I Finally Begin To Get The Reti

Feb 20, 2010, 3:50 PM |
Nothing terribly interesting happens for the first 10 moves. Basically, I managed not to get myself into any trouble in the opening. On move 11, Black threatens to trade Bishops. I don't know why the computer program I use likes this, but it does this almost every time I play this particular opening. I just ignore it.
We trade Bishops and then, on move 13, Black brings in the Queen, another thing it likes to do. I spent a lot of time thining about what I wanted to do next. At first, I thought I could capture the Queen by take the Knight that was protecting her, but no matter how many ways I worked that angle, I never came out ahead. I didn't want to just trade pieces, either, so I decided to avoid that and played my d-file Knight to f6 to block the Queen.
I was planning to take the Black Knight protecting the Queen at some point, but just when I was about ready, apparently the computer decided it didn't like the looks of that and, on move 15, moved the f-file Knight. So I went back to one of my favorite tactics and cannonaded my Bishop with my Queen, planning to open the g-file and expose the Black King to an attack from my Queen. I don't really know why it is my favorite, because it doesn't work very often. But I like the idea of it ... it seems sound in theory.
Black positioned it's Knights to place a lot of pressure on the middle. I was worried in particular about f4, which would turn out to be a valid concern. However, I couldn't really think of anything to do about it that wouldn't take the pressure of Black, and, if I've learned anything about playing this program, it's that you can't give it much opportunity for tactical attacks. Maybe as I get better, I will worry less about this and be more patient.
Anyway, I make my Bishop sacrifice and Black bites. I was planning to play Ng4 next, threatening Qxh7 and checkmate, but Black apparently saw that coming and moved the Rook out of the King's way. This was reassuring to me - if Black was anticipating my moves, that probably meant they were reasonably sound. I played Ng4 anyway, but I wasn't feeling real good about it. By giving the King an escape route, my attack suddenly looked feeble, and this is alway the problem with being impatient. There really wasn't a second act.
But then a funny thing happened. Black started making moves that looked a bit desperate, even going so far as to seal the King back up with Ne7 on move 20. I was about ready to play Qxh7, but I paused because it just seemed a little too easy. That's when, after some reflection, I realized how well Black's damn Knights were placed. No matter how hard I tried to think up a way to force checkmate from there, Black always had a way to muck it up.
So intead I just decided to be patient for once, by developing f-file pawn. I couldn't actually move it directly to f4 because my Rook wasn't protected, so I moved it to f3, figuring, what the hell, at least I can chase the Queen away. And this is where I got the first major surprise of the game. Black chose to take my g-file Knight, the one that was the linchpin to my whole attack! I couldn't believe my eyes at first, but the more I thought about it (and I studied this position for quite awhile as well), the more sense it made.
First, once I'd taken the Queen, I'd basically traded a Knight and a Bishop (my dark-squared Bishop, no less) for the Black Queen and a pawn. That in itself isn't too bad of a deal for Black already. Also, there was no way for Black to remove the Queen from the action without make it possible for me to actually finish off my little plan for checkmate. And, finally, that particular Knight, as I said, was the key to the whole plan. So by taking the Knight, Black was saying, "Enough is enough! I've got decent compensation and defused your attack."
I'm not sure why I rushed the next move (23. Nxg6). There was no need for me to take the Black Knight, since it was pinned, and Black had no real attack going. I could have simply developed my f-file pawn, finally, after a bit of trading, playing f6, and capturing Black's Knight. But I was I guess a bit excited by my success taking the Black Queen, and so I traded Knights instead.
Immediately my impatience was penalized with 24. ... Nf7. Ugh. Now I had to retreat, and I hate retreating. (I thought for awhile about keeping the Queen at the forefront of the attack, but I couldn't work it out.) Black then played it's Rook to e3, which was a strange move. I guess it was expecting me to play Rxf5, but instead I simply played exf5, threatening to take the might Rook. Black obligingly moved it out of the action. I kept pushing the pawn, sort of instinctively, figuring that a deep, well-defended pawn, especially one near the enemy's King, is always a plus, but I didn't really have a plan at this point.
Curiously, Black's King retreated into the corner, again validating my instinct. But now I had to figure out what it thought I was going to do. I realized after 29. ... Rg8 what it was thinking. After move 30, I was reasonably happy with the position. Black's Bishop might as well not even have been in the game. Black's Knight was pinned, and the King was hiding in the corner. Now I had to just make sure I didn't fuck up the end-game. I was still hoping for a relatively quick checkmate, rather than some drawn out thing. I got greedy and played Qe7, thinking I'd either capture the Knight or the Rook (which would be checkmate, so I figured I'd get the Knight, I guess). I'd completely forgotten that the King was still quite able to move, and there went my dreams of a quick ending.