Nov 12 2013 Game
This game was the start of a new tournament against Eugene. I had played Eugene only once before and won (barely) when he was rated 1152 about 1 year ago. Now Eugene is an 1878 player.
I had the white pieces. Here is my annotation with a little help from Eugene post-game.
1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Normally at this point I would go with a Scotch Gambit; however, I know from skittles games that Eugene knows it better than I do. In addition, a friend advised I try something newer and more solid as an answer to e4 e5. Though I don't know the opening that well, I decided to give it a shot.
4. c3 Nf6
5. d3 O-O According to my book on the opening, this is not covered. I think this move is fine. I just need to continue with my opening development.
6. Bb3 Bishop retreat to avoid Na5 nonsense, exchanging my B.
7. a4 I need to stop b5 in its tracks was the thought. But in retrospect, do I? responding with a3 once b5 hits may be adequate.
7... h6 The purpose of the move is to stop my dark bishop from getting onto a good square. If I had thought about moving it earlier, it might have been best to move it to Bg5 after 5...0-0.
8. Nbd2 d5 He breaks, and I debate leaving it be and developing on, or taking. In retrospect, leaving it be was probably the correct course of action. The outpost I gain on e4 is tenuous and fragile.
9. exd5 Nxd5
10. Ne4 Bb6
11. Qe2 As discussed with Eugene, this move appears to just lose time. The idea was to be able to hit e5 with a discovery when moving the N on e4. However, this is too easily blunted. It wastes a move, and loses the connection with the B on b3. Around here, Eugene suggested Bxh6. But going through it, it seemed a bit crazy as I saw no immediate way to get back my piece. I may have to review this in more depth later.
11... Be6 The error of the previous move is revealed. Eugene's idea is Nf4, attacking the Q and discovering the loose B at the same time.
12. Ba2 Much better was Bc2, simply getting out of the way of the tactics, and protecting the d3 pawn from double attack. Without Bc2, the position ends up lost down the road.
13. Ng3 This is the discovered-attack on the e5 pawn. However, it is too slow and obvious. I think either Bxe5 or 0-0 might have been the right way to go first.
13... Rfe8 This is a beautiful setup for what is to come.
14. h3 I waste another critical tempo, blunting the Bg4 move, but that isn't the real danger. Again, Bxd5 or 0-0 was the correct move.
14... Nf4 At this point, I realize in this position I will be losing a piece no matter what happens. I continue with the sharpest variation and hope.
15. Nxe5 Nxe5
16. Bxf4 Nxd3+
17. Kf1 Nxf4 And having lost the piece, I have only a hail-mary draw to hope for.