Friday, March 8, 2013

Game 35: Columbia Club Championship Rd. 3

Columbia Chess Club Championship
B28: Sicilian: 2 Nf3 a6 (O'Kelly Variation)
White: Andrew Manion (1340)
Black: Dan Quigley (1802)
Columbia, SC, Round 3, G/75, 30 sec. bonus, Mar. 7, 2013

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 a6 3.d4?! cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.f3?

Not good. Why make a move that affects only e4 when you have a move available that fights for both e4 and d5? 5.Nc3 is the normal move, though I consider Black’s position already slightly advantageous even so.

5…e5 6.Nb3 d5

Black threatens to win material: dxe4.

7.Bg5 dxe4

This position with Black to make his seventh move has been reached five times in my database. Black has played three options, all of which I considered: 1) maintain the tension with 7…Be6. I didn't care for 8.exd5 Bxd5 9.c4 Bc6 10.Qxd8+ Kxd8 and decided not to go for this line. 2) Black can push the d-pawn on down the field, but then White can lay claim to the beautiful c4-f7 diagonal for his Bishop. White’s opening play surely doesn’t justify such a reward for White. 3) Finally, there is 7…dxe4 to consider. If the first option had to include acquiescence to a Queen trade, perhaps it’s best just to get it over with. I normally hate to allow this kind of simplification in my chess games, but I am consciously trying to expand the types of positions I am willing to play. Simplified chess causes me discomfort and I am bad at it in great part because I get bored and then impatient with the resulting positions. However, they are a part of chess and I have to learn how to play them. That is why I have been studying Capablanca. Unfortunately, my timing to play it here is off. I should not be making an exercise of trying to learn how to play simple chess when playing down nearly 500 points. I can tend to lose the advantage of that 500 points of experience. Objectively speaking, 7…d4 is the best move, and Black is ahead by about a quarter of a pawn. After …Be7 and …0-0, White’s c4-f7 diagonal does not amount to that much because g5 is occupied by a Bishop rather than a Knight.

8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.fxe4 Be6 10.N1d2

Or 10.Bxf6+ gxf6 11.Nc3 Nd7 12.0-0-0=

10...Nbd7

Around here I gave a lot of consideration to playing 10…Kc7. The King seems like it will be safest on this square and Black’s Knight can develop normally to the c6-square. But surely moving the King in the center of the board voluntarily like this can’t be right, I figured. After the text move though I start to feel a bit cramped.

11.0–0–0 h6 12.Bxf6+ gxf6

Black has the pair of Bishops, but I could never make them work for me.

13.Bc4 Rc8 14.Bd5 Bxd5 15.exd5 Nb6?

White is taking forever to decide on his moves and I am starting to feel really bored and miserable. I should not have spent time studying chess earlier today and writing that Capablanca article. I am burned out. I made this move quickly with no thought, and it is a horrible error. Not only am I decentralizing my Knight, I am self-discoordinating my entire Queenside for ephemeral pressure on White’s d5-pawn. The position before this move is equal if Black continues to play with care. The right plan is 15...Rg8, activating the Rook. After 16.g3 Rg4 Black is comfortable.

16.Ne4?

Better is 16.Rhf1 first so that after Ne4, Black does not have …f5 as a response. I would then have to eat crow and play 16…Nd7, grovel for ten or twenty moves, and hope for the best.


16...Bg7?

I considered 16...f5!?, but then saw that White could play 17.Ng3 attacking f5. I have no idea now why this concerned me so much at the time. I could then play 17…f4 with a fine game. My 16th move is a serious mistake that gives White real winning chances for the first time.

17.Nd6

Besides this one, White has a number of good plans he can consider. Another is 17.Rd3 Nc4 18.Rf1 h5 19.Nbc5 with a strong bind.

17...Rc7 18.Nf5 Bf8 19.d6 Rc4

My alternative was to play 19...Rc8 so that after 20.Na5 I can play 20…Rb8. That was just too sad. I opted for piece activity instead.

20.Na5 Rf4 21.Ne7?

This lets White slip out. Best was 21.Rhf1!? to maintain the pressure. Black would be positionally lost at that point with only some squirming left as a possible resource.

21...Bxe7 22.Nxb7+ Kc8??

I made this move impatiently and with no consideration whatsoever. I thoroughly deserve this loss. 22...Ke8 was necessary 23.dxe7 Kxe7=

23.dxe7

To my horror I now realized I can’t take the Knight on b7. The game is over and Black is lost. Normally, I would resign here. The only reason I played it out is because of the possibility that a D player could allow a Knight fork. The rest of the moves are without interest.

23…Rd4 24.Rxd4 exd4 25.e8Q+ Rxe8 26.Nd6+ Kd7 27.Nxe8 Kxe8 28.Rd1 Ke7 29.Rxd4 Ke6 30.Rh4 Nd5 31.c4 Nb4 32.a3 Nd3+ 33.Kc2 Ne1+ 34.Kc3 Nxg2 35.Rxh6 Ne3 36.Rh3 Nf5 37.b4 Kd7 38.a4 Kc7 39.c5 a5 40.b5 Ne7 41.Kc4 Ng6 42.Rh7 Ne5+ 43.Kd4 Kb7 44.c6+ Kb6 45.h4 Kc7 46.h5 Kd6 47.h6 f5 48.c7 Nf3+ 49.Ke3 1-0

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