Friday, April 28, 2017

2017 3 Tables - April Round 3 Anton Taylor, 2017 - FM Matt Hassen, 2288 Pirc (B07)

2017 3 Tables - April Round 3 
Anton Taylor, 2017 - FM Matt Hassen, 2288 
Pirc (B07)

1. e4 d6 I never know what to expect from Matt. 2. d4 e5 3. dxe5 dxe5 4. Qxd8+ Kxd8 5. Bc4 Be6 6. Bxe6 fxe6 7. Nf3 Bd6 8. Bg5+ This is the first deviation from mainline theory. There are maybe a dozen games on chessbase and the results vary meaning that it is probably just as equal "with chances" for both players. 8. ... Nf6 9. Nbd2 Nd7 10. O-O-O b5!? Ke7 is the database recommended move here but there is nothing wrong with the text exactly. It just looks bizarre. 11. c4 I felt as though this was the most direct way to challenge the b-pawn and since black can't capture without weakening his a-pawn and c-pawn it seems awkward for him. There is no path to victory in this complication and the more conservative moves like c3 or h3 just passing the turn over to black work just as well. 11. ... a6 12. Kc2? Rhe1!? seems to be a better path to follow. It isn't groundbreaking but it can be underestimated. the plan is something like Rhe1-e3-b3 or d3 depending and white has a wrokable edge. Moving the king closer to the action for the endgame isn't bad though. 12. ... Ke7 13. a3? This is just a useless move. Komodo recommends either h3 or Rhg1 as interesting moves. 13. ... c5 14. h3? Now Nb3 is possible which I missed and is probably winning. It certainly offers a decent edge for white. I missed that 14. Nb3 bxc5? 15. Na5 Nb6? 16. Nc6+! Had I seen that result of bxc5 I would have played Nb3 here. 14. ... Rhf8 15. Rhe1? Be3 and Nb3 both look appealing for white in this position as Komodo points out. However, that makes me curious. Does this mean then that Bg5+ was not particularly useful even if it forced black to make a certain kind of development (which he may have played anyway)? It is worth consideration, thought, and experimentation. The text is only good enough for equality now. It should have been played much sooner. 16. ... Nb6 16. cxb5? b3 was far better but the text still isn't losing. 16. ... axb5 17. Nh2 h6 18. Bxf6+? This is the concession that starts black on a downward spiral. Bh4 holding onto the bishop and planning to attack e5 is the best way to hold everything together. Truthfully, I had always planned to make the trade and never really considered anything else. Mistakes were made. 18. ... gxf6 19. Re3 c4 Matt told me afterwards that after he freed the bishop to go to c5 he felt as though he was winning. He is absolutely correct. White is completely lost here. But perhaps the real mistake then goes all the way back to white's move 16 ... unblocking the bishop by trading pawns instead of the solid b3. 20. Rg3 Rg8 21. Nb1 Bc5 22. Rd2 b4 I expected Rxg3 here because it is hard for white to hold onto his isolated e-pawn and I assumed it would be lost. Black chooses and more aggressive looking but less precise method (but perhaps a more practical and easily calculated line). 23. axb4 Bxb4 24. Re2 h5 25. Nf1 h4 26. Rxg8 Rxg8 27. f3 Rd8 28. Ne3 Kf7 29. Nd2 Rc8 30. Nb1 Going back where the knight came from can't be productive. However, I felt there was nothing better and Komodo agrees. 30. ... Kg6 31. Ng4 Kg5 32. Nc3 Rd8 33. Na2 Be7 Even up to this point komodo's evaluation is rough equality. I felt the king march was winning for black and it is clear that Matt did as well but it just doesn't seem to be enough to win. 34. b3?? Here is the losing howler. There are numerous winning paths once the position inevitably opens up. 34. ... Kf4 35. bxc4 Nxc4 36. Nc3 f5 37. exf5 exf5 38. Nf2 Ne3+ 39. Kb3 Bc5 40. Na4 Ba7 41. Kc3 Nxg2 42. Nd3+ Kxf3 43. Ra2 Bd4+ 44. Kc4 Ne3+ 45. Kb5 e4 46. Nf2 Nd5 47. Nd1 e3 48. Nxe3 Kxe3 49. Nc5 Nc3+ 0-1 There is some exceptionally poor technique in the last several moves but the game is lost regardless. Move 34 is the real loser for white. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

2017 3 Tables - April Round 2 Michael Johnson, 1983 - Anton Taylor, 2017 Neo-Indian (E10)

2017 3 Tables - April Round 2 
Michael Johnson, 1983 - Anton Taylor, 2017 
Neo-Indian (E10)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 This move is my attempt to create variety in the game. Normally I play the Queen's Indian (b6) and go from there but I have been trying to vary the repertoire. Both moves are seen in top master games. 4. Nc3 Bb4 This is my attempt to transpose into a Nimzo-Indian. The simple and conservative Be7 seems better. 5. Bg5 c6 White is considered better after this move and it is very strange to me that after the energetic Bb5 I elect to play the timid c6. A counterproductive warring within I suppose. 6. Bxf6 gxf6 This move is clearly inferior but I'm interested in creating an imbalance. Perhaps this is once again the warring within myself to play aggressive or to play conservative. From this point on aggressive has to win or there is no cohesion and black loses quickly. 7. e3 Qa5 8. Qc2 Nd7 9. cxd5 Qxd5 Positional suicide as it turns out. there isn't much of a chance in cxd but that is the recommended move. Black is just lost. He has to play aggressively and complicate to have any hope here. 10. Be2 e5 More errors in the center. This move "threatens" to open the center to black's own king. I can't even justify any of this. I am at the mercy of posterity on this one. 11. O-O Bxc3 12. e4 Qe6 13. bxc3 Nf8 This is more ambitious aggression in a completely lost position. 14. Rfd1 Rg8 15. d5 Qh3 16. Ne1 Bd7 17. Kh1 Qh6 The wrong square but any square still leads to black losing. His "attack" is foolish optimism and leads nowhere as the white king is sufficiently defended. 18. Rab1 b6 19. dxc6 Bxc6 20. Rd6 Bd7 21. Qd3 Ne6 22. Qd5 Rd8 23. Rxd7 Rxd7 24. Bb5 Nc5 25. Rd1 Qf4 26. Bxd7+ Kf8 27. f3 Nxd7 28. Qxd7 Qe3 29. Qd2 Qc5 30. Qd6+ Qxd6 31. Rxd6 Ke7 32. Rd3 Rc8 33. Kg1 Rc4 34. Nc2 a6 35. Kf2 b5 36. Ke3 a5 37. a3 Rc5 38. Ke2 a4 39. Ne3 1-0

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

2017 3 Tables - April Round 1 Anton Taylor, 2017 - Maxwell Boakye, 2028 Modern Defense (B06)

2017 3 Tables - April Round 1 
Anton Taylor, 2017 - Maxwell Boakye, 2028 
Modern Defense (B06)

1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. Nc3 a6 5. Be2 a4 may be more accurate but even at the top level the conservative Be2 seems to have been played frequently. 5. ... b5 6. a4 b4 7. Nd5 a5 8. c4 bxc3 e.p. seems to be the better move than what black chooses in this position. 8. ... Bb7 9. Qd3? Qc2 makes more sense playing to control the c-file (or essentially forcing c5, etc.) 9. ... Nd7 10. O-O c6? e6 makes more sense leaving the bishop's diagonal more open. 11. Ne3 c5 12. d5 Ngf6 13. Nd2 Ne5 Ironically, this would not be even a threat had white played Qc2 on move 9. 14. Qc2 h5 15. h3? Here is, I think, the point where White begins to go wrong. This move is completely pointless. g4 is not a proper outpost for the black knights. The immediate f4 gives white an edge to work with. 15. ... Qc7 16. b3 I take the opportunity to develop my bishop and it does seem to get me into the game. 16. ... O-O-O 17. Bb2 Kb8 18. f4 Ned7 19. Nf3 e5 I had not considered this move over the pastseveral moves as I analyzed. It seemed good for white. However, I could not work out the details of refuting it at the board. 20. fxe5 I eliminated dxe6 e.p. far too quickly. I missed that after the forcing move (Bxe4) that black's g-pawn could become a target. Had I seen that I would have followed that line of thought. 20. ... Nxe5 21. Nxe5 dxe5 22. Rf2? Komodo recommends Bf3 or Nd1. Those moves are difficult for me to see how they lead to progress. As I go through the line Bf3 is probably winning by a tiny edge. The move I chose is terrible because it just wastes time. I missed the knight maneuver to d6 that holds everything together. 22. ... Ne8 23. Raf1 Nd6 24. Bd3 Bc8 25. Qe2 Rdf8 26. Nc2 Qe1! is the komodo recommended choice. In retrospect I have to agree. The threat of sacrificing to open lines on the kingside, playing Qa1 hitting the e-pawn, and hitting the weak c5 pawn after reorganizing the pieces is enough to shred black's defenses. 26. ... Re8 27. Ne1 Rhf8 28. Bb1 Kb7 29. Qe3 f6 I felt very strong here and I analyzed Nd3 but I determined itled to almost bothing. Komodo confirms that it is actually the best move. I couldn't see it. 30. Qg3 g5 31. h4?? This maneiver forces black to close things up and the result is likely a draw in that case. 31. ... g4 32. Qe3 Bd7 33. Nd3 Kb6 34. Bc1 Rc8 35. Qe1 Qd8 36. Bd2 Qe8 37. Qe3 So, after some distraction I hit on the right plan (basically the same idea as Nd3 on move29. There is no defense for black. I thought Nb7 held everything together but white has a free hand in the center in that case. We analyzed this position after the game and neither of us saw the hopelessness of black here. 37. ... Bxa4?? 38. Nxc5! 38. ... Rxc5?? 39.Qxc5! kxc5?? 40. Be3# 38. ... Nxc4 39. Nxa4+ Kc7 40. Rc1 Kd6 41. bxc4 Qxa4 42. Qb6+ Kd7 43. c5 b3 44. Bxa5 Rb8 1-0 45.Qe6# is to follow so black resigns.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

2017 CC Spring Open Round 4 Anton Taylor, 2033 - CM Josh Suich, 2062 Scandinavian, Portuguese Variation (B01)

2017 CC Spring Open Round 4 
Anton Taylor, 2033 - CM Josh Suich, 2062 
Scandinavian, Portuguese Variation (B01)

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. d4 Bg4 4. f3 Bf5 5. g4 Bg6 6. c4 e6 7. dxe6 Nc6 8. exf7+ As it turns out this is an error. Based on my research after this game I have abandoned the f3-g4 line ... but it is playable if you like sharp firework fights like this. 8. ... Kxf7 9. Be3? There is no good alternative but this is probably one of the worst development moves. 9. ... Bb4+ 10. Nc3 Re8 11. Kf2 Qe7 12. Qd2 Nxg4+ 13. fxg4 Qh4+ 14. Ke2 Rxe3+ 15. Qxe3 Re8 16. Nf3 Qxg4 17. Rg1 Nxd4+?? RxQ+ is winning for black. This needless complication makes black's life harder. 18. Kf2 Qf5?? Another mistake. White has slowly gained ground through inaccuracies but after this move white is just winning. Failing to convert this game though is not such a big deal as it is such fireworks that calculating becomes prohibitive at my current level. This kind of game is how you grow. 19. Qxd4?? It's my turn to play a bad move. 19. Qd3 Bc5 20. Qxf5+ Bxf5 21. Ng5+ Kg8 22. Na4 and white comes out of the fireworks a rook up. 19. ... Bc5 20. Rd1 Bxd4+ 21. Rxd4 Bh5 22. Bg2? Rg3 is the path to keeping pieces on the board and take advntage of the exposed queen. Bg2 is considered by Komodo to be a draw. 22. ... Bxf3 23. Bxf3 Qc2+ 24. Ne2 Qxb2 25. Rd7+ Kf8 26. Rgxg7 Qxg7 27. Rxg7 Kxg7 28. Bxb7 Rb8 29. Bd5 Kf6 30. Nd4 Rb2+ 31. Kg3?? The problem with this choice of endgame on my part is that it requires a high degree of accuracy and According to Komodo the only way to really keep a draw is Ke3 and that is so counter-intuitive. I honestly would have to sit and calculate for a very long time in this one position to even scratch the surface on that calculation. Amazing. 31. ... Rxa2 32. Nb5 c5 33. Nc7 Ke5 34. Ne6 Kd6 35. Ng5 a5 36. Ne4+ Ke5 37. Nxc5 a4 38. Nd3+ Kd4 39. Nb4 Rb2 40. Nc6+ Kc5 41. Ne5 a3 42. Nd3+ Kd4 43. Nxb2 axb2 44. Kf4 b1=Q 0-1

Friday, April 21, 2017

2017 CC Spring Open Round 3 Farnood Farmand, 1708 - Anton Taylor, 2033 Benko Opening (A00)

2017 CC Spring Open Round 3 
Farnood Farmand, 1708 - Anton Taylor, 2033 
Benko Opening (Nimzo-Larsen) (A00)

1. g3 d5 2. Bg2 Nf6 3. d4 c5 4. e3 This move is considered just weakening. Better is Nf3. 4. ... Nc6 5. Ne2 e6 Bg4 is far more ambitious. This move is born from my fear to move the bishop. I vote instead for a French-like structure. 6. O-O Be7 7. b3 b6 8. Bb2 O-O Every result seems possible in this position. 9. Nd2 Since white delays c4 I was confident in my victory. also, the knight are not optimally placed both on the second rank. 9. ... Bb7 10. a3 Rc8 11. c4 cxd4 12. exd4 Na5 13. Rc1 Qd7 14. cxd5 Bxd5 15. b4 Nb7? In general moving backwards is the wrong method. Nc4 was the better "forward" movement of the knight. This is not losing but i'll call it an inaccuracy. 16. Nf4 Bxg2 17. Kxg2 Nd5?? This makes the win a lot harder. 17... Rxc1! 18. Qxc1 Rc8 19. Qd1 Nd6 20. Qb3 Qc6+ 21. Nf3 Qc2 22. Qxc2 Rxc2 is a winning line. 18. Nxd5 Qxd5+ 19. Qf3 Nd6 20. Qxd5 exd5 21. Rxc8 Rxc8 22. Rc1 Rxc1 23. Bxc1 Nc4 24. Kf1 Bf6 25. Nf3 Kf8 26. Ke2 Ke7 27. Kd3 Ke6 28. Nd2 Nxd2? Once again I make a poor exchange. b5 is obviously just better. 29. Bxd2 b5 30. f3 h5 31. g4 g6 32. h3 Be7 33. Bf4 Bd6 34. Bxd6 Kxd6 35. Ke3 Ke6 36. Kf4 Kf6 Well, the same color bishop ending that was only slightly in my favor has dwindled down into a drawn ending ... 37. g5+?? until this blunder that gives me the full point. 37. ... Ke6 38. h4 f6 39. Kg3 fxg5 40. hxg5 Kf5 41. f4 h4+ 0-1 computers are always quite interesting in their evaluations. Here for example there are two main lines that both end in forced mate in 23 moves. Can you see it? Yeah, me either. haha

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

2017 CC Spring Open Round 2 Anton Taylor, 2033 - John Stoughton, 1629 French Classical (C13)

2017 CC Spring Open Round 2 
Anton Taylor, 2033 - John Stoughton, 1629 
French Classical (C13)

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e5 Nfd7 6. Bxe7 Qxe7 7. Qg4 Every move up until this one has been the mainline classical. Qg4 is one of those moves that I'd call interesting but not the right move. I could not remember the correct move at the time this game was played but I now know that the most common and frequently tested line starts with f4 instead. 7. ... O-O 8. Bd3 f5 9. Qg3 exf6 e.p. is the move that several engines seem to agree on but it is only good for equality. Qg3 might be over-ambitious but here it is as played. 9. ... c5 All of the handful of games played in this line in the database are black victories and there are zero master games. I'd say whiteis lost but it is more a matter of having a lack of winning prospects than losing. 10. Nf3 Nc6 11. Nb5?? A tactical blunder which I clearly see is a problem now, even without the computer showing me c4 followed by Qb4+. The games on the day of this event seem to be full of these kinds of mistakes. It is a wakeup call to action and retraining my internal tactical engine. 11. ... cxd4 12. Nbxd4? an inaccuracy (or really a blunder) ... 0-0 instead gets rid of the queen check and the pawn isn't going anywhere. 12. ... Nxd4 13. Nxd4 Qb4+ 14. c3 Qxb2 15. O-O Nc5 16. Rfc1 Nxd3 Black would be winning if he had applied more pressure to the squares the knight is headed for with moves like Bd7. Instead he trades away his better minor piece and helps me (the defender). 17. Qxd3 Qb6 18. c4 I considered Nb5-d6 but I thought the open c-file and a weak second rank of my opponent would lead to something better for me. That did not materialize. 18. ... dxc4 19. Qxc4 Rd8 20. Nf3?? Again I play passively and miss a killer tactic ... Nxf5! is clearly winning. I did not even consider it. Obviously I need to rework my tactical training process. 20. ... Rd5 21. Ng5?? not only is this a wasted move but realistically there is a real chance for white to play for a win here by playing Rd1 taking advantage of his lead in development. Yet another chance to win in this game thrown away. 21. ... h6 22. Rab1 Qd4 23. Nf3? Here I failed to see a pin. After 23. Qxc8+! Rxc8 24.Rxc8+ Rd8 Nxe6! and Qd1+? is met by Rxd1!. In my head that line lost for white because the rook could recapture (but in reality it is pinned). 23. ... Qxc4 24. Rxc4 Bd7 25. a4 Bc6 26. Kf1 Rad8 27. Ke2 Ra5 28. g4 fxg4 29. Rxg4 Rxa4 30. Rxa4 Bxa4 31. Rxb7 a6 32. Ke3 Bb5? Volunteering to put the bishop on a square white's knight can attack immediately helps white to equalize. 33. Nd4 Bc4 34. f4 Ra8 35. f5 exf5 36. Nxf5 a5 37. Kd4 Be6 38. Nxg7 Bc8 39. Rc7 a4 40. e6 Bxe6 41. Nxe6 a3 42. Rg7+ Kh8 43. Rg1 a2 44. Ra1 Kh7 45. Nc7 Ra4+ according to Komodo white is convincingly better here. however, with my time now dwindling down to nothing I was very unclear how to convert the extra material. This requires study. 46. Kc3 Kg6 47. Kb3 Ra5 48. Ne6?? Here was a slip, giving black time to get his king into action to attack my distant pawn. The simple and forced 48.Kb4 Ra7 49. Nb5 followed by likely Na3 wins the pawn and preserves the h-pawn. 48. ... Kf5 49. Nd4+ Kg4 50. Nc2 Kh3 51. Na3 Kxh2 52. Rxa2+ Kg3 53. Rc2 h5 54. Nc4 Rf5 55. Kc3 Rf3+ 56. Kd4 h4 57. Ne3 h3 58. Ke4 Rf4+ 59. Ke5 Rf2 1/2-1/2

There were so many chances to play much better in this game and I made so many blunders it is actually quite miraculous that I did not lose. It is time to give myself a tactical bootcamp so to speak. I have fallen behind in my study of that aspect of chess. To come this far and yet slip back into old lazy habits. It is a strange development to play moves like 45. Nc7 that require fairly precise calculation and takes some 15-20 ply for engines to actually think more of than other knight moves and then to fall for simple tactics like 21. Ng5?? or missing 23.Qxc8! or 20.Nxf5. Perhaps we are once more talking about gaps in my focus during the games as well. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

2017 CC Spring Open Round 1 Scott Lacy, 1419 - Anton Taylor, 2033 Nimzo-Indian (E41)

2017 CC Spring Open Round 1 
Scott Lacy, 1419 - Anton Taylor, 2033 
Nimzo-Indian (E41)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 c5 I spent entirely too much time thinking before playing c5. I couldn't remember any of the Nimzo lines in that moment. My two candidates were c5 and the odd looking Nc6 (which I thought was an old sideline recommendation of GM Roman Dzindzichashvili but I couldn't remember any of his analysis so I went with the thematic c5. The correctness of the move in the database is not really relavent as it is pure luck that I made an appropriate room as I got there through a fumbled means. 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 O-O 7. Bd3 Nc6 8. Nf3 d6 9. O-O e5 Black is actually really happy here and has achieved quite a lot.At least equality but optimistically a little more. 10. dxe5? Not at all the right move and probably a bankrupting one. d5, Qc2, and Nd2 are all superior moves. A move I'm surprised hasn't been played much is Be2. 10. ... Nxe5? An inaccuracy that gives white a little more freedom than he would otherwise enjoy. Obviously better is dxe5 when this keeps the knight on the board and threatens e4! 11. Nxe5 dxe5 12. Qc2 Qe7 13. f3 Be6? I thought for a long time before playing Be6 and I really thought about e4! Komodo confirms that this move is just clearly winning. For some reason I could not come to a definitive conclusion and it seems silly now that I did not play the simple temporary sacrifice. 14. e4 Nh5 15. g3 Rad8 16. Be3 Bh3 17. Rf2 Rd7 18. Be2 f5? I was very excited when I played this. I had determined that opening the position benefited me. Komodo thinks this is losing and it is correct but it takes at least ten more moves (20 ply) to prove that point and with the complex branching of the variations it wasn't really possible for me to see that far ahead. 19. f4?? My opponent fails to find that challenge to f5 with the simple exf5 and instead commits a blunder. 19. ... exf4 20. gxf4 Nf6 21. Rf3 Bg4 22. Rg3?? A bad position just got a whole lot worse. 22. ... Nxe4 23. Bxg4 Nxg3 My opponent sees the Bishop is en prise and rather than trying to defend it and play down a rook he throws in the towel. 0-1

Friday, April 14, 2017

2017 Red Bull Round 5 Anton Taylor, 1999 - CM Billy Woodward, 1990 Ruy Lopez (Spanish), Schliemann Variation (C63)

2017 Red Bull Round 5 
Anton Taylor, 1999 - CM Billy Woodward, 1990 
Ruy Lopez (Spanish), Schliemann Variation (C63)

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 f5 Billy hesitated briefly before playing this move. No doubt he remembered the last game we played in this variation and assumed I had done my research after that loss. Once more I have a horrible confession to make. I did look at the opening after that game but I did not come to a concrete conclusion or approach it in any kind of systematic way to put it into my memory. So, once more I was in the awkward position of playing by my own calculation ability right out of the opening. 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. exf5 e4 Here is where I particularly diverge from the strongest continuation against this variation. By far the best move here is Ng5! 6. Qe2 Qe7 7. Ng5?? This move is not only inaccurate but losing. Fortunately, my opponent failed to find the winning line. 7. ... Nd4 8. Qd1 h6? NxB followed by d5 is just clearly better for black here. 9. Nh3?? Nd5 is an interesting choice as after Nxd5?? Qh5+ wins. However, white in that case in merely "better" as the capture on d5 isn't forced. 9. ... c6 10. Be2 d5 11. d3 Bxf5 Black is just better here for all kinds of reasons. It boils down to the fact that white's pieces lack mobility and he has no clear target to attack. In theory black should just ground white into dust given enough time. 12. Nf4?? O-O-O? 12. ... g5! followed by d4 likely wins a piece or at the very least leaves white's king out in the open to be hunted. 13. Be3 Nxe2 14. Ncxe2 exd3 15. Nxd3 d4 16. Bf4 g5 17. Bg3 Re8 18. Kf1 Rd8? Although this move wastes time black is still winning. That fact demonstrates his superiority in the position. 19. Qd2 Ne4? I thought b6 might be necessary as Qa5 seems to be the only path to white's salvation. 20. Qa5 Nxg3+ 21. hxg3? I played this far too quickly. the knight recapture is far better. Komodo spots far off tactics but the move just looks "messy" and the knight recapture looks "clean" to my human eyes. 21. ... Bxd3 22. cxd3 Bg7? The simple Kb8 removes all the complication white can muster. 23. Qxa7 Rhf8 24. Qa8+ Kc7 25. Qa5+ Kb8 26. Rc1 Rd5 27. Qd2 I thought this was a nice way to deal with black's threats but it turns out there is a hidden "cook" that wins for black here ... 27. ... Qe3! and all of white's replies lead to a losing position. It's the sort of tactic that a computer program spots easily but a human has great difficulty seeing. 27. ... Rdf5 28. f3 Re8 29. Kf2 Qd6 30. g4 Rfe5 31. Ng3 Rf8 After all the rook shuffling around White emerges having made quite a bit of improvement for himself. Komodo recommends that for his move 32 white could move either rook to the e-file and be winning. I play an equal but interesting move. 32. Nf5 So, it turns out that sacrificing a rook for this knight is a likely road to equality for black. Or at least his best chance for it. The longer he leaves the knight on f5 the worse it gets for him. 32. ... Qg6 33. Rhe1 Rb5 34. a4 Rbxf5 35. gxf5 Qxf5 36. Qb4! the best way to play for the mate as well as prevent black from making any unraveling maneuvers. The threat of Re7 constructing a mating net is impossibly strong. 36. ... g4? This loses quickly but all roads get white to the W. 37. Re7 b5 38. Qd6+ Kc8 39. Qxc6+  Qc7 and Rxc6 are both mate in 1 but I had a sense of humor. 1-0

I decided to do some preparation since it is obvious I'm going to see this variation again from Billy. I came across an interesting little game from several years ago played by one of my long-time facebook chess friends Jacob Aagaard.

2010 49th Denmark Team Championship Round 9
GM Jacob Aagard, 2534 - GM Jonny Hector, 2576
Ruy Lopez (Spanish), Schliemann Variation (C63)

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 f5 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. exf5 e4 6. Ng5 d5 7. d3 h6 8. Ne6 Bxe6 9. fxe6 Qd6 10. dxe4 Qxe6 11. O-O dxe4 12. Bf4 Bd6 13. Bxd6 cxd6 14. f3 e3 15. Qd3 O-O-O 16. Bxc6 bxc6 17. Rfe1 Rhe8 18. Qa6+ Kb8 19. Qxc6 Rc8 20. Qb5+ Ka8 21. Rad1 d5 22. Rd3 Rb8 23. Qa5 Qc6 24. a4 e2 25. Nxd5 Nxd5 26. Qxd5 Qxd5 27. Rxd5 Rxb2 28. Rc5 Rb4 29. a5 Rd4 30. Kf2 Rd2 31. Rc7 g5 32. Rc6 Kb7 33. Rxh6 Rxc2 34. Rh5 Rc5 35. h4 Rxa5 36. hxg5 Rae5 37. g4 R5e6 38. Rh6 Re5 39. g6 a5 40. Rh5 a4 41. Rxe5 Rxe5 42. g7 1-0

This game will be saved as a reference for a later encounter with this variation.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

2017 Red Bull Round 4 Jerry Baker, 2130 - Anton Taylor, 1999 Nimzo-Larsen Indian (A01)

2017 Red Bull Round 4
Jerry Baker, 2130 - Anton Taylor, 1999 
Nimzo-Larsen Indian (A01)

1. b3 Once again Jerry uses his primary Larsen weapon. I naturally respond with the "Indian Knight" move as I have had success with it against b3. 1. ... Nf6 2. Bb2 e6 3. c4 d5 4. e3 c6 This move seems solid but not particularly energetic or challenging to white. I have to be careful of falling into slav lines that I do not know well by transposition. Jerry stays in Larsen territory so he probably doesn't know the Slav lines either from his side. 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Nc3 Bd6 7. d4 O-O 8. Bd3 Re8 9. O-O e5 I was very uncertain of this natural advance during the game. As it turns out there are some Grandmaster games in the position after e5. On the shoulders of giants here. 10. dxe5 Nxe5 11. Nxe5 Bxe5 12. Qc2 There is a game between Karpov and Gelfand where Karpov plays 12. Be2 here. This doesn't seem to change the assessment much. It is an equal position with chances for both sides. Jerry's Qc2 is also in the database but here we begin to diverge from masterful chess together. 12. ... Qc7 13. h3 dxc4 14. Bxc4 b5!? Black must find a way to get the pawns rolling or his majority will mean very little. Komodo of course thinks the idea is inferior to other moves but I like it from a practical and energetic viewpoint. 15. Be2 Bb7 16. Bf3 a6 17. Rac1 c5 18. Nxb5?? A terrible miscalculation. This game came immediately after Jerry had taken a beating in the previous round. He was moving quickly and I'd say with a great deal of certainty he was experiencing what you might call a "blow-up". It was not his day. 18. ... axb5 19. Bxe5 Rxe5 Now he sees that he will not regain the piece (as he would have had I played 19. ... Qxe5??). 20. Bxb7 Qxb7 21. Rfd1 h6 Not the greatest move but a good practical move to remove all the back rank ideas from white's head. It would be sad to play well as get back rank mated in time trouble at the end. 22. Rd3 Rc8 23. Rcd1 Ree8 24. f3 c4 25. bxc4 bxc4 26. Rd4 Qb6 27. Kh1 And in a time scramble we play on for several more moves and I hold things together. 0-1

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

2017 Red Bull Round 3 Meghan Waters, 1736 - Anton Taylor, 1999 Caro-Kann Panov-Botvinnik Attack (B13)

2017 Red Bull Round 3 
Meghan Waters, 1736 - Anton Taylor, 1999 
Caro-Kann Panov-Botvinnik Attack (B13)

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Bd3 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. a3 Meghan has done some studying in this variation I think. If my memory serves me (I could look back to check but I'm fairly certain) Meghan played a different move in this position and this was my recommendation from my analysis of our previous game. 9. ... dxc4 10. Bxc4 Na5 This move was one I criticized in my previous analysis but I had a change of heart even in this version of the position after a3 has been played. The mainline recommendation is a6 but I'm not clear what black is doing after a4 (preventing the b5 advance at least for the moment and that development is very annoying. I prefer this lesser used method. 11. Ba2 b6 Out of only three master games each with lower rated black players (significantly) Black scores an impressive two draws and one loss here. The position is "equal but unbalanced" ... the perfect way to play for a win. 12. Re1 There is nothing inherently wrong with this move as it is a development of the rook. However, I am indeed curious about moves like Qe2 preparing to put a rook behind the isolated pawn and playing d5 at some point in the near future if allowed. The textbook recommendation is probably Bf4 here connecting the rooks after eventually moving the queen as well (perhaos Qe2 in that case as well). 12. ... Ba6 I remembered from our previous encounter that a trade on c4 (which I had avoided) was actually a key maneuver. I gambled a little that it could be important here as well. 13. Ne5 Rc8 14. d5 This seems to equalize in the eyes of the silicon monster but I'm not entirely convinced. sure, the main weakness is now gone after the pawns get traded but surely black must be slightly better due to his better development. Bg5 was probably slightly better (but as I said this move is just fine, it just isn't to my taste). 14. ... exd5 15. Nxd5 Nxd5 16. Bxd5 Bf6 17. Ng4 I did not consider this move when I calculated after d5. I think it is slightly inaccurate. True enough, it is given an equality score by komodo BUT the move allows black to take over c4 which was part of his original plan by playing Na5 and Ba6 anyway. The knight just moves away from guarding that square. again, black must be slightly better. After the knight trades for the bishop what is white's plan? I don't think he has one here. 17. ... Bc4 18. Nxf6+ Qxf6 19. Qf3? This concedes to black the control of c4 and leads to a loss of material as a result. 19. ... Qxf3 20. Bxf3 Nb3 21. Rb1 Bd3 22. Bg5 Bxb1 23. Rxb1 Nd4? h6! instead planning after Be3 or Bf4 to play Rfd8 and threaten the Nd2 fork was the correct path. Sure, this is winning too but it is far more difficult. 24. Bg4 f5 25. Bd1 f4 26. f3 Rf5 27. Be7 Kf7 28. Bb4 Rb5 29. Ba4 Rxb4 Several of the moves I have made since move 22 are inaccurate. I am floundering trying to make something of my material advantage and it just isn't working out. Add that to the time trouble I'm starting to feel and you see why I want to eliminate the bishop pair. The simpler endgame is much easier for me to calculate as I get low on time and it is winning as well. 30. axb4 Rc4 31. Kf2 Rxb4 32. Bd1 a5 33. g3 fxg3+ 34. hxg3 a4 35. Ke3 Nf5+ 36. Kd3 Nxg3 37. Kc3 Rf4 And I go on to win the clearly superior ending with the extra two pawns. 0-1

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

2017 Red Bull Round 2 Anton Taylor, 1999 - NM Davis Whaley, 2336 Sicilian Taimanov (B44)

2017 Red Bull Round 2 
Anton Taylor, 1999 - NM Davis Whaley, 2336 
Sicilian Taimanov (B44)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Be3 The previous month we played a game with the same colors and I chose the slightly dubious Nb5. This move was my improvement on that game after a little bit of study. 5. ... Nf6 6. Nc3 Qc7 This move in itself is a small sample sideline. My reply then is a sideline of a sideline. There is a ton of theory ... more reasearch will be needed. 7. Ndb5 Qb8 8. Qd2 a6 9. Nd4 Bb4 10. Nxc6 This is an annoyinf choice to make. This is where I diverge from theory. It's a horrible move positionally, it concedes d5 most of all. 10. ... bxc6 11. Bd3 d5 12. exd5 cxd5 13. a3 Be7 14. O-O O-O 15. Bg5 Komodo dislikes this move but gives black only a slight advantage. The alternatives it offers are odd moves like Na4 and h3 that basically just waste time and "pass". For future reference that means that white is probably lost here. 15. ... Bb7 16. f3 Qc7 17. Qf4? This move is a blunder and as it happens neither my opponent nor myself saw the refutation. (17. ... e5! 18.Qf5?? ... the intended move threatening mate and the point of Qf4 ... 18. ... Bc8! a backward move that's difficult to see from the position on the board.) 17. ... Qxf4 18. Bxf4 Nd7 This isn't a very large black advntage after Nd7 but it was an annoying move as I did not see it when I played Qf4 (anticipating the queen trade, which as we saw was a mistake anyway but Davis went along with me). 19. Rae1 Rac8 20. Nd1 Nc5 The rest of this game was played in time trouble ... 21. Be2 Na4 22. Bd3 Nc5 23. Be2 f6 24. b4?? Most of the last moves are bad but this is just a horrible move designed to create a complication and drain Davis' time. 24. ... Na4 25. Bd3 e5 26. Bd2 Rc7 27. b5 Nc5 28. bxa6 Nxd3 29. cxd3 Bxa6 0-1 In a time scramble I manage to salvage the position by trading and get a favorable two pawn ending versus bishop and one pawn. However, through a mistake in calculation (which I cannot seem to reproduce) I lost both pawns and his bishop was of the queening color so I resigned in that common lost position.

Monday, April 10, 2017

2017 Red Bull Round 1 Lu Zhang, 1617 - Anton Taylor, 1999 Caro-Kann, Advance (B12)

2017 Red Bull Round 1
Lu Zhang, 1617 - Anton Taylor, 1999 
Caro-Kann, Advance (B12)

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 This move is a recommendation from GM Nigel Davies as an effort to avoid the heavier theory behind Bf5. 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. Be2 e6 7. O-O cxd4 The more common move is Bxf3 with the idea of then trading and after Qb6 white has problems. I could not remember that line because in the majority of games people avoid allowing Bg4. 8. cxd4 Qb6 9. Nbd2 Nh6 I thought of this move at the board and it happens to be the number one candidate in the position with a number of games (and mostly black victories). 10. Nb3 Nf5 11. Be3 Be7 12. h3 Bxf3 13. Bxf3 O-O This position is roughly equal. I liked my position until White's next move. Truthfully, I was not certain how best to meet the move ... 14. Bg4 Komodo recommend Nxe3 followed by a queenside expansion but this seems hopelessly equal with little counterplay. 14. ... f6!? There is an edge given to white here but it is very small and more than the bland Nxe3 this provides black with chances to win (and lose) ... eliminating the undesirable third result and leaving a complicated position on the board. 15. Bxf5 exf5 16. f4?? I did not look at the position long enough to see the winning idea 16. ... fxe5 17.fxe5 Nxe5! 16. ... Rac8?? 17. Qd3? Once again I miss a great move in 17. ... Nb4! when Qxf5 is met by Nc2! 17. ... g6? 18. a3 a5 I thought I was doing okay here and at least keeping equality with chances but Komodo very much dislikes this turn of events. Mainly the problem is that the threats on the white b-pawn are illusions. Black's own b-pawn would fall as well in most variations and allow White to penetrate into the black position with a rook. Fortunately, white thinks he has to defend this pawn and gives black tempo. 19. Rab1? Nd8? This of course is a mistake. As I looked at the position I completely underestimated the power of Nc5. My opponent seems to not have even considered the knight move if his eyes were an indication of his thoughts. 20. Bf2? Doing nothing. 20. ... Ne6 21. g3 Rc4 22. Rfe1 Rfc8 23. exf6? White's major trump is gone after this blunder. Black feels some relief and no pressure afterwards. 23. ... Bxf6 24. Qe2 Nxa4 is komodo's idea but after Nxf4 it leads to nothing. however, any other white move seems to give black an advantage. 24. ... Nxd4 In time trouble I miss Nxf4!. 25. Nxd4 Bxd4 26. Qe6+ Qxe6 27. Rxe6 Bxf2+? Rc1+ wins the b-pawn at least ... the mainline is 27. ... Rc1+ 28. Re1 Rxe1+ 29. Rxe1 Bxb2 The line I choose is winning anyway. 28. Kxf2 Re4 29. Re1 Rc2+ 30. Re2?? Rcxe2+ 0-1

My opponent resigns the game after slamming his palms on the table. I guess he thought he was winning the endgame until he blundered the rook but the endgame is completely lost. This game is a good example of my round one performances. Always a comedy of error where my calculations are too short and it is as if my mental chess engine needs to "boot up" to start running. Overall a terrible way for me to play and something that I need to work on.