Category Archives: Strategia

Chess. Some of my games, and thoughts on the game. Clicking on a move in a game will show a diagram of the current position (thanks to the yo35.org plugin).

When to take a draw ?

Often I lose a game after rejecting an offer of a draw. I think this is mainly because I tend to overreach in good positions when short of time, rather than because I overestimate my position or am wrongfooted by the offer. On the whole I think it’s good practice to play on if one thinks one has the better position or there are interesting chances for both sides. But there are times when I wonder.

My season started with three tests of my recently-adopted Benko Gambit (I am playing Black in each case). Repetitions or draw offers played a part in each of them.

In the first, played for Pimlico, I get a promising position, refuse the draw offer, and suffer for my principles:

You need to activate javascript to enhance chess game and diagram visualization.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. f3 {The Dlugy. For once, I had done some preparation and expected this.} 5... axb5 6. e4 Qa5+ 7. Bd2 (7. b4 {is an interesting gambit.}) 7... b4 8. Na3 d6 9. Nc4 Qd8 10. Bd3 e6 ({One of the spectators asked why not} 10... g6 {which is reasonable, but White&#8217;s control of c4 makes this approach less attractive for Black and the books recommend immediately challenging the centre with e6.}) 11. Ne3 exd5 12. exd5 Bb7 {White&#8217;s control of c4 is roughly balanced by the chronic weakness of d5.} 13. Qb3 Nbd7 14. Ne2 Be7 15. O-O Qc8 16. a3 (16. Rfc1 {and the threat of Bxb4 makes my last move look rather silly.}) 16... bxa3 17. Rxa3 Rb8 18. Qa2 O-O 19. Nc3 Ne5 20. Bf5 {I hadn&#8217;t considered this} 20... Qc7 21. Ne4 (21. f4 {may give an edge}) 21... Ra8 {Making space for the queen.} 22. Ba5 Qb8 23. Bc3 Rxa3 24. bxa3 Nxe4 {Nine minutes here looking for something forcing.} 25. fxe4 Bf6 26. Rb1 Qa8 ({I avoided} 26... Nf3+ {because of} 27. gxf3 Bxc3 28. Qb3 ({the computer gives} 28. Nc4 Bd4+ {with perhaps a very faint edge for Black}) 28... Bd4 29. Kf2 {but Black then has} 29... Qd8 30. Qxb7 Qh4+ {and if} 31. Ke2 {then} 31... Qxh2+ 32. Kd3 Qf2 {and apparently Black is winning.}) 27. Qb3 Ba6 {Black has ideas of Nf3+ followed by Bxc3 and g6 followed by Bd3.} 28. Ng4 Nxg4 {This simplification should leave Black with a slight edge.} 29. Bxg4 Bxc3 30. Qxc3 Rb8 31. Rb2 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> Here my opponent offered a draw. I felt I was better and had visions of winning a bishop ending with my king on e5 and my bishop on d3, though this may be unrealistic as White can play something like Kf2 and Be2 and the a pawn (helped by the interference of the d pawn) becomes a real danger. We both had about ten minutes plus the fifteen second increment. I still think it&#8217;s right in principle to play on here.} 31... h6 32. h4 g6 33. Kh2 Rb7 (33... Rxb2) 34. Rf2 {I hadn&#8217;t considered this. The game begins to swing to White.} 34... Qe8 35. Bf3 c4 {This felt a bit loose but may be justified.} 36. g3 Rb3 37. Qa5 Qc8 {Not appreciating the danger on the kingside.} (37... Bc8 {and the computer still prefers Black}) 38. Bd1 {This should have let me off the hook.} (38. Bg4 Qa8 39. h5 {gives a dangerous attack.}) 38... Rd3 {Probably losing.} (38... Rb8) (38... Re3 {had been my first thought but it&#8217;s also bad}) 39. Bc2 Re3 (39... c3 40. Bxd3 Bxd3 {is worth a try but} 41. Qa7 Qe8 {looks very good for White}) 40. Qb6 {I think I had missed this.} 40... Re1 {Now I offered a draw} ({It took me some time to realise} 40... Qc5 {loses to} 41. Qd8+ (41. Qxa6 Rxa3 {was the idea}) (41. Qxc5 dxc5 {is hard to assess}) 41... Kg7 42. Qf6+ Kh7 43. Qxf7+ Kh8 44. Qf8+ Kh7 45. Rf7#) 41. Qxd6 {Now White is winning easily.} 41... c3 42. e5 Re2 43. Rxe2 Bxe2 44. e6 fxe6 45. dxe6 Qf8 46. Qxf8+ Kxf8 47. Kg1 Ke7 48. Kf2 Bc4 49. Ke3 g5 50. hxg5 hxg5 51. Kd4 Bxe6 52. Kxc3 Kd6 53. Kd4 Bd7 54. a4 Bc8 55. Bd3 Bh3 56. a5 Kc6 57. Ke5 {and White got the g pawn through.} *
() -
Commented by

In the second, played for Dulwich, my opponent’s draw offer came as a welcome release from suffering, but it may have shown shrewd judgement on his part:

You need to activate javascript to enhance chess game and diagram visualization.
1. d4 {My opponent was delayed by twenty minutes but then moved quickly and confidently, even chatting with his captain for five minutes or so on his own move. I get rather nervous when people move quickly and was wondering if I&#8217;d fallen into some theory he knew.} 1... Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. b6 e6 6. Nc3 exd5 7. Nxd5 Nxd5 8. Qxd5 Nc6 9. e4 (9. Nf3 {is rather more popular and has better results, but this is quite normal.}) 9... Be7 10. Bc4 O-O {All theory so far.} 11. Be3 {This was new to me and turns out to be very rare. The bishop often comes to d2 and c3.} 11... Qxb6 12. Ne2 Qxb2 {Underrating his play. Black will suffer a lot for this pawn.} ({The computer prefers} 12... Bb7 {with some advantage.}) 13. O-O Qe5 {My teammates suggested this was unnecessary and the computer agrees.} (13... Rb8 {is probably better.}) 14. Bf4 {I missed this. The diagonals and b file seem good value for the pawn, though this isn&#8217;t the computer&#8217;s choice.} ({The machine much prefers} 14. Rac1 {e.g.} 14... Qxd5 15. Bxd5 Rb8 16. Bxc5 Rb2 17. Nf4) 14... Qxd5 {Ten minutes&#8217; thought trying to calculate a way to unravel.} 15. Bxd5 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> } Bb7 {Perhaps protecting my structure too much.} ({The computer suggests} 15... a5 {with reasonable play.}) 16. Rab1 Ra7 17. Rfd1 ({I had calculated} 17. Bc7 Ba8 18. Bb6 Rb7 {but my opponent continues with sensible moves}) 17... Rc8 {Another ten minutes. I wanted to play d6 to block the diagonal and ultimately contest the b file.} ({Not} 17... d6 18. Rxb7 Rxb7 19. Bxc6) (17... Ba8 {might be better}) 18. Nc3 {I think this was my opponent&#8217;s first long think though this might have been when he was talking to his captain} (18. Bxf7+ {fails to} 18... Kxf7 19. Rxd7 Ba8) 18... Ba8 {Preparing the next move. This took another seven minutes as there is a lot to calculate and my position felt very precarious.} 19. Na4 Nd4 {Gaining a tempo with the threat of Ne2+ and putting the knight on a good square. But this is probably a serious mistake.} (19... Re8) 20. Nb6 {Missing a good chance.} (20. Bxa8 {is met by} 20... Ne2+ (20... Rcxa8 21. Bb8)) (20. Bb8 {can be met by a good exchange sacrifice:} 20... Bxd5 21. Bxa7 Bxe4 (21... Bxa2)) ({But} 20. Rb8 {is strong. The rook exchange reduces the attraction of the exchange sacrifice. A computer-aided line goes} 20... Rf8 21. Rxf8+ Bxf8 22. Bb8 Bxd5 23. Bxa7 Ne2+ 24. Kh1 Bxe4 25. Rxd7 Nf4 26. Nxc5 Bxg2+ 27. Kg1 Bc6 28. Rd8 f6 {and Black is in danger.}) 20... Rd8 21. Kf1 Bxd5 22. Nxd5 Bf8 ({I had wanted to play} 22... d6 {but this loses to} 23. Nxe7+ Rxe7 24. Bxd6) 23. Rb6 d6 24. Rdb1 h6 25. Rb8 Ra8 26. Rxa8 {Other moves also give White enough pressure for the pawn but not much more.} (26. R8b7) (26. Rxd8) 26... Rxa8 27. Rb6 a5 28. a4 (28. Bxd6 Bxd6 29. Rxd6 Rb8 {seems all right for Black.}) 28... Kh7 {Not ideal. I thought Black was almost in zugzwang.} (28... f5 {would have been useful here and at various other points.}) 29. f3 Nc2 ({My teammates were expecting} 29... Rc8 {and pushing the c pawn. I think I was worried I might lose it.}) ({The computer comes up with} 29... f5) 30. Ke2 ({After} 30. Bxd6 Bxd6 31. Rxd6 {the computer suggests} 31... Nd4 {making nonsense of the previous knight move and thinks White is clearly better.}) 30... Nb4 {Time control, which we both made by about 7 minutes. Now twenty minutes&#8217; quickplay.} (30... f5) 31. Nc3 (31. Bxd6 {should give White winning chances as his pieces are closer to the action and Black&#8217;s queenside pawns are shaky.}) (31. Nxb4 axb4 {is very good for Black.}) 31... Rd8 ({I thought about} 31... Nc2 {. I seem to have developed a weakness for irrelevant gestures with my minor pieces.}) 32. Rb7 Kg6 33. Ra7 d5 (33... f5 {is better}) 34. Bc7 Rd7 (34... Re8 {may be better}) 35. exd5 {Giving Black a chance to equalise.} (35. Nxd5) 35... Nxd5 (35... Bd6 36. Bb6 Rxa7 37. Bxa7 Be5 38. Kd2 Bf4+ {sets up a repetition.}) 36. Ra6+ ({the computer prefers} 36. Nxd5 {immediately as Black may need to play f6 anyway.}) 36... f6 37. Nxd5 Rxd5 38. Ra8 Bd6 {The rook ending is the best choice for Black.} (38... Be7 {still offers White some hope.}) 39. Bxd6 ({Not} 39. Rd8 Re5+) (39. Bxa5 {is more complex but Black should be OK}) 39... Rxd6 40. Rxa5 Rd4 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> } 41. Rxc5 {Having teetered on the brink of defeat since taking the pawn in the opening, and trailing on the clock, I was relieved when he now took the pawn and offered a draw. I had thought the ending was technically drawn but that White could push for victory. However, a little analysis suggests that it&#8217;s surprisingly easy for White to disappear over the edge if he does so. Maybe my opponent&#8217;s offer was wise rather than merciful.} ({A line that illustrates the problems, with natural though inaccurate play for White, is} 41. Ra8 Rb4 42. a5 Rb2+ 43. Kd3 Rxg2 44. a6 (44. Kc4 {is better}) 44... Rxh2 45. Kc4 Rf2 46. Rb8 Rxf3 47. Rb3 Rf4+ 48. Kb5 ({or} 48. Kxc5 Ra4) 48... Re4 {Just in time.} 49. a7 Re8 {If the king were on c5 White would have Rb8 here.} 50. Rg3+ Kh7 51. Kb6 g5 52. Kb7 h5 53. a8=Q (53. Re3 {is better}) 53... Rxa8 54. Kxa8 h4 {and the pawns will beat the rook.}) *
() -
Commented by

In the third, played for Pimlico, both players were under the illusion that Black could force a draw by repetition. Luckily, before ‘forcing’ the draw, I had another look and saw something better. Actually, this game would be much technically better if I just omitted the repetition altogether; some great players are rumoured to have improved their games for publication. But it’s the story that you dine out on.

You need to activate javascript to enhance chess game and diagram visualization.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6 g6 6. Nc3 Bxa6 7. f4 d6 8. Nf3 Bg7 ({Fedorowicz in a similar position recommends} 8... Qa5 {which I considered at some stage, perhaps a move or two later.}) 9. e4 Bxf1 10. Rxf1 Nfd7 {Rare, but not unheard of.} 11. Qe2 Qc7 {Black is trying to prevent e5 but if White plays Nb5 first it should work.} 12. e5 {I expected Nb5 here or on the next move. The next three moves took twenty-five minutes as I needed to calculate.} ({After} 12. Nb5 Qb6 (12... Qb7 13. e5 {and the possibility of Nc7+ protects d5.}) 13. e5 O-O ({I had originally considered} 13... dxe5 14. fxe5 Nxe5 15. Nxe5 Bxe5 16. Qxe5 {but then realised the rook was en prise at the end.}) 14. a4 {White is doing well} (14. exd6 exd6 {opens the file too early}) (14. e6 fxe6 15. Qxe6+ Kh8 {worried me until I realised the knight was en prise e.g.} 16. Ng5 Qxb5)) 12... dxe5 13. fxe5 (13. Nb5 {is like the previous note}) 13... Nxe5 14. d6 {Another surprise, and this time a mistake.} ({I was looking at something like} 14. Nb5 Nxf3+ 15. Rxf3 Qd7 16. d6 O-O) 14... Qxd6 15. Nb5 Nd3+ {The right move, though for the wrong reason} 16. Kd2 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> } Bh6+ {?? As the game goes, this is a superfluous repetition, but it should have cost the game.} (16... Qf4+ {gives the game continuation two moves later}) 17. Kc3 {?? Originally I had missed this and then saw I could repeat the position.} ({We both seem to have missed that after} 17. Kc2 {(which was the main move I had considered)} 17... Nb4+ 18. Kb1 {Black&#8217;s knight has escaped but the bishop is attacked and he cannot save both his attacked pieces e.g.} 18... Qd7 {angling for Qf5 +} 19. Ne5 ({or} 19. Bxh6)) 17... Bg7+ 18. Kd2 (18. Kb3 Qd5+ 19. Kc2 Nb4+ ({rather than my planned} 19... Qc4+ {when White staggers on with} 20. Nc3) 20. Kb1 Qf5+ {forces mate.}) ({if} 18. Kc4 Ra4+ 19. Kb3 {the computer finds} 19... Nxc1+ {and if} 20. Rfxc1 {then} 20... Rb4+ 21. Ka3 Qa6#) {Before repeating again I thought I should check whether I had something better and realised I did, though not how bad Bh6+ was.} 18... Qf4+ {At about this point I thought I heard a very quiet &#8216;oh shit&#8217; from my opponent&#8217;s side of the board. I wish my opponents would do this more often; it helps with evaluation.} 19. Kxd3 ({My opponent wondered afterwards if he could have tried} 19. Qe3 {but I don&#8217;t think it helps much}) 19... c4+ 20. Kc2 Qf5+ 21. Kd1 Qxb5 {My opponent had missed that this knight was dropping. I now wrongly thought I was two pawns up; it&#8217;s only one, but in any case Black is much better. I felt I should have put him away more expeditiously, but my opponent manages to stabilise his disadvantage.} 22. Ke1 Nc6 23. Kf2 O-O 24. Kg1 e6 (24... Nd4 {is possible}) 25. Kh1 Nd4 26. Nxd4 Bxd4 27. Bh6 Qxb2 28. Qxc4 Rac8 (28... Rfc8 {is also possible}) 29. Qa6 Bg7 ({The computer greatly prefers} 29... Qxa1 30. Rxa1 ({not} 30. Bxf8 Rc1) 30... Bxa1 {when the two rooks will probably corral the a pawn easily enough. I think I had the vague feeling that I wasn&#8217;t sure how to handle two rooks against a queen.}) ({I tried to find something with} 29... Rc2 30. Bxf8 Rxg2 {but fortunately I gave the idea up.} 31. Bd6 {is devastating.}) 30. Rab1 Qe5 31. Bxg7 Kxg7 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> I am not absolutely sure if Black is now winning. With this pawn formation Black should win a pure rook endgame but not a pure queen endgame. Ultimately Black wants to combine threats of a queen exchange with threats to the king and the loose a pawn, but White generates some tricky counterplay.} 32. Rb7 Rc7 33. a4 Rfc8 34. h3 (34. Qa7 {might be worth a punt as Black must avoid} 34... Qe2 35. Rxf7+) 34... Rxb7 35. Qxb7 Rc7 36. Qb8 Qc3 37. Qb6 Qc5 38. Qb2+ Qc3 39. Qb6 {About here my opponent, with only five minutes left, offered a draw. I had about eight minutes and felt I should win. I got this one right, anyway} 39... Qc4 40. Rb1 Rc6 41. Qb2+ Qc3 42. Qb5 Rc5 43. Qb7 Qc4 44. Qb6 Qd5 45. Rf1 Rc2 46. Rg1 (46. Qg1 {is rather better}) 46... Ra2 47. Qb4 e5 48. Qg4 Qd4 49. Re1 Qxg4 (49... Rxa4 {wins another pawn but I think the rook ending is winning}) 50. hxg4 f6 (50... Rxa4 51. Rxe5 Rxg4 {might be simpler}) 51. Re4 Kf7 52. Kh2 Ra3 53. g3 Ra2+ 54. Kh3 {Odysseus in slippers.} (54. Kg1 {must be better}) 54... Ke6 55. Rb4 Kd5 56. Rb7 e4 57. Rxh7 e3 ({Keeping the white king incarcerated rather than taking the a pawn. I wondered about using the king to deal with the a pawn first by} 57... Kc5 {which probably also works but is less clear.}) 58. g5 f5 59. Re7 e2 {This does not release White&#8217;s king because of the discovered check along the second rank.} 60. a5 Kd4 61. a6 Kd3 {Now when a7 is played White won&#8217;t be in a position to play Rxe2.} 62. Rd7+ ({With more time White might have tried} 62. a7 {when I just might have gone for} 62... Kd2 (62... Rxa7 {gives an easy win with queen versus rook, but I wanted to win his rook}) 63. Rd7+ Ke1 {??} (63... Ke3 {wins}) 64. Kg2 {and White holds. This line literally stopped me in my tracks when it occurred to me on the way home.}) 62... Ke3 63. Re7+ Kf2 64. g4 fxg4+ (64... f4 {is aesthetically preferable but I may have seen a ghost of stalemate.}) 65. Kxg4 {Here his clock was down to one second before the increment kicked in.} 65... e1=Q 66. Rxe1 Kxe1 {and White resigned.} *
() -
Commented by

 

 

 

Brief lives

Miniature chess games are usually considered to be anything under twenty-five moves or so. They include, of course, many great masterpieces. Games under ten moves are rather different. I am not sure if anyone has done an anthology: there is surely scope. There is an anthology of very short poems, which restricted the length to thirteen lines (I think) to exclude sonnets, and of course there are many anthologies of haiku, tankas, clerihews, epigrams and so on. But the perfection of a very short and decisive game of chess rests essentially on the absoluteness of the error it contains; like a Persian carpet where the pattern occurs only once and the obligatory flaw must occur in its only occurrence.

There is a familiar trap in the Englund gambit which I have fallen into more than once online:

You need to activate javascript to enhance chess game and diagram visualization.
1. d4 e5 2. dxe5 Nc6 3. Nf3 Qe7 4. Bf4 Qb4+ 5. Bd2 (5. Qd2 {loses to} 5... Qxb2 6. Qc3 Bb4) 5... Qxb2 6. Bc3 (6. Nc3 {is the remedy when} 6... Nb4 7. Nd4 c5 8. Rb1 {wins for White e.g.} 8... Qa3 9. Ndb5 Qa5 10. a3 Nc6 11. Nd5) 6... Bb4 7. Qd2 Bxc3 8. Qxc3 Qc1# 0-1
() -
Commented by

Occasionally, I get lucky online and win very quickly. The English contains a number of positions that are sharper than they look. This blitz game was played at 3 minutes with a two second increment.

You need to activate javascript to enhance chess game and diagram visualization.
1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 g6 {a bit premature} 3. d4 {sniffing the weak diagonal} 3... exd4 (3... Bg7 {may be best}) 4. Qxd4 Nf6 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> already losing} (4... f6 {and White has a nice game}) ({I discover John Watson discusses} 4... Qf6 {and suggests} 5. Qe3+ Qe6 6. Nd5 Qxe3 7. Bxe3 Na6 8. Bd4 f6 9. O-O-O Kf7 10. Nf3 c6 11. Nf4) 5. Bg5 Be7 (5... Bg7 6. Nd5 {is similar though it would avoid the specific trick in the game}) 6. Nd5 Nc6 7. Nxf6+ ({winning though the machine prefers} 7. Qc3) 7... Kf8 {maybe setting a trap} (7... Bxf6 8. Qxf6 Qxf6 9. Bxf6 O-O {and White is simply a piece up}) 8. Bh6# ({Even} 8. Qc3 {is better than it looks after} 8... Bb4 9. Bh6+ Ke7 10. Nd5+) 1-0
() -
Commented by

Such games offer the winner an odd mixture of aesthetic pleasure and a facile sense of achievement. They are rare in competitive chess, but they do happen. At the end of last season, I turned up to a match for Dulwich in the London League exhausted after some building work at home and found myself playing Black against a strong player. I have never felt more like offering an early draw. It turned out there was no need. The following took less than ten minutes:

You need to activate javascript to enhance chess game and diagram visualization.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. Nf3 {One of the surprises about playing the Benko is how few people accept it.} 4... e6 {Transposing into the Blumenfeld.} (4... Bb7 {is also good.}) 5. Bg5 (5. dxe6 {is also possible and was Karpov&#8217;s choice when Lobron played the Blumenfeld against him, though Black&#8217;s central majority can be dangerous. Alekhine overwhelmed the elderly Tarrasch in an early game. But I am not yet sure I&#8217;ve got the hang of the Blumenfeld.}) 5... exd5 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> Now my opponent started to think, not always a bad idea but one with some risks. I wondered what he was considering and amused myself with a fantasy line where he got mated in a few moves.} 6. Bxf6 (6. cxd5 d6 {is the main line of the Blumenfeld. White can often get some edge by gaining control of c4.}) 6... Qxf6 7. Qxd5 {I began to realise my opponent had gone seriously off-piste. The main technical challenge now is keeping a straight face.} ({The computer suggestion} 7. Nc3 {generates interesting play for White where natural play for Black can be dangerous e.g.} 7... d4 (7... dxc4 {may give Black some advantage}) 8. Nd5 Qd6 9. e4 dxe3 ({better} 9... Bb7) 10. cxb5 exf2+ (10... Bb7 {is necessary}) 11. Kxf2 {and White&#8217;s quicker development gives a decisive advantage e.g.} 11... Be7 12. Bc4 O-O 13. Nxe7+ Qxe7 14. Qd5) 7... Qxb2 8. Qxa8 ({White can bale out here with} 8. Qe5+ {but there is no way a strong player would aim for White&#8217;s position after} 8... Qxe5 9. Nxe5 d6 (9... g5 {is a computer improvement}) 10. Nf3 bxc4 {so I was not altogether surprised by his choice.}) (8. cxb5 Qxa1 9. Nd2 Nc6 {is another computer suggestion, also very bad for White but a little more complicated.}) 8... Qc1# {I simply played this and stopped the clock. My opponent took it very well; these things happen though not usually on move 8.} ({I imagine he had analysed} 8... Qxa1 {though the computer prefers Black here too.}) 0-1
() -
Commented by

 

 

 

Audentes fortuna iuvat

Fortune helps those who take risks. That’s the view of the crest of the Mackinnon clan, probably formulated before we were mown down at Culloden. In any case I am not sure it holds good in club chess. In all three of these games one player offers a piece early in the game. Two of the offers are sound, but they all end up losing.

In the first I am playing White for Pimlico.

You need to activate javascript to enhance chess game and diagram visualization.
1. c4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. e3 Nf6 4. Qc2 {After some difficulties in the English against the Slav setup, I decided to try a more aggressive approach.} 4... Nbd7 5. b3 (5. Nc3 {may be better here when} 5... e5 {can be met by} 6. cxd5 Nxd5 ({now} 6... cxd5 {runs into} 7. Nb5) {with a reversed Sicilian which looks OK for White. One possibility is} 7. Bc4 N7b6 ({or} 7... Bd6) 8. Nxe5 Nxc4 9. Nxc4 Nb4 10. Qe4+ Be7 {and the computer seems to think Black has fair compensation for the pawn}) (5. d4 {heads for a semi-Slav}) 5... e5 6. Bb2 Bd6 7. Nc3 a6 8. g4 {The Corporal Jones variation. They don&#8217;t like it up&#8217;em. It can work (in a strictly chess sense) for the English against the Slav, but may not be right here when Black has got e5 in in a single move.} 8... e4 {My opponent had a long think here.} (8... h6 {is possible and if} 9. h4 {the computer gives Black a big advantage with} 9... e4 {e.g.} 10. Nd4 Ne5) (8... Nxg4 {can be met by} 9. cxd5 (9. Rg1 {, which I may have had in mind, runs into} 9... Ndf6 10. h3 Nh6 {when} 11. Rxg7 {is met by} 11... Bf5 12. Qc1 Bg6) 9... cxd5 10. Nxd5) 9. Nd4 h6 {My opening has successfully confused my opponent.Now White gets an advantage.} (9... Ne5 10. cxd5 cxd5 {looks threatening but seems OK for White after} ({or} 10... c5 11. Nf5 Nf3+ 12. Ke2) 11. g5 Nfd7) (9... Nc5 {is fine.}) 10. cxd5 cxd5 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> } (10... c5 {is strongly met by} 11. Nxe4 ({or} 11. Nf5)) 11. Nxd5 {Offering the knight, justifiably, for three pawns and an initiative.} 11... Nxd5 ({Not} 11... Ne5 12. Nxf6+ Qxf6 13. Qxe4) ({The computer recommends} 11... O-O {e.g.} 12. Nf5 Be5 13. Nde7+ Kh7 14. g5) 12. Qxe4+ Ne7 ({Again not} 12... Ne5 13. Qxd5) 13. Nf5 Nc5 14. Nxg7+ Kf8 15. Qf3 (15. Qc2 {is another possibility.}) 15... Rg8 (15... Nc6 {is better when} 16. Nf5 (16. Ne6+ Bxe6 17. Bxh8 {loses to} 17... Be5 18. Bxe5 Nxe5 {and Black&#8217;s piece activity is overwhelming.}) 16... Be5 17. d4 Nb4 18. Be2 Nbd3+ 19. Kf1 Nxb2 20. dxe5 Bxf5 21. gxf5 Qh4 {is a murky computer line}) { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> Now I had seen I had Bc4 and felt very confident. Unfortunately I decided to make sure and had a long think.} 16. b4 {An awful move, intended as a refinement on the right line, but simply missing Black&#8217;s obvious reply.} ({Both players saw there was a perpetual after} 16. Bc4 {but I wasn&#8217;t sure if there was more. There is: White is probably winning with} 16... Rxg7 17. Bxg7+ Kxg7 18. Qxf7+ Kh8 19. Qf6+ Kh7 20. b4 {(only now)} 20... Na4 ({or} 20... Qh8 21. Qxh8+ Kxh8 22. bxc5 Bxc5) 21. Bd3+ Kg8 22. Bg6 Qf8 23. Bh7+) 16... Ne6 {Now Black is better, but the position is very fluid.} ({I had only looked at} 16... Na4 17. Bc4 Rxg7 18. Bxg7+ Kxg7 19. Qxf7+ Kh8 {transposing into the line above. I was planning to play into this and see whether a win materialised when I got there.}) 17. Nh5 Bxb4 18. O-O-O {A slightly extravagant way to defend d2.} (18. Rd1 {may be better though given that White needs to create complications my choice is reasonable.}) 18... Qd5 (18... Qa5 {gives a powerful attack, but Black decides to consolidate.}) 19. Qf6 {Another long think, and another mistake.} (19. Qxd5 {is necessary.}) 19... Qc6+ {Missing a chance, but keeping the advantage.} (19... Ng6 {shields h6 and leaves Black winning with the attack on the h1 rook and mating threats on the c file e.g} 20. Rg1 Qxa2 21. Bd3 Bd7 22. Bb1 Rc8+ 23. Bc3 Ba3#) (19... Qxh1 {loses to} 20. Qxh6+) 20. Kb1 Ng5 {Giving White a chance.} ({Black is better after} 20... Ng6 21. Be2) 21. Qxc6 ({Missing} 21. Bg2 Qxf6 ({not} 21... Qxg2 22. Qxh6+) 22. Nxf6 {and White is slightly better than in the game.}) 21... Nxc6 {White has only two pawns for the piece, but Black still faces some difficulties getting organised.} 22. Nf6 Rg7 (22... Rg6 {is better when Black can refute White&#8217;s idea of} 23. f4 {with} 23... Rxf6 ({or} 23... Nf3) 24. Bxf6 Ne4 25. Bh4 ({or} 25. g5 hxg5 26. fxg5 Bg4) 25... Bxg4 {and Black&#8217;s active pieces will win material back.}) 23. Bg2 Be7 24. Nd5 Rg6 ({The computer prefers} 24... Bxg4 25. Nxe7 Nxe7 26. Bxg7+ Kxg7 27. Rc1) 25. h3 Rd6 26. f4 {White is now doing OK, but both players are short of time.} 26... Nh7 27. Rc1 Be6 28. Nb6 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> The fatal mistake, as the knight will be exposed on b6.} ({White is probably fine after} 28. Nxe7 Nxe7 29.d4 {when the two bishops and strong pawns compensate for the material disadvantage} ({not} 29. Bxb7 {when the threats of pins on the b file and second rank are too strong e.g.} 29... Rb8 30. Be4 Nf6 31. d3 ({or} 31. Bc2 Rdb6) 31... Nxe4 32. dxe4 Rd2 33. Rc2 Bxa2+ 34. Kc1 Rd3)) 28... Rad8 29. Bc3 (29.d4 {fails to} 29... Bxa2+ ({not} 29... Nxd4 30. Bxd4) 30. Kxa2 Nb4+) 29... Bf6 30. f5 (30. Bxc6 {is somewhat better}) ({or} 30. d4) 30... Bxc3 31. Rxc3 Bxa2+ {The rest is mopping up with some nice tactics from Black.} 32. Kc1 Nb4 33. Nc4 Bxc4 34. Rxc4 Na2+ 35. Kb1 b5 36. Rc2 Rxd2 37. Rxa2 Rxa2 38. Kxa2 Rd2+ 39. Kb3 Rxg2 40. Ra1 Rg3 41. Rxa6 Rxe3+ 42. Kb4 Rxh3 43. f6 Ke8 44. Kxb5 {and Black won.} *
() -
Commented by

In the second game, where I play White for Dulwich, it’s my opponent who plays a correct sacrifice and then doesn’t know quite what to do with it. I recall a Liverpool footballer asking his coaches: ‘we’ve passed the ball twenty times and we’re standing in the same positions as we started’ to be told ‘yes, but they’re not’. Unfortunately, it’s always possible the opponents have found better positions in the interim.

You need to activate javascript to enhance chess game and diagram visualization.
1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. e3 {I have taken this line up recently.} 4... Bb4 5. Qc2 O-O 6. Nd5 d6 {A rare though natural move which scores well in a small sample.} (6... Re8 {is the main line, allowing the bishop back to f8 if need be}) 7. a3 Bc5 8. b4 (8. Bd3 g6 (8... Nxd5 9. cxd5 Ne7 10. Bxh7+ Kh8 11. Bd3 Nxd5 12. Nxe5 Qg5 13. Nc4) 9. b4 Bb6 10. Nxf6+ Qxf6 11. Bb2) 8... Bb6 9. Nxb6 {White gets the two bishops, but Black is compact, well-developed and free of weaknesses, and e4 and d5 are both supported by the f6 knight.} (9. Nxf6+ {may be better.}) 9... axb6 10. Bb2 Re8 11. d3 Bf5 12. b5 {Here I hatched a probably over-ambitious plan to play e4 and f4 opening the diagonal for my bishop, and decided I wanted to reduce the pressure on d4 first.} ({After} 12. e4 {I was worried about} 12... Bg4 {and Nd4 becomes possible.}) (12. Be2 {is reasonable}) (12. Qc3 {deterring e4 is possible, but Black looks comfortable with} 12... d5 ({Not} 12... Nd4 13. Nxd4) 13. cxd5 Nxd5 14. Qd2 Bg6) 12... Nb8 (12... Nd4 {fails to} 13. exd4 exd4+ 14. Be2 Qe7 15. Nxd4) 13. e4 Bg6 {More aggressive than it looks.} (13... Bg4) 14. g3 {This is too slow, I think.} (14. Be2 {is safer.}) 14... Nbd7 15. Bg2 Nc5 {Now I realised his knight could come to a4, and decided I wanted to preserve my dark-squared bishop, which was a large part of the point of my play.} 16. Ra2 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> This is obviously a bit artificial, but I wrongly thought I could still find time to consolidate. Now my opponent had a long think and I noticed he was staring at the middle of the board. Suddenly I realised my structure might be a bit rickety.} ({If} 16. O-O {then} 16... Na4 {is annoying}) (16. a4 {ties the queen and rook to the defence of a4.}) 16... Nfxe4 {This sacrifice is good but not the best. It came as a relief because I was worried about something else and thought this didn&#8217;t work. But throughout the next few moves I continue to underestimate the urgency of getting my king off the e file, and my opponent misses some chances to take advantage.} (16... Nxd3+) (16... d5 {, which may have been what I feared, is very good.} 17. cxd5 Nfxe4 18. dxe4 Bxe4 19. Qd2 Nd3+ 20. Kf1 Qxd5 {, though not forced, illustrates the problem; the availability of d5 for the queen strengthens the sacrifice.}) 17. dxe4 Bxe4 (17... Nxe4 18. Qc1 {is better for White.}) 18. Qc3{ <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> } (18. Qd1 {is also possible}) 18... Nd3+ ({Better than} 18... Bd3 {e.g.} 19. Bf1) 19. Ke2 {Played too fast without sensing the danger. I wanted to free the rook, but it&#8217;s too risky.} (19. Kf1 {is better when} 19... d5 {can be met by} 20. Ne1) 19... Nc5 {Letting the advantage slip.} (19... d5 {is strong and if} 20. cxd5 {Black is winning with} 20... Qxd5 21. Raa1 Qxb5) 20. Rd1 {Defending against intrusions on d3.} 20... Na4 ({If} 20... Nd3 {then} 21. Rxd3 Bxd3+ 22. Kxd3 e4+ 23. Kc2) ({or} 20... Bd3+ 21. Rxd3 Nxd3 22. Kxd3 e4+ 23. Kc2) 21. Qe3 {Giving Black another chance.} (21. Qc1 {may be better}) 21... Nc5 {It was only after the game that I noticed Black had taken four moves to put his knight back where it started. White, meanwhile, has made some rather tentative progress.} ({Black gets good play with} 21... Bc2 22. Rc1 e4 23. Nd4 Bd3+ 24. Ke1) 22. Ne1 {Eight minutes here, but probably another mistake.} ({White can consolidate with} 22. Kf1 {e.g.} 22... Bc2 23. Rc1 ({not} 23. Rd2 Bb3) 23... Bd3+ 24. Kg1) ({not} 22. Rc1 Bd3+) 22... Bg6 {Missing his last chance.} ({After} 22... Bxg2 23. Nxg2 Ra4 24. Rc1 ({better} 24. Kf1) ({or} 24. Qc1 Qf6 {and White may have to ditch the c pawn anyway e.g.} 25. Kf1 ({if} 25. Ne3 {Black can go for the kingside pawns with} 25... Qh6 26. h4 f5) 25... Ne4 26. Qc2 Rxc4) {I had missed} 24... d5 {with good play for Black.}) 23. Kf1 {Now White consolidates without further excitement.} 23... Qd7 24. Bc3 Qe6 25. Bd5 Qh3+ 26. Kg1 Qd7 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> Now Black&#8217;s queen has spent three moves returning to the same place. Black&#8217;s last nine moves amount to Bg6 and Qd7. Admittedly his position is very harmonious, but being material down with a temporary initiative, he needed something more swashbuckling.} 27. Bb4 c6 {Probably hoping that the diversion of the bishop to d5 has allowed his central pawns to start rolling, but White can restrain them.} 28. Bg2 (28. Bxc5 {is interesting but unnecessary.}) 28... Qc7 29. Rad2 Rad8 30. Bxc5 {I had to override my liking for this bishop, as Black&#8217;s knight is an important defender.} 30... bxc5 31. bxc6 bxc6 32. Nf3 f6 33. Nh4 Bf7 34. Nf5 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> Somehow White&#8217;s pieces have arrived at a very harmonious arrangement.} 34... Bh5 ({I am not sure if I noticed} 34... Bxc4 {but} 35. Nxd6 {deals with it.}) 35. Bf3 Bxf3 36. Qxf3 Re6 37. Qg4 Kh8 ({I originally posted this game with} 39...Kf8 {but an alert teammate remembers Kh8 and my score sheet has an illegible correction, so an emendation seems justified.} ) 38. Nxg7 ({38.Nxd6 also wins as my teammate saw.}) 38...Re7 39. Nf5 Red7 40. Qh4 {and Black resigned.} *
() -
Commented by

In the last, the piece offer is probably not intentional.

You need to activate javascript to enhance chess game and diagram visualization.
1. Nf3 {I am playing Black for Pimlico. My opponent seems to be ungraded, but our opponents were generally graded rather below us.} 1... c5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 e6 4. d4 (4. g3 {scores rather better}) 4... cxd4 5. Nxd4 b6 {Intending a hedgehog. But this move order is rare and probably dubious.} (5... a6) 6. Bg5 (6. Ndb5 {exploits Black&#8217;s move order and scores well e.g.} 6... d6 7. Bf4 e5 8. Bg5 {when Black has lost all six games in the chesstempo database. I saw the idea of attacking d6 but probably underestimated it.}) 6... Be7 (6... Bb7 {produces a more frequent position by an unusual order.}) 7. g3 {This leads to some awkwardness.} 7... Bb7 8. f3 a6 9. Bg2 (9. e4 {can now be met by} 9... Nxe4 10. Bxe7 ({or} 10. Nxe4 Bxg5 11. Nd6+ Kf8 12. Nxb7 Qc7 {though I had missed this line}) 10... Nxc3 11. Bxd8 Nxd1 12. Bxb6 Nxb2) 9... Qc7 10. b3 (10. Qd3 {looks better to me}) ({or} 10. Qb3) 10... d5 {Now Black has some edge.} 11. O-O dxc4 12. bxc4 O-O (12... Qxc4 13. Rc1 {looked a bit risky.}) 13. Qb3 Qe5 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> I thought this won a piece.} 14. Bxf6 {Now it does.} ({Both players miss} 14. e3 {e.g.} 14... Qxg5 (14... Nbd7 {is better e.g.} 15. Bf4 ({not} 15. f4 Qxe3+) 15... Qa5) 15. f4 Qa5 16. Bxb7 Ra7) (14. Qxb6 {loses e.g.} 14... Bc5 15. Qxb7 Ra7 16. Qb3 Qxg5 {and the d4 knight will drop.} ({not} 16... Bxd4+ 17. e3)) 14... Bxf6 {From now on Black has a winning advantage, but my opponent puts up a good fight.} 15. Rad1 Qe3+ 16. Kh1 Bxd4 17. Rd3 Qe5 18. Rfd1 Nc6 (18... Bxc3 {seems to be best}) (18... Bc5) 19. f4 Qf6 (19... Qc7 {may be better}) 20. Ne4 {I had missed this when playing Nc6. My opponent rather optimistically offered a draw here.} 20... Qg6 (20... Qe7 {may be better}) 21. Qb1 {I think his idea was to avoid Na5.} (21. Rxd4 {is probably best e.g.} 21... Nxd4 22. Rxd4 e5) 21... e5 22. e3 f5 ({Missing} 22... Na5 {with a huge advantage e.g.} 23. exd4 Bxe4 24. Bxe4 Qxe4+) 23. Ng5 e4 {Now Black must settle for the exchange rather than a whole piece.} (23... Bc5 {runs into some counterplay with} 24. Rd7 Rab8 25. Bd5+ Kh8 26. Nf7+ ({or} 26. Ne6)) 24. Rxd4 Nxd4 25. exd4 h6 26. Nh3 {Black has some positional advantage as well as the exchange.} 26... Qc6 27. Qb3 Kh7 ({Since White has a light-squared bishop,} 27... Kh8 {would allow fewer tactical resources; one of those tiny points that sometimes make strong players&#8217; wins look easy.}) 28. Nf2 Rac8 29. Rc1 Rfd8 30. Qe3 {Unfortunately White has no time for Nd1-e3, which would make his position much harder to crack.} 30... Qa4 31. Bf1 Qxa2 32. d5 Qb2 {Fine, but not the sharpest.} ({I spent eight minutes here mainly on} 32... Rxd5 {which is indeed strong e.g.} 33. cxd5 Rxc1 34. Qxc1 Qxf2 {and White cannot defend against the combination of the diagonal and the passed pawn.} ({I had been thinking of} 34... e3 {?? not noticing that the d5 pawn was still on the board. When I saw this I backed off the whole line.})) 33. Rd1 a5 {Simply planning to run the a pawn, but the a3-f1 diagonal also proves useful.} 34. Rd2 Qc1 35. Kg2 ({or} 35. Qe2 {e.g.} 35... e3 36. Rd1 {when} 36... Qc3 {seems best}) 35... Ba6 36. g4 ({ <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> Against} 36. Nxe4 {at various points I had planned} 36... Re8 (36... Bxc4 {is better}) {missing} 37. Qc3) 36... Rxd5 {Starting the final attack, though it should merely achieve exchanges into a good ending.} 37. Nxe4 {The best response. With ten minutes&#8217; thought here my opponent caught up with me on the clock.} ({Against} 37. cxd5 {I planned} 37... Bxf1+ (37... Qxf1+ {also wins}) 38. Kg1 ({or} 38. Kg3 Rc3) 38... Be2+ 39. Kg2 Bf3+ 40. Kg3 Qg1+ 41. Kh3 {when my calculation petered out but Black has} 41... fxg4+ 42. Kh4 Qxh2+ 43. Nh3 Qxh3#) 37... Rxd2+ (37... Bxc4 {may be better}) 38. Nxd2 Rd8 39. Bd3 {I had missed this, thinking he was simply losing another piece. White&#8217;s position should be past saving anyway, but time was short.} 39... Bb7+ (39... Kh8 {reinvigorating the pins is probably the clearest.}) (39... Bxc4 {runs into} 40. Bxf5+) 40. Kg3 (40. Kf2 {gives a little fight when I think I had} 40... Be4 (40... Kh8 {is also possible}) {in mind e.g.} 41. Nxe4 Qxe3+ 42. Kxe3 fxe4 43. Bxe4+ g6) (40. Kh3 {is similar e.g.} 40... Be4 41. Bxe4 Qxd2 42. Bxf5+ Kh8 43. Qxb6 Qc3+ 44. Kh4 Qf6+ 45. Qxf6 gxf6 46. c5 Rd5 ({or even} 46... a4 47. c6 a3 48. c7 Rf8 49. c8=Q Rxc8 50. Bxc8 a2)) { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> With four minutes left plus increments, I was glad to see this. } 40... Rxd3 {The end.} 41. Qxd3 Qg1+ 42. Kh4 Qxg4# 0-1
() -
Commented by

Defence

Emmanuel Lasker’s ‘Manual of chess’ is a strange book. Lasker, writing in the 1920s or early 1930s, spends much of his time praising the theoretical contributions of the player he had overthrown in the 1890s, Wilhelm Steinitz: and in particular contrasting Steinitz’s idea that the game has a natural balance, which can only be disturbed by dubious play, with Lasker’s own less pure but more practical approach. If this is Lasker’s Oedipus at Colonus, it’s a very rueful one.

While characterising the everyday experience that Steinitz had to see beyond to reach his theoretical insights, Lasker (who I suspect knew a bit of Nietzsche and Freud) says one of the truest things I have ever read about the psychology of chess:

“The ordinary experience is rather that he who has a slight disadvantage plays more attentively, inventively and more boldly than his antagonist who either takes it easy or aspires after too much; thus a slight disadvantage is very frequently seen to convert itself into a good, solid advantage”.

In each of the three games below, I am playing Black and have to do some defending. In this first game I always thought I was fine until I overreach at the end: in the second, I am lost after ten moves and rather outrageously escape: and in the third, it is my opponent who overreaches in a promising position.

You need to activate javascript to enhance chess game and diagram visualization.
1. e4 {This was a league game for Pimlico.} c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Qb6 {The Grivas or Godiva variation. It&#8217;s reasonably sound and little known. White&#8217;s practical problem in the Open Sicilian is that Black has at least ten reasonable setups by move 5 and they each have their own wrinkles. This one barely makes the top ten.} 5. Nb3 Nf6 6. Nc3 e6 7. Be3 ({According to Grivas a more cunning move order is} 7. a3 {when Black should deter Bf4 by} 7... Qc7) 7... Qc7 8. a3 {This cuts out various Bb4 ideas and there&#8217;s nothing wrong with it, but it&#8217;s not the most aggressive way of playing against this structure.} 8... a6 9. f4 d6 10. Be2 b5 11. O-O Be7 12. Qd2 {In the Scheveningen this move is usually played when White has deterred b5 by playing a4. Now that Black has got b5 in he is fairly comfortable.} ({In his book Grivas recommends} 12. Qe1) ({or} 12. Bf3) 12... O-O {Throughout the middle name that follows Black has to defend against White&#8217;s threats, but he can end up with a positional advantage. I was happy with my position.} 13. Rad1 Bb7 14. Bf3 Rfd8 {Not the brightest of ideas.} 15. Qf2 Re8 16. g4 Rac8 17. g5 Nd7 18. Bg4 Bf8 19. Be2 {After five minutes&#8217; thought and with some frustration.} 19... b4 20. axb4 Nxb4 21. Rd2 Qb8 22. Bd4 Nc6 23. f5 Nde5 ({It&#8217;s nice to seize e5, but I&#8217;m not sure why I didn&#8217;t play} 23... Nxd4) 24. fxe6 fxe6 25. h4 Qc7 26. Ra1 Be7 {A neat indirect defence of a6.} 27. Bb6 (27. Bxa6 {is met by} 27... Rf8) 27... Qb8 ({Not} 27... Qd7 28. Nc5) 28. Nd4 Rf8 29. Qg3 Nxd4 30. Bxd4 Nc4 {Black gets the two bishops after all, but White&#8217;s dark-squared bishop is the more valuable one.} 31. Bxc4 Rxc4 32. Qd3 Qc8 33. Rf2 e5 34. Rxf8+ Bxf8 35. Bf2 Qe6 ({the computer thinks Black is doing well after} 35... d5 36. Nxd5 Rxc2) 36. Kh2 Rc7 37. Nd5 Bxd5 {I realised Black&#8217;s bad bishop could become a problem but felt my initiative outweighed this.} 38. exd5 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> Here my opponent offered a draw. But I felt the drift was in my direction.} 38... Qc8 39. c3 Rc4 40. Qh3 Qb7 41. Qe6+ Kh8 42. Ra2 (42. Qf5 {keeps more pressure.}) 42... Rf4 ({The computer thinks} 42... Qb3 {should win after} 43. Bg3 Qxa2 44. Qe8 Rxh4+ 45. Bxh4 Qxb2+ 46. Kg1 Qc1+ 47. Kg2) 43. Bg3 Rf1 {Now the position begins to swing against me. I had three minutes left plus increments; my opponent had four.} 44. b4 Qb6 45. Rg2 Rf3 46. Qc8 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> } Qb5 {Losing.} (46... g6 {and the computer thinks it&#8217;s a draw}) 47. Rf2 {Seizing his chance.} 47... Rxf2+ 48. Bxf2 Kg8 49. Qe6+ Kh8 50. Qf7 {This was what I had missed.} 50... Qb8 {The last few moves were recorded inaccurately but roughly} 51. Kg3 e4 52. Bd4 Qd8 53. Kf4 Qe7 54. Bxg7+ {and I resigned.} *
() -
Commented by

The second game was as Black against a somewhat lower graded player, but it didn’t look that way after ten moves.

You need to activate javascript to enhance chess game and diagram visualization.
1. Nf3 {This was in the Public Service league for Pimlico but with analogue clocks at 75 minutes for 30 moves plus 15 minutes&#8217; quickplay.} 1... c5 2. b3 d6 3. Bb2 e5 {Trying to shut White&#8217;s bishop out} 4. Nc3 (4. e3 {has been played, aiming to break up Black&#8217;s centre with d4.}) 4... g6 5. e4 Nc6 6. Bc4 Bg7 {The structure resembles some open games or closed Sicilians. Black&#8217;s pawn moves have left him behind in development, so he has to be careful.} ({Avoiding} 6... Nf6 7. Ng5) 7. h4 Bg4 8. Nd5 (8. Bxf7+ Kxf7 9. Ng5+ Qxg5) (8. Ng5 Bxd1 9. Bxf7+) 8... Nge7 {Not careful enough.. After moving I realised he was likely to have Ne3 in mind, a manoeuvre justified by Black&#8217;s loss of time on pawn moves.} (8... Nd4) (8... Nf6) 9. Ne3 {Now Black has some problems. I spent six minutes seeing the flaws in most of my options and then feeling rather glad to have found a good move.} 9... Qd7 {?? <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> This manages to be worse than all the unsatisfactory alternatives. Black must defend or move the bishop, but there is nothing very appealing.} (9... Bxf3 10. Qxf3) (9... h5 10. Nxg4 hxg4 11. Ng5) (9... Be6 10. Bxe6 fxe6 11. Ng5 Qd7 12. Qg4 Nd8) (9... Bd7 {may be best.}) 10. Bxf7+ {This was a shock.} ({After making my move I got worried about something, maybe} 10. Nxg4 {which is also good for White:} 10... Qxg4 11. Bxf7+) 10... Kd8 {Black loses a pawn and the right to castle, and is about ten minutes down on time. But move 10 is too early to resign.} (10... Kf8 {looks worse}) ({Of course if} 10... Kxf7 {then} 11. Ng5+) 11. Bc4 ({If} 11. Nxg4 {Black can put up a fight with} 11... Qxg4 12. Ng5 (12. O-O) 12... Qxg2 13. Rf1 Bf6) 11... Rf8 {Deciding that the f file had better serve as my compensation.} 12. Be2 Bxf3 {Reluctantly giving the bishop pair to stop the tactical tricks.} 13. Bxf3 h5 14. c3 (14. g4 {might be met by} 14... Nd4) 14... Kc7 15. Qe2 {It&#8217;s natural to castle but it gives Black some breathing space.} ({I was worried about} 15. g4) ({The computer suggests} 15. g3 {followed by kingside castling, which deals with the f file pressure.}) 15... Rf7 16. O-O-O Raf8 {Now White will have to find a plan, which felt like progress on my part.} 17. Qb5 a6 18. Qe2 {Another small moral victory.} 18... Kb8 19. Nc4 Ka7 20. Qe3 b5 {Perhaps it would be better to avoid this as it might give White a target &#8211; Black&#8217;s best chance is to make it hard for White to make progress.} 21. Na3 Kb7 22. Nc2 Nc8 {This probably makes things worse.} (22... Qc7) (22... Rf4) 23. d4 cxd4 24. cxd4 Nb6 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> }(24... exd4 {might be better.}) 25. dxe5 {So far White has played well, and it&#8217;s understandable that he wants to open some lines, but Black begins to get some resources.} (25. d5 {is probably better with a big advantage for White}) (25. Qg5 {also tightens the screw.}) 25... Bxe5 {In this position the knight is worth preserving because it will be annoying on e5.} 26. Bxe5 Nxe5 {Nxf3 is already a threat.} 27. Nd4 Qe7 {Putting the queen on two potentially useful diagonals. White misses his dark-squared bishop.} 28. Rh3 {White tries to hold the extra pawn, but the decentralisation of this and the next move is ominous.} 28... Rf4 29. Rdh1 {Black may now have enough to draw.} ({After moving I realised I had overlooked} 29. Nf5 {when Black can save the exchange with} 29... Qc7+ 30. Kb1 Rxf3 31. Rxf3 gxf5 {but} 32. Rxf5 {still looks good for White.}) ({The computer prefers} 29. Kb1) 29... d5 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> I spent about eight minutes here and wasn&#8217;t sure what was happening, but this is an unpleasant move for White close to the time control.} (29... Ng4 30. Qd2) (29... Nxf3 30. gxf3 {would have been worth considering.}) 30. exd5 {My opponent wondered if this has been a mistake, but there may be nothing better..} (30. Ne2 Ng4) 30... Qc5+ {Another difficult choice on the time control, forcing an endgame where I start two pawns down.} (30... Qc7+ 31. Kb1) ({After} 30... Qa3+ {the computer likes White.} 31. Kb1 Nxf3 32. Rxf3 Nxd5 33. Qe5) 31. Nc2 {My opponent had five minutes more than me for the quickplay finish.} 31... Rc8 (31... Qxe3+ {is met by} 32. fxe3 ({not} 32. Nxe3 Nd3+)) 32. Qxc5 Rxc5 33. d6+ (33. Rd1 Nxf3 {is similar.}) 33... Nxf3 34. Rxf3 {At this point my opponent caught up with me on time.} (34. gxf3 {seems clearly worse to me as the h3 rook is terrible.}) 34... Rxf3 35. gxf3 Rd5 36. Rd1 Rxd1+ ({I had thought about} 36... Kc6 {and missed} 37. Nb4+) 37. Kxd1 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> } Nd5 {An important move. Black&#8217;s knight is now very strong and the d6 pawn will fall, after which the endgame is no worse for me though there are pitfalls for both sides.} ({Not} 37... Kc6 38. Nb4+) 38. Kd2 (38. Ne3 Nf4 {should be drawn.} (38... Nc3+ {is riskier after} 39. Kd2 Nxa2 40. Nd5 (40. Nc2 {is interesting but can&#8217;t be bad for Black.}) 40... Kc6 41. Ne7+ Kxd6 42. Nxg6)) (38. Nd4 {can be met by} 38... Kc8 ({or} 38... Nf4 39. Kd2 Ng2 40. Kd3 (40. d7 {runs into} 40... Kc7 41. Ne6+ Kxd7 42. Nf8+ Ke7 43. Nxg6+ Kf6) 40... Nxh4) (38... Nc3+ {is too risky})) 38... Kc6 39. Kd3 (39. Ne3 Nf4 {looks like a draw.}) 39... Kxd6 40. a3 {With four minutes left, White starts to allow Black some slight winning chances.} (40. Ne3 Nb4+ {is all right for Black.} (40... Nf4+ 41. Ke4 {gives White some chances})) 40... Nf4+ 41. Ke4 Ng2 42. Nb4 a5 43. Nd3 Nxh4 {An outside passed pawn in a knight ending is usually dangerous. As the proverb reported by the weepy mystic and autobiographer Margery Kempe says, &#8220;He is wel blessed that may sitten on his wel-stool and tellyn of his wo-stool&#8221;.} 44. f4 Nf5 45. Ne5 Ne7 (45... h4 46. Nxg6 h3 47. Kf3 Nd4+ 48. Kg3 Nxb3) 46. Nf3 Nf5 47. Ne5 Ne7 48. Nf3 Nd5 49. Ne5 Nc3+ 50. Kd4 {White&#8217;s flag fell while making this move. This particular model of clock is rather treacherous as one can think one has a minute left when the flag falls: I once lost a won game this way and I think it may have affected Nigel Short when he lost on time to Kasparov at the start of their 1993 match. I think White should still hold though a brief post-mortem showed that it&#8217;s tricky, since Black can try to create another passed pawn on the queenside. My opponent was very gracious but I had to feel sorry for him.} (50. Kd3 {is safer.}) *
() -
Commented by

The third game was a less radical peripeteia, but reasonably cathartic all the same:

You need to activate javascript to enhance chess game and diagram visualization.
1. d4 {Played in the London League for Dulwich.I am playing Black.} Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. b3 {There are various ways of rejecting the Benko. This isn&#8217;t one of the most highly regarded but I couldn&#8217;t remember what to do against it.} 4... e6 {This is a reasonable move against many of the sidelines in the Benko, and turns out to be recommended by both Aveskulov and Tay.} 5. g3 (5. dxe6 fxe6 6. cxb5 {is a bit like a Blumenfeld.}) 5... exd5 (5... bxc4 6. bxc4 ({perhaps better} 6. dxe6 fxe6 7. bxc4) 6... exd5 7. cxd5 {might be better because if the bishop then goes to b2 it will be vulnerable.}) 6. cxd5 Bb7 {The light-square bishop is often a problem piece in this Benoni structure. It might have been better to keep it on c8 and take the knight if it goes to h3. But I wanted to be ready to meet a4 with a6 and hoped the bishop&#8217;s pressure on d5 would be useful.} 7. Bg2 g6 8. Bb2 Bg7 9. e4 d6 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> We reach a Benoni where Black has got b5 in before White has played a4. I liked the look of this but in the event it wasn&#8217;t easy to play. Most of my experience with this structure is with White and I may have played the black side too cautiously. Also, the b2 bishop is quite effective in neutralising Black&#8217;s g7 bishop, usually one of his main assets, and the omission of a4 arguably makes it harder for Black to generate queenside play.} 10. Nh3 {f2 is sometimes a good square for the knight in this structure.} 10... O-O {Here I noticed my clock wasn&#8217;t working and we replaced it with allowance for the time I had spent when it was stopped.} 11. O-O Nbd7 12. Re1 Re8 13. Na3 {This strange-looking move does keep the long diagonal and d file open, but the knight never recovers. I sometimes wondered about c4 bxc4 b4 to embarrass it further.} 13... a6 14. f4 Nb6 {Black deters the e5 break by attacking d5. But this leaves the queen short of good squares.} 15. Rc1 Rc8 {Planning Rc7-e7. But now I wondered if I&#8217;d allowed e5 dxe5 d6 which is an important trick in the Benoni, and spent quite a bit of time on the next two moves.} 16. Rc2 (16. e5 dxe5 17. fxe5 Nfxd5 {is good for Black though it wasn&#8217;t easy to be sure that the White couldn&#8217;t exploit the pin on the diagonal.}) 16... Rc7 17. Nf2 {The possibility of Bh3 further cramps Black.} 17... Rce7 18. Rce2 Qb8 {Here I couldn&#8217;t see any move that improved my position.} ({A move or so later I wondered if I should have played} 18... Nxe4 19. Nxe4 ({not} 19. Bxg7 {when} 19... Nxf2 {exploits the position of the knight on f2.}) 19... Bxb2 20. Rxb2 Nxd5) ({The computer suggests} 18... h5) 19. g4 ({About here I think I saw} 19. Qa1 {which the computer likes for White e.g} 19... Nbd7 (19... Nbxd5 20. Bf3) 20. Bh3 Qd8 {with strong pressure.}) 19... Qd8 {This manoeuvre may have won me the game as my opponent now overreaches.} 20. g5 ({Now if} 20. Qa1 {Black has} 20... Nbxd5 21. Bf3 Nxf4 22. Bxf6 Nxe2+) 20... Nh5 21. Bxg7 Kxg7 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> Feeling, rightly in the event, that it was worth keeping the knight&#8217;s pressure on f4.} 22. f5 {I had been so focused on the e5 break that I had not considered this. Fortunately it isn&#8217;t good. I found a recent game by my opponent online where he&#8217;d won with this break in an exchange Gruenfeld, but here it&#8217;s too loosening.} ({If} 22. Qd2 {the computer suggests} 22... f5 ({I was considering} 22... Nxd5 23. exd5 Rxe2 24. Rxe2 Rxe2 25. Qxe2 Nxf4 26. Qb2+ Kg8 {but} 27. Ne4 {is strong.})) 22... gxf5 {I sensed my opponent had concentrated on other moves.} 23. exf5 ({The computer suggests} 23. Nh3 Kg8 {with an edge for Black, but this isn&#8217;t why White played f5.}) 23... Rxe2 24. f6+ Kg8 25. Rxe2 Nf4 {Keeping the e file.} (25... Rxe2 26. Qxe2 Nf4 {runs into} 27. Qe7 {when} 27... Qxe7 {loses to} 28. fxe7) 26. Rxe8+ Qxe8 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> White&#8217;s minor pieces are scattered and he cannot hold the d5 pawn. The Black king is safer than it looks; even if White gets the queen to h6 Black can often just play Qf8 or Qg6.} 27. Qg4 {White was already clearly worse, and now collapses.} 27... Nxg2 28. Kxg2 (28. Qxg2 Bxd5 {forces} 29. Qf1 {e.g.} 29... Qe3) 28... Nxd5 29. Kg3 Qe5+ 30. Kh3 {and having reached the time control White resigned. I hadn&#8217;t seen how to finish it but had in mind 30...Nf4+ followed by Ng6+ or Ng2+. The computer finds a forced mate after Ng6+ but even if Black doesn&#8217;t find it he should reach a good ending.} *
() -
Commented by