US Open (7), 19.08.2008
5.a3 [5.g3 and 5.Nc3 are more common] 5...Bxd2+
I thought I was achieving something with this, because I feel like black often tries to push the e pawn in connection with a kingside attack in these types of positions. But I think I should first castle and play Nc6, so his knight can't go to d4. This way I don't have to play ...c5, which actually makes a pretty serious weakness on d5.
11.Nb5 a6? And really, why am I spending a tempo to push the knight to c3 where it is better placed? Of course at the time I thought I was gaining a tempo, but that's very silly stereotypic thinking on my part.
13.Qc2 Re8 [On 13...Bf5 I was worried about 14.g4]
I couldn't decide if I wanted the knight here on or c6. The advantages to d7 are that I can maybe go via f8 to the kingside, and that the knight will not be attacked by a white pawn if one gets to d5.
15...Nc6 16.Nd5 Qe5 17.Qb3 This variation is why I rejected 15...Nc6. I thought I would have to play 17...Rb8 here and that didn't fit in with my narrative of playing a smooth, controlled win against a 1500.
16.Rfe1 Rad8? Probably a strategic mistake in the sense that bringing a rook to d8 is eventually going to lead to an exchange of all rooks (and then queens?) on the d file. Since I have more space and a potential kingside attack, I want to avoid exchanges. Perhaps 16...h5?
While he was thinking about this, I was looking at 17.f3 (or 17. f4, because I guess I have to take it?) 17... exf3 18.Qxf5 Qxe3+ (18...fxe2 19.Rxe2) 19.Kh1 fxe2 20.Rxe2 Qh6. I was a little nervous about this because while I knew I should be better, being up a pawn, I felt temporarily uncoordinated and like something bad might happen. Of course I can also not take the pawn immediately. (18...fxe2)
17...Bg6 stopping f3/f4... for good, but maybe a big waste of time, especially because my bishop might become quite bad there.
19...Nf3+ 20.gxf3 exf3 21.Bd3 Qe6! Alex found this immediately after the game. There's no good defense. 22.Ne2 then best is 22...Nh5 (But also good is: 22...fxe2 23.Rxe2 Qg4+ 24.Ng3 h5) when the threat is simply 23... Qh3 24.Nf4 Nxf4 25.exf4 Qg2#]
I was expecting 20.Ng3 and had planned 20...h4 21.Ngxe4 Nxe4 22.Nxe4 Rxd2 23.Rxd2 h3 (23...Nxc4) 24.g3 (24.gxh3 Qh4)
20... h4 21. Rxd8 Rxd8 22.Rxd8+ Qxd8 23.Ngxe4 Nxe4 24.Nxe4 h3 25.g3 (25.gxh3 Qh4) 25...Bxe4 26.Qxe4 Qd2 27.Qxe5 Qxe2 28.Qe8+ Kh7 29.Qe4+ somehow in my head here I thought I could play g6-- I didn't see Qh4 won the h3 pawn-- and I thought I had good chances, but the truth is he has perpetual... 29...Kg8 30.Qe8+ etc.
20...Rxd8 21.Rxd8+ Qxd8 22.Qd2 So now I made a bad practical decision, although I'm not sure I would do differently next time. I saw that the endgame after trading queens is very hard to win. My bishop is not any better than his, in reality. So I tried to find something to avoid this, but nothing is great.
22...Nfd7 I knew this was a bad move, and I understood when I played it that Qd5 was a great response and not so hard to see. I just figured I would take my chances and try to trick the guy somehow. Alternatives are dismal: 22...Qb6 23.Na4 Qc7 or 22...Qe7 23.Nd5 Qe6 24.Nxf6+ Qxf6 25.Qd5]
23.Qd5 Qh4 24.Qxb7
I was hoping for 24.g3 Qh3. Unfortunately, even with this I have no threats.
24...Nf6?? 25. Qb8. I'm an idiot. 1–0