Into the Deep: Part 1

As my chess mysteriously worsens I have started not to think in terms of wins and losses, but to steer towards interesting struggles on which I can blog. I prefer writing to chess anyways, if only because putting pen to paper allows a more controlled expression outlet. My mind is my own fiefdom, but in chess I have to account for the goals of the impresario across from me, or at the other end of a long and winding fiber-optic cable .

This change in perception comes on the heels of my realization that I am near the zenith of where I will go in chess.  Being 1500-something and having an irreverent blog is not the worst one can do in what is, after all, a game. I can almost picture old Semyon from Chekhov’s “In Exile” saying “Everyone should have such a life!”

To fulfill my desire for better games I have been seeking players much higher than my strength. The opponent who pummeled me in this instance had a rating of about 1600 USCF. I am white.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 e6 4. Nf3 Bb4 5. e3 Nf6 6. Bd3 O-O

Another Semi-Slav with Bg4. Could this time be different?

7. O-O a5: What does this move do? It’s different than dxc4, b6, Nd7, or Qc7 because it ignores the center. If it doesn’t assist in development or impact the center at least indirectly it’s usually a bad move. My plans should focus on seizing space and indeed they do.
8. Qe2 dxc4 9. Bxc4 b5 10. Bd3 Nbd7 11. e4 Bb7

White Seizes the Center

Black plays 11…Bb7 here. Look at the position. White has played mistake-free chess. Everything that has happened thus far is preparation for the moves to come. However to retain the initiative white has to play quite carefully. Black has no long-term problems and if white cannot put pressure on him the second player’s position will be fine. In other words white has no static advantages. Space is purely a dynamic advantage, and like a carton of milk it turns bad if you don’t use it.
Fritz has been kind of enough to point the way to victory with a red arrow.
12 Bg5 is simply a chess move and nothing more. It develops safely but is not part of a concrete plan to make the most of my assets in the position. Interesting enough I looked at the natural e5 and dismissed it.
Here is what I saw:
e5, Nd5, Nxcd5, cxd5 unclear (white actually wins a pawn)
e5, Nd5, Nxcd5, exd5 (the conditions are ripe for a classic bishop sacrifice on h7)
e5 Ne8 (Not considered)
e5 Nh5 (I don’t have a means to tactically punish the knight and I’ve made black’s bishop stronger)
frustration at not having a concrete continuation takes over at this point
White has the ability to gain long-term initiative in driving away a key defender of the king. Perhaps by pushing the pawn forward does lead to an inferior endgame against sound defense. So flippin’ what? I’m white. So next time I have to play like it.
The rest of the game is interesting and has a few unique features. It’s worth playing through if only to examine the merit of the exchange sacrifice near the end.
12. Bg5 Be7 13. Rad1 Ng4 14. Bf4 Ngf6 15. e5 Nd5 16. Nxd5 exd5 17. Qc2 g6 18. Bh6 Re8 19. g4 Nf8 20. g5 Ne6 21. h4
Nf4 22. Qd2 Nxd3 23. Qxd3 Qd7 24. Kh2 Bc8 25. Ng1 Qg4 26. Qg3 Bf5 27. Qxg4 Bxg4
28. Kg3 Bxd1 29. Rxd1 Bf8 30. Bxf8 Kxf8 31. Rc1 Rac8 32. Rc5 Re7 33. f4 Rb7 34.
Kf3 a4 35. Ne2 Rcc7 36. Ke3 b4 37. Kd3 Rb5 38. Rc1 c5 39. dxc5 Rbxc5 40. Rxc5
Rxc5 41. Kd2 Rc4 42. Kd3 Ke7 43. Nd4 a3 44. b3 Rc3+ 45. Ke2 Kd7 0-1

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