Alexis Paredes (1900) - Elizabeth Vicary (2100)
1. e4 c52. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 e64. O-O Nge7
5. Re1 a66. 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...Bg7 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.
8. exd5 Qxd5
8... Nxd5 was better
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
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.
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.
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
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
21...Rxf1 22. Kxf1 Bxf8, but completely winning after 21... Bxh2! 22. Kxh2 Rxf1 23. Nd7 Ncd4!
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...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... Na5 21. Bf1 f5 and if the Ne4 moves, the Ng5 hangs. oh well.
21. Rd3 Ncd4
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...Qc7 25... Qb7, with the idea of Nh4, hitting g2 and f3, was better.
26. f4? Rh4
27. Nxf5+ Nxf5
28. Qe2 Qxf4
This is ridiculous-- 29... Qxc4 is much better.
30. Rxf4 Nxe2+
31. Bxe2 Rxf4
32. d3 Rh4
33. Be3 Rah8
34. Bf3 Rxh2
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