Saturday, June 17, 2006

Discussing the English

I have taken the time to look back to a very interesting game I have played recently. R. has defeated me time and again with her English opening. I had tried several strategies but always came to a closed position that R. likes. But this time I had prepared a surprise for her, and really ...

[Event ""]
[Site ""]
[Date "2006.05.30"]
[Round ""]
[White "R.H."]
[Black "Mousetrapper"]
[WhiteElo "1620"]
[BlackElo "1680"]
[ECO "A20"]
[Result "0-1"]

1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 Bc5 4.Nf3 e4 5.Ng5 {Significant targets f2 and g5.} Bxf2+ {No sacrifice, but trading bishop for knight. White has the bishop pair, but must invest some tempi for King safety. This gives Black a lead in development and a small advantage.} 6.Kf1 {Clearly better for Black.} (6.Kxf2 Ng4+ 7.Kg1 Qxg5 8.Bxe4 $15 {would have been the normal continuation.} ) 6. ... Bc5 {Now this strong attacker remains on the board and contributes much to the black advantage, and Black retains the bishop pair.} (6. ... Bb6 7.Nc3 e3 8.dxe3 d6 $17) (6. ... e3 7.dxe3 Ng4 8.Qd5 Qe7 9.Qe4 Qxe4 10.Nxe4 Bxe3 11.Nbc3 Bxc1 12.Rxc1 $15) 7.Nxe4 Nxe4 8.Bxe4 {Targets: f1, f2, c4.} Qf6+ {I played for material gain here, but ...} (8. ... d5 {... this gambit would have been stronger, activating the bishop and chasing the King back to the center, where he is very exposed with queens on the board.} 9.cxd5 Qf6+ 10.Bf3 Bh3+ 11.Ke1 $17) 9.Bf3 Nc6 {This quiet and normal development is not best. It allows White do develop in turn. } (9. ... Qd4 {Why not going directly for the pawn? Rule: Move a piece twice before moving every piece once if there is a good tactic. Gaining a pawn certainly is. Plus threating mate means not losing a tempo. Black has 2 developed pieces against 1 of White.} 10.e3 Qxc4+ $17) (9. ... d5 {This gambit was still possible.} 10.cxd5 Bh3+ 11.Ke1 O-O $17) 10.Nc3 {Now, Black has 3 developed pieces against 2 of White, so the advantage of Black has diminished.} Qd4 $15 (10. ... O-O 11.Nd5) 11.e3 Qxc4+ 12.Qe2 (12.Be2 Qe6 $17 ) 12. ... Qxe2+ {Applying the classic strategy: If you are pawn up, trade piece.} 13.Nxe2 {Worsening the Knight.} d6 (13. ... Ne5 $17 {Deep Shredder's favourite, but I disagree, because the advantage is difficult to realize with opposite-coloured bishops.} 14.d4 Nxf3 15.dxc5 b6 16.Kf2 Bb7 17.cxb6 axb6 $17) 14.Kg2 Bd7 (14. ... Ne5 $17) 15.a3 a5 16.Rf1 O-O {Principle of Symmetry: Castle same side when a pawn up.} (16. ... Ne5 {Deep Shredder likes complications even when a pawn up. I did not, of course.} 17.Bxb7 Rb8 18.Be4 Bb5 19.Re1 Bd3 20.Bxd3 Nxd3 21.Rf1 Nxc1 22.Rfxc1 Rxb2 $17) 17.d4 Bb6 18.Nc3 Rab8 $11 {Too passive and too complicated.} (18. ... a4 {A more active plan: Na5 and Bc6. Principle: eliminate the most active piece of the opponent.} 19.Nd5 Na5 20.Bd2 (20.Nxb6 {no matter giving the bishop pair.} cxb6 21.Bd2 Nc4 22.Bc1 Bc6 $17) 20. ... Nc4 21.Bc1 Rae8 $17 ) (18. ... Nd8 19.Nd5 Re8 20.Nxb6 $11) 19.Nd5 Rfe8 20.Bd2 Ne7 21.Nxe7+ {Good for Black.} (21.Nxb6 $11 {White's bishop pair and Black's double pawn would have been a good compensation for the pawn.} ) 21. ... Rxe7 22.b4 a4 23.Rae1 Bb5 24.Rf2 Bc4 25.Be2 Bxe2 {Every piece trade enhances black advantage.} 26.Rexe2 c6 27.Rf4 {Targets on e2 and d4 are emerging.} Bc7 28.Rf5 g6 29.Rf6 Re6 30.Rf3 f5 31.h3 Rbe8 32.g4 fxg4 33.hxg4 {another target!} Bb6 {The attack on targets d4 and 32 is easy to parry. I missed a rook fork here.} (33. ... Re4 {forks targets g4 and d4!} 34.Kh3 Rxd4 35.exd4 Rxe2 36.Bh6 Re8 $17) 34.Ref2 d5 35.Rf7 R6e7 36.R7f6 Bd8 37.R6f4 Rd7 38.R4f3 Bg5 39.Rf1 Bh6 {useless, just losing time.} (39. ... Re4 40.Rf8+ Kg7 41.Ra8 Rxg4+ 42.Kh3 Re4 43.Rxa4 Bxe3 44.Bxe3 Rxe3+ 45.Kh2 $19) (39. ... h6 {I missed this simple way to parry the attack on the h file.} ) 40.Rh1 Bg5 41.Rhf1 Kg7 (41. ... h6 {again to be recommended.} ) 42.Rh1 {beware of target h7, which I did not properly.} Rf8 {Oooh, everything but not this. Blunder! Overworked King. Removal of the Guard possible ...} (42. ... Re4 $17) (42. ... h6 {would have freed his majesty from a heavy burden ...} ) 43.Rhf1 {oops, a lucky miss of my opponent!} (43.Rxh7+ Kxh7 44.Rxf8 Kg7 45.Ra8 b5 46.Rc8 Rd6 $11 {looks like a draw.}) 43. ... Rxf3 {Trading pieces helps Black, leaving White with a bad bishop. The rest is a matter of technique.} 44.Rxf3 Rf7 45.Bc3 Rxf3 46.Kxf3 h5 {in order to transform the majority into a distant passer.} 47.gxh5 gxh5 $19 48.e4 Kg6 49.exd5 cxd5 50.Bb2 Kf5 51.b5 Bf4 52.Bc3 Bc1 53.Bb4 Bf4 54.b6 h4 55.Kf2 Kg4 56.Kg2 h3+ 57.Kh1 Kf3 58.Be7 Ke4 59.Bf6 Be3 60.Kh2 Bxd4 61.Be7 Bxb6 62.Kxh3 d4 63.Kg2 Kd5 0-1

In conclusion: Black missed an opportunity to attack the King in the middlegame and decided to win a pawn and realize it in the endgame, which also was o.k. But then he did not manage to activate his pieces properly aud quickly. White in turn missed to equalize. Black focused too much on one target instead of forking two of them. He missed to relieve his King from a heavy duty and gave away his pawn. But White missed to take it back. So, in the end, it was an easy win for Black.

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