Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Game of the Week

Gary's tenure at the top of the ladder didn't last long -- I knocked him off it at the beginning of last night's meeting. After which I was challenged by Will, and the rightful order of the cosmos was restored.

Route 20 Chess Club
Freeport, Ill., March 15, 2011

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.e3 b6?! 7.Bd3?! Bb7 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Bxf6 Bxf6 10.Qc2 h6

11.Nb5 Na6 12.a3 c6 13.Nc3 Nc7 14.b4 Ne6
So far, I've been able to preserve my dignity, but now paranoia gets the better of me. For some reason, I'm apprehensive about castling short, afraid that a kingside attack will come flooding in and I'll end up helpless in the face of it. Castling queenside, of course, makes little sense in this position. So I get creative. Wrongly.

Castling kingside maintains equality, and is in fact the best course of action as far as my dignity is concerned.

In fact, this preparatory move is unnecessary -- Will can, if he chooses, play 15...c5 right away.

16.Rab1 Qc7
16...Qe7 is slightly better: it still adds fuel to the fire on c5, but in addition, it maintains the implied threat of rook against queen down the c-file.

This is the move that I suspected of being my big failure; it's actually not as bad as 15.Kd2. But after 16...Qc7, I have some hope of trimming Will's lead with 17.Ke1!? c5 18.Ne2 Qe7.

Fritz prefers 17...Qe7, and yet I have a hard time finding fault with Will's choice. His bad bishop has suddenly become very, very active, and my threat detection system does not recognize the severity of the danger. Can it really be said that Will is significantly better off continuing to batter his way down the c-file instead?

18.Rhc1 Bc4

Again, Fritz prefers 18...Qe7 19.Ne2 c5 20.dxc5. The only drawback I see to 18...bc4 is that it practically commands me to trade the bishop off. Yet, for some incomprehensible reason, I don't. Instead, I get the idea of bringing my c3-knight to c5 (via Ne2-f4-c3) in order to park it in the hole that will be created after an exchange of pawns. I didn't say it was a good idea.

Instead of 19.Bh7!? Kg8 20.Bd3.

19...c5 20.bxc5
20.dxc5 bxc5 Ke1 is better.

20...bxc5 21.Nf4 Nxf4
I thought Will wouldn't capture, because of 22.Bxc8. But as it turns out, taking out a rook doesn't do much to blunt his attack.

22.Bxc8 Nd3
Will doesn't need to get fancy like this; 22...Rxc8 is plenty solid (23.exf4 Qxf4+ 24.Kd1 Qg4).

Evacuating the bishop with 23.Bf5 Nxc1 24.Kxc1 cxd4 25.exd4 Qf4+ 26.Kd1 lets me maintain material parity, though I'm still coming under heavy fire.

23...Rxc8 24.Ne1 Nxe1 25.Rfxe1 cxd4 26.e4??

26...Bg5+! 0-1
I have nowhere to run from the bishop pair. It's over.


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