Saturday, March 15, 2008

Reykjavik Open round 7

I was very nervous before this game. As before, I wanted to at least not lose so that I could continue to play people above me in rating. Already I was dropping down to play someone lower than anyone else I had played so far, so losing this game would be a real blow to my tournament aspirations. I had played this gentleman before, in the October Icelandic Team Championships, and he had beaten me with the black pieces. I prepared for the two main defenses he used - the 2...e6 Sicilian or the French Winawer.

[Event "Reykjavik Open 2008"]
[Site "Reykjavik, Iceland"]
[Date "2008.03.09"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Cross, Ted"]
[Black "Finnlaugsson, Gunnar"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C10"]
[WhiteElo "2079"]
[BlackElo "2128"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4
This made me really worried. I had not prepared for this, and I had no knowledge of how to properly play against this line. Only twice before had anyone played this line against me, and that was back in the 1980s!
4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ gxf6 6. Nf3 b6 7. Bf4 Bb7 8. Be2
I didn't want to play this move,and I don't know why I worried that he would take my f3 knight with his bishop. I should have simply played Qd2 and castled queenside. (8. Qd2 Bd6 9. O-O-O Sadvakasov-Privman)
8...Nd7 9. O-O
I didn't want to castle kingside, yet I convinced myself that I had no choice.
9...Bd6 10. Bxd6 cxd6 11. Re1 Qc7 12. c4 O-O-O 13. b4
I was relatively content here, thinking I might be able to build up a huge attack against his king, but I worried about how fast his attack against my king might come.
13...Kb8 14. Qb3
I think now that I should have played Bf1 instead, with the idea of playing g3 and bishop to g2. That is far better than my lame idea that placed my knight on h4.
14...Rdg8 15. Nh4?!
I shouldn't have worried so much about his attack. I could have simply gone for my own attack with 15. a4 here. (15. a4 Rg7 16. a5 Rhg8 17. g3)
15...f5 16. Bf3
This was why I played the knight to h4. I wanted to try to trade off the white squared bishops.
This is the problem, though. I needed him to trade bishops; I don't want to take his and help him get his queen into the attack.
17. Rac1 Ne4 18. d5?!
I overlooked the best way to seal up an advantage with 18. Qe3! (18. Qe3 Ng5 (18... Qd8 19. Qh6 Rg5 20. Red1 Rhg8 21. c5) 19. Bxb7 Qxb7 20. d5)
An excellent move. Now I am in some real trouble due to that terrible knight on h4.
19. Bxe4 Qxh4?
A bad mistake. He could have had a clear advantage with 19...fxe4. (19...fxe4 20. Rxe4 (20. Qh3 exd5 (20... Bc8 21. f4 exd5 22. f5 dxc4 23. Rxe4 d5 24.Rd4) 21. cxd5 Bxd5 (21...Bc8 22. Rxc8+ Qxc8 23. Qxc8+ Rxc8 24. Nf5 Rc2 25.Kf1 Rxa2 26. Nxd6 Rb2 27. Nxe4 Rxb4 28. Nf6) 22. a3 Qg5 (22...Be6 23. Qc3 Rg4 24. g3 Rhg8 25. Ng2 d5) 23. g3 Rc8 24. Rcd1 Be6 25. Qg2 d5 26. f4! exf3 (26...Qf6 27. f5 Bd7 28. Rxd5 Bc6 29. Rdd1) 27. Nxf3) 20...f5 21. Rxe6 Qxh4 22. g3 Qd8 23. a4 f4 24. a5 h5 25. axb6 axb6 26. Qf3 fxg3 27.fxg3)
20. Bf3 Qe7
I had been nervous about 20...e5, but it turns out white retains a big advantage. (20...e5 21. c5! (21. g3 e4 22. Bg2 Qd8 23.Red1) 21...e4 22. g3! Qe7 (22...exf3 23. Re8+ Bc8 (23...Kc7 24. cxb6+ Kxb6 (24...Kd7 25. Qa4+ Bc6 26. Qxc6#)) 24. cxb6) 23. Bg2)
21. dxe6?!
Well, I blew it with this move. I was still worrying about his attack against me. Instead I should have looked at how I could attack him! 21. c5! is the start of an overwhelming attack here. (21. c5! e5 22. c6 Bc8 23. a4 Qg5 24. g3 f4 25. c7+ Kb7 26. b5 h5 27. Qa3 Qf6 28. a5 bxa5 29. Rc6 fxg3 30.fxg3 h4 31. Rxd6 Qf4 32. Re4 Qd2 33. Qc5 Ka8 34. Ra6 Bxa6 35. bxa6 Qh6 36. d6)
21...fxe6 22. Bxb7 Qxb7 23. f3 1/2-1/2
I made the draw offer here for a few reasons. First, I had just gone from feeling I may be lost a few moves ago to now not knowing who was better. I felt that I might be better, but I just couldn't tell. I figured if he accepted the draw it would suit me since it would allow me to still play up the next round, while if he declined it then that would help me mentally. Why? Because my mind at this point kept thinking about a draw, and since I believe firmly in only offering a draw once per game, if he declined the draw then I could get my mind off of the draw idea and simply concentrate on playing the game.

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