Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Game of the Week

Since the $5 Open, one of the players in that tournament, Relton Sharp, has been a regular visitor to our open game nights. This week, just after I knocked Bill Koester off the top of the ladder, Relton did the same to me in this game, which was quite balanced for the first 28 moves.

Route 20 Chess Club
Freeport, Illinois, March 16, 2010

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 e6!? 4.e3 Bd6?
Relton is waiting an awfully long time to play ...Nf6.

5.Nc3 Nd7 6.Be2
In a Semi-Slav setup like this, my bishop belongs on d3.

6...Ngf6 7.0-0 dxc4 8.Bxc4 0-0 9.Re1 Qc7 10.e4 e5 11.d5 cxd5 12.Bxd5 Nb6??

Why is 12...Nb6 a mistake? (Highlight to reveal answer.)

13.Nb5! Qc5 14.Nxd6 Nbdx5 15.Nxc8+− wins a bishop.

I miss the killer move, settling for a merely balanced position.

13...Nfxd5 14.exd5 a6 15.Rc1
I'm beginning to gain an edge.

15...Bg4 16.Qd3
Breaking the pin while still defending the knight -- but white can win a pawn with 16.Na4 Nc4 17.b3 h6 18.Rxc4 Bxf3 19.gxf3 Qb8 20.Bxh6 gxh6. (I almost wrote, "I could have won a pawn with . . . ," but that would have been absurd -- I never would have thought of that sequence.)

16...Bxf3 17.Qxf3 Qd7 18.Re4
I'm letting my edge slip away.

18...f5 19.Rh4 Qf7

That isolated pawn is the center of attention -- at least, Relton's attention. I, on the other hand, am preoccupied with building up a kingside attack, so I miss the cheeky potential of 20.Be3!?.

20.Qh5 Qxh5 21.Rxh5 f4
Not sure what Relton is thinking here -- trying to trap my bishop, maybe? 21...Rac8 is timely.

22.Ne4 Bb8?
Instead of seizing the c-file with 22...Rfc8! 23.Rd1 Bf8.

23.Be7 Rf7??
Still not taking the c-file!

A muffed opportunity: 24.d6 backs up the bishop while cutting off protection of the e5-pawn, letting me pick it up for free and giving me a decisive advantage. Instead, I'm letting the game swing in Relton's favor. I remember thinking this move was OK because material would still be even, and I'd get a couple of tempo moves out of it. Yeah, not right.

24...Bxd6 25.Nxd6 Re7 26.Nf5 Rd7 27.d6 g6 28.Rg5 Kf7

The game-losing blunder. At the very least, I should have evacuated my knight with 29.Nh6+ Kg7 30.Ng4. Relton would still have had an advantage, but it wouldn't have been as decisive.

29...gxf5 30.Rxf5+ Ke6 31.Rh5 Rh8
Black can force a favorable rook trade with 31...Rc8 (32.Rxb7?? Rc1#).

32.Rh6+ Kd5 33.b3 e4 34.a4 Rxd6 35.Rxb7
One last screw-up, for the sake of thoroughness. 35.Rxd6+ Kxd6 36.Rxb7 was necessary for me to have any hope of survival.

35...Rxh6 36.a5 Nc8 37.Rb8 Re8 38.Kf1 Rxh2 39.Ra8 f3 40.gxf3 exf3 41.Kg1 Rg2+ 0-1
I can wriggle around a while longer with 42.Kf1 Nd6 43.Rxe8 Nxe8, but why bother?


John said...

5.Nc3 there is apawn there (2.c3 should be 2.c4).

Anonymous said...

Yep, you're correct. Thanks for the catch.

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