Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Game One: Wegelin - TJ

From the database I'd gathered that my opponent was a careful and solid "d4-specials" guy - especially Colle and London.

So, with him suddenly opening with 1.c4 for the first time, I could presume one of two things: either he's recently become interested in the English Opening or more likely, he had something prepared for my usual 1...f5.

Before the tournament I had decided to try the Nimzo Indian if given the opportunity, but I didn't want to end up in an English Mikenas variation after 1.-Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 and I was also not being particularly interested in playing yet another Dutch or English vs Dutch position.  

So, I thought I'd suprise him back with an invitation to a QG Slav. 1....c6 A little mind-game as well, - is he playing the TJ he thinks he playing? ;)  

2.e4 Hmm, I didn't expect that from a habitual 1.d4-guy, and for a while I considered bailing out into and Old Indian with 2...e5, but it just felt so passive that I didn't want to be stuck with it for month after month.  

2...d5 "Don't want to, but I must" as someone used to say in the blitz café in Lund a couple of decades ago. :)

3.exd5 I'd expected 3.cxd5, which can easily become slightly awkward for Black if White plays Bb5+ or Qa4+ instead of transposing to a Panov with d4. Still, with access to databases and books it shouldn't be impossible to neutralise.

3...Nf6 This nifty move gives white the choice between the solid Panov and keeping the gambited pawn with d5xc6. The latter is supposed to be good for black, but with white being a 1.d4 player, and perhaps not acquainted with a gambit usually coming up via the Scandinavian - so, why not tempt him?  Besides, if 3...cxd5 immediately, White can also play 4.cxd5 when Nf6 will probably be necessary anyway, as 4...Qxd5 5.Nc3 looks like an inferior version of the Scandinavian.

4.d4 cxd5 5.Nc3 e6 Diagram

The main option is Nc6, but that can quickly and easily end up in a rook endgame, and I usually want a middlegame before the endgame. Besides, the text move invites and eventually reaches a transposition to the Nimzo, so in a few more moves I was back on the intended track! :)

6.Nf3 Bb4 7.cxd5 

  [If White wants to show some aggressive intentions he should probably go for: 7.Bd3 dxc4 8.Bxc4 0-0 9.0-0 b6 with quite different play than in the game, though technically this is also classified as a Nimzo Indian just like the game eventually transposes into.]

7...Nxd5 8.Qc2

[8.Bd2 Nc6 9.Bd3 Be7 10.0-0 0-0 11.a3 Bf6 12.Qc2 h6 13.Be3 Nce7 14.Ne4 b6 15.Nxf6+ Nxf6 16.Ne5 Bb7 17.Rac1 Qd5 18.f3 Rac8 19.Qa4 Nc6 20.Qb5 Qxb5
(20...Rfd8 21.Nxc6 Bxc6 22.Qxd5 Nxd5 23.Bd2 Ne7 24.Ba6 Rc7 25.Be3 Nd5 26.Rfe1 Ba4 27.Bf2 g5 28.h4 Kg7 29.Rxc7 Nxc7 30.Bc4 Nd5 31.Bg3 Bc2 32.Be5+ 1/2-1/2 Cid Gallego,S (2074)-Baumgartner,U (2231)/ICCF 2007)
21.Bxb5 Ne7 22.Rfe1 Nfd5 23.Bf2 Rxc1 24.Rxc1 f6 25.Nd3 Kf7 26.Kf1 1/2-1/2 Canibal,J (2227)-Baumgartner,U (2212)/ICCF server 2009.]  

8...Nc6 9.Be2 

[9.Bd3 Ba5 (9...Nxc3 10.bxc3 Nxd4 11.Nxd4 Qxd4 12.Bb5+ Ke7 13.0-0 Qxc3 14.Qe2 looks quite good for white.) 10.a3 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Nxd4 12.Nxd4 Qxd4 is a better version of snatching the d-pawn, white still has good compensation though, so it's basically "unclear".]

9...Nce7! Diagram

A strong move, equalising completely. Black is simply making sure that he will always end up with a strong knight on d5 blocking pawn d4, as well as being shielded from attack by it.  


  [10.a3 Bd6 11.Bd3 h6 12.0-0 0-0 13.Qe2 b6 14.Re1 Bb7 15.Nxd5 Bxd5 16.Ne5 Bb7 17.Qh5 Bxe5 18.Qxe5 Nf5 19.Be3 Qd7 20.Bxf5 exf5 21.Qg3 Kh7 22.Rac1 Rfe8 23.f3 Rac8 24.Rxc8 Rxc8 25.Qf2 Bd5 1/2-1/2 Carlsen,T (2641)-Donnelly,D (2465)/ICCF 2007]  

10...Bd7 Here White has tried a number of moves, but it seems that after spending a tempo on Be2 it's quite hard to achieve anything promising for white, e.g:  

[11.Nxd5 Nxd5 12.Bd3!? Led to the following interesting game (12.Ne5 Bd6 has been the starting point of many a draw in the database.) 12...Bd6 13.Be4 Bc6 14.Bd2 Rc8 15.Rac1 Ne7 16.Rfe1 h6 17.Bxc6+ Rxc6 18.Qa4 Qd7 19.Rxc6 Qxc6!? (19...bxc6) 20.Qxa7 0-0 21.Qa5 b6 22.Qc3 Qa4 Diagram

At the cost of pawn Black has gained the initiative, due to 1) white's IQP which 2) obstructs the bishop and 3) Nd5 coming up, where the horse becomes an octopus. :)

In the game, Black's compensation eventually transformed into a win: 23.a3 Rc8 24.Qd3 Qc2!? (24...b5) 25.Qb5 Nd5 26.h3 (26.g3) 26...g5!? 27.Qd7 Bb8 28.Bc3 Rf8 29.Qc6 Qd3 30.Bb4 Rd8 31.Qb7 Bf4 32.Ne5 Bxe5 33.dxe5 Qd4 34.Bd6 Qxb2 35.Qc6 Kg7 36.Qc4 Qd2 37.Re2 Qd1+ 38.Kh2 b5 39.Qc2 (39.Qxb5? Nc3 40.Qa5 Nxe2 41.Qxd8 Qg1#) 39...Qf1 40.g3 Ra8 41.Qd2 Ra4 42.Re1 Qc4 43.Rc1 Qe4 44.Re1 Qf5 45.Kg2 Rc4 46.Re2? (46.Qe2 h5-/+ 47.Qxh5? Rh4-+) 46...Rc3! 47.Kh2 Nf4! 48.Bf8+ (48.gxf4 Rxh3+ 49.Kg2 Qg4+ 50.Kf1 Rh1#) 48...Kh7 49.Kg1 Nxe2+ 50.Qxe2 Rc2 51.Qe3 Rc8 52.Bd6 Rc4 53.Kh2 Kg6 54.Qb6 Qf3 0-1 Polgar,J (2687)-Rodshtein,M (2623) Natanya ISR 2009.

11.Ne5 Rc8 (11...0-0 12.Qb3 Bc6 13.Bg5 Qb6 14.Bxe7 Bxe7=) 12.Bd2 0-0 13.Rac1 Nc6 14.Qd3 Nxe5 15.dxe5 Nxc3 16.Bxc3 Bxc3 17.Rxc3 Bc6 18.Qxd8 1/2-1/2 Lucki,S (2358)-Brzoza,M (2263)/ICCF 2008;

11.Ne4 Sokolov,A (2603)-Izoria,Z (2606) Ermioni Argolidas GRE 2005 (1/2-1/2, 30). Much easier than in the game, Izoria could've equalised with: 11...Rc8 12.Qb3 Bc6=]

11.a3 Bc6 Diagram

Seeing that in previous corr games, this had been drawn 100% in about ten games, and considering my opponent's reluctance to sharpen the play, I offered a draw here. White can gain the bishop pair at will, but it's rather impotent in this position due to black's fine central knights.  

13.Ne5 After a few weeks thought, white decides to carry on.

[By the way, in blunderchess black has actually managed to win more games than white, though even there a draw is close to mandatory.

Here's a few examples: 13.Nxd6+ Qxd6 14.Ne5 0-0 15.Bd3 Nf6 16.Be3 Rac8 17.Qc5 Qd5 18.f3 (18.Nxc6 Nxc6 19.Qxd5 Nxd5=) 18...Ng6 19.Rac1 Nxe5 20.dxe5 Qxd3 21.exf6 gxf6 22.Qxa7 Rfd8 23.Bf2 Qg6 24.Bg3 Rd2 25.Rf2 Rcd8 Nisipeanu,L (2707)-Jobava,B (2601) Skanderborg DEN 2005 (0-1, 38). In this game, my term "blunderchess" for Over The Board play, is extra accurate, as white with his final move actually could have turned the tables in the time trouble!

13.Bd3 Rc8 14.Ne5  

(14.Bg5 h6 15.Bh4 0-0 16.Qd2 Bf4 17.Qe2 Bb8 18.g3 Qb6 19.Rad1 Nf5 20.Nc5 Nxh4 21.Nxh4 Rfe8 22.b4 Nc3 23.Qe3 Nxd1 24.Rxd1 Qd8 25.b5 Bd5 26.Bb1 b6 27.Qd3 f5 28.Nxf5 exf5 29.Qxf5 bxc5 30.Qh7+ Kf8 31.Qh8+ Bg8 32.Bh7 Qd5 0-1 Friedel,J (2547)-Milos,G (2589) Sao Paulo BRA 2009.)

14...Ng6 15.Nxc6 bxc6 16.Nxd6+ Qxd6 17.Qc5 Qxc5 18.dxc5 a5 19.Bd2 Ra8 20.b4 axb4 21.axb4 Kd7 22.b5 Ne5 23.Be2 cxb5 24.Bxb5+ Nc6 25.Rfd1 Rhb8 26.Bc4 Rxa1 27.Rxa1 Rb2 28.Bxd5 Rxd2 29.Be4 f5 30.Bxc6+ Kxc6 31.h4 Rd7 32.Ra6+ Kxc5 33.Rxe6 Kd5 34.Re2 Ra7 35.Kh2 Ra5 1/2-1/2 Polgar,J (2710)-Svidler,P (2742) Rishon Le Zion ISR 2006.]  

13...Rc8 14.Nxd6+ Qxd6 15.Qc5 Qb8 Even trading queens on c5 might still be equal, but allowing the sickly d-pawn to become part of a healthy Q-side majority would give white what he wants, the potential to manoeuvre indefinitely without any risk. By keeping the queens on, black's message is: "If you want to win, you must give me counter-chances."

As can seen from the following few moves, that was not something white was reluctant to do. 16.Nxc6 [16.Bb5 0-0 17.Bxc6 Rfd8 18.Qb5 Nxc6 19.Nf3 Qc7 White's tricks left him with the wrong bishop, giving black a reason to play on.] 16...Nxc6 17.Re1 b6 18.Qb5 0-0 19.Be3 Diagram "A draw is offered with this move."

Funny enough, it took me almost a week to notice the draw offer, despite that it was sent in the automatic move notification email. It was actually not until I logged in to reply, that a pop-up came up, as a reminder that a draw had been offered.  


Well, the end of a not very exciting game. But one can still learn some things from it, mainly how strong a centralised knight can be and that even a bishop pair vs a pair of knights is still balanced, if one of the bishops is bad due to an IQP on its colour and the knights command a good central outpost blocking the isolated pawn.

Stay tuned for more of my corr-games, but I think I will spend some posts between the corr-games on other chess related things. As I found it a bit boring to edit down a big chessbase game file into something that can be digested in blog form. And though this game was rather short, the original game file was certainly not!


CC said...

The first question I had after browsing through the game and your comments was, "Why does white bother with corr chess at all?" Perhaps I'm being harsh but it's hard to interpret white's reluctance to engage as anything other than cowardly. It's tolerable in blunderchess but in correspondence I view white's style as a monumental waste of time. One of the things that I love about corr chess is that the computer gives me the freedom and courage to try things I'd never risk in an over-the-board game. Clearly, white has a different view!

Btw, I'm a huge fan of your King's Gambit books!


Thomas Johansson said...

Thanks, I think you sum up the benefits of corr quite well.

I suppose white in this game was most interested in "not losing" and so far he seems to have achieved that goal with 2 wins and the rest drawn except for 1 game remaining. Since it's a team event, that could be a reasonable strategy, i.e. if all team members manages a +2 score the team would be likely to end up 1-4 in the tournament...

Anyway, thanks for commenting - I guess it's time to upload some more of my games from the tournament!