Monday, October 09, 2006

Tournament Report: Doing better

I scored 1.5/3 at this weekend's tournament. But it was quite a confidence boosting 1.5.

In my first game I played a master rated 2290. He dubiously sacked a pawn in the opening and hung a pawn trying to get active play against my king in the middle game. Then he missed a tactic while trying to win back one of the pawns and I was able to win a queen for rook and bishop. So I was up a queen and pawn for rook and bishop. I was slowly making progress towards the win, but when my time got down to about a minute I started to play inaccurately and eventually hung enough material to just be losing. Here is the position where I get a real winning advantage:
White to Play
Black has just played Rf8-f6. This move tactically defends the e-pawn. Can you find the continuation after Qxe4? I have posted the whole game at ( so you can see the solution there. That site is still a little buggy, but I believe the author is working on it -- It's a personal volunteer project, so we should just say "thanks" for what we can get.

In my second game I played a class B player rated about 1680. I felt like he didn't really understand the opening he played and allowed me to dominate the center without really trying to undermine it. He then helped me get a rapid kingside expansion and his position was soon overrun. I was surprised to win a game without feeling any real counter threats from someone of this rating, but I think it came more from his misunderstanding of the position than anything special I did. Eventually I'll put the whole game on, but for now, here are some key positions:

Black to Play


I have just played 14. c4 and my opponent replied 14. ... Bxf3. This move is also Fritz's first choice at a depth of 14, but I believe my opponent and Fritz are both misevaluating the position (Fritz evaluates it as = with a tiny edge to white, .25). There is the obvious tactic that the bishop is now guarding the c-pawn so I have recapture on f3 with the g-pawn. This results in doubled f-pawns and the open g-file leading to my king. Usually these positional factors would count against me, but here they shouldn't count at all because my control of the center means these weaknesses will never be attacked.

The game continued: 15. gxf3 b6 16. f4 Nc6 17. e5. All of these moves follow Fritz's top choice, but they are straightforward so this is not too surprising. Here is the current position:

White clearly has a superior occupation of the center. The black knight and bishop still have their eyes on key squares and if he can shake up the pawns could break through, but I think white has a serious advantage here. On this move, though, I think black makes a real error: 17. ... g5. This attempt to undermine the white center backfires quickly in the game: 18. fxg5 Bxe5 19. f4 Bg7 20. f5 Be5 21. Bd3. This is one of those moves that I'm lucky to have available. The bishop simultaneously i) clears the queens path to defense of the h2 pawn, ii) unpins the d5 pawn creating a threat on the c6 knight, and iii) attacks the weak h7 square. Even at this time I am envisioning Bxh7 sacrifices.

The position after the multipurpose Be2-d3. The continuation was 21. ... Nd4 22. f6 e6 23. Qg2! and now it's all over because the queen is going to the h-file. 23. ... exd5 24. Bxh7+ It turns out Qh3 was simpler, but I had this sacrifice on my brain for a while and calculated it all out. If Kxh7 then Qh3+ Kg8 Qh6 puts the king in a box (Ne6 is the only defense to immediate mate) and the g6 push is on the way. Black trusted me and without too much thought played 24. ... Kf8 and after 25. g6 he resigned. Final position:

I don't want this description of this game to sound like too much braging, but this is as well as I've played in a long time, or possibly ever.

Rating change from tournament: 1683 -> 1702 (back over 1700!)

addition: I forgot to mention my third game which was a draw against an 1870. The only thing of note about this game is that at this point in the day I wasn't focused properly on the game. This is something I need to overcome. I played poorly out of the opening and was lucky to get a better position a few moves later. Not feeling able to focus on playing up to my ability I offered a draw which was acceptable.

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