R.A. Centre Chess Club Championships (Week 2)

I am happy to report that I have won my second game in the R.A. Centre Chess Club Championships.  It was a relentless battle from the beginning, with my opponent challenging me from beginning to end.  Here is a self-analysis of that game, with some comments and suggestions provided by Chessmaster 10th Edition.

White: CFC rating 1754
Black: Me (CFC rating 1384)
Time Controls: 90 minutes per game + 30 seconds per move

1.    d4 d5 2.    Nc3 Nf6 3.    g3 Bf5

I predict Bg2, attacking d5.  Knowing d5 is well protected by Qd8 and Nf6, I opt to set my sights on c3 and react accordingly.

4.    Bg2 Nc6

…with the intention of 5. … Nb4, 6. … Bxc2, threatening Qd1.  Only defense possible is 5. a3.

5.    Bf4 Nb4

I see the same threat I am attempting to complete, with: 5. Nb5 …, 6. Bxc7, threatening queen.  If I move 5. … Nb4 first, however, we have: 6. Nb5 Nxc2+, forcing 7. Kf1 e5, thereby preventing the same attack on myself, in addition to winning a bishop or a rook.

6.    Rc1 h6

White thwarts my plans by protecting pawn with rook, but I see this as a successful move, as black can no longer complete a queenside castle.  Seeing the risk of 7. Bg5, pinning my knight against my pawn at e7, I move h6 to prevent this.  I will need this pawn to move if I want to complete a queen-side castle, or at the very least free my Bf8 to the B8-H2 diagonal.  The only other option for my bishop is moving Bg7 to the H8-A1 diagonal (a preferred position), but this is risky, leading to: 7. … g7, 8. Be5, pining knight against rook.

7.    a3 Na6
8.    Be5 e6

I didn’t have much of a choice to react this way.  Knowing my Nf6 is threatened by Be5, I looked for a place to move my knight back to safety, other than Ng7, which means I have moved for nothing, and would have given him tactical advantage.  Nh5 leads to 9. g4, skewering my knight and bishop.  It would have been an even exchange by moving 8. … Ne4 (followed by 9. Nxe4 dxe4), but would have left my queen side vulnerable, limiting my castling options later.

9.    Nf3 Bh7
10.    O-O Nd7
11.    Bf4 Nb6

Aiming for: 12. … Nc4, threatening b2.  Even if white moves the pawn ahead, I am still up a pawn: 13. b3 Nxa3, and threatening the pawn at c2 (thanks to my hidden Bh7).  His following move prevents this, but frees up g5, attacking his Bf4.

12.    Nd2 Qe7

I am preparing for a queen-side castle if required.

13.    Ra1 g5
14.    Be3 h5

Knowing the pawn at g5 is protected, I bulldoze through with h5, with the intention of breaking up white’s pawn defense surrounding his king.

15.    b4 O-O-O
16.    Qc1 Bh6

Qc1 could be dangerous for me if white manages to move Nd2, leading to a threat to my queen: 17. Bxg5 Qxg5, 18. Qxg5 … .  I defend with Bh6.

17.    Nb5 Kb8

Kb8 was necessary to prevent 18. Nxa7+ Kb8 19. Nb5, leading to a pawn advantage for white.

18.    c4 f5
19.    f4 gxf4
20.    Bxf4 Bxf4
21.    Rxf4 c6

After this onslaught on white’s fortress, I see a possibility of pinning Bg2 to the king, and sneaking in on the H or F rank with rooks.  But first, I must force his Nb5 to retreat to prevent my Na7 from being pinned for the same tactical reasons – he has 4 pawns on the same file – not good!

22.    Nc3 Bg8

Protecting d5 in case he decides to attack.

23.    c5 Nd7
24.    b5 cxb5
25.    Nxb5 h4
26.    Qc3 Qg5

I am proceeding with my plan to pin white Bg2 against the king, with a rook on the H-rank ready to sneak in behind.  After eventually moving my Bf7, Rd8 is also free to move.

27.    Nf3 Qf6
28.    c6 Rc8

Things are getting a little dangerous for me.  I should have been paying better attention.  If 29. cxb7, I could be in deep doo-doo, especially with Nb5 and Qc3 waiting in the works (a deadly combination, as we will see later in the game).  Rc8 pins the pawn c6 against the Qc3.  Even if 29. cxd7 Rxc3, I can prevent the promotion with 30. … Qxd8.

29.    Ne5 Nxe5

I had to get rid of the Ne5 that was protecting the pawn at c6.  In addition to removing the threat, I am also attacking c6 on two fronts, with the pawn still protecting white’s Qc3.

30.    dxe5 Qg5

Now that the knight threat is gone, I will resume my bishop pinning strategy by perching Qg5.

31.    Qe3 b6

YIKES!  An attack on two fronts.  First, my Qg5 is unprotected, and may ultimately lead to my demise with: 32. Ra4, threatening both my unprotected queen and my Na6.  In addition, with black’s queen out of the C-rank, my plan to pin the c6 pawn has failed.

Even more disturbing is the potential for mate: Qxa6 – checkmate!   My only option is to protect my king at all costs with 31. … b6.

32.    Rc1 Bf7

Now that my pawn b7 is out of harm’s way (preventing 33. cxb7), his pawn c6 is now threatened by my Rc8.  I prepare to eventually move Be8, not only attacking the pawn on c6, but pinning it there against an attack on Nb5.

33.    Qd4 hxg3
34.    h3 Be8

I seize my chance to attack, hoping this will lead to something like: 34. hxg3 Qxg3, 35. … Qh2+.  This does not happen.

35.    Qa4 Bxc6

Looking to get rid of my sole protector from a checkmate (Na6), he does not see that moving Bxc6 not only gets rid of the pawn close to promotion, but also pins his Nb5 against the queen.  In addition, the Rc8 provides additional protection.

36.    Rxc6 Rxc6

Threatening mate with 37. Qxa7#, my opponent does not notice that his king’s rank is open and vulnerable.  This will eventually lead to his defeat.

37.    Qxa6 Rc1+
38.    Rf1 Qe3+
39.    Kh1 Rh7
40.    Nd6 Rhc7

Once more, my opponent threatens mate with 41. Qxc8#.  Only Rhc7 will protect the C-file from being used.  It also provides extra weight in case white gets desperate enough to play Rxc1.

41.    Qd3 Rxf1+
42.    Bxf1 Qf2

A worthy sacrifice, as either: (a) 42. … Qf2, 43. Bg2 Rc1+, 44. Qd1 Rd1+, 45. Bf1 Rxf1+, 46. Kg2 Qf2+, 47. Kh1 Qh2# / or (b) 42. … Qf2, 43. Bf1 Qh2#.

43.    White resigns, total game play = 2 hours, 34 minutes

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