Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Interesting Game in QGD

The 2009-10 4NCL season finished over the weekend. After 7 rounds all teams in the 1st division get re-shuffled into the "championship" pool and the "demotion" pool based on their performance up till then. My team did exactly the same as last year - we ended up in the "demotion" half but we won the "demotion" half again and stayed in the 1st division for the next season. Here I am in the final game of the weekend which I won. I was the last to finish in the match and my game decided our top position in the "demotion" half. The photo is courtesy of Steve Connor from the Atticus Chess Club.

I felt pretty ill at the start of the weekend but still got 2 out of 3. My performance throughout the season was 2202 earning me 31 rating points. I've also found out that this performance qualifies me for the British Championship in the summer so I'm quite happy about this achievement! I've never qualified before (at least I'm not aware if I did as rules seem to change from year to year). However, at the moment I don't plan to play in the British Championship as I will be back to work and would prefer to spend my holiday allowance on something that is not as long. Normally, British Championship results are considered by the England team selectors for either European Team Championship or the Olympiad later in that year. However, this isn't the case this year because the Olympiad is quite early in the Autumn, meaning that the England team selection has to happen before the British Championship. So this year there don't seem to be any special benefits for me playing in the British Championship as compared to any Open tournament.

As promised, here is my analysis of an interesting game I played in the Thailand Open. It was the 8th round and also my last game of the tournament since my 9th round opponent didn't turn up. You can replay the game via an applet below, but here is the game with my commentary.

Maria Yurenok (1953) - Jan E. Frantsen Montgomery (2158)
19 April 2010, Thailand Open

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bg5 Nbd7 6. e3 c6 7. Bd3 Bd6 - this is Queen's Gambit Declined Exchange Variation (D35) but 7...Be7 is a lot more common set-up.

8. Qc2 Nf8 9. Nf3 Ng6 10. h3 - maybe a bit timid from me. There is not a lot of theory on this particular variation, but looking through my Mega Database white's more common 10th moves include Nh4, 0-0-0 and h4.

10...O-O 11. O-O h6 - I thought for a long time here as I didn't fancy any of white's moves that much, so eventually I went for what I thought was the best option even if it meant giving up a piece

12. Bxh6! - I believe the resulting position is harder to play for black. My other alternative would have been 12. Bxf6 Qxf6 13. e4 dxe4 14. Nxe4 Qd8 15. Nxd6 Qxd6 =

12. Bxh6 gxh6 13. Bxg6 fxg6 14. Qxg6+ Kh8 15. Ne5! - exclamation mark because I had to see this Ne5 idea before 12.Bxh6, otherwise white is just worse. However, 15. Qxh6 first, followed by 16. Ne5 would have been more accurate as it doesn't allow 15...Qc7 and pushes the knight to an inferior square. E.g. 15. Qxh6+  Nh7 16. Ne5 Qf6 (16... Rf6 17. Qh5 Be6 18. f4 Qe7 19. g4 [19. Ng6+? Rxg6 20. Qxg6 Bxh3 -/+] Rg8 20. Kh2 - unclear) 17. Qxf6+ Rxf6 18. f4 +/=

15... Bxe5?! - it was better to play 15... Qc7 16. Qxh6+ Kg8 17. f4 Qg7 18. Qxg7+ Kxg7 19. g4 - unclear

16. Qxh6+ Nh7 17. dxe5 Qg5? - black should have kept the queens as otherwise my pawns are too strong. With the queens still on black's counterplay is around forcing white to play f4 and attacking b2 and e3 pawns with Qb6 which results in a very unclear position, e.g. 17... Qc7 18. f4 Qb6 19. Rae1 (19. Nd1 feels a bit passive though possible) Qxb2 20. Ne2 Rg8 (20...Qxa2 21. g4 - unclear) 21. g4 Bxg4 22. hxg4 Rxg4+ 23. Kf2 Rag8 24. Rh1 Rg2+ 25. Kf1 Qc2 - unclear

18. Qxg5 +/= Nxg5 19. f4 Ne4? - it's not a good idea for black to exchange knights because it cuts out any counterplay based on d4 push and instead black's e4 pawn would end up on the same colour as his bishop. Better move was 19... Nf7 20. g4 +/=

20. g4 - I failed to realise that the immediate knights exchange with 20. Nxe4 was a better move for me, e.g. 20...dxe4 21. g4 +/-

20...Nd2 21. Rf2 Nc4 22. Re1 Nxe3 - it was a bit better for black to keep the knight with 22... Re8  23. b3 Nb6 24. Rd1 +/-

23. Rxe3 d4 24. Rd3 dxc3 25. bxc3 +/- since exchanging the queens, black spent five moves with his knight instead of improving position of his pieces while I put most of my pieces into active positions.

25...Be6 26. f5 Bd5 27. e6 - it was more accurate for me to improve the position of the last piece - the king - as black has no counterplay, e.g. 27. Kh2 Rae8 28. Re3 b5 29. Kg3 a5 30. Kf4 +-

27...Rae8 28. Rd4 b5 29. g5 a5 30. h4 a4?! - at this point the best practical chance for black to make a draw would have been 30... Bxa2 31. Rxa2 Rxf5 32. Rxa5 Rxe6 33. Ra7 Re8 34. Kg2 +-

31. a3 Bxe6?! - black's cracked and given back the piece but it's hard to suggest much else as otherwise white's pawns go forward anyway. Here is an example variation: 31... Re7 32. h5 Kg8 33. h6 Ree8 34. Rff4 Kh7 35. Kf2 Rg8 36. Rg4 Ref8 37. Rdf4 Rxf5 (otherwise white's king comes forward decisively) 38. Rxf5 Bxe6 39. Rgf4 Bxf5 40. Rxf5 Kg6 41. Rc5 +-

32. fxe6 Rxf2 33. Kxf2 Rxe6 34. Kf3 Re1 35. Kf4 Rc1 36. Kf5 Kg7 37. h5? - a moment of madness from me as I started seeing ghosts. Of course, 37. Rd7 was winning straight away which for some bizarre reason I discarded. E.g. 37. Rd7+ Kf8 38. h5 Ke8 39. Rb7 and white's pawns can't be stopped. My move would have made winning a lot more difficult for me if black replied correctly. But it must have been my lucky day (you need luck sometimes even in chess!) as my opponent replied with his own mistake:

37... Rxc3? - instead black should have played 37... Rf1+ posing some technical problems for me as I was approaching time-trouble e.g. 38. Kg4 (38. Rf4? only leads to a draw after 38...Rxf4+ 39. Kxf4 c5 =) 38... Rg1+ 39. Kf4 Rf1+ 40. Ke3 Re1+ 41. Kf2 Rh1 42. Rd7+ Kh8 43. Rd8+ Kg7 44. h6+ Kg6 45. Rg8+ Kh7 46. Rg7+ Kh8 47. Re7 c5 48. Kg3 b4 49. cxb4 cxb4 50. axb4 a3 51. Ra7 Ra1 52. Kg2 threatening 53. g6 +-

38. h6+ Kf8 39. h7 Rh3 40. Kf6 Rf3+ 41. Kg6 Rh3 42. Rd8+ Ke7 43. h8=Q Rxh8 44. Rxh8 1:0 
It may not have been the perfect game but it was a bit entertaining and even GM Nigel Short liked watching it!