Thursday, March 13, 2008

Reykjavik Open round 3

I felt a lot of pressure before this round. I didn’t want to start a string of losses that would end with me having to play against the lowest rated players in the tournament. I wanted to keep playing up, and that meant having to keep getting upsets, at least draws against higher rated opposition. This round I faced a strong master level player, and I wished to get at least a draw if I could. My preparation focused mainly on the Two Knight’s Defense, as the database showed this as his main response to Bc4 in the king pawn opening. As always seems to happen, he varied immediately to blow away my preparation, and the game turned extremely tactical, which suits my style but is very nervewracking!

[Event "Reykjavik Open 2008"]
[Site "Reykjavik, Iceland"]
[Date "2008.03.05"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Cross, Ted"]
[Black "Edvardsson, Kristjan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B98"]
[WhiteElo "2079"]
[BlackElo "2261"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Be7 8. Qf3 Qc7 9. O-O-O Bd7
I can’t say this is a new move for me in the Najdorf Sicilian, but it is one I never really bothered to think about before. I think I always just tried to follow the same lines as the normal 9…Nbd7 variation, but the fact is that it is quite different. I knew the knight would now come to c6 instead, so I played my bishop to d3 hoping this would lead to a strong attack against his king.
10. Bd3 Nc6 11. Nce2 Nb4
Normally I would not be happy about giving up a strong bishop for a knight, but in this case I felt that getting the free rook-lift to the third rank made it worth it, given that I wanted to be able to swing that rook over to h3 for attacking purposes.
12. Kb1 O-O 13. g4
Part of the usual plan – eliminate the knight on f6, push the pawn to g5, then bring the queen and rook over to either the g or h files.
13…Rfc8 14. c3 Nxd3 15. Rxd3 b5
I was fairly happy now, though I didn’t know the theory of this position. I felt that my attack would come before his.
16. Bxf6 Bxf6 17. g5 Bd8
Bringing the bishop back to the 8th rank saved me. I overlooked some defensive possibilities on his part, and without that bishop on d8 I would have lost.
18. Qh5!?
I thought that he had no way to defend the h7 pawn and that my attack might already be overwhelming.
I didn’t see that he could have defended with 18...Qb7. 18…e5 is what I expected.
19. Nf5 Qc4
I completely overlooked this defensive idea and suddenly I thought I was in big trouble. I was expecting 19...g6 20. Qh6 (20. Nh6+ Kg7 21. Qf3 Be6 22. Rhd1 is unclear) 20...gxf5. I didn’t look deeper since it became too complex, but my intuition told me my attack would be decisive if I didn’t screw it up. There could have followed 21. Rh3 Be6 22. Qxh7+ Kf8 23. exf5 (23. g6 fxg6 24. Qxg6 Bf7 25. Qxf5 Qc4 26. fxe5 Qxa2+ 27. Kc1 Qe6 28. Qxe6 Bxe6 29. Rf1+ Ke8 30. Rh8+ Kd7 31. Rh7+ Be732. exd6 Rh8 33. Rxe7+ Kxd6 gives white a big edge) 23…Bd5 24. fxe5! and the attack becomes too crazy for Fritz to give me an answer, but I suspect white may win this.
20. Qf3?
I didn’t look deeply enough to see that there was a better possibility for me that still left me with a large advantage. I was very disappointed at my attack being repelled so easily. If only I had seen 20. Rhd1! Bxf5 (20...g6 21. Nh6+ Kg7 22. Qf3 gives white a clear edge) (20...Qxe4? is what I feared, but it allows 21. Nxd6 Qg6 22. Qxg6 hxg6 23. Nxc8 and white is easily winning)
20...Bxf5 21. exf5 e4?
He played too quickly, thinking that this just won, and I thought so too at first. Then I looked deeper, remembering the Bishop blocking black’s back rank, and I found the saving move. Black should have played 21... Bxg5! to threaten 22…e4, when I could have held on with 22. Rxd6 Bxf4 (22... Be7? 23. Rd7 e4 24. Qg2 Bf6 25. Ng3 Qc5 (25...Re8 26. Nh5 Kh8 27. Nxf6 gxf6 28. Re1 gives white a large edge) 26. Nxe4 Qxf5 27. Rd5 Qg6 28. Rg1 and white has a small edge) 23. f6 g6 24. b3 Qc7 25. Rhd1 and things are unclear.

22. Re3!
Yes, a saving move due to the backrank mate threat!
22…d5 23. Qh5
Since he missed the proper continuation on move 21, I get my attack back again.
He is in trouble regardless, but this just makes things worse. His best try was 23...b4 24. Rh3 Kf8 25. Qxh7 Qxe2 26. Qh8+ Ke7 27. Qxg7 Kd6 28. Qxf7 a5 29. Rc1! and white wins.
24. Qh6 gxf5 25. Rh3!?
Not a bad move, but there was no need to give up the knight. Black has no attack looming, so it was an easy win after 25. Nd4, and this also prevents black from defending as in his next move.
25...Rc6 26. Qxh7+ Kf8 27. Qxf5!?
I was apparently intent on letting him have that knight! I sure make my life harder than necessary. It is still easy to win after 27. Qh8+ Ke7 28. Nd4.
27...Qxe2 28. Rh8+?
I make things far too hard. I looked at the correct move but couldn’t see all the way to the end of the variations, so I passed on it. 28. Qd7! Re6 (28... Rg6 29. Rh8+ Kg7 (29...Rg8 30. Qd6+ Be7 31. Qh6+ Ke8 32. Qc6+ and white wins) 30. Qe8 Bxg5 31. Rg8+ Kh6 32. fxg5+ Rxg5 33. Rh8+ Kg6 34. Qc6+ f6 35. Qxa8 Rg2 36. Qg8+ Kf5 37. Qxd5+ Kf4 38. Rh4+ and white wins) 29. Rh7 Be7 30. Rh8+ Kg7 31. Rxa8 and white wins.
28...Ke7 29. Rh7 Qd3+ 30. Ka1 Kd6 31. Rxf7 Rc7??
Black blunders badly just when he could have made white’s win difficult, though after 31...Kc5 32. g6 Ba5 (32...Qf3 33. Rb1 Ba5 34. Qe5 Qe3 35. g7 Rg8 36. Rd1 Bxc3 (36...Rd6 37. Rf6 Rd7 (37... Rxf6 38. Qxd5+ Kb6 39. Qxg8 and white wins) 38. b4+ Bxb4 39. Rxd5+ Kc4 (39... Rxd5 40. Qc7#) 40. Rc6+ Bc5 41. Qxe4+ Kxc3 42. Qxe3+ Kb4 43. Qxc5+ Ka4 44. Rxa6#) 37. bxc3 and white wins) 33. Rf6 Qc2 (33...Rc7 34. Qe5 Qd2 (34...b4 35. Qd6+ Kb5 36. g7! and white wins) 35. g7 Rxg7 36. Qd6+ Kc4 37. Qc6+ Kd3 38. Qxa8 Bxc3 39. Qxd5+ Bd4 40. Qb3+ Ke2 41. Rxa6 Bg1 42. a3 and white wins) 34. Qe5 Rxf6 35. Qxf6 b4 36. cxb4+ Kxb4 (36...Bxb4 37. g7 Rc8 38. a3 Kb5 39. Rg1 Bc5 40. g8=Q Rxg8 41. Rxg8 Qc1+ 42. Ka2 Qc4+ 43. b3 Qc2+ 44. Qb2 and white wins) 37. g7 Rc8 38. Rb1 Kb5 39. Qf7 and white wins.

32. g6?
Both of us were in time trouble at this point, so I was playing more by instinct than calculation. I missed checkmate with 32. Qg6+ Kc5 33. Rxc7+ Bxc7 34. b4+ Kc4 35. Qc6#
32... Rxf7 33. Qxf7 e3!
Black plays tough on defense. I have to play very accurately to finish things off.
34. Qf8+ Kd7 35. g7 e2 36. a3 Bf6?
Black fails to find the right defense. White would have to find an amazing move to win after 36...b4! 37. cxb4 Bf6 38. Qf7+ Be7 39. f5 Qd1+ 40. Ka2!! Qxh1 41. Qe6+ Kc7 42. Qxe7+ Kc6 43. Qxe2 Qe4 44. Qxe4 dxe4 45. f6 e3 46. f7 e2 47. g8=Q Rxg8 48. fxg8=Q e1=Q 49. Qc4+ and white wins. But if white had missed the brilliant reply on move 40 with 40. Rxd1 exd1+(Q) 41. Ka2 Qe2! Then it is just a draw.
37. Qxa8 Qd1+ 38. Rxd1
Also winning here is 38. Ka2 Bxg7 39. Qa7+ Ke8 40. Qg1.
38...exd1=Q+ 39. Ka2 Bxg7 40. Qb7+ Kd8 41. Qxg7 Qf1 42. Qd4 Ke7 43. h4 Qf3 44. Qa7+ Kf8 45. Qxa6 Qd3 46. Qf6+ Kg8 47. Qd4 Qf5 48. Kb3 Kh7 49. Qf2
Ok, so I played to be tricky here. I knew that I probably needed to bring the king to b4, but I worried about somehow giving up a perpetual check. I wished to end things quickly, and with my opponent in time trouble I decided this trick might work and couldn’t do me any harm.
He falls for it.
50. Qc2 1-0
How thrilled I was! Now I knew I would get to play strong players for at least the next two rounds.

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