Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Games of the Week

Plural, since I'm including both the game in which Gary Sargent deposed me from my place on the ladder and the one in which I took it back.

G.Sargent–K. Ammann
Route 20 Chess Club
Freeport, Illinois, Aug. 10, 2010

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 b6!? 4.Nf3 Ba6 5.Be2
Rather than waste a tempo, since I'm obviously aiming to trade bishops, white is best off initiating the trade with 5.Bxa6.

5...Bxe2 6.Qxe2 Ne7 7.Bg5 c5
Thematic to the French, but I can also kick the bishop with 7...h6.

8.0-0 cxd4 9.Nxd4

Uh-oh . . . the timing is off now. Gary is threatening Nb5-d6+. 9...a6 covers the critical square, while 9...Qc8 breaks the pin on the e7-knight, which allows it to get out of the way of the f8-bishop, which then covers d6. Subtle but effective.

Gary flinches. In fact, he can safely ignore my h-pawn: 10.Nb5! hxg5 11.Nd6+ Kd7 12.Nxf7 forks queen and rook, more than adequate compensation for the lost bishop.

10...g5 11.Bg3 Nbc6 12.Qb5
12.Nxb6 Nxb6 13.Rd1 retains the advantage. Now things are evening up.

12...Qd7 13.Nxc6 Nxc6 14.c4
Limiting the mobility of the queen without really defending it. Backing off with 14.Qe2 is safer.

14...Nd4 15.Qxd7+ Kxd7

16.Nc3 is essential, because the a1-rook is trapped, and I'm coming after it.

Not 16...exd5?! 17.Nc3, which lets the rook off the hook.

17.Nc3 Nxa1 18.dxe6+
Rather than recapture right away with 18.Rxa1 Rc8 19.dxe6+ Kxe6 20.Nb5, which is wiser.

18...Kxe6 19.Rxa1 Rd8 20.h3 Bg7 21.Nb5 Bxe5
Slightly better to cover the hanging a-pawn with 21...Rd7.

22.Bxe5 Kxe5 23.Rxe1+ Kd5
With ideas of plodding toward Gary's queenside pawns and doing something untoward to them. But should my king really be wandering around so close to Gary's knight? What about 23...Kf6!? 24.Nxa7 Rd2 25.b4 Rxa2 26.Nc6 ?

24.Nxa7 Kc5
Cute, but not sustainable.



26.Nc6 Ke4 27.Nxd8 Rxd8 28.Rc6 Ra8?
An unclear idea, wrongly executed. I need to march that little b-pawn forward. One against two is still better than zero against two.

After this, I stumble my way through another 30 moves of endgame that boil down to K vs. KPP, with the pawns connected on the f- and g-files. Just pretend I have the sense to resign here. 1-0

Route 20 Chess Club
Freeport, Illinois, Aug. 10, 2010

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 c6 5.Bg5 Nbd7 6.e3 Qa5 7.Qc2 Bb4 8.Bd3
It's all book up to here. Now that Gary's knight is unpinned, I'm worrying about 8...Ne4. Luckily for me, he not only gives me a chance to avert this but practically asks me to.

8...h6 9.Bxf6 Nxf6
Hrm. This sure doesn't feel like a Christmas present. ...Ne4 is still a threat, and after dxc4 Bxc4, removing the guard, I'll have three attackers piling on my knight. Must break pin now.

10.0-0 0-0 11.Ne5

A lucky break for me, but I don't realize it quite yet. I'm wrapped up in the dilemma of whether to recapture with my queen, inviting a trade, or with my b-pawn, declining it. "Don't rush," teases Gary, watching my clock count down. "Take all the time you need to think about it."

12.bxc3 (I choose wisely.) c5 13.f3?!
That knight is still causing me anxiety. The c-pawn isn't.

13...cxd4 14.cxd4 Nd7 15.cxd5 Nxe5 16.dxe5 exd5 17.e4
Now would be a good time to activate a rook -- say, with 17.Rab1.

Passive compared with 17...dxe4 18.Bxe4 Qxe5.

My timing is off -- 18.f4 is necessary to prevent the loss of the pawn in the above variation.


Suddenly I get a tactical idea: With my bishop defending b5, I can take the d-pawn, and if Gary recaptures with the bishop, I can fork bishop and queen with Rb5, while if he recaptures with the queen, I can place my bishop on the long diagonal and skewer his rook. It's a nice idea, but Gary finds the flaw in it, while I miss the simple elegance of 19.Rb5 Qa3 20.exd5.

19.exd5 Qxd5 20.Be4 Qd4+

21.Qf2 Qxe5 22.Bxa8
This oversight rattles Gary, but in reality, my advantage is slight. For one thing, he's just picked up a loose pawn of mine, so I'm one down. Also, back-rank threats still exist, and one of my rooks is stuck in the corner. I mutter something about the difficulty of turning checks into cash.

22...Rxa8 23.Re1 Qc7 24.Re4
A microsecond later, I realize that my outpost square is vulnerable to Gary's light-square bishop.

24...Bd5 25.Re3 Kf8 26.Qd2 Rd8??
A self-pin. I'm happy because I finally have a satisfactory emplacement for Alekhine's gun.

27.Rd3 Qc5+ 28.Kh1 Rd6 29.Rd1
Aim . . .

29...Bxf3 30.Rxd6
. . . fire.

30...Bxd1 31.Qxd1 g6 32.Rd5
Suboptimal, but I'm still smarting from the last endgame, and I'm looking for a path to a winning position that doesn't involve trading queens.

32...Qc4 33.Rd7 Qxa2 34.h3 a5 35.Qd4

And there it is.

35...Qa3 (35...Qb1+ 36.Kh2 Qh1+ 37.Kxh1 Kg8 38.Rd8+ Kh7 39.Qh8#) 36.Qh8# 1-0


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