uscl , 09.08.2009
So I switched to the caro a few months ago, but this is my first game in the classical variation. (I've had 1 two knights, 1 advanced, and the rest were panovs.) I teach it to kids a lot though, so I felt I know it ok, plus it's so simple. I'm intending to play the 0-0 lines but haven't learned them well enough yet, plus I know she is a good attacker and those lines are much sharper. I also thought it made sense situationally -- she's supposed to beat me, so it makes sense to be super-boring and see if she freaks out.
I chose the move order here completely at random, but I guess there might be a slight difference between playing ... e6 first or playing ... Nf6 first, in the sense that with ... Nf6 first you can take on e4 and play Nf6 and when the queen moves it's your turn. With ...e6 first, white has the choice to take you. On the other hand, d3 isn't a great square for the queen, so maybe it's unimportant.
update! I was just looking at a Leko - Anand game which reached this position and the annotator Lukacs says 14. Nxf6 is inaccurate and 14. g3 is better.
15.Qc4 I've never seen this weird looking queen move before, but white can't play pawn to c4 with the queen there, so I decided it was time to neglect development and go pawn grabbing with ...Rd5.
16.Qa4 If white tries to save the pawn with 16.Ne5 I get good counterplay because her center isn't so stable: 16...Bd6 17.Bf4? c5 - +
This position is a little annoying for me. Of course, I'm up a pawn, which is wonderful, but I need to finish development and get my knight back from the outer boroughs. Unfortunately, nothing looked simple--
... Bd6 is bad because of c5 and then Rh1, hitting the knight, and when it moves, Bf4.
...Be7 blocks the queen's defense of the f7 pawn and white will play Ne5.
... g5, intending to develop with Bg7, loses a pawn to Rh1 and N/Bxg5.
Finally, I thought at the time that bringing the knight back with 19...Nf6 20. Bf4 Bd6 21. Ne5 looked unpleasant, but probably it's ok-- Computer says I can continue 21... c5 and be quite happy.
20...b5!? or ?!
Sadly not the best move, but fun. It tries to get me the d5 square, which is of course a beautiful thing, but it's also insanely loosening. I played it mainly out of fear-- I felt like she would play c5 and my bishop would be shut out of the game and she'd do some rook lift and checkmate me. But that's silly because I can simply play ...a6 whenever I want to, which I did not consider. Rybka just wants to play 20... Nf6 or 20... Bd6.
I knew 21. Qa6 was her best response, and was looking at variations like 21.Qa6 bxc4 22.Ne5 Bd6 (not the awful 22...c5? 23.dxc5 Qxe5 24.Rd8+ Qb8 25.Qc6#) 23.Nxc6.
My first thought here was that I was doing ok after 23... Rc8, but then realized that hangs to 24. Nxa7. Then I started considering the weird 23...c3 or the boring 23...Nf6, but ended up thinking "no." That's all, just "no."
At the point where she moved, I was deciding to play 21...Qb7 instead, and which leads to 22.Qxb7+ Kxb7 23.cxb5 cxb5
and (I thought) 24. Ne5. I didn't trust my lack of development in this position, notice that my pieces are so awkward that I can't even kick the knight with 24... f6 because of 25. Ng6 Rg8 26. g4! But maybe I can give up f7 and be ok. Rybka suggests the even-more-accurate opening of the position with 24.d5!
back to reality....
I was torn between 25.. c5 and 25... Nd5 here. I think I had maybe 20 minutes to her 3 or 4, and I didn't want to spend too much time, because I play terribly when I'm low on time. I figured she would answer 25... c5 with 26. Rc3, so I play Nd5 to stop that first, but the hungry computer thinks 25... c5 immediately just wins another pawn: 25...c5! 26.Rc3 Nd5 27.Rc4 (27.Rc2? Nb4) 27...Nb4 28.Qa4 Bxe5 29.dxe5 Qxe5
32.Qg4 a5 32...Qc6! is better and probably my most real chance to win this game, but after 33.Bxb4 Qc2+ 34.Ke1 I just didn't see 34... Rc4
Of course, I hadn't seen that my rook on c8 would hang if I took on b3 instead. So stupid! I went as far as clicking on the queen and hovering it over b3 (I was playing on the computer at this point). It didn't occur to me at the time, but after the game I wondered if I had some touch move responsibility there. If I did, then sorry to Tsagaan and Baltimore!
40.Qb5+ Ka8 I wasn't thinking clearly here. I initially had intended 40...Nb6, but was panicked by something. It's all a horrific blur.
43...Nxb4 desperation.. I already thought I was lost and was about to flag, but the computer think's it's just a draw after 43...Qa2 44.Nc6+ Ka8
44.Be3+ Ka8 it's polite to play to mate when it's easy, right?
I was somewhat upset to lose this, mostly because I felt so stupid, like I can play openings and early, quiet middlegames, but as soon as anything becomes complicated, I fall apart. It's like I have a healthy little baby, and then I stab it to death. over and over again.
But then I got home and both the computer and Greg said it was an ok game, and it's funny how much this made me re-imagine it.
team star: Andrei Zaremba