Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Prilleltensky vs. Lian, Annotated

Prilleltensky - Lian, Sharks vs. Knockouts, USCL

1. e4 c5

[1...c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nf3 Be7 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Bd3 0-0 9. 0-0 Nc6]

2. c3 Nf6 3. e5 Nd5 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. Bc4 Nb6 7. Bb3 d5 8. exd6 e6 9. cxd4 Bxd6

It's interesting to compare this position to the standard Panov attack position that arises on move 9 in my note to Black's first move. There the two sides have what I consider standard setups for IQP positions: Black will usually drop his Knight back to f6 and play to restraining d4 - d5, stay solid, and reach an ending where the isolani is a weakness while White is ready to play Re1/a3/Bc2/Qd3, with pressure on the Black Kingside. Looking at how strong players have handled the position in my game shows that the same plan features prominently there as well. Of course, there are also differences: In my game, Black has developed a bit faster compared to White, but will probably have to spend some time rerouting his Knights. The Knight on b6 in particular wishes it was on f6, where it could help defend the Kingside. The dark squared Bishop would also look more normally placed on e7. For these reasons, this line is supposed to be a good IQP position for White, but I still think the edge is only small though.

10. Nc3

[10. 0-0 0-0 (10... Nd5 11. Nc3 Nxc3 12. bxc3 0-0 13. Qd3 e5 14. Ng5 g6 15. Qf3 Qe7 16. Re1 Kg7 17. Ne4 Bc7 18. Nf6! Bd8 19. Bg5 +/-; 10... Ne7 11. Nc3 Bd7 12. Ng5 h6 13. Nge4 Bc7 14. Qg4 Nf5 15. Rd1 0-0 16. Nc5 Bc8 17. g3 Nd5 18. Nxd5 exd5 19. Qf3 left White with a nagging pull in Short-Krasenkow.) 11. Nc3 Be7 12. Re1 (12. a3 Bf6 13.Be3 Na5 this doesn't look right. 14. Bc2 Nd5 15. Nxd5 (15. Qd3 would be my choice, probably because I just love that battery.) 15... Qxd5 16. Re1 Nc6 17. Qd3 g6 18. Bb3) 12... Nb4 13. a3 N4d5 14. Qd3 Bd7 (14... Nxc3?! 15. bxc3 is very nice for White; the exchange on c3 has left Black's Kingside looking rather bare.) 15. Bc2 g6 16. Bh6 Re8 17. Ne5 Bf8 18. Qh3 +/=]

10... 0-0 11. 0-0 Nb4 12. Ne4

[12. Re1 is more natural, and probably somewhat better. 12... N4d5 (12... Bd7 13. Ne5 Bc6 14. Qg4 +/= is a healthy reminder (for me!) that there are times when the best treatment does not involve the b1-h7 battery.) 13. Ne4 Bb4 was part of the motivation for a quick a3, but let's see what Fritz says: 14. Bg5 Qe8 15. Bd2 +/= I didn't even consider Bd2, almost certainly due to the bias against trading minor pieces with the IQP. 15... Bxd2 16. Qxd2 Bd7 17. Ne5 should be a little something for White, not that I was thinking about it during the game!]

12... Be7 13. a3 N4d5 14. Qd3 Bd7 15. Bc2 g6

Since this isn't forced, it looks like a premature concession. That said, the desire to block the diagonal is very human! I imagine Black figured he would have to play this move anyways. That's true, but he should make me work a tiny bit to force it. Here I get a nice setup without having to move my centralized knight. [15... Qc7]

16. Bh6 Re8 17. Rfe1

[17. h4 a6! is no problem for Black.]

17... Rc8 18. Bb3

It's normal to reroute back to the a2-g8 diagonal once Black has closed the road to h7 (weakening his dark squares in the process) with ...g6.

18... Bc6

[18... Ba4 was what I expected; it's much harder for White to attack the King without his light-squared Bishop. 19. Ba2 Bc2 20. Qe2 Bxe4 21. Qxe4 was my intention, preserving the Bishop, but Black is nonetheless very solid after trading White's centralized Knight.]

19. Ne5 Nd7

The product of a twenty minute think, leaving my opponent with just under half an hour for the rest of the game. I imagine the idea was either to trade on e5 or eventually go to f6. Oddly, the Knight doesn't move again.

20. Rac1

A perfectly good move, but thirteen minutes for it? Hopeless time management!


Thirteen minutes on this very committal move. Black will be left with a weakened structure, although White needs to play accurately to demonstrate this.

[20... Nb4 I saw this right after playing Rac1; quite frankly, I'm just lucky it doesn't work. 21. Qg3 Bxe4 22. Rxc8 Qxc8 23. Rxe4 +/-]

21. Nxc6

Best, but I spent close to half my remaining time on this capture.

21... bxc6 22. Nd2! +/-

I was quite happy with this move; the stereotyped retreat to c3 would leave the Knight without many options. Up to this point I have played quite well, but now I begin to drift.

22... Bf6 23. Nc4?!

There's something inharmonious about this; on c4 the Knight gets in the way of two of my own pieces. Nf3 was much more natural and better.

23... Qc7 24. Bd2

Perfectly good, but the fact that there isn't really anything better than this speaks to the problems of 23. Nc4.

24... c5!

Somehow I hadn't even considered this, which completely changes the game. Play now shifts in character from maneuvering to concrete. In addition to this, both players have just entered time pressure. I had just abandoned my board for the computer screen. A similar thing happened in my USCL debut, vs Dallas's Karina Vazirova. Like that game, I quickly make a tactical oversight, but fortunately, as in that game, I was not punished for it. In light of how White's positive trend begins reversing after my next move, this is a critical position.

25. Ba5

After this inaccuracy, Black quickly equalizes. Over to the silicon chip: [25. Ne5! Looks best. 25... Bxe5 (25... Nxe5 26. dxe5 Bxe5 27. Bxd5 exd5 28. Qxd5+ Kf8 29. Bh6+ Bg7 30. Bxg7+ Kxg7 31. b3 +/=) 26. dxe5 Nxe5 27. Qg3 f4 28. Bxf4 Nxf4 29. Qxf4 Nd3 30. Bxe6+ Kg7 31. Qd2 Nxe1 32. Bxc8 Nxg2 33. Qd4+ with an advantage for White. Right, whatever! I think the real lesson is to have more time on the clock when critical positions arise. Given the low tactical content of the game until 24... c5!, it doesn't really make sense for some 90% of my time to be spent by move 25.]

25... Qb8 26. Ba4 Re7 27. Bxd7 Rxd7 28. dxc5 Rxc5 = 29. Rxe6

Since we were already 2 - 0 up, I made a pointless and irritating draw offer here, which my opponent obviously declined. [29. b4 Rc6; 29. b3 Rb5 are both rather equal.]

29... Qb5!

I completely missed this. With my equanimity wrecked, I saw very little of anything before playing my next move.

30. b3?!

[30. Qf1 Bxb2 31. Nxb2 Qxf1+ 32. Rxf1 Rxa5 is solidly better for Black!; 30. Qc2! is the way to hold the balance: 30...Nc7! 31. Rxf6 (31. Ree1 Rd4 32. b3 Rcxc4 33. bxc4 Qxa5) 31... Qxc4 32. Qxc4+ Rxc4 33. Bc3 (33. Re1? Kg7! -/+) 33... Nd5 34. Ra6 Nxc3 35. bxc3 Rxc3 36. Re1 Kf7 = and barring something out of the ordinary, a draw will result. This would have been a fair conclusion to the game.]

30... Qxa5 31. b4 Qd8?

An unfortunate blunder; instead of having an edge, Black is now in big trouble. In his defense, he was in extreme time trouble. [31... Rxc4 32. Qxc4 Qd8 33. Rce1 Kg7 =/+]

32. bxc5 +/- Nf4 33. Qe3 Nxe6 34. Qxe6+ Kg7 35. Nd6

A satisfying move to play; I was very confident now.

35... Re7 36. Qd5 Qa5 37. g3 Qxa3 38. Rb1

Black has regained his pawn, but the combination of his exposed King, White's passer, and the Q + N duo leave him lost.

38... Qc3 39. Rb7 +- Rxb7?!

Losing immediately.

40. Qxb7+ Kh6 41. Nf7+ Kh5 42. Kg2!

Black cannot allow the trade of Queens, since the endgame is lost for him. However, preventing it is refuted quite convincingly! To be honest, I would be lying if I said I saw my next move at this point, but this "combination" is still aesthetically pleasing. [42. Qd5! Bd4 43. Kg2! is a nice computer variation; Black can't really move. The plan chosen in the game is also fine.]

42... Bd4

[42... Qd3 43. Qf3+ Qxf3+ 44. Kxf3 Bd4 45. c6 Bb6 46. Nd6 a5 47. Nb5 a4 48. Kf4 Ba5 49. f3 Kh6 50. Ke5 Kg7 51. Kd6 +-]

43. Qe7!

Checkmate is threatened on three different squares. An intense fight! I can safely say that winning in the USCL is far more satisfying than winning a regular tournament game.

43... Qd2 44. Qh4#

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