Chess is the Reason

Here’s an online game I just played. I am holding steady at 1610 due to some long-overdue studying (knock on the chessboard).

It is a Game 30.

1. e4 c6

2. d3 d5: My opponent cedes the center. I’ve found that people mostly neglect the Caro-Kann and don’t know the main lines.

3. exd5 cxd5 4. h3 e5: Obviously h3 is premature.

5. Qe2 Nc6 6. g4 Bd6 7. Bg2 Be6 8. c3 Nf6: Black has solved his opening problems. If black has a free hand this early then white must have played passively.

9. b4 b5: b4 fixes the c-pawn.

10. a3 a5 11. Bb2 axb4 12. cxb4 O-O 13. Qc2 Nd4: Don’t neglect unbalancing moves. The bishop pair may not adequate compensate black but traveling the road not taken broaden your horizons.

14. Bxd4 exd4 15. Qb2 Re8: I wanted to sacrifice the knight but it’s not tactically justified yet. I’ll improve my position first. Re8 is a good move sans follow-up tricks.

16. Ne2 Nxg4 17. hxg4 Bxg4 18. Bf1 Qf6 19. Nd2 Rxe2+ 20. Bxe2 Re8: I can swiftly get each piece involved. The pin is not easily undone. White’s rooks cannot connect unless he solves this problem.

21. f3 Bxf3 22. Nxf3 Qxf3 23. Rf1 Qxd3 24. Qd2 Bg3+ (24… Rxe2+ 25. Qxe2 Qc3+ 26.
Qd2 Qxa1+ 27. Ke2 Qxa3): This sequence is tricky. The mating move is key. I did not adequately work out the forcing variations.

25. Kd1 Qb3+ 26. Qc2 Qxc2+ 27. Kxc2 Rxe2+ 28. Kd3 Re6 (
28… Re4) This saves material. I rejected the move because I didn’t consider it active enough. Perfect play leads to a draw now. Sometimes a particular material imbalance does not tell the whole story. I misled myself. The endgame ahead is instructive. Both sides have winning chances as well as serious strategic questions. Should white press forward with his pawn or curtail black’s central assault?

29. a4 bxa4 30. Rxa4 f6: Is this the right pawn push? The h5 pawn is a great promotion candidate. It is far away from white’s king.

31. Kxd4 Rd6 32. b5 Be5+ 33. Kc5 d4 34. Re1
Rd8 35. Rxe5 fxe5 36. b6 d3 37. Ra1 e4: I’m rather fortunate that my potential queen will support my rook immediately. This offers me a critical tempo.

38. b7 d2 39. Kc6 e3 40. Rd1 Kf7 41. Kc7 Re8 42. b8=Q Rxb8 43. Kxb8 e2 44. Rxd2 e1=Q45. Rd7+ Qe7 46. Rd3 h5 47. Rf3+

Qf6 48. Rh3 h4 49. Kc7 g5 50. Kd7 Qf5+ 0-1



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