Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I can't believe I touched my king

Alexis Paredes
Here's a game I played today in afterschool:

Alexis Paredes (1900) - Elizabeth Vicary (2100)

1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 e6
4. O-O Nge7
5. Re1 a6
6. Bf1


6... d5 is the right move; during the game I remembered the idea was d5 and recapturing with the queen, followed by Nf5, which makes it very hard/impossible for white to play d4, but I thought I should wait for c3, that I didn't want to deal with ...Qxd5 8. Nc3. This is just wrong, on 8. Nc3 I play 8...Qd8 and it's nice because black keeps pressure on d4. but delaying ...d5 makes the whole idea stupid, because once I give white the extra tempo for c3, he now can play d4.

The correct line continues:
7. exd5 Qxd5 8. Bd3

The idea is to prevent 8... Nf5 (because of 9. Nc3 Qd6 10. Bxf5) The knight wants to come to f5 to unblock the Bf8 and control d4 more.

And now there are two games, one inside the other, in Richard's Palliser well titled book: The Bb5 Sicilian. The first is Joel Benjamin -- Anna Hahn, US Championship Jan 2002:

8...Ng6 9. Be4 Qd6 10. c3 Be7 11. d4 O-O 12. Be3 cxd4 13. cxd4


Because black's kingside knight is on g6 rather than f6, black doesn't have as much control of d5 as she normally would in a IQP position. Palliser suggests 13...Nb4 here, and maybe on 14.Nc3, black gets play with ..f5? He goes on to say Hahn is doing badly after
14. Nc3 Rad8 15. Rc1 f5 16. Bc2 f4

(maybe 16... Nb4 again is better?), but rybka and fritz seem to think it's alright for black.

The second game happened 4 months later:
Joel Benjamin -- Alex Shabalov Foxwoods 2002
8... g6 preparing ...Nf5
9. Be4 Qd6 Palliser suggests 9... Qd8 is better, since the queen won't get hit by b4xc5, but maybe black is woefully underdeveloped? 10. h4?
10. b4!?

11. bxc5 Qxc5 12. Ba3 Qa5 13. c3 Qc7 14. d4 +/=

So, these are two interesting games to compare. Palliser says the knight is awkward on g6 and Shabalov's choice makes more sense, but he also makes it sound like Hahn was worse out of the opening, and I don't know if that's really true after 13... Nb4. I have a suspicion that Palliser might think this way because Shabalov is the stronger player and his game is later, so the natural expectation would be that he played an improvement. But it's possible 8... g6 is more just a stylistic choice, since Alex doesn't usually play isolated queen pawn positions.

Anyway, I was having those thoughts, wondering what move I would play if I got the position again, so I checked for other games, you know, see what's fashionable, get a third, fourth opinion. And it turns out white scores 92% after 8. Bd3. But I like Ng6.

7. c3 7. a4 is also interesting, provoking ...b4.
7... d5
8. exd5 Qxd5

8... Nxd5 was better
9. c4

I realized at this point that 9. d4 was very likely, and I had intended to reply 9...Nf5, but white can then go 10. g4! Ne7 11. Bg2

analysis diagram
and it's suddenly not my diagonal any more. The problem is that if I trade instead, 9.. cxd4 10. cxd4, then my queen is ridiculous on d5 and I'm in a IQP position several tempi down, which should and does spell disaster: 10... Bb7 11. Nc3 Qd7 12. d5! exd5 13. a4! b4 14. Nxd5

like a bad, bad dream

I can try to be fancy and stop 11. Nc3 with 10...b4, but then I have to deal with 11. a3.

After the game, I told Alexis that 9. c4 was bad and I shook my head disapprovingly at him, but I guess I will have to eat mywords tomorrow.

9... bxc4
10. Nc3 Qd7

11. Bxc4 Nf5

12. Bd5
This seemed artificial to me at the time, and it is. But 12. Nd5 is interesting and very tricky: 12... Rb8 13. Ng5 with a big threat of 14. Qh5 and/or the bishop pair after the natural (and best) 13...Be7.


13. Qa4 Bd6
White was threatening Ne5, and this seems like the natural way to prevent it. I lose a pawn after 13... Rc8 14. Ne5 Nxe5 15. Qxd7+ Nxd7 16. Bxb7 Rb8 17. Bxa6. Notice that after 13...Bd6,I don't have to worry about 14. Ne4 because of 14...Bxh2+ and 15... Qxd5.

14. Ng5

14... Nfd4

I was thinking maybe I could castle here instead: 14... O-O 15. Nxf7? Kxf7?? (15... exd5! is completely winning) 16. Bxe6+ Qxe6 17. Rxe6 Kxe6

analysis diagram

and just be up lots of material, but I didn't really want to get involved, risk losing to a kid in front of everyone, which turned out to be good judgment on my part, because white has 18. Qb3+ at the end, winning my bishop and being much better.

15. Qc4

back to the game!

15...O-O? This is not good. I am very short of defenders on the kingside.

The best move is 15... Be7, when white has two pieces hanging and has to sack one: 16. Nxe6 fxe6 17. Bxe6 Nxe6 18. Rxe6 Nd4 19. Rb6 and black's just up a piece. It's true that it looks like my king is weak, but white is not developed enough to take advantage.

A not-quite-as-good-but-safer-looking line is 15... Na5, trying to exchange some minor pieces: 16. Qd3 Bxd5 17. Nxd5 Bxh2+ 18. Kxh2 Qxd5

16. Qd3 g6

Instead, 16... Nf5 risks some kind of sack on e6: 17. Nxe6 Rfe8 (pinning the knight against the Re1) 18. Qxf5 Nd4 and I just couldn't tell how messy this was going to be, or 17. Rxe6 fxe6 18. Bxe6 also looked very complicated-- it turns out to be ok for me after 18... Qxe6 19. Nxe6 Rae8 20. Nxf8 Re1+ 21. Qf1

quick, black's best move?

21...Rxf1 22. Kxf1 Bxf8, but completely winning after 21... Bxh2! 22. Kxh2 Rxf1 23. Nd7 Ncd4!

forced mate!

which threatens 24...Nf3! with mate in five! 25. gxf3 Bxf3 and 26...Rh1, or 25. Kh3 h5! and mate is coming on h1.

17. Qh3 h5
18. Nce4 This threatens 19. Nf6+ and seems attractive because it brings another piece into the attack, but it also lessens the pressure on e6. 18. d3, involving the bishop was better.

19. Bc4

back to a frightening reality

19...Kg7 I knew I was being a big chicken here, and that 19... Nc2 was probably the best move by far, but I was low on time and afraid of missing something. I think I mistrusted myself because I'm not playing often.

20. Re3

I can win a piece here! Guess how?

20... Na5 21. Bf1 f5 and if the Ne4 moves, the Ng5 hangs. oh well.

21. Rd3 Ncd4

22. g4

There's a small moment of panic for me, before I find 22...Bxe4, but 22...Bxg5 23. Nxg5 Qc6 is even better, since 24. f3 is forced and then I win the exchange with Ne2-f4.


23. Nxe4 hxg4
24. Qxg4 Rh8
Now things are good.
25. Ng3

25... Qb7, with the idea of Nh4, hitting g2 and f3, was better.
26. f4? Rh4
27. Nxf5+ Nxf5

28. Qe2 Qxf4

29. Rf3


This is ridiculous-- 29... Qxc4 is much better.
30. Rxf4 Nxe2+
31. Bxe2 Rxf4

32. d3 Rh4

33. Be3 Rah8

34. Bf3 Rxh2

35. Bf2

Here we each had a couple minutes. I was panicking, which I like to do in time trouble. I played with the absolute minimum amount of technique possible, but managaed to reach this position with 22 seconds (and time delay):

and I just touched my king, and then stared at my hand in horror and disbelief. I can simply play Ra4 and it's over, but now I lose my pawn and
1/2 - 1/2


Anonymous said...

This is an absolutely wonderful post. The interplay of both your thought process as you played and analysis of relevant theory make the post highly instructive and interesting to an intermediate player such as myself. The extensive use of diagrams greatly increases the "readability" of the post. This is what chess blogging is all about! I appreciate the time and effort you put into this post.


Elizabeth Vicary said...

thank you!

anjiaoshi said...

"I can win a piece here! Guess how?" Why not 20...Nc2, forking the rooks?

ATH2044 said...

I agree with Marty except that I still had to put this one into a .pgn player to follow it, but I really like this style of more rather than fewer diagrams & all kinds of comments including both theory & ramblings.
A fascinatingly tactical but flawed game; I guess that's what you get at G/30.
I like the in-depth analysis of the opening with GM game references, so I won't comment on that part except to say that you seem a bit tentative considering your knowledge of this & similar variations.
I thought 12. Ng5 looked good (for white) immediately or even after 12.Bd5 Bb7. It seems like you're in trouble on e6 & f7, not so much after 13.Qa4.
After 19... Kg7, 20.b3 with the idea of Bb2 looks interesting; I don't know if black then has time for Nc2 because white may then choose to ignore both rooks & proceed with the attack on both e6 & the long dark diagonal.
Certainly 22.b3 looks more troublesome (for black) than 22.g4 as played.
I agree with you about 25... Qb7; it also seems to threaten 26... Rxh2 right away (27.Kxh2 Rh8+ 28.Kg1 Ne2+ 29.Qxe2 Nxg3 30.fxg3 & some more hijinx starting with 30... Qh1+ 31.Kf2 Rh2+, etc.), but that may not be everyone's cup of tea & of course my universal disclaimer:
I didn't look at this stuff with Fritz or Rybka (in fact I didn't even have a chance to review my typing) & I'm not an IM, so it could be all garbage.

Anonymous said...

that is a real cute pic of alexis