight off an attack without really calculating.