Friday, May 26, 2017

2017 3 Tables - May Round 3 Michael Thomas, 1998 - Anton Taylor, 2011 English: Anglo-Indian (A15)

2017 3 Tables - May Round 3
Michael Thomas, 1998 - Anton Taylor, 2011
English: Anglo-Indian (A15)

1. c4 Nf6 2. g3 e6 Oftentimes Catalan players will accept this transposition and I get into familiar territory as black. My opponent in this game (a long-time friend of mine) prefers to keep things tense and undecided. 3. Bg2 d5 4. Nf3 Bd6 Be7 is more common and probably just a bit better because the queen supports the d-pawn advance. the bishop on d6 interferes with the queen's file. 5. O-O O-O 6. b3 c5 7. e3 There are very few games in the database in this position to give a fair assessment but after my next move I give a plus to black. White has delayed his central push in favor of activity on the wings. These ideas are often countered by action in the center. 7. ... d4!? 8. exd4 cxd4 9. Re1? Bb2 seems the more appropriate reply or maybe even Ba6. This is just an inaccuracy but not a blunder. There is game left to play here. 9. ... Nc6 10. Bb2 e5 Only now does komodo running on my home pc begin to see white's problem. He has some weaknesses but perhaps just as important he has zero attacking prospects and his only plan for the next several moves is to try and develop. 11. a3? This move comes from a fear of black getting a knight outpost on c2 but white can simply prevent this with a move he will have to play eventually (d3). Therefore, this a waste of time. Also, as it turns out in the coming ending this is a decisive mistake because it leades to a weak b-pawn. 11. ... Bg4 Bf5 instead of this move was probably better. I considered it but did not spend much time on it ... not enough time. 12. h3?? This is a blunder but I failed to capitalize on it correctly. I, however did find a technically won ending from here. 12. ... Bxf3 13. Bxf3 Qd7? komodo gives the interesting sacrifice 13. ... e4!. I have to say that I did not consider that move at all. To my eyes it just seemed to blunder a pawn but with potential variations like 13... e4 14. Bxe4 Nxe4 15. Rxe4 f5 16. Re6 Qd7 17. Re1 f4 Black looks to be mopping things up nicely. 14. Kg2? Sacrificing the pawn was necessary to leave black with only a slight edge of a rook-pawn. 14. ... Qf5?? e4 once again looms in the air as the winning idea. This move allows white to consolidate and even gives him a winning game with correct play.  15. d3 Rae8 16. Bxc6?? Almost every other move on the board wins for white or at least gives him a comfortable edge to work with. This move, however, just gives up a whole set of squares to black's forces in the bishop's absence. 16. ... bxc6 17. Qf3 Qxf3+ 18. Kxf3 Rb8 19. Nd2 Nd7 20. b4 a5 21. c5 Bxc5 22. Nc4 axb4 23. axb4?? White is already lost but the game could be saved in the time trouble of the ending if white had tried Nxe5 as I expected him to play here. The text just leads to carnage. 23. ... Bxb4 24. Re2 f6 25. Ra6 Nc5 26. Rxc6 Nxd3 0-1 Mike said "that's enough" and extended his hand. I have played Mike a few times in the last fifteen years but until this game I was on the receiving end of a massive beating. It is a landmark game for me in spite of the mistakes. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

2017 3 Tables - May Round 2 Anton Taylor, 2011 - Randas Burns, 1992 c3 Sicilian (B27)

2017 3 Tables - May Round 2
Anton Taylor, 2011 - Randas Burns, 1992
c3 Sicilian (B27)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. c3 Bg7 4. Bc4 Nc6 I had followed this path as white mainly to take Randas out of his book knowledge. I fell pray to his intuition in his pet accelerated dragon in our previous encounter and I did not want a repeat. 5. O-O I'm content not to exchange on d4. Instead, I decide to stunt the bishop's diagonal and build a kingside attack. 5. ... d6 6. d3 e6? If Black intended d5 then he should have played e6 on his previous move. this idea now just wastes a tempo. 7. Nbd2 Nge7 8. Re1 O-O 9. Nf1 The common reorganizing of this knight in such positions is a clear path for white. I would argue that black has had no clear plan. 9. ... a6 10. h4 d5 11. exd5 exd5 12. Bb3 h6? This is a reflexive reaction to h4. It seems like such moves can only create weaknesses when they don't attack pieces to gain time. 13. Bf4 Just completing developing pieces until I can crack open the black kingside. The plan is to play Qd2 and start an attack on the black h-pawn. 13. ... Be6 14. Qd2 Kh7? An inaccuracy. I had expected Nf5. Talking with Randas after the game he did not think he could keep the knight on that square and so quickly decided to make the thematic king move.  15. h5 Qd7 This is an interesting position. White has one major weakness and set about a plan to eliminate it. The bishop on b3 needs to find greener pastures and control more squares. 16. d4 cxd4 17. cxd4 Nf5 Too little too late. 18. Ne5! Black would have an equal position if he could make something out of his central attack. This move and the plan to recapture with the d-pawn ensures that that counterplay goes nowhere. 18. ... Nxe5 19. dxe5 komodo feels that Bxe5 is superior and that may very well be true but I see no harm in the move. Perhaps it is best to compromise and call this a slight inaccuracy. 19. ... g5 20. Bh2 The only move. The tempting Bishop sacrifice on g5 doesn't work. 20. ... Rfd8 21. Bc2 Kg8 22. Qd3 It's interesting how badly komodo assesses white to be here. Perhaps this counterplay on the open file is exactly why the machines did not like dxe5? 22. ... Rac8 23. Rac1 Rc7 24. f4? This turns out in analysis to be foolishly optimist or at least premature. I felt I was winning here but with correct play white is just holding on and fending off black's counterplay in the center. 24. ... Qe7?? Rdc8 was both necessary and probabl;y winning. This is the decisive blunder. 25. g4 Qc5+ 26. Kh1 Nh4 27. f5 Qf2 28. Re2 Qf3+ 29. Qxf3 Nxf3 30. fxe6 fxe6 31. Bh7+ 1-0

In the face of being so much material down Randas throws in the towel. My foolish optimism in the attack could have cost me this game. My positional evaluation after 19. dxe5 was flawed and that complicated my life considerably. You can even see in the annotation that I start out liking the move and gradually come to the realization that it was a turning point in the game where I nearly spoiled the good idea of 18. Ne5.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

2017 3 Tables - May Round 1 NM Davis Whaley, 2352 - Anton Taylor, 2011 Nimzo-Indian 4.e3 (E41)

2017 3 Tables - May Round 1 
NM Davis Whaley, 2352 - Anton Taylor, 2011 
Nimzo-Indian 4.e3 (E41)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 c5 5. Bd3 Nc6 6. Ne2 d6 This is a bit of a sideline. I honestly could not remember the mainline (cxd4) or how I was supposed to play there. d6 is a nice idea giving white a bit of space to close the center and get in e5. I will probably play this line again but I will be better prepared the next time. 7. O-O e5 The silicon monsters absolutely hate this move but it is the only clear idea after d6. My chess sense tells me that it is hard for white to prove a direct winning method here. However, at a ply greater than 20 komodo gives +- 0.78. 8. d5 Ne7 9. f4 exf4 I hated to play this move but I saw no reasonable alternative. It is rough equality with white being a bit better. The main problem practically is that the Bishop on c8 has very few squares and zero attakingt prospects. 10. exf4 Bg4 11. Qc2 Ng6 12. Ng3 O-O 13. f5 Ne5 14. h3 Nh5 15. Nge4 Bxh3 16. gxh3 Qh4 17. Kg2 f6 18. Bd2 Bxc3 19. Qxc3 Rae8 20. Rae1 g5 21. fxg6 Nxg6 22. Bc2 Nhf4+ 23. Bxf4 Nxf4+ 24. Kh2 Kh8 25. Qg3 Qxg3+ 26. Kxg3 Nh5+ 27. Kh4 Re5 28. Nxd6 Rg5 29. Rxf6 1-0
 The remainder of the game is interesting with a lot of alternatives and a lot of potential pitfalls for white (even though he is a piece up at the cost of a pawn). However, it seems more efficient for time for me to go back and look at the opening again and draw some positional conclusions before the tactics came into play. Once again I have trouble in a Nimzo based opening line (I recall a game from last month where I played against Michael Johnson and lost right out of the opening as happened here.