The Inner Masochist

I just returned from a weekend chess tournament, placing first in the U1600 section. In the final round I stood my ground with the Caro-Kann and I’m still not sure why. My opponent uses the Italian Game so this dissuaded me from my usual 1…e5. It’s an unusual choice, needing a half-point in the final round and deciding to play something you’ve never tested.

Ferguson – Giofreda, 0-1

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nd2 (4. g4 {4…g4 is scary but incredibly rare.
}) 4… e6 5. c4 {This is an error. White is attacking the strongest point of
black’s position and also weakening his d4 square. If white is ever forced to
play cxd he’s in hot water since this obviates the need for a c5 break.} Nd7 {
The last book move.}

(5… Bb4 {Here’s an amateur game which shows how easy
white’s afternoon can be.} 6. Ngf3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 Ne7 8. O-O Nd5 9. a3 Be7 {
Black moves the bishop a second time. When you’re denied space, small mistakes
can give you no end of trouble.} 10. Re1 Nd7 11. Nf1 O-O 12. Ng3 Bg6 13. Bxd5
cxd5 14. Bf4 Rc8 15. Rc1 Nb6 16. b3 Qd7 17. Qd2 Rxc1 18. Rxc1 Rc8 19. Rxc8+
Qxc8 20. h4 Qc2 21. h5 Qxd2 22. Nxd2 Bc2 23. b4 Nc4 24. Nxc4 dxc4 25. Bd2 b5
26. f4 Bh4 27. Ne2 Bd3 28. Nc1 a6 29. Nxd3 cxd3 30. Kf1 Be7 31. Bc3 g6 32. hxg6
hxg6 33. Kf2 Bh4+ 34. g3 Be7 35. Ke3 Kf8 36. Kxd3 Ke8 37. Ke4 Kd7 38. d5 exd5+
39. Kxd5 Bd8 40. g4 Be7 41. f5 gxf5 42. gxf5 Bd8 43. e6+ fxe6+ 44. fxe6+ Ke8
45. Be5 Be7 46. Kc6 a5 47. Bd6 Bxd6 48. Kxd6 axb4 49. axb4 Kd8 50. Kc6 Ke7 51.
Kxb5 Kxe6 52. Kc6 Ke7 53. Kc7 {1-0 Herler,G-Rosbach,L/Wallertheim 1993/EXT 2000 })

6. Ngf3 Qb6 (6… Ne7) 7. c5 Qc7 8. Nb3 (8. Nh4 {Black king safety is an
issue now and f6 is tougher to play.} Bg6) 8… Ne7 9. h3 f6 {This is a pretty
critical position. White’s six pawn moves have given black the luxury of
attacking the center straight away.} 10. Bf4 Ng6 11. Bg3 fxe5 12. Ng5 h6 13.
Nf3 {White has induced a weakness but black will consolidate a bit.} b6 {I
hope to force the b3 knight into permanent sentry duty. I learned about
overprotecting in this tournament. In order to attain maximum mobility
consider defending a piece/square more times than it’s being attacked.}

14. Bd3 bxc5 15. dxc5 Qb7 16. Bxf5 exf5 17. Qe2 Qb4+ {I think my opponent missed this
check. How can black take advantage of his better development and piece
coordination? The center will tell if it’s not obstructed.} 18. Nfd2 Be7 {This
move took me twenty minutes to find. Should black exchange one of his active
pieces with Bxc4?} 19. Qh5 O-O {!} 20. Qxg6 Rf6 21. Qh5 f4

22. Bh4 {After the bishop retreat it’s a complex game. White will be up material after c4 falls but must account for positional minuses.} g5 23. Bxg5 hxg5 24. Qxg5+ Kf7 25.
O-O Rg8 26. Qh5+ Rfg6 27. Qf5+ Ke8 28. g3 fxg3 29. fxg3 {It’s not easy to find
the right continuation and there are many improvements on the text. Black can
opt to check with the queen through exchanges on c5.} Rxg3+ 30. Kh2 Rg2+ 31.
Kh1 Qh4 {?! This is one of those rare moves that’s both a positional tactical
error. I give away a bit of initiative (although Qf2 isn’t lethal) in exchange
for what I think is mate, if white follows up with Rg1. He obliges me and it’s
a new chess game.}

32. Rg1 Rxg1+ 33. Rxg1 Rxg1+ 34. Kxg1 Qg3+ 35. Kf1 e4 {This
takes Nd4 away from white due to the check on d3.} 36. Qh5+ Kd8 37. Nd4 Qd3+ {
My opponent is a good player but the last round is a battle with fatigue. We
play on a bit after the blunder but black stands well.


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