Sunday, January 19, 2020

4th International Chess Festival Rome part 2

After the depressing first four rounds, I began to settle down and do better. In the first game, the player didn't know the line I played in the Two Knights and blundered straight away.

Cross,Ted (1994) - Nanni,Sergio (1610) [C56]
4th International Chess Festival Rome (5), 11.12.2019

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.e5 Bb4+?? 
Not sure what he saw here, but maybe he didn't expect me to play c3?
6.c3 dxc3 7.bxc3 Qe7? 8.0-0 0-0 9.exf6 gxf6 10.cxb4 Ne5 11.Bb3 d6 12.Bb2 Bg4 13.Nbd2 c6 14.h3 Be6 15.Nxe5 dxe5 16.Bxe6 Qxe6 17.Qg4+ Qxg4 18.hxg4 Rad8 19.Ne4 Kg7 20.f4 1-0

The next game didn't feel so badly played, but the computer dislikes a lot of our moves.

Simeoni,Matteo (1794) - Cross,Ted (1994) [B33]
4th International Chess Festival Rome (6), 12.12.2019

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Nd5 Nxd5 8.exd5 Nb8 9.c4 Be7 10.Be2 0-0 11.0-0 a6 12.Nc3 Nd7 13.Be3 f5 14.f4 Kh8?!
I didn't know this opening line particularly well, so I made a lot of less than perfect moves. Fortunately the same can be said about my opponent.
[>=14...Bf6 15.Qd2 exf4 16.Bxf4 Ne5=]
15.Rc1 b6?! 
[>=15...exf4 16.Bxf4 Bg5 17.Bxg5 Qxg5 18.Qd4 Ne5=]
16.Na4 Rb8 17.Qc2?! 
[>=17.b4 exf4 18.Bxf4 b5 19.Nb2 g5 20.Be3=]
[>=17...b5 18.cxb5 axb5 19.Nc3 exf4 20.Bxf4 b4=/+]
18...dxe5 19.Nxc5 bxc5 20.Rcd1?! 
20...Bd6 21.Kh1?! 
[>=21...Qe7 22.Bc1 a5-/+]
23.Bd3 e4 
[>=23...Bf5 24.Bxf5 Qxf5 25.Qxf5 Rxf5-/+]
24.Bxe4 Rxb2 25.Qd3 Bg4 
26.Rd2 Rfb8 27.Rxb2 Rxb2 28.Bf3 Bxf3 29.Qxf3 Rxa2 30.Qe4? 
[30.Re1 Kg8 31.Re6 Qd8 32.Qb3 Rd2=]
[>=30...a5 31.Qe8+ Qf8 32.Qxf8+ Bxf8 33.Rxf4 Kg8=/+]
31.Qe8+ Qf8 32.Qxf8+?! 
32...Bxf8 33.Re1? 
[33.h4! Rc2 34.Rd1 Bd6 35.Ra1 a5 36.Rxa5 Rc1 37.hxg5 Be5 38.Kh2 f3+ 39.g3 Rc2+ 40.Kh3 f2 41.Bxf2 Rxf2 42.Rxc5 Rd2=]
33...Kg7 34.Re5 h6 
[34...Kf6 35.Re6+ Kf5 36.Re8 Bd6 37.Re6 Bb8-+ 38.Bxc5? Ra1+ 39.Bg1 Ba7-+]
35.h3 a5 
36.Re6 Kf7 37.Rc6 Rc2 38.d6 Ke6 39.Ra6 
[39.Rxc5 a4! 40.Ra5 Rxc4 41.Bc5 Rc1+ 42.Kh2 f3 43.gxf3 Rxc5-+; 39.Bxc5 Bg7 40.Rc8 Bf6-+]
 39...Rxc4 40.Rxa5 Bxd6 41.Ra6 Rc1 0-1

I felt a lot better after winning two in a row. If I could just win out the rest of my games then I could even hope to finish among the top spots. But then see what happened...

Salvato,Giuseppe (1710) - Cross,Ted (1994) [B22]
4th International Chess Festival Rome (7), 13.12.2019

1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 e6 5.Nf3 Nc6? 
Okay, so I don't know this line very well and could have gotten into trouble early. Luckily he decided to stick to the standard lines.
[>=6.c4 Ndb4 7.dxc5! a5 8.Nc3 Bxc5 9.Bf4+/-]
6...cxd4 7.cxd4 d6 8.0-0 dxe5?! 
9.dxe5 Be7 10.Nc3?! 
This was about the only slight mistake my opponent made in this game. He was just 13 years old, and you can forget about that low rating. He was clearly skyrocketing upward and that rating meant nothing. He went undefeated and won clear first place in this tournament, gaining more than 200 rating points!
10...Nxc3 11.bxc3 Qxd1 12.Rxd1 0-0 13.Be3 b6 14.Bb5 Na5 15.Nd4 Bb7 16.Nb3 Nxb3? 
I never had any chance of winning this game throughout, but I was at least drawing it. This move made it much harder for me.
[16...Bc6! 17.Ba6 Rfb8 18.Rab1 Nb7=]
17.axb3 Rfd8 18.Rxd8+ Bxd8 19.Rd1 a6 20.Be2 b5 21.c4 Bc6 22.cxb5 axb5 23.f4= Kf8 24.Rc1 Bd7 25.Bf3 Rc8? 
26.Rxc8 Bxc8 27.Bc6 b4?! 
[27...Ba6 28.Bc5+ Kg8+/-]
[28.Bc5+ Be7 29.Bd6+-]
28...Be7 29.Kf3 Ba6 30.Bb6 f6 31.Ke4 Bf1?? 
Even at this stage I still could have held the draw. I needed to play more energetically in the center.
[31...Kf7 32.Kd4 g5 33.fxg5 fxe5+ 34.Kxe5 Bxg5 35.Be4 h6 36.Kd4 Be7 37.Bc5 e5+ 38.Kd5 Bb7+ 39.Kxe5 Bxe4 40.Bxe7 Bc2=]
32.Kd4 Kf7 33.Bc5 fxe5+ 34.fxe5 Bxc5+ 35.Kxc5 Kg6 36.Kd6 Kf7 37.Bd7 Bxg2 38.Bxe6+ Kf8 39.Bc4 1-0

I didn't yet know how great this kid would do, winning the rest of his games to take clear first place, but I saw how methodical he was against me and knew he was far better than his rating. Still, I felt terrible enough at losing this to withdraw at this point. I hope I'll do better next year.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

4th International Chess Festival Rome part 1

After moving from Nassau to Rome this summer, December was when I played my first chess tournament here. I figured I'd be a bit rusty but hoped I'd manage to do well anyway. In the end it didn't turn out well, but there were some mitigating factors. The playing site was pretty nice. Quite a few grandmasters played in the master's section, such as Sergei Tiviakov. I played in the Under 2200 section.

Round one went well, as I played a typical Giuoco Pianno opening and my opponent simply blundered in an even position.

Cross,Ted (1994) - Palmucci,Lorenzo (1637) [C54]
4th International Chess Festival Rome (1), 03.03.2019

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Nxe4 8.Bxb4 Nxb4 9.Bxf7+ Kxf7 10.Qb3+ d5 11.Qxb4 Re8 12.0-0 Kg8 13.Nc3 Nf6 14.Rfe1 c6 15.h3 a5 16.Qb3 Rb8 17.Ne5 [>=17.Rxe8+ Qxe8 18.Ne5 Bf5 19.Re1+/=]
17...Be6 18.Re3 c5 19.Qd1 Qb6?? 20.Na4 Qb5? 21.Nxc5 Bf5? 22.Rb3 1-0

His queen had a few ways to get trapped there near the end and he fell into one of them, but he was already lost anyhow from the first mistake.

I was fortunate in round 2. My opponent played a line I didn't know and I began to go astray. Just as my position was getting bad, he offered a draw.

Di Lazzaro,Gabriele (1827) - Cross,Ted (1994) [A80]
4th International Chess Festival Rome (2), 09.12.2019

1.d4 f5 2.Bg5 Nf6 3.Bxf6 exf6 4.e3 d5 5.c4 c6 6.Bd3 Be6 7.b3 Bb4+ 8.Nd2 Qa5?
[8...f4! 9.a3 (9.exf4? dxc4-+) 9...Ba5 10.Ne2 fxe3 11.fxe3 Qe7 12.Qc2 Nd7 13.0-0 Bf7=]
9.Ne2 Nd7 10.Qc2 g6 11.a3 Bd6? 
[11...dxc4 12.bxc4 Nb6 13.c5 Nd5 14.Rb1 Bxd2+ 15.Qxd2 Qxd2+ 16.Kxd2 0-0-0+/-]
12.c5 Be7 13.b4 Qc7 14.h4 Kf7? 
15.Nf4 b5? 
16...a6 17.Ke2 1/2-1/2

Round 3 is when I saw my rust, making several dumb mistakes that threw away a clear win.

Cross,Ted (1994) - Luigi,Rinaldo (1771) [B33]
4th International Chess Festival Rome (3), 10.12.2019

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Nd5 Be7? 11.Bd3 Rb8 12.c3 Be6 13.Nc2 Bxd5?+- 14.exd5 Na5 15.Qg4?! 
15...Kf8 16.0-0 
[>=16.Qh5 Nc4 17.Rb1 Rg8 18.0-0 f5 19.Nb4 Rb6 20.Bxc4 bxc4 21.Qxf5+-]
16...Qc8 17.Qxc8+ 
17...Rxc8 18.Ne3 Nc4 19.Rfc1?? 
I didn't miss that the pawn was hanging on b2. I saw it. But then I kept analyzing other things for a long time and ended up forgetting about it when I played my move!
[19.Bxc4 bxc4 20.b4 cxb3 21.axb3 Rxc3 22.Rxa6 Rc8 23.b4+-]
He didn't take it. I figured I'd have enough compensation for rough equality, and the computer agrees.
[19...Nxb2 20.Bf1 Na4=]
20.fxe3 Kg7 21.a4 
21...Rc5 22.e4 Rb8 23.axb5 axb5 24.Ra7 Bd8 25.Rd7 Bb6 26.Kf1 b4 27.Rxd6 bxc3 28.Rxc3 Ra5 29.Rb3 Ra1+ 30.Ke2 Re1+? 31.Kxe1 Ba5+ 32.Kd1? 
I didn't take long enough here and overlooked an easy win. I glanced at the correct Rc3 but thought it dropped everything after he played Rxb2. I failed to notice that my bishop covered the c2 square.
[32.Rc3 Rxb2 33.Rdc6+-]
32...Rxb3 33.Kc2 Rb8 34.Rc6 Bd8 35.Ba6 Kf8 36.Rc8?! Rxc8+ 37.Bxc8 Ke7 38.Kc3 Kd6 39.Kc4 Bb6 40.h4 Bf2 41.h5 h6 42.Bf5 Bb6 43.Kb5 Bd4 44.b3 Ba7 45.Ka6 Bc5 46.Kb5 Ba7 47.b4 Bd4 48.Ka6 Kc7 49.g4 
[>=49.b5 Be3 50.Bg6 Bd4 51.Bxf7 Be3 52.Be8! Bc5 53.b6+ Kb8 54.Bd7 Bd4 55.Be6 Bc5 56.Kb5 Bf8 57.Kc6 Bb4 58.b7 Be7 59.g4 Ba3 60.Bc8 Bb4 61.d6+-]
49...Be3 50.Bg6 Bd4 51.Bxf7 Be3 52.Bg6 
[52.b5 Bd4 53.Be8! Bc5 54.b6+ Bxb6 (54...Kb8 55.Kb5+-) 55.d6+ Kxd6 56.Kxb6+-]
52...Bd4 53.Bf5 Be3 54.Be6 Bd4 55.Bf7 Be3 56.b5 Bc5 57.b6+?? 
This is the really depressing end to the game. I miscalculated and thought I was winning. I was but only with Be8 to cover the c6 square.
[57.Be8! Kd8 58.b6 Kc8 59.Kb5 Bf8 60.Kc6+-]
57...Bxb6 58.d6+ Kc6 59.Bd5+ Kc5 60.Kb7 Ba5 61.d7 Kd6 62.Kc8 Ke7 63.Bc6 Bd8 64.Bb5 1/2-1/2

How depressing to draw a completely winning game. Two draws in a row wasn't a good way to start the event. I think this contributed to what happened next.

Cavatorta,Fosco (1812) - Cross,Ted (1994) [B50]
4th International Chess Festival Rome (4), 10.12.2019

1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nf3 g6 5.Be2 Bg7 6.0-0 d6 7.Nbd2 e5 8.a3 a5 9.a4 0-0 10.Nc4 Be6 11.Na3 h6 12.Nb5 d5 13.Qc2 Rc8 
14.Bd2 Nh5 15.Qc1 Kh7 16.h3 Qd7 17.Nh2 Nf4? 
I had played the opening fairly well and gotten an advantage. Now, however, I looked long and hard at the position and didn't like the idea of playing back to f6. It felt passive and I thought it might cost me most of my edge. The computer disagrees and says black is still much better after the correct Nf6. My move sacrifices a pawn for what I hoped would be more activity and the bishop pair.
18.Bxf4 exf4 19.Qxf4 Be5? 
This move seemed obvious but turned out not to be so good. Playing d4 would have been equal.
20.Qe3 d4 21.Qd2 g5? 
[>=21...f5 22.f4 Bb8 23.e5 g5 24.Bf3 gxf4 25.Nd6 Bxd6 26.exd6 Qxd6=]
22.Ng4 Bg7 23.c4?! 
Several times throughout this part of the game white makes mistakes that give me equality, but I fail to capitalize on them.
[>=23.f4 gxf4 24.Rxf4 f5 25.exf5 Bxf5 26.Raf1 Rcd8 27.Nh2+/-]
[>=23...f5 24.exf5 Bxf5=]
24.f4 gxf4 25.Qxf4 f5 26.exf5 Rxf5? 
[>=26...Bxf5 27.Qd6 Nb4=]
27.Qd6 Rcf8? 
[27...Qxd6 28.Nxd6 Rxf1+ 29.Rxf1 Rf8+/-]
After this I'm simply lost. The bishop pair just couldn't do enough to generate counterplay.
28...h5 29.Be4 Kg8 30.Bxf5 Bxf5 31.Qxd7 Bxd7 32.Rxf8+ Kxf8 33.Nf2 Ne5 34.Rd1 Bh6 35.Kf1 Bc6 36.b3 Be3 37.Nd6 Bd7 38.Ke2 Ke7 39.Nfe4 Ng6 40.Nb5 Bc6 41.Na3 Nf4+ 42.Kf3 Ne6 43.h4 Bh6 44.Nc2 Bd7 45.Rf1 Nf4 46.Ne1 Bg4+ 47.Kg3 Ne2+ 48.Kh2 Bf4+ 49.g3 Be5 50.Nf3 Bg7 51.Nfg5 Be5 52.Rf7+ Kd8 53.Rb7 Nc1 54.Nf7+ Kc8 55.Nxe5 Kxb7 56.Nxg4 Nxd3 57.Ngf2 Ne5 58.g4 hxg4 59.Kg3 Kc7 60.Nxg4 Nf7 61.Kf4 Kd8 62.Kf5 Ke8 63.Ne5 Nh8 64.Kf6 Kf8 65.Ng6+ Kg8 66.h5 Nf7 67.Ne5 Nd8 68.Ng5 1-0

I seriously though about dropping out at this point. I had expected to do better against such opposition, yet I had a single win to go with two draws and a loss, and I was dropping quite a few rating points already. I figured I was in bad playing shape and would only drop more if I kept going.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Article Published on

I'm really proud that I got my first article published on the largest chess news site in the world, I've been published in Chess Life in the US before, but Chessbase has a global audience!
Nathan Smith, photo by Gurth Smith

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Old Fort Bay Invitational 2019 final

Despite my bleak Saturday, I felt pretty confident Sunday morning. Though my opponents were by rating supposed to be easier than those the day before, I hadn't been able to beat Daijah Johnson in last year's event, only giving up a draw to her, and I had also had a quick draw with Philip Hanna to help seal first place last year. But I needed to win both games today to have a shot at first place in this year's tournament.

Cross,Ted (1998) - Hanna,Philip (1761) [B99]
Old Fort Bay Invitational Nassau (10), 03.03.2019

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 Qc7 9.0-0-0 Nbd7 10.g4 h6 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.Rg1? 
I'm not so familiar with this particular line with h6, so my move gives black the edge. [12.h4 Qb6 13.Nb3 Be7 14.Kb1 Nc5 15.g5 Bd7 16.f5 hxg5 17.hxg5 0-0-0 18.g6+/=]
12...g5 13.Kb1? 
And here I just moved way too quickly without even examining the board. I didn't even see he could take on f4 until after I had moved my king. Suddenly I knew I had given black a strong advantage and would need to fight desperately to get back into the game. [13.f5 Ne5 14.Qh3 Nc6=/+]
13...gxf4 14.a3 Ne5? 
I felt so lucky that he played this and let me have the pawn back. True, missing the f pawn still hurts me since the e pawn needed its support, but now I knew I'd have a fighting chance. [14...Qb6 15.Nde2 Ke7 16.Rg2 Qe3-/+]
15.Qxf4 Bg5 16.Qg3 Ng6 17.Bd3 Bf4?! 
This just places the bishop wrong and gives me a slight edge.
18.Qf2 Qe7? 
This was a big mistake. It lines the queen up with the king on the file and allows tactical tricks. [18...Bd7+/=]
I saw the tactical ideas but didn't realize I could play Nf5 directly. [19.Nf5! exf5 20.Nd5 Qh4 21.Qxh4 Nxh4 22.exf5 h5 23.gxh5+-]
My move had been a tad slow, so black could have gained equality if he could have seen this line. [19...Qh4 20.Qf1 Be5 21.Nf3 Qf6 22.Na4 Rb8 23.Nxe5 Qxf1 24.Bxf1 Nxe5 25.Rxd6 Ke7 26.Rb6=]
20.Nf5! Qf8 21.Nh4? 
The computer's line here is one few humans would play all the way through. [21.Qb6! Bc6 22.e5 Bxe5 23.Be4 Rc8 24.Bxc6+ bxc6 25.Rxe5 Nxe5 26.Nxd6+ Ke7 27.Nde4+-]
21...Be5 22.Ne2?! 
[>=22.Nxg6 fxg6 23.Qb6=]
Castling queenside is often bad in the Najdorf Sicilian, and that proves to be the case here, where black is suddenly lost. [22...Nxh4 23.Qxh4 b5=/+]
23.Nf3 f6? 
Black was already in big trouble, but this makes it easier for white. [23...Qe7+/-]
After this, the tactics all fall into place and it's over quickly.
24...Qe7 25.Ned4 Bxd4 26.Nxd4 Ne5 27.Re3 Nc6 28.Bxa6 1-0

Philip is a promising young player and I expect he'll be one of the best Bahamian players soon. My final round opponent was Daijah Johnson, who had upset me last year with a draw with the black pieces. I actually felt more confident against her playing black myself, because I felt I'd be able to draw her into an opening that she would be unfamiliar with.
photo by Gurth Smith

Johnson,Daijah (1435) - Cross,Ted (1998) [A88]
Old Fort Bay Invitational Nassau (11), 03.03.2019

1.d4 f5 
I hadn't known how Daijah would open, but I was happy to see d4, since I guessed that she would be unfamiliar with the Dutch Defense.
2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.g3 0-0 6.Bg2 d6 7.0-0 c6 8.Qc2 Qc7 9.c5?! 
This was her first deviation from opening theory. It's not good, because it prevents the proper use of her d pawn.
9...dxc5 10.dxc5 
She still could have played for a slight edge if she had seen Bf4 here. [>=10.Bf4 Qd7 11.Qb3+ Kh8 12.Rfd1+/=]
10...e5 11.e4 Na6 12.Be3?! 
Playing b4 here due to the tactical trick against black's king would have been enough for equality. [>=12.b4=]
12...Ng4 13.Nd1?! 
The knight on d1 blocks white's further development. [>=13.exf5 gxf5 14.Nh4 f4 15.Bd2 Nxc5 16.Rae1 Ne6=/+]
A short time later I was wishing this rook was back on the f file, so this move couldn't have been correct. [>=13...Nxe3 14.Nxe3 Kh8=/+]
Again b4 could have given white equality. [>=14.b4=]
14...Nxe3 15.fxe3 Qe7 16.b4 
Finally b4, but it's too late here and black has a strong advantage.
16...fxe4 17.Nd2 Nxb4 18.Qb3+ Nd5 19.Nxe4 Be6 20.Nd6 Reb8 
I think my move is just fine, because what the computer suggests seems crazy and beyond what any human would play.  My move allows me to undermine the knight on d6 by playing b6. [20...e4! 21.Nxe8 Rxe8 22.Rb1 Nc3 23.Qxb7 Nxb1 24.Qxb1 Bd5-+]
21.e4 Nf4 22.Qf3 Nxg2 23.Qxg2 b6 
The knight is undermined and has nowhere to go.
24.Qc2 bxc5 25.Nc4 Bxh3 26.Rf2 Rf8 27.Nde3 Rxf2 28.Qxf2 Be6 29.Rc1 Rf8 30.Qe2 Bh6 31.Nxe5 
Drops a piece, but it was over anyway. This just made it quicker.
31...Qg5 32.Kg2 Qxe5 33.Rh1 Bxe3 34.Qxe3 Qb2+ 35.Kg1 Bc4 0-1

If FM Carver Moncur had won his last round game, I would have only tied for first, but he lost, giving me the title for the third straight year. And I got to keep the big trophy! I'll miss playing in The Bahamas. There is a tremendous group of players here.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Old Fort Bay Invitational 2019 part 3

I had about as good a start as I could have hoped for with four and a  half points out of five, but now I had to face to top Bahamian players in a row in one day. The first, Kendrick Knowles, was the Bahamas National Champion and had an even record against me--three wins apiece along with one draw. I felt I was stronger than Kendrick, but he brought out a bad quality in me that, of course, is my own fault. Kendrick has really good tactical vision, but he moves too quickly. He often spots interesting tactics and goes for them quickly without necessarily looking more deeply. The problem is that when he moves so fast, I tend to mimic him and fall into the same trap. I knew I should be slowing down and analyzing more, but somehow I can't seem to force myself to do it.
photo by Gurth Smith

Knowles,Kendrick (1809) - Cross,Ted (1998) [A88]
Old Fort Bay Invitational Nassau (7), 02.03.2019

1.Nf3 f5 2.d4 Nf6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.0-0 0-0 6.c4 d6 7.Nc3 c6 8.b3 a5 9.Bb2 Na6 10.e3 Qc7 11.Qe2 
Here is where Kendrick played something I hadn't seen in my preparations. It isn't the best move in the position, so it gives black at least equality, if not a minuscule edge.
11...e5 12.dxe5 dxe5 13.Rfd1 Nc5 14.Ba3 Nfd7 
Slightly better would have been [>=14...b6 15.Na4 Nfd7=]
I felt this was a small mistake due to tactical reasons.
And this is the small tactic, going ahead and allowing him to take my rook, because I have a fork of his queen and rook in return.
16.Bxf8 Nc3 17.Qc2? 
Then Kendrick made it worse by moving the queen to a poor square. [>=17.Qe1 Nxd1 18.Bxg7 Nxf2 19.Bxe5 Nh3+ 20.Bxh3 Nxe5=]
Here is when that aforementioned weakness reached out and smacked me in the face. I spent pretty much no time at all after he moved before playing this terrible blunder. I had looked at the correct move of taking his rook with my knight and then winning a pawn by taking on e3 (which is why his queen move to c2 was a mistake), and I had seen that it was good for me. But I noticed that I had a 'totally winning' idea of taking the bishop with the king instead and then skewering his queen, and when his knight came to d4, playing c5 against the pinned knight. It would have taken me just a few moments of looking more closely at it to see that it fails miserably to his knight fork of my king and queen! Literally just a few seconds invested in looking at it and I would have dismissed my stupid idea and played the correct knight takes rook. [17...Nxd1 18.Bxg7 Nxe3 19.Qc3 Kxg7 20.Qxe3 e4-/+]
18.Qxc3 e4 19.Nd4 Ne5 
I was pretty demoralized at having to play this rather than c5, but there was nothing else I could do.
20.c5 Qe7 21.Rac1 Nd3 22.Rc2 Nb4 23.Rcd2 Nd3 
At least I could force the win of a pawn, which was some minor compensation.
24.Qc4 Qxc5 25.Qxc5+ Nxc5 26.Bf1 Bf6 27.Rc2 Na6?! 
Here is where Kendrick's habit of moving too quickly bit him. He saw this tactic and went for it very quickly without looking more deeply at it, or at other better moves. [28.Bxa6 Rxa6 29.Nb5+/-]
28...bxc6 29.Rxc6 Be7 30.a3? 
I was feeling much better now, thinking that I could possibly survive this. I actually thought he would trade the rook for two pieces here and simply be up a pawn. [30.Rdc1 Bb7 31.Rb6 Bc8 32.Rxc8+ Rxc8 33.Rxa6 Rc2 34.Rxa5 Bb4+/-]
30...Bb7 31.Rb6 Ra7 32.b4 axb4 33.axb4 Nc7 34.Rd7 Bd5?? 
I moved too quickly again, feeling that I was out of hot water, and failed to look more deeply at the tactics available to white. I could have had equality with Bc8. [34...Bc8 35.Rd1 (35.Rb8 Ra8 36.Rxa8 Nxa8 37.Ra7 Nb6=) 35...Be6=]
35.Rb8+ Kf7 36.Rc8 
Naturally Kendrick found the correct sequence to win a piece, and the game was essentially over now. I was going down to my first loss.
36...Ke6 37.Rcxc7 Rxc7 38.Rxc7 Bxb4 39.Rxh7 Be7 40.h4 Kf6 41.Rh8 Kf7 42.Rc8 Bf8 43.Bc4 Bxc4 44.Rxc4 Bh6 45.Kg2 Kf6 46.Rc6+ Kg7 47.Kh3 g5 48.h5 Kh7 49.Rf6 f4 50.Kg4 1-0

I was really depressed after this, thinking I had blown my shot at winning the tournament again. And I had to play black again in the next round against another strong player, and I didn't feel I was going to do well. This one Saturday was turning my whole event around in the wrong direction.
photo by Gurth Smith
Franklyn Gibson is actually the highest-rated Bahamian player, though he had a bit of rust due to not playing a lot for quite a while. He played very well against me, though, perhaps aided by my demoralized state. Neither of us played the opening particularly well, with lots of slight inaccuracies by both of us.

Gibson,Franklyn (1892) - Cross,Ted (1998) [B23]
Old Fort Bay Invitational Nassau (9), 02.03.2019

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.f4 
I have used the Grand Prix attack as white a number of times, including in the win against Cox two rounds ago, but I don't think anyone had ever played it against me in tournament chess before. I had to think quite some time before I played my second move, because I couldn't recall which of black's lines I felt was best for black.
3...d5 4.e5?! 
I knew the lines pretty well and had never seen this move, so I assumed it was less than stellar.
The computer likes Nh6, though I'm not sure I understand the point exactly, at least not at this stage. The computer knows better than me, of course. [>=4...Nh6]
5.a4 Nc6 6.Nf3 g6 
7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Qb6?! 
My plan here wasn't so great. [8...Bb4 9.Be3 Nge7=]
9.Nce2 Bd7 10.c3 Bg7 
11.Qb3 Qc7 12.Be3?! Nge7?! 
I didn't see the line the computer likes, and I have to admit it looks a LOT better for black than what I played. [12...Na5 13.Qd1 f6! 14.Nf3 Nc4 15.exf6 Nxf6-/+]
13.Nxc6 Bxc6?! 
I'm not sure now why I took with the bishop. Looking at it right now, the pawn capture clearly looks better. [>=13...bxc6]
14.Bb6?! Qd7 15.Nd4 0-0 
The computer's g5 move never even entered my mind. [15...g5!=]
16.Bc5 Rfe8 17.Bxe7?! 
17...Qxe7 18.Qa3 Qxa3 
19.Rxa3 Bf8 20.Ra1 Bc5 21.Bd3 Kg7 22.Kd2 Rec8 23.Rhe1 Rc7 24.b4 Bxd4?! 
I knew that by pawn structure I was getting into a troublesome endgame. [24...Bb6=]
25.cxd4 Rac8 26.Rec1 Bd7 27.Rc5 
This was a really good move by Frank, and I thought I was going to have to go through contortions to escape the coming mess.
27...Kf8 28.a5 Ke7 29.g4 Bc6 30.f5 gxf5 
31.gxf5 Rg8?! 
I really should not have allowed white to play his pawn to f6, as it is a terrible endgame after that. [31...f6+/-]
[32.Rac1! Kd7 33.b5 axb5 34.Bxb5+-]
[32...exf5 33.Bxf5 Rg5 34.Rf1 f6 35.b5! axb5 36.a6 bxa6 37.exf6+ Kf7 38.Bb1+/-]
33...Kd7 34.Re2 h6 35.Kc3 Rg1 36.Re3?! 
I missed several drawing chances here. [>=36.Rb2 h5 37.Be2 h4 38.Kb3 Ra1=]
[36...Rcg8= 37.Rh3 Ra1=]
37.b5 axb5 38.Bxb5 Rc1+ 39.Kb4 Rd1 40.Rd3 Rb1+ 41.Rb3 Rd1+- 
This 'perpetual attack' really shouldn't have worked. White is winning here if he just plays [42. a6 Rb8 43. Ka3! and it's pretty much over for black. I was very lucky that Frank offered the draw.

So, this one depressing Saturday twisted my previously good tournament into a flaming wreck. I was lucky in some of the other results, though, and I was now tied with Carver and Kendrick for first place with six points each (I had gained one point due to a player having withdrawn). I had theoretically easier pairings the next day, so there was a good chance if I could just play a tad better that I could at least guarantee a tie for first place.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Old Fort Bay Invitational 2019 part 2

My next game was against a young talent, Nathan Smith. He was just 13 when we played, though his birthday was later in the week. I'm always nervous about playing young people, because often their ratings don't reflect their actual playing strength. They can be inconsistent, but sometimes they show their power. Just watch how, despite one opening inaccuracy, Nathan basically outplays me through most of the game.
photo by Gurth Smith

Smith,Nathan (1603) - Cross,Ted (1998) [B33]
Old Fort Bay Invitational Nassau (5), 24.02.2019

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Nd5 
After the recent world championship match, I wonder if we should call this the Caruana variation? It has been around a long time, but it was the first time I recall seeing it in the title match.
7...Nxd5 8.Qxd5? 
Here Nathan shows that he didn't know the opening line, which of course is to take with the pawn. This move gives black some tempi, though I managed to not follow up correctly and squandered anything it gave me.
8...a6 9.Na3 Be6 10.Qd1 Be7? 
And just like that, with one normal-looking move, I lose my edge and we're back at equality. The move the computer likes isn't a natural one to find, so I'm not surprised I didn't see it. [10...Qh4 11.Bd3 d5 12.exd5 Bxd5 13.0-0 Be7 14.Be3 Rd8 15.f3 Nb4-/+]
11.Bc4 Qd7?! 
There are a lot of minor inaccuracies in this game, due to us being humans in a difficult position for humans to understand. [>=11...0-0]
12.Be3 0-0 13.0-0 b5 14.Bd5 Rac8?! 
This inaccuracy changes the evaluation from a minuscule black edge to a small white one. I don't really understand the computer's preference for Bf6. I assume it is to allow the knight to come back to e7, but the rook would still need to move from a8 first. [>=14...Bf6]
This move was the first moment when I began to worry that I was letting the position slip away from equality.
My response is normally fairly typical in this opening, but the computer didn't like it this time. [15...Bxd5 16.cxd5 Nb8 17.Nc2 f5 18.exf5 Rxf5+/=]
16.Nc2 a5 17.Bb6?! 
Now the computer dislikes one of Nathan's moves. [>=17.Qd3+/=]
[17...Rb8! 18.Be3= (18.Bxc6?? Qxc6 19.Bxa5 Qxc4-/+) ]
18.Bxd8 Rcxd8?! 
As I said, a lot of tiny inaccuracies, but that is common in such complex positions. You'll generally see that the computer lines are not at all intuitive. [>=18...Bxd5 19.Qxd5 Rfxd8 20.Qd2 Nb8 21.b3 Qb7 22.Rae1 Na6+/=]
This one, though, is one I should have seen and played. The d4 square is crying out for a knight. [>=19...Nd4]
20...fxe6 21.Rc1 Qc6 22.Qg4 Rf6 23.Qg5 
A clever move. It threatens Knight to g4 and my rook can't go back to protect the knight on e7 because of knight to h6.
[23...h6 24.Qg4 Ng6=]
24.c5 Rg6 25.Qh4 d5? 
I saw the perpetual attack on his queen with the rook and briefly considered going for it. But I needed to win this game badly, so it was worth it to risk losing. I certainly wasn't happy allowing that passed c pawn though, but there was no other way to play on for a win. [25...Rh6 26.Qg5 Rg6=]
Luckily neither of us saw the following tactic to win a pawn. [26.Ng4! Qc7 27.Nxe5+/-]
26...exd5 27.Nf5 Nc6 28.Nd6 Qe7?! 
I can honestly say I don't comprehend the computer's preference of Qa6. [>=28...Qa6 29.f3 Rf8=]
29.Qxe7 Nxe7 30.Rfd1 
[>=30.Rfe1 Re6 31.f4 Nc6 32.Rcd1 d4+/=]
Here the computer suggestion is a logical one, but I just didn't see it. [>=30...Re6 31.f3 g6=]
[>=31.Re1 Nc6 32.Re4 Re6 33.f4 Rf8 34.fxe5+/=]
Yep, I knew that Nc6 was the more rational move...if I was content to just draw the game. My move offers more tactical possibilities, which is what I needed to try to win. [31...Nc6=]
32.Nb7 Rf8 33.Rd2 a4 34.c6? 
I didn't fully grasp that this was a mistake at the time. [>=34.g3=]
And here is why. Actually, I saw the move Nc3 but gave it only a cursory look. It looked fascinating, but I assumed there was a flaw I was overlooking and I didn't want to risk losing when I had a solid continuation. Still, it would have been fun to have played Nc3. [34...Nc3!! 35.Na5 (35.bxc3? bxc3 36.Rdd1 Rxc6 37.Na5 Rc7-+) 35...Nxa2 36.Rc5 e4! 37.h3 (37.Rxd4? e3 38.f3 Re6 39.Rd1 e2 40.Re1 b3-+) 37...d3 38.Kh2 Re6=/+]
I expected Na5, which seems to peter out to a drawn endgame. Poor Nathan overlooked his back rank weakness. [35.Na5 Rd6 36.Rc5 Ne7 37.g3 Nxc6 38.b3 a3 39.Kg2 Kf7 40.Nxc6 Rcxc6 41.Rxe5 d3 42.Kf3 Rc2 43.Ke3 Rb2=]
35...Rgxc6 36.Rdc2 Rxc5 
My move is fine and completely winning, but the computer likes it's more clever move. [36...d3!]
37.Rxc5 Rxc5 38.Nxc5 a3 39.Nd3 e4 0-1

What a relief to survive that one! The first weekend finished well for me with three wins and a draw. But now there came three of the highest-rated opponents in a row.

My next opponent is one I dread playing. I call him a grinder, because he never goes down easily. It's always a protracted battle. He had a dreadful tournament result this time, but my game against him showed his mettle and I had to really struggle to pull it out.

Cross,Ted (1998) - Cox,Valentine (1872) [B23]
Old Fort Bay Invitational Nassau (6), 27.02.2019

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bb5 a6 
I don't think a6 can be very good. White wants to trade the bishop for the knight at some point anyway, and the pawn being on a6 doesn't typically add anything for black in the types of positions that follow, so I think it is a wasted tempo.
6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.0-0 e6 8.d3 Ne7 9.Qe1 0-0 10.Qh4 f5 11.Be3 b6 12.Rae1 
While my move isn't that bad, the rook is more at home on d1 instead. [>=12.Rad1]
I give this move an exclamation point because this rook basically holds black's position together throughout most of my attack. I kept ruing that it was there.
13.Kh1 Bd7 14.Rg1 Nc8 15.Qf2 
[>=15.Qg3 c4 16.exf5 exf5 17.Rd1+/-]
15...Nd6 16.e5 Nb5 17.Ne2 
I was so intent on attacking on the kingside that I didn't really even look at queenside possibilities, to be honest. [17.Na4! Rb7 18.c4 Nc7 19.b4+-]
17...Nc7 18.b4 
Though I had to play this queenside move, because it simply wins a pawn.
18...Nd5 19.bxc5 Nxe3 20.Qxe3 b5 21.g4!? 
I was in attack mode, so forget about queenside moves! [>=21.a4+-]
This mistake gives white a basically winning game. [21...Be8 22.a4 a5 23.c4 bxc4 24.dxc4 Rb7 25.gxf5 exf5 26.Rd1 Qe7 27.Rd6+-]
22.Rxg4 Qa5 23.Reg1 
I decided to simply abandon the queenside and go all-in on my kingside attack. I knew that if I failed I would probably lose, unless I could come up with a perpetual.
23...Qxa2 24.h4? 
My move changes the evaluation from 'winning' to merely a strong white edge. [24.Ng5! Rf5 25.R4g2+-]
24...Be8 25.Ned4 Qd5 26.Kh2?! 
I so wanted to get my king out of the pin that I missed a lovely tactical sequence. [26.h5! Qxc5 27.hxg6 hxg6 28.Ng5 Qd5+ 29.Kh2 Re7 30.Qh3+-]
26...Qxc5 27.h5 Rd7 28.c3?? 
I made a bad mistake here, going from nearly winning to equality. [28.Qe4 Qd5 29.Qxd5 exd5 30.hxg6 hxg6 31.Ne6 Rf5 32.Rh4 Re7 33.Nfd4 Rf8 (33...Rh5 34.Rxh5 gxh5 35.f5+-; 33...Rff7 34.Rxg6+-) 34.Nxf8+-]
Luckily Cox didn't go in for taking the pawn. [28...Qxc3 29.hxg6 h6 30.Qe4 Re7 31.R4g2 c5 32.Nxe6 Rxe6 33.Qd5 Kh8 34.Qxe6 Qxd3 35.Qg4 Qe4= 36.Re1 Qxf4+ 37.Qxf4 Rxf4 38.Kg3 Rf5 39.e6 c4 40.Ra2 Bxg6 41.Nh4 Rg5+ 42.Kh3 Bh5 43.e7 Be8 44.Rxa6 Kg8 45.Rf1 Re5 46.Kg3 Rxe7 47.Nf5 Rb7 48.Ra8 Be5+ 49.Kg4 Rb8 50.Ra7 Kh8 51.Nxh6 Bg7 52.Nf5 Bf8 53.Kf4=]
Another big mistake for me, though it certainly looked fine over the board. The computer's idea of Qe2 to support a c4 push is very clever and hard to see. [29.Qe2! Rb7 (29...c5? 30.c4! Qa8 31.Nxe6+-) 30.hxg6 h6 31.c4 bxc4 32.dxc4 Qd7 33.Rd1 c5 34.Nb5 Qe7 35.Nd6 Rb4 36.Qe3+/=]
Cox plays the natural move, but he had the unusual h5 push, which leads to equality. [29...h5! 30.R4g2 c5 31.Ne2 Qxd3 32.Qf2 Qc4 (32...Qd5 33.Qg3=) 33.Qh4 Bh6 34.Ng5 Bxg5 35.Qxg5 Rg7 36.Qxh5=]
30.Ng5 Bf5 31.Rh4! c5 [31...h6 32.Ne4 Kh8 33.Qg3 c5 34.Nxf5 exf5 35.Nf6 Rxf6 36.exf6 Bf8 37.Qg6 Qf7 38.Qxf5+-] 32.Nxf5 Rxf5 33.Nxh7! 
Once I got in Nxh7 I finally felt like I was winning.
33...Kf7 34.Qg3 
I like my move a lot, and it's much easier to see than the computer's suggestion. [34.Ng5+ Ke8 35.Ne4 Bf8 36.Rg3 b4 37.cxb4+-]
34...Ke8 35.Nf6+ Rxf6 36.exf6 Bf8 37.Qg6+ Rf7 
It was over anyway, but this move allows me to finish quickly with a cute tactical sequence. [37...Kd8 38.Rh8 Qd6 39.Qe4 Kc7 40.Rgg8+-]
38.Rh7 Qd7 39.Re1 b4 40.Rxf7 1-0

It was a relief to get by Cox successfully and move to 4.5 out of 5. Now I had a Saturday ahead of me with two really tough opponents.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Old Fort Bay Invitational 2019 part 1

Recently the only chess I have been playing is the annual Old Fort Bay Invitational, since it is the best organized tournament I have ever seen. I had won the first two iterations, and the organizers promised I could keep the big trophy if I could win it a third time. Would I be able to?

Cross,Ted (1998) - Whyms,Chappell (1557) [B19]
Old Fort Bay Invitational Nassau (2), 23.02.2019

1.e4 c6 
I have always liked facing the Caro-Kann, as I seem to do well against it for some reason.
2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 Nd7 8.Bd3 Bxd3 9.Qxd3 e6 10.Bf4 Qa5+ 11.Bd2 Bb4
This was the first new move for me. I had always seen black play the queen back to c7. This move seems like a loss of time to me.
12.c3 Be7 13.0-0
Perhaps my choice to castle kingside is a bit odd, with the weakening due to the pawn on h4. The computer prefers some rather strange-looking moves that I don't think a human would play, especially the Nh5 move. [13.c4 Qc7 14.Nh5 0-0-0 15.Bc3 Kb8 16.0-0-0 Ngf6 17.Nxf6 Bxf6=]
13...Ngf6 14.Rfe1 0-0 15.Nf5
This was a dangerous choice. I probably should have opted to keep more material on the board and play for complications over the long term. I suspected Chappell would choose to go into the endgame. It was dangerous because I get only the barest of advantages--a pawn majority on the queenside and a bishop against a knight. That's not necessarily enough to win, and I really needed to win this game to kick off the event.
15... Qxf5 16.Qxf5 exf5 17.Rxe7 Rfe8 18.Rae1 Rxe7 19.Rxe7 Re8 20.Rxe8+ Nxe8 
So this was pretty much forced, and here is the endgame I mentioned. Not so simple to win.
21.Kf1 Kf8 22.Ke2 Ke7 23.Bf4 Nef6 24.Ne5 Ke6 
I was happy he didn't play the knight to d5, as I felt that made it harder. [24...Nd5 25.Bh2+/=]
25.Nxd7 Nxd7 26.Kd3 h5 27.c4 a6 28.g3 b5 29.b3 a5? 
Black's queenside pawn expansion is wrong and makes my job much easier. Better was for him to sit back and force me to develop a plan.
I didn't notice the quicker idea here of d5+, but it's not a big deal since the plan I did see works fine. [30.d5+! cxd5 31.cxb5+-]
30...a4 31.bxa4 bxa4 32.Kc3 Nf6 33.f3 
Better was to go straight after the a pawn, but I hadn't wanted to give black any counterplay at all if I could help it. [>=33.Kb4 Ne4 34.Kxa4 Nxf2 35.Ka5 Kd7 36.Kb6 Nd1 37.c5 Nc3 38.Kb7 g5 (38...Nxa2 39.Ba5 Nc1 40.d5+-) 39.hxg5 Nd5 40.Bd6 f4 41.Bxf4+-]
It's hard to see this line, but here was black's shot at making a win difficult for me. [33...Nh7! 34.Kb4 g5 35.Kxa4 Kd7 36.Bb8 f4 37.Kb4 Kc8 38.Bd6 Kd7 39.c5 fxg3 40.Bxg3 gxh4 41.Bxh4 Kc8 42.a4 Nf8 43.d5 cxd5 44.c6 Ne6 45.Bg3 h4 46.Bxh4 Kc7 47.Kb5 Nd4+ 48.Kc5 Ne6+ 49.Kxd5 Nf4+ 50.Ke4 Ng6 51.Bg5 Kxc6 52.Kf5 Nf8 53.Be7 Nd7 54.Ke4 Nb6 55.a5 Nd7 56.Bb4+/=]
34.Bf4 g6 35.Kb4 f6 36.Kxa4 Kd7 37.Kb4 Ng7 38.d5 cxd5 39.cxd5 Ne8 40.Kc5 Nc7 41.Bxc7 Kxc7 42.f4 1-0

It's always good to start well in any chess event! This goes especially so when I had what I consider my toughest test in the very next round. Black against the sole Fide Master of the Bahamas is never going to be easy. Below is a pic of me playing Carver in round 2.
photo by Gurth Smith

Moncur,FM Cecil (1826) - Cross,Ted (1998) [D87]
Old Fort Bay Invitational Nassau (3), 23.02.2019

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 
I haven't played the Gruenfeld in many years, and even back then I only played it a couple of times. I chose it this time to avoid Carver's preparation, plus I liked the line he played in the Olympiad this year and thought it could give me a tiny edge or at least a type of equality that I felt was playable for me. I liked the idea of having done computer prep in the line while Carver wouldn't have had the same opportunity.
4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 Nc6 9.Be3 0-0 10.h4 
This was the line Carver played in the Olympiad, and I liked all the lines I saw in my preparation.
10...cxd4 11.cxd4 Qa5+ 12.Kf1 h5 
This was my deviation from the game Carver played in the Olympiad.
The computer never showed me this move, so I had to assume it wasn't the best.
However, I failed to fully understand the reason why it wasn't great. I did briefly look at moving the queen back to threaten knight to a5, but it felt wrong to me somehow. But it was correct. [13...Qd8 14.Qd1 Na5 15.Bd3=]
14.Rd1 Qxb3 15.Bxb3 Na5 16.Bd5? 
This was a waste of time that just gives black some free development. [16.Ba4 Nc4 17.Bc1 a6 18.f3 b5 19.Bb3 Bd7=]
16...e6 17.Bb3 Nxb3 18.axb3 Rd8 
Not a bad move, but not the best either. The rook really wants to be on c8, so it was best to develop the bishop first. [>=18...Bd7 19.f3 Rfc8 20.Kf2 a5 21.Rd2 b5=/+]
19.f3 Bd7 20.Kf2 a5 21.Bg5 Rdc8 22.Rc1 b5 23.Rxc8+ Rxc8 24.Rc1 Rxc1 
The computer says I could have had a significant advantage here with [24...a4 25.Rxc8+ Bxc8 26.Bc1 Ba6 27.b4 f5 28.g3 Bb7 29.Ke3-/+]
25.Bxc1 Kf8 
And again here with [25...a4 26.bxa4 bxa4 27.Ke3 Bf8 28.Nc3 Be7 29.g3 f6-/+]
26.Ke1 Ke7 27.Kd1 Bc6 28.Kc2 b4 29.Be3 Kd6 30.Kd2 Bb5=/+ 
I offered the draw because I knew the advantage I had was very minimal here, and I didn't see any clear plan to actually win the game without taking risks I wasn't prepared to take. Getting by my most feared opponent as black with a draw was completely acceptable to me.

What a fascinating game round 3 turned out to be!

Cross,Ted (1998) - Karelina,Polina (1678) [C54]
Old Fort Bay Invitational Nassau (4), 24.02.2019

1.e4 e5 
Already we see something new. Polina has always played the Pirc, so I suspected she had opted to book up on lines she had seen in my database games. I just didn't know which lines yet.
2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 
But now I knew! The Giuoco Piano. See, my database games all show me playing the ultrasolid 7. Bd2 line, because that is what I have taken to playing over the last thirty years.
4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3 
So I threw Polina a curveball by playing this crazy line that I used to play more than thirty years ago. I knew she may not have looked at the lines, and playing a highly tactical variation with no prior knowledge is dangerous. I have to give her credit for how well she did.
7...Nxe4 8.0-0 Nxc3?! 
Now this is a known mistake. The reason I gave up playing this line is because after the correct 8...Bxc3, there is a long line where black ends up better. [>=8...Bxc3 9.d5 Bf6 10.Re1 Ne7 11.Rxe4 d6 with a wild game that if played perfectly should favor black in the end.]
9.bxc3 Bxc3? 
Here is the first true mistake, though. Black could still gain close to equality with [9...d5 10.cxb4 dxc4 11.Re1+ Ne7 12.Qa4+ Bd7 13.b5 0-0 14.Qxc4=]
I was aware that Ba3 immediately is considered to be even stronger, but I simply couldn't remember all the lines, so I chose the line that still wins and is generally easier to remember. [10.Ba3! d5 a) 10...d6 11.Rc1 Ba5 (11...Bb4 12.Bxb4 Nxb4 13.Qe1+ Qe7 14.Qxb4+-) 12.Qa4 Bd7 (12...a6 13.Bd5+-; 12...0-0 13.d5+-) 13.d5 Ne5 14.Qxa5 Nxf3+ 15.gxf3 0-0 16.Kh1+-; b) 10...Bxa1 11.Re1+ Ne7 12.Bxe7 Qxe7 13.Rxe7+ Kxe7 14.Qxa1+-; 11.Bb5 Bxa1 12.Re1+ Be6 13.Qc2 Qd7 (13...Qf6 14.Bxc6+ Kd8 15.Bxb7 Rb8 16.Bxd5+-) 14.Ne5 Bxd4 15.Nxd7 Kxd7 16.Rc1+-]
A good choice by Polina. Taking the rook leads to quick disaster, plus I had more trouble remembering the complicated lines in this variation. [10...Bxa1 11.Bxf7+ Kf8 12.Bg5 Ne7 13.Ne5 Bxd4 14.Bg6 d5 15.Qf3+ Bf5 16.Bxf5 Bxe5 17.Be6+ Bf6 18.Bxf6+-]
11.Bxf7+ Kf8 12.Bg5?! 
See what thirty years will do to your memory. I just couldn't recall the lines. White should win easily here, but instead I made it much harder than it needed to be. [12.Bh5 d5 (12...g6 13.Nxd4 Nxd4 14.Qb4+ Kf7 15.Qxd4 gxh5 16.Bb2 Rg8 17.Qd5+ Kg6 18.Rae1+-) 13.Nxd4 Nxd4 14.Qb4+ Qd6 15.Qxd4+-]
12...Bf6 13.Rae1 Ne7 14.Re2?! 
My slight inaccuracies don't throw away the win, luckily, but they do make it progressively harder. [14.Bh5 d5 15.Re3 Ng6 16.Rfe1 Bd7 17.Bxf6 gxf6 18.Nh4 Ne5 19.Rxe5 fxe5 20.Qf3+ Kg7 21.Qg3+ Kf8 22.Re3 e4 23.Qf4+ Ke7 24.Qe5+ Be6 25.Bg4 Qd7 26.Bxe6 Qxe6 27.Nf5+ Kd7 28.Qg7++-]
14...d5 15.Rfe1? 
Now I make a real mistake that turns this into a difficult endgame. I didn't think I had the time to play what the computer says is the right move. [15.Bh5+-]
15...Kxf7 16.Bxf6?! 
I missed that taking with the rook on e7 right away would lead to a better version of the endgame. [16.Rxe7+! Qxe7 17.Rxe7+ Kxe7 18.Qxd5 Re8 19.h3+/-]
16...gxf6 17.Rxe7+ Qxe7 18.Rxe7+ Kxe7 19.Qxd5 c6 20.Qe4+ Kf7 21.h3 Be6 22.Qf4 
I hit upon the correct plan!
This mistake makes my job a bit easier. [22...Rhg8 23.Qc7+ Ke8 24.Nd4 Bd7 25.Qxb7 Rc8+-]
23.Ng5+ Ke7 24.Qb4+ 
I know that Polina saw the knight check on g5, but I believe she missed this follow up.
Avoiding giving up the exchange doesn't help. [24...Kd7 25.Qxb7+ Kd6 26.Ne4+ Ke5 27.f3 Rhf8 28.Qc7+ Kf5 29.Qxh7++-] 
25.Ne4 Rhd8 26.Nxd6 Rxd6 27.Qxb7+ Rd7 28.Qxc6 Bxa2 29.Qe4+ Kd8 30.Qa8+ 
I didn't notice the simplicity of Qf3 here. Black is amazingly helpless. [>=30.Qf3] My line was fine but takes more time.
30...Ke7 31.Qh8 Bb1 32.Qg7+ Ke6 33.Qg4+ Bf5 34.Qc4+ Kd6 35.g4 Be6 36.Qb4+ Kd5 37.f4 Rc7 38.f5 Bc8 39.Qa5+ Kd6 40.Kf2 Bd7 41.Ke3 Bc6 42.Kd4 Bg2 43.h4 
I'm winning anyway, but what an amazing move there was here! [43.g5!! fxg5 44.Qa2]
43...Bf1 44.Qd5+ Ke7 45.Qe6+ Kd8 46.Qxf6+ Kc8 47.Qe6+ Kb7 48.f6 1-0

Not recalling my old lines was worrisome, and Polina played very well, so it was great to grind it out successfully.