Saturday, May 15, 2010

Giant Slaying (part 1): Toe to toe with a GIANT

Here's a game I played a couple of weeks ago against a Serbian IM in a thirty board clock-simul on ICC. If I remember correctly he scored 23 wins, 2 loses and 5 draws. It's my best result against a 2200+ rated player to date.

White: IM Zoran Petronijevic (2405 FIDE)

Black: D. Thomas Moniz (1520 USCF)

Internet Chess Club

Simultaneous Exhibition

C01: French Exchange Variation

1.e4 e6 I used to play the French when first started out but shelved it after I found Fischer and the Sicilian. I've recently started playing it again just for variety.

2.d4 d5 3.exd5 The Exchange French. It must be in fashion these days for White because I see it a lot when playing blitz online.

3...exd5 4.c4 I haven't encountered this line a lot. In fact I can't remember the last time I did. White is allowing me to give him an isolated pawn for more piece mobility and freedom, which may lead to attacking chances for him. Offer declined.

4...Nf6 5.Nc3 Be7 OK it's only move five and I'm already in unfamiliar territory. Not an great start but at least I'm just playing chess now and not trying to remember theory. 

6.Bd3 dxc4 This sort of idea is found in the QGD. In some lines Black captures this pawn as soon as the Bishop develops. I'm not sure if it applies in this position but it felt right.

7.Bxc4 c6N According to my database this is a novelty but probably not anything significant. I'm just trying to control the d5 square.

8.Nge2!? Not sure why he developed the Knight here. Perhaps he want to put it on g3? Maybe in case of Bg4 he can break the pin with f3? 

8...O-O 9.O-O Bf5 Not sure if this is the right place for the Bishop but I wanted to develop it before the Knight comes to d7. Maybe it can help with the defense of my king side if need be. 

10.Ng3 Bg6 11.Bf4 The Bishop looks a little strange here I thought. I was having trouble finding a home for my dark-squared Bishop so why not just trade it off was my rational. 

11...Bd6 12.Be5!? Unexpected. Now if I capture White rids himself of his isolated pawn and after f4 I'm not so comfortable. Also, my plans to develop the Queens Knight to d7 is hampered. 

12...Bc7 13.Re1 Nbd7 14.Bb3 

One of those "mysterious" maneuvering moves that Masters do a lot. I'm not sure why he chose to pull back the Bishop at this moment. Perhaps he saw some sort of tactics going on but I don't see anything.   I was kinda liking my position here. I have no discernible weaknesses however I am a little cramped at the moment. I still need to figure out where to put my Queen though.

14...Re8 15.f4 h6 16.Qf3 OK White if very active now and I'm feeling a little uneasy. Besides being in closer proximity to my King now his Queen eyes the d5-square adding a third attacker to it. 

16...Nb6 To secure d5. Instead 16...Bb6!? was pointed out to me later attacking the pawn and pinning it to the King. I actually considered this during the game but didn't after the King moves away I wasn't sure how to stop White's d-pawn from advancing and I'm still cramped. 

17.h3 I was expecting 17.Rad1 but I suppose White has time for such prophylaxis. 

17...Qd7 I want to play Rad8 but simply forgot that my Queen was guarding my f6 Knight. Now if White captures it I have to take back with the pawn wrecking my King's protection. Later on in post game analysis I found this might of not been so bad. 

18.f5 Bh7 19.Rad1 Nfd5?!

white to move

I was still worried about Bxf6 and was glad to move the Knight away and plus now I'm blockading the d4 pawn. Of course removing a defender from your King is always a little risky when there are enemy forces zeroing in. 

What would you play as White here?

Here's a picture to hide the answer while you think.

J.C. Macneil (left) of Colorado playing blitz on the 16th St. Mall

This is the chess tables on the 16th St. Mall in Denver where it all started for me some fourteen years ago. I took many beatings here and then later on delivered a few myself.

OK back to the game. Here White played the surprising 20.f6?! Sacking a pawn to open up my King. Probably not what you guessed as later analysis shows that after 20.Qg4 White has a strong attack. Even 20.Nxd5 gets full credit.

20...Nxf6 I can refuse the pawn with 20...g6 but didn't feel like suffering through that position. 

21.Bxf6 Rxe1+ An important intermezzo. Otherwise 21...gxf6 22.Nce4! Bxe4 23.Nxe4 is a little uncomfortable. 

22.Rxe1 gxf6 23.Nh5? Amazing! White is trying to be too clever. Now I take over the steering wheel. After the simple 23.Qxf6 White is still in the drivers seat. 

23...Qxd4+ Petronijevic must of simply missed this capture with check else why play Nh5? 

24.Kh1 Be5 I should immediately give back the pawn here by playing something like 24...Bg6 as now White begins to bear down on my King. 

25.Ne4 f5 26.Neg3

Black to move

Now what would you play here? Only one move keeps Black on top.

more action on the 16th St. Mall

OK so after a short think I play the horrible 26...Bxg3? I wanted to relive some of the pressure of the attack and figured that removing some pieces off the board would do the trick but this is not the case. If you guessed 26...f4! then give yourself full credit. After 27.Qg4+ Kf8 28.Nf5 Qxb2 29.Nxh6 Qc3 Black is doing fine. 

27.Nxg3? Reprieve! Another stunner from Petronijevic. After the obvious 27.Qxg3+ Kh8 (27...Kf8?? 28.Rd1! f4 29.Qh4 is a little annoying) 28.Bxf7 f4 (to deflect the Knight away from the g7 square) 29.Nxf4 Qg7 and Black is fighting for a draw.

27...Nd5 I actually considered 27...Qh4 eying the e1 Rook but thought my Queen would be too out of play here after the Rook moves away. This assessment is wrong. The Queen is better placed on h4 to help with the King's protection. 

28.Nxf5 Bxf5 29.Qxf5 Kg7 30.Re4 Qd2? I didn't think taking the meaningless pawn on b2 was a good idea with all that firepower around my King. I wanted to interpose on g5 should White check on g4. However Black is better off staying on the a1-h8 diagonal. Another way to play is 30...Qf6.

31.Rg4+ Kf8 32.Kh2?! Profilaxis. White does better with 32.Qe5 or perhaps 32.Bxd5 but it's hard to fault him when the text lulls me into playing 

32...Qxb2?? losing on the spot. After 32...Re8 bringing the dormant Rook finally into play I can relax a bit. 

33.Bxd5 cxd5 34.Rf4 f6

Ok what would you play here as White?

a quiet chilly night on the 16th Street Mall

If you saw 35.Qe6!! congratulations! It's the only move that holds Whites massive advantage. For instance, 35...Kg7 36.Rg4+ Kh8 37.Qf7 Qe5+ 38.Rg3 f5 39.Qg6 winning. Everything else let's Black back in the game including what my generous opponent played: 

35.Qxd5? Petronijevic must have been really taxed in his other games to lapse into this irresponsible pawn grab. Now I get my Rook involved in the action.

35...Re8 36.Qh5 Re2?! I'm currently up a pawn so I'm trying to drum up some counterplay but this is risky as my King is too exposed. Black should be playing to just hold the position with 36...Qe5. 

37.Qxh6+Ke7 38.Qg7+ Ke6?! Allowing a clever little tactic (39.Ke6!) that fortunately the overburdened Master misses. However Black should be able to draw despite of this. More accurate is 38...Ke8. 

39.Qg8+?! Missing 39.Rxf6!+ Qxf6 40.Qg4+ but Black should still be able to draw here. 

39...Ke7 40.Qg7+ Ke6?! Again the same idea as above. 

41.Qg4?!+ And again missing the above mentioned tactic. 

41...Ke7 42.a4 Maybe 42.Qf3 is better. Now Black has an easier time of drawing. 

42...a5? Which I miss... Now White can play 43.Rf5! The point being that 43...b6? (better is 43...Qd2! 44.Qg7+ Kd8 45.Qxf6+ Kd7 where Black has drawing chances.), is met with 44.Rd5! threatening Rd7+. For instance if Black plays something like 44...Qa2 (no better is 44...Kf8 45.Qg6 Re8 46.Rh5, etc.) play continues with 45.Rd7+ Kf8 46.Qg7+ Ke8 47.Rb7 etc., and White will win. Black avoids this unpleasantness with 42...Qe5. 

43.Re4?! Now it's an easy draw for Black. 

43...Rxe4 44.Qxe4+ Kf7 45.Qd5+ Kg6 46.Qxa5 Qd4 47.Qb5 Qf4+ 48.Kg1 Qe3+ 49.Kf1 Qf4+ 50.Ke2 Qe4+ 51.Kf2 Qf4+ 52.Ke2 Qe4+ 53.Kf2 Qf4+ 54.Ke2 Draw

final position