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).

Narrative and the computer

Most players have a story about the game they have just played. Nowadays, though, narrative in chess depends on an elctronic imprimatur. In this game I told myself had pressurised a lower-graded player who had done well to hold out; but it turns out he had the best chances.

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1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 Nf6 4. e5 Nd5 5. cxd4 e6 6. Nc3 {This poses an interesting problem.} (6. Nf3 {is usually regarded as the main line.}) 6... d6 (6... Nxc3 7. bxc3 Qc7 8. Bd2 d6 {is a natural response. White can exploit the omission of Nf3 with} 9. f4 {when one possibility is} 9... g5) 7. Nxd5 (7. Nf3 {is also possible.}) ({With the queen still on d8} 7. f4 {looks risky though it&#8217;s not entirely clear e.g. the computer likes White after} 7... Nxc3 (7... dxe5 {may be better}) 8. bxc3 dxe5 9. fxe5 (9. dxe5 Qxd1+ 10. Kxd1 {is pleasant for Black}) 9... Qh4+ 10. Ke2) 7... exd5 8. Nf3 Nc6 9. h3 (9. exd6 Bxd6 {looks equal.}) 9... dxe5 10. dxe5 {The pawn structure is hard to assess. Both d5 and e5 pawns might be a strength or a weakness.} 10... Bc5 (10... Bb4+ {might be more accurate.}) 11. Bd3 h6 ({Avoiding} 11... O-O 12. Bxh7+ Kxh7 13. Qc2+) 12. O-O O-O ({The computer prefers} 12... Be6) 13. Bf4 (13. Bb1 {poses some problems.}) 13... Qb6 14. Qe2 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> } Nd8 {Rather too subtle.} (14... Nd4 {seems to maintain the balance.}) 15. a3 ({The computer points out} 15. Bc2 {when White seems to be better}) (15. Qd2) 15... Ne6 {For most of the middle game, I felt I was making the running, though the computer generally doesn&#8217;t agree.} 16. Bg3 Bd7 17. b4 Nd4 {Suggesting that Nd8-e6 was a waste of time.} 18. Nxd4 Bxd4 19. Rac1 Rac8 20. Kh1 a6 21. f4 Bb5 22. f5 Be3 23. Rce1 d4 24. Bf4 Rc3 25. Bxb5 axb5 26. Bxe3 Rxe3 27. Qf2 Re8 ({The computer suggests} 27... Rxa3 {with a draw after} 28. f6 g6 29. Re4 Qe6 30. Qxd4 Rxh3+) 28. Rxe3 (28. Qf4 {is also possible when} 28... R8xe5 {can be met by} 29. Qxe5) 28... dxe3 29. Qg3 ({I expected} 29. Qf4 {and couldn&#8217;t see anything better than} 29... Qc7 30. Qxe3 Rxe5 {when I hoped to have some pressure though it seems White&#8217;s f pawn can still be dangerous e.g} 31. Qg3 {and here} 31... Qe7 {loses to} 32. f6) 29... Qd4 {I thought Black&#8217;s centralisation was strong here but underrated White&#8217;s pawns.} (29... Qc7 {heads for equality with} 30. Qxe3 Rxe5 31. Qg3 f6) 30. e6 {A very resourceful move that I had discounted or missed. White&#8217;s kingside majority makes itself felt. My opponent now had two minutes plus increments.} ({While my opponent was thinking I was worrying about} 30. f6 g6 31. e6 Rxe6 32. Qb8+ Kh7 33. Qf8 {but then saw I would win with} 33... Rxf6) 30... Qd3 {Underrating the danger; Black&#8217;s queen is needed for defence.} ({Now I realised that} 30... fxe6 {loses to} 31. f6) ({the computer recommends} 30... Qf6) (30... e2) 31. Re1 ({ <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> White should win with an extra pawn after} 31. Rf3 {since} 31... Qd1+ 32. Kh2 e2 ({or} 32... fxe6 33. f6) {loses to} 33. f6 {e.g.} 33... g5 34. exf7+ Kxf7 35. Qc7+) 31... Qxf5 32. exf7+ {Now it&#8217;s a draw.} 32... Kxf7 33. Rxe3 Rxe3 34. Qxe3 {In the queen ending Black&#8217;s king is more centralised but also more exposed than White&#8217;s.} 34... g5 35. Qd4 Qf1+ 36. Kh2 Qf4+ {I stopped recording the moves here but think the finish was} 37. Qxf4+ gxf4 38. g4 {It&#8217;s sensible to play this as soon as possible as it is going to be necessary to exchange the f pawn in many variations.} ({After} 38. Kg1 Kf6 39. Kf2 Kf5 40. Kf3 h5 {White still holds with} 41. g3 ({or} 41. Kf2 Ke4 42. g3 ({but not} 42. Ke2 h4 43. Kf2 f3 44. gxf3+ Kf4) ({nor} 42. h4 Kf5)) ({and not} 41. h4 b6)) 38... fxg3+ (38... Kf6 {looked like asking for trouble and does indeed lose.}) 39. Kxg3 Kf6 40. Kf4 h5 41. h4 b6 {This spare tempo had given me some faint hopes when entering the king and pawn ending but in the event it merely saves the draw.} 42. Ke4 Ke6 43. Kf4 Kf6 {Draw agreed.} ({I didn&#8217;t bother to calculate} 43... Kd5 {which duly loses to} 44. Kg5 Kc4 45. Kxh5 Kb3 46. Kg6 Kxa3 47. h5 Kxb4 48. h6 Ka3 49. h7) *
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Blunders

Some authors recommend mental routines to prevent blunders, for instance: consider all the forcing moves available on your own move or possible as responses to your preferred candidate. I’m not sure I’ve ever managed to stick to this and I wonder how many players do. In the following two games, I overlook a simple undermining tactic in a good ending. I was lucky only to drop half a point and am hoping that this particular tactic is now branded on the cortex, but we shall see.

What I overlooked in both games was a capture by a bishop that I had been trying to incarcerate. If human beings can be thought of as fields of force, this is no doubt even truer of chess pieces. Maybe some pieces seem to emanate less force than others.

The first game was played for Dulwich in the London League:

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1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. e3 {A line popular in the 1970s and still quite interesting.} 4... Bb4 ({My previous essay in this line was a rather lucky win with} 4... d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Bb5 Qd6 7. O-O Be7 8. d4 Nxc3 9. bxc3 e4 10. Ne5 O-O 11. Bxc6 ({perhaps better} 11. Nxc6) 11... bxc6 12. a4 Qe6 {now White&#8217;s knight is embarrassed} 13. f4 exf3 14. Qxf3 {and Black blundered with} 14... Qd5 15. Nxc6) 5. Qc2 O-O 6. Nd5 a5 ({Keene and Steam developed an interesting line, I think for Korchnoi&#8217;s 1978 match with Karpov, involving} 6... Re8 7. Qf5 (7. Bd3 {is also possible})) 7. Bd3 (7. Qf5 {might be good here too but I wasn&#8217;t sure how the sharp lines go}) 7... h6 8. a3 (8. b3 {might run into} 8... a4) 8... Bc5 9. b3 d6 10. Bb2 (10. Nxf6+ Qxf6) 10... Be6 (10... Nxd5) 11. Nxf6+ Qxf6 12. O-O Qe7 13. Bf5 {Not wanting to allow f5.} 13... Bb6 14. Bxe6 fxe6 {Now White can hope to restrain and ultimately attack the pawn mass. But Black makes good use of the f file.} (14... Qxe6 15. d4 e4 16. d5 {is good for White}) 15. Qe4 (15. d4 {allows a promising exchange sacrifice with} 15... Rxf3 16. gxf3 exd4) 15... Rad8 16. Qg4 Rf5 (16... d5 {can be met with} 17. d3 ({not} 17. Nxe5 Nxe5 18. Bxe5 dxc4) ({The computer likes} 17. b4) 17... d4 18. exd4 Bxd4 19. Nxd4 Nxd4 20. Bxd4 exd4 ({or} 20... Rxd4 21. Qe2)) 17. d3 Rdf8 18. Rad1 Qf6 19. Qg3 Kh7 20. Ba1 (20. d4 {runs into} 20... e4 21. Nd2 (21. d5 Qxb2) 21... d5) 20... g5 (20... Bc5 21. d4 {is interesting}) 21. d4 exd4 22. Nxd4 Nxd4 23. exd4 Qg6 24. b4 axb4 25. axb4 Rf4 26. c5 Ba7 27. Qc3 Qf7 28. Rd2 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> White may be a little better here.} 28... d5 {This felt like a concession. Black was short of time.} 29. Re2 Re4 {Unnecessarily dropping a pawn.} 30. Rxe4 dxe4 {Time control; now a quickplay finish. White is winning a pawn and should have good winning chance, but it&#8217;s not trivial.} 31. Qe3 Qf5 (31... Qf4 {also fails against} 32. Re1 Kg8 ({or} 32... Qxe3 33. Rxe3 Rf4) 33. Qxf4 Rxf4 34. Bc3 ({better than} 34. g3 Rf3)) 32. Re1 Kg8 33. Re2 c6 34. Qxe4 Qxe4 35. Rxe4 Ra8 36. Bc3 Kf7 37. g3 {With the idea of keeping the bishop cramped, but this makes it harder to make a passed pawn on the kingside.} 37... Bb8 38. Kg2 Ra3 39. Re3 g4 40. h3 h5 41. Bb2 ({The attempt to force a kingside pawn through with} 41. hxg4 hxg4 42. f3 {fails to} 42... Ra2+ 43. Kf1 Bxg3) 41... Ra2 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> } 42. Rb3 {I was pleased with this idea, switching my attention to Black&#8217;s cramped bishop and the queenside pawns.} 42... e5 43. hxg4 hxg4 44. b5 (44. dxe5 Ke6 {seems to help Black.}) 44... cxb5 45. Rxb5 Ba7 ({not} 45... Ra7 46. c6) 46. d5 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> This looked very good, but I was missing something.} (46. Rxb7+ {should win.}) 46... Ke8 ({Both teams&#8217; top boards were watching and spotted} 46... Bxc5 {which should hold though I might have won on time anyway.White can keep the extra pawn and exchange bishops but Black&#8217;s king is active enough to keep the balance after e.g.} 47. Rxb7+ Kf6 48. Rb5 Kf5 49. Rxc5 Rxb2) 47. d6 (47. Bc1 {would eliminate the risk.}) 47... Kd8 (47... Bxc5 {is still available though White can then play} 48. Rxc5 Rxb2 49. Rxe5+ Kd7 50. Re4 {with some winning chances in a difficult ending}) 48. Bxe5 {Now it&#8217;s easy.} 48... Kd7 49. Rxb7+ Kc6 50. Rc7+ Kd5 51. d7 Bxc5 52. d8=Q+ {and Black resigned} *
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The second game was played for Pimlico in the Public Service League.

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1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 c6 {This move works well against 2.g3 but is less convincing here.} 3. Nf3 d6 4. d4 exd4 5. Nxd4 Nf6 6. g3 Be7 {This seems a little passive.} (6... g6) 7. Bg2 O-O 8. O-O Na6 9. a3 h6 10. Qc2 ({Avoiding} 10. b4 c5) 10... Bg4 11. h3 Bh5 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> Now I decided to shut his bishop out. He had seen this but felt he would be able to revive the bishop later. White obviously contracts some weaknesses but I think it&#8217;s a reasonable approach.} 12. f4 Bg6 13. f5 Bh7 14. Rd1 Qc8 15. g4 Nc5 16. b4 Ncd7 {From now on I am angling for the b5 break but improve my pieces first.} 17. Be3 Ne5 18. Qb3 Rd8 19. Rac1 Nfd7 20. Ne4 {Deterring Nc5 after b5.} 20... Rb8 21. b5 ({Both players miss} 21. Nb5 {winning for White.}) 21... c5 {I felt this was a major concession.} 22. Nf3 Nxf3+ 23. exf3 {Although this reduces the value of White&#8217;s kingside majority it allows him to contest the e5 square.} 23... Nf6 24. Nc3 b6 25. Bf4 Bf8 26. Nd5 Nxd5 27. Rxd5 f6 28. Rcd1 Kh8 29. Bxd6 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> I was very optimistic here and felt I could safely take the pawn. But Black more gets more counterplay than I expected and my opponent rightly identified this as a mistake after the game.} 29... Bxd6 30. Rxd6 Rxd6 31. Rxd6 Bg8 32. Qd3 (32. Bf1 {might be better.}) 32... a6 33. a4 (33. bxa6 {is worth considering. But I didn&#8217;t see what he was up to.}) 33... axb5 34. axb5 (34. cxb5 {is worth considering.}) 34... Qc7 (34... Qf8 {may be better}) 35. f4 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> I had simply overlooked my opponent&#8217;s reply. This is wrong, but White is no longer much better in any case as the threat is not so easy to meet.} ({If} 35. Rd7 {Black has good counterplay with} 35... Qg3 {and the a file is handy.} (35... Qe5 36. Qe4 Qxe4 37. fxe4 Bxc4 38. Bf1 Bb3 {is also possible}) (35... Bxc4 36. Rxc7 Bxd3 37. Bf1 {still gives White chances.})) 35... Bxc4 {My opponent had much less time and offered a draw here, which I accepted after a few minutes&#8217; thought. White is clearly worse and I was lucky to escape.} *
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The trouble with good positions

I think it was Donner who said he hated good (or was it winning ?) positions. I’ve often found my heart rate increasing when I begin to think I am winning. I suppose, if one wants to win, one had better learn to put up with good positions, but I have recently had some reason to dislike them.

Here are three positions I recently had.

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4rbk1/pb3p1p/1p3Pp1/r7/2pPP3/2P3Q1/5RBP/1qB1R1K1 w - - 4 28
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4rr1k/pp4pp/3bb3/2pp3q/1n2n3/1P2NNP1/PB2PPBP/1QR2RK1 b - - 18 19
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3r2k1/1pq3p1/2ppbr1p/8/1PPQ1P2/4P1P1/6BP/R1R3K1 w - - 5 25

I am White to move in the first and last, and Black to move in the second. I think a reasonable prediction of my score, against similarly graded players and without severe time trouble, might be about 2.5. As I only managed one point, I need a story. Here goes.

The first game was played for Dulwich in the London League. One way to mess up a good position is to spend too long trying to win it. I have taken up recording both players’ clock times after each move and this time they told a sorry tale.

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1. c4 {75 minutes for 30 plus quickplay, against an opponent I had beaten twice before.} 1... Nf6 2. Nc3 d5 3. cxd5 Nxd5 4. g3 {Holding back the d pawn denies Black his usual Gruenfeld target.} 4... g6 5. Bg2 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Rb1 Nc6 8. Nf3 (8. h4 {does quite well.}) 8... O-O 9. O-O e5 10. d3 (10. Ne1 {has been played a couple of times.}) 10... Rb8 11. Qc2 (11. Ng5 {perhaps followed by Ne4-c5 is worth considering.}) 11... b6 12. Ba3 Re8 13. Nd2 Bb7 14. Rbe1 Qd7 15. f4 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> I have tried similar f4 pushes in a few games in the English, so far without satisfactory results. The computer doesn&#8217;t like it. There is a positional logic to securing the central majority, but it tends to create weaknesses in White&#8217;s position as well.} 15... exf4 16. gxf4 Ne7 17. e4 c5 18. f5 Nc6 ({The computer is happy to eat the pawn with} 18... gxf5) 19. Nc4 Ne5 20. Nxe5 Rxe5 (20... Bxe5 {looks better. The game begins to turn my way.}) 21. Bb2 c4 {I had ideas of c4 and f6. This move cramps my bishop but at too much cost in the centre, I think.} 22. d4 Ra5 23. f6 Bf8 24. Bc1 Qa4 {Bold, but White&#8217;s central and kingside control should outweigh the queenside demonstration.} 25. Qf2 Qxa2 26. Qg3 Re8 27. Rf2 Qb1 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> At this point we had the same amount of time, but I now started thinking too long.} 28. e5 ({Played quite quickly, but} 28. Qc7 {is probably better here. I had thirteen minutes left before move 30 so should perhaps have thought more.}) 28... Bxg2 29. Qxg2 Qb5 30. e6 {Ten minutes on this, mainly thinking about the follow-up. I couldn&#8217;t see a clear win but hoped something would appear. But the risk is greater than I realised.} 30... Rxe6 31. Rxe6 {Another long think looking for a win, after which I had nine minutes for the rest of the game.} 31... fxe6 32. f7+ Kg7 33. Qh3 Qh5 {I thought this was forced.} ({The computer prefers} 33... h5 34. Qxe6 Qd5) 34. Qxe6 {Now White has enough for a draw, but not more.} 34... Rf5 35. Bf4 Qg4+ 36. Bg3 (36. Kh1 {seems to be better. Now I had four minutes left and some difficulties over the board. My opponent has twenty minutes left and although both of us play inaccurately from here on my mistakes are bigger.}) 36... Qd1+ (36... Qg5 37. Qxc4 Qe3 {may be better.}) 37. Kg2 Rxf2+ 38. Bxf2 (38. Kxf2 {should draw.}) 38... Qc2 (38... h5 {and Black is better.}) 39. Kg1 (39. Qe5+ {gives a perpetual, but this takes calculation and it&#8217;s not easy to jettison ones best asset.}) 39... Qf5 40. d5 {Finally losing.} (40. Qxc4 Qxf7 {and Black should have good chances of converting his extra pawn.}) 40... Qxe6 41. dxe6 Kf6 {and I resigned.} *
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Commented by

The second game, played as Black for Dulwich in the London League, shows something about calculation. What one calculates is always a choice, but some things are mandatory, though I’ve never seen an author clearly say which they are. The moral of this tale is: keep an eye on the oponent’s candidates.

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1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 c5 3. d5 e6 4. dxe6 fxe6 5. g3 (5. c4 b5 {goes into the Blumenfeld}) 5... d5 6. Bg2 Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. c4 Nc6 9. cxd5 exd5 {White&#8217;s play is rather passive, though Black has to be careful about d5.} 10. b3 Bf5 11. Bb2 Kh8 {the check on d5 is annoying in some lines} 12. Nbd2 Qd7 13. Rc1 Rae8 14. Re1 Ne4 15. Nf1 Qf7 16. Ne3 Be6 17. Rf1 Qh5 18. Qd3 Nb4 19. Qb1 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> Black has built an excellent position and now has to look for concrete ways to win. I still had almost half an hour to move 30, then twenty minutes for the rest of the game, so there should be time.} 19... Bh3 {Four minutes here, looking for a win.} 20. a3 Bxg2 (20... d4 {wins according to the computer. If} 21. Nc4 ({another line is} 21. Bxh3 Qxh3 22. axb4 dxe3 {with a huge attack}) {Black has} 21... Bxg2 22. Kxg2 Nxg3 23. hxg3 Rxe2 {and if} 24. Ne1 {then} 24... Bxg3 25. Kxg3 Nd5 {with a forced mate coming}) 21. Kxg2 Rxf3 {Here, despite six minutes&#8217; thought, is the fatal mistake. I remember verbalising the sequence of actions, as the variations were confusing me. But the one crucial thing when sacrificing to force a win is to search carefully for the opponent&#8217;s candidates on each move. You can be more relaxed about your own candidates if you have know you have at least one good line.} ({I also considered} 21... Nxf2 {which turns out to be very good} 22. Rxf2 Rxe3 {and} 23. axb4 ({better} 23. Bxg7+ Kxg7 24. Qb2+ Kg8 25. axb4) {can be met by} 23... Rxe2 {with a decisive X-ray that I hadn&#8217;t seen}) ({Alternatively} 21... Nc6 {keeps the pressure on with d4 to follow.}) 22. exf3 Nd2 (22... Ng5 23. Qf5 {is also good for White.}) 23. Qf5 {I simply missed this. f5 was previously obstructed by the knight and multiply protected but a careful search should have spotted the move. White gains a tempo and wins at least a piece.} ({After sacrificing the exchange I had seen} 23. Bxg7+ Kg8 24. Qa1 (24. Qf5 {wins as in the game}) 24... Qxf3+ 25. Kg1 {which is very good for Black.}) 23... Qxf5 24. Nxf5 {I thrash around a bit as the team needed the point but the game is lost.} 24... Be5 25. Bxe5 Nd3 26. Bxg7+ Kg8 27. Bc3 Nxf1 28. Rxf1 Re2 29. f4 d4 30. Ba1 Ra2 31. a4 b6 32. Kf3 Nxf2 33. Bxd4 (33. Rxf2 Rxa1) 33... Nd3 34. Ke4 Nb4 35. Bc3 Re2+ 36. Kf3 Rxh2 37. Bxb4 cxb4 38. Rd1 Rc2 39. Rd3 Kf7 40. Nd4 Rb2 41. Nc6 a5 42. Ne5+ Ke6 43. Nc4 Rc2 44. Nxb6 Rc3 45. Ke4 h5 46. Nc4 {and I resigned.} *
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Commented by

I don’t usually play on successive days, but the day after this debacle I had to play for Pimlico. It was a relief to discover that some positions, despite their excellent appearance, can actually be won.

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1. c4 {75 minutes with a 15 second increment} e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 f5 4. Bg2 Nf6 5. d3 ({I had played} 5. e3 {a few weeks before. I am still not sure of White&#8217;s best approach here.}) 5... Bb4 {This reversed Grand Prix does quite well for Black and my opponent said he has good results with it.} 6. Bd2 O-O 7. a3 Bxc3 8. Bxc3 d6 (8... d5 {is rare but worth considering.} 9. cxd5 Nxd5 {when} 10. Qb3 {seems not to work after} 10... Be6 11. Qxb7 Qd6) 9. e3 {Rare.} (9. Nf3 {and}) (9. b4 {are more popular.}) 9... Be6 10. Nf3 h6 {With the thought of starting operations in the centre. In similar positions Black often plays Qe8-h5 with a kingside attack.} 11. b4 e4 {Afterwards my opponent wondered if this was too early.} 12. Nd4 Nxd4 13. Bxd4 Qd7 14. O-O Rae8 15. Rc1 a5 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> Committing to a pawn sacrifice, in the hope of using the half-open files on the kingside.} 16. Bxf6 Rxf6 17. dxe4 fxe4 18. Bxe4 axb4 19. axb4 c6 (19... Bg4 20. Qd5+) ({Against} 19... Bh3 {I had planned} 20. Qd5+ Kh8 21. Bg2 {with the thought of bringing the Queen to g2.} 21... c6 {seems to stop this but the computer points out} 22. Bxh3 Qxh3 23. Qg2) (19... Bxc4 {loses a piece to} 20. Rxc4 c6 21. Bg2) 20. Bg2 Qf7 21. Qd4 Rf8 22. f4 {Making Black&#8217;s last few moves retrospectively mysterious. I think my opponent missed this idea when sacrificing the pawn.} 22... Ra8 23. Ra1 {I was pleased with this, further frustrating my opponent.} 23... Rd8 (23... Rxa1 24. Rxa1 Bxc4 {runs into} 25. Ra8+ Kh7 26. Be4+ g6 27. Bxc6 {which the computer likes even more than I did.}) 24. Rfc1 Qc7 25. Rd1 Rff8 26. Qc3 {Trying to restrain all of Black&#8217;s pawn breaks} ({the computer suggests} 26. b5) 26... Qf7 27. Rac1 Rfe8 28. e4 b5 29. cxb5 {I thought this won a pawn, but in any case it seems right to start opening lines.} (29. c5 {is also possible}) 29... cxb5 30. Qc6 Bg4 {I missed this and was lucky it didn&#8217;t matter.} 31. Re1 ({Of course not} 31. Rd2 Rc8) 31... Qa7+ 32. Kh1 Qa4 33. Qd5+ Be6 34. Qd4 Bc4 {I hadn&#8217;t really meant to allow the bishop to this active-looking square, but in fact it may be no better than it was on the kingside.} 35. Qd2 {Although White seems to be retreating, the threat of Ra1 and Re3 pushes Black&#8217;s queen back.} (35. Bf1 {was tempting but the ending after} 35... Qxb4 36. Bxc4+ bxc4 37. Qxc4+ Qxc4 38. Rxc4 d5 39. Rd4 dxe4 40. Rdxe4 Rxe4 41. Rxe4 {is drawn}) 35... Qa7 36. Red1 Qc7 37. Qd4 Kh8 38. Ra1 Ra8 39. h3 ({avoiding} 39. Rxa8 Rxa8 40. Qxd6 Qxd6 41. Rxd6 Ra1+) (39. e5 {is possible}) 39... Rxa1 ({Black could simply wait as the ending after} 39... Red8 40. Rxa8 Rxa8 41. Qxd6 Qxd6 42. Rxd6 Ra1+ 43. Kh2 Ra2 44. Rd1 Rb2 {could still be tricky though White should win.}) 40. Rxa1 Re7 41. Ra6 Rd7 42. h4 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> With only three minutes plus increments, Black starts to cave in.} 42... d5 (42... Bf7) 43. Bh3 Qb7 44. Rxh6+ Kg8 45. Be6+ Kf8 46. Rh8+ (46. Qc5+ {is more clinical.}) 46... Ke7 47. Qxg7+ {and Black resigned. Capturing the bishop allows immediate mate and otherwise White can exchange off on d7 and win the ending, though the computer says Kd6 Qf6 is mate in seven.} *
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Intuition and its inconveniences

Intitution, prejudice, or whatever one calls one’s immediate reaction to an idea or a situation, is essential to chess. We analyse a tiny fraction of the possibilities; the strength of computers only illuminates the difference between their calculation and our thought. But precisely because intuition helps to weed out ideas, it can feed laziness. In this recent draw played for Dulwich in the London League, I twice discount the idea of putting the queen on the same diagonal as the opponent’s bishop in order to attack a pawn on b7. The computer, at any rate, thinks I was wrong to.

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1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 f5 4. Bg2 Nf6 5. e3 Bb4 {A Grand Prix Sicilian reversed.} 6. Nge2 O-O 7. O-O d6 8. a3 {This seems to be new here and may be a mistake. In what follows White has to fight for both d3 and d5 and could do with both knights whereas Black&#8217;s dark-squared bishop can&#8217;t get at these squares.} (8. Nd5) (8. d3) 8... Bxc3 9. Nxc3 Be6 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> } 10. Nd5 {Possibly a mistake.} ({I think I was worried about} 10. d3 d5 {but} 11. Qb3 {seems to be good}) (10. b3) 10... e4 {I saw this after I moved and now had a long think. The game now becomes a skirmish for central squares slightly sooner than is comfortable for White.} 11. d3 Ne5 {I saw this while he was thinking. My long think had been about his two main alternatives} (11... exd3 12. b3 {is OK for White} ({rather than} 12. Qxd3 Ne5 13. Qc2 c6 {when c4 is likely to fall})) (11... Nxd5 12. cxd5 Bxd5 13. dxe4 {and} 13... Bxe4 ({better} 13... Bc4 14. Re1) {loses to} 14. f3) 12. Nf4 Qe7 ({I was more worried about} 12... Bf7) 13. h4 {Securing the knight on f4 and thus the d3 square} ({I didn&#8217;t want to allow the knight into d3 but the computer thinks White is OK after} 13. b3 g5 14. Nxe6 Qxe6 15. dxe4 fxe4 16. Bb2 Nd3 17. Bd4 c5 18. Bc3 {with a good dark-squared bishop and f3 coming}) 13... Nxd3 (13... exd3 14. b3) 14. Nxd3 exd3 {I was relieved by this.} ({I was worried about} 14... Bxc4 15. Nf4 Bxf1 16. Bxf1 {when I felt Black would be able to mobilise his pawns though White&#8217;s unchallenged bishops look good.. My opponent didn&#8217;t like this because he wanted to get rid of the f4 knight and the computer agrees with him.}) 15. Qxd3 d5 {I think this caught me by surprise. It makes sense for Black to break quickly as the existing structure might be pleasant for White if he had time to develop.} ({the computer suggests} 15... Ne4 {when if} 16. Bxe4 fxe4 17. Qxe4 {Black has} 17... Qf7 {threatening Bh3 and Bc4}) 16. cxd5 (16. b3 {seemed a bit weakening.} 16... dxc4 17. bxc4 Rad8 (17... Qc5)) 16... Rad8 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> } 17. e4 ({Here I overestimated the position I get in a few moves and thought I was choosing activity over material.} 17. Qb3 {is probably better; the second time in the game I underestimate this idea, not liking to expose my queen too early. After} 17... Bxd5 18. Bxd5+ Rxd5 19. Qxb7 Qd6 {the computer suggests freeing the bishop with} 20. e4 {and prefers White}) 17... fxe4 18. Bxe4 Bxd5 (18... Nxe4 19. Qxe4 Rxd5 20. Re1 Rd6 21. Bf4 Rc6 {is good for White}) 19. Bxd5+ Rxd5 ({better than} 19... Nxd5 20. Bg5 Nf6 21. Qb3+) 20. Qb3 {I hoped to show that the bishop was better than the knight here. But Black has too much activity and the knight will be very happy on d5.} 20... c6 {Hereabouts my opponent offered a draw} 21. Be3 a6 22. Rad1 Qf7 {I missed this} 23. Rxd5 Nxd5 24. Bd4 Re8 25. Qd3 ({I was tempted by} 25. Kg2 {which loses to} 25... Nf4+) 25... Qe6 26. Kg2 Qg4 {Now I realised I was in difficulties as Nf4+ is threatened and White has no very convenient answer} 27. Be3 {Here I offered a draw and my opponent rather surprisingly accepted. Black is better but maybe my opponent had underestimated his position earlier and had been playing to equalise. A short draw but quite an interesting one.} *
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