Chris Bak (1969) vs Sebastian Mihajlov (2387)
? | 13 Mar 2016 | Round 7
[Site "?"] [Date "2016.03.13"] [Round "7"] [White "Chris Bak"] [Black "Sebastian Mihajlov"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteElo "1969"] [BlackElo "2387"] [ECO "C45"] [Opening "Scotch: 4.Nxd4 Qf6"] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Qf6 5.Be3 Bc5 6.c3 Nge7 7.Bc4 d6 8.O-O O-O (8...Qg6 {I was worried about this at the board as I had forgotten some of the lines. Black can play Qg6 at various points in this line, before or after d6/Nge7/castling. In some positions it's bad for tactical reasons, in other positions white sacrifices the e4-pawn, and in yet other positions he doesn't. I was considering} 9.f4? (9.Nd2 Ne5 {and white will have to give up the bishop pair because Bh3 is a big threat. This is not such a huge deal, however. After} 10.f4 Nxc4 11.Qa4+ Bd7 12.Qxc4 {black is rather cramped.}) (9.Nxc6 {It took me a long time (when analysing after the game) to realise that I could have played exactly as I did in the game!} Nxc6 10.Bxc5 dxc5 11.f4) 9...Qxe4 10.Bf2 {This is how white should pproceed if the moves Ne5 and Be2 were played earlier. In this case it is different because black doesn't have to spend a tempo moving the knight from e5.} Bxd4 11.cxd4 Qxf4 $17 { White has little compensation for the pawn.}) 9.Nxc6 Nxc6 10.Bxc5 dxc5 11.f4 {Up to this point I had played all my moves instantly. The reason is that I was repeating a game in the Bradford league I played a few weeks prior to this one! In that game I played 11. Na3 and quickly got into trouble after 11..Qg6, where black threatens Qxe4 and moves such as Ne5 and Bh3. It's remarkable how quickly black can develop a dangerous kingside attack in these lines. The game move is the improvement and a very sensible move. White claims space and basically prevents all of black's ideas on the kingside. I'm on my own from here, while my opponent had been out of book for a while.} Na5 12.Be2 $146 { I didn't necessarily have to keep the bishop - black is losing time to capture it - but it felt like the right thing to do. It also makes sense to keep the knight sidelined on a5.} Qb6 13.Qc2 Be6 {Black has arranged his pieces to put a lot of pressure on white's queenside, making it difficult to complete development. c4+ and Qe3 is always an idea as well. White has to be cautious.} (13...c4+ 14.Kh1 Qe3 {achieves less than nothing after} 15.Rf3) 14.Na3 (14.Nd2 c4+ 15.Kh1 Qe3 {has more bite than it did in the previous variation. The bishop is hanging, and the desirable Nf3 drops the f4-pawn. I calculated} 16.Rae1 Rad8 {and stopped, thinking that black must be doing well if white is forced to play Nb1. However, things are not so clear. After} 17.Nb1 {Black can't create any threats, white will kick the queen and play Nd2-f3, keeping the advantage. I don't think this is necessarily better than the game though.}) (14.f5 Bc4 15.f6 {is an idea, but I didn't believe it.} Bxe2 16.Qxe2 gxf6 { White is not going to force mate here. Black's king is forever weak, but I believe black's trumps outweigh white's. The e5-square is a wonderful home for the knight, he can gang up on the e4-pawn and white is underdeveloped. gxf6 is not forced either, it might be better to play Rae8 or Nc6.}) 14...f6 15.Kh1 Rad8 16.b3 a6 {My opponent took a while on this move. He confessed after the game that he did not know what to do. While he was thinking I had come up with a plan of action.} 17.Rad1 Rde8 18.Bf3 {The plan is Qe2, Nc2-e3, Bg4 and Nf5. What I had failed to realise is the importance of controlling c4. With the bishop and knight eyeing c4, black is reluctant to play Nc6 because of Nc4. The queen lacks good squares, and the knight heads to e3 very quickly. That's not to say this is a bad move, but I lose a bit of control. With the benefit of hindsight, I would have kept my minor pieces as they are for the time being and improved in other ways. Doubling on the d-file is a good start, especially considering how black voluntarily conceded the file.} Nc6 {Not only has black improved the knight, but a5 is free for the queen, making Qe2 undesirable.} 19.Qb2 {Making room for the knight while keeping an eye on c3 and a2. It would have been more flexible to first double on the d-file, not giving black the counterplay he got in the game, but the plan was fixed in my mind and I played it quickly. It's certainly good that the practical side of my game is improving.} (19.e5 fxe5 20.Be4 {is a computer suggestion, sharpening the position.} Ne7 $11 (20...exf4? 21.Bxh7+ Kh8 22.Bg6 $18) 21.Bxh7+ Kh8 22.Be4 {Black takes the f4-pawn, and white hopes to exploit black's weakened king. }) 19...c4 20.b4 a5 21.b5 Na7 {The game becomes much more concrete. First and foremost, black threatens c6.} 22.Qf2 (22.Rd4 {was my intention when calculating from a few moves back, but I didn't like} c6 {I assumed} 23.Nxc4 { was forced, otherwise black just plays cxb5. I failed to spot the clever 23. Rb1.} (23.Rb1! {White unpins and defends the b5-pawn. I'm not sure black has a good alternative than to acquiesce with} cxb5 24.Nxb5 Nxb5 25.Qxb5 Qxb5 26.Rxb5 $14) 23...Qxb5 {White appears to be losing material by force e.g. Qxb5 Nxb5 or Qe2 c5. However white has the sneaky resource} 24.a4! {keeping the balance, something I missed during the game} Qxb2 25.Nxb2 $11) 22...Nc8 23.Qxb6 {White can't allow the black knight to land on d6.} Nxb6 24.Rd4 { Keeping the knight tied to the c4-pawn. I thought I was in full control, but my opponent finds a great way to muddy the waters.} Rd8 25.Rfd1 Rxd4 26.Rxd4 Na4 {I had a reasonable 40 minutes left on the clock. I spent half that time trying to figure out how to proceed. I saw only two options: Nxc4 and Nb1. Both were quite complicated and I couldn't decide between them, so I just settled on one of the moves. It turned out to be the wrong choice.} 27.Nxc4?! (27.Nb1 {I guess the reason I chose Nxc4 was that white looks a little passive after this move. However, I'm not sure black can just calmly improve here, because white can start to unravel with Bd1.} c6 {was my main concern, trying to open a file for the rook.} 28.bxc6 bxc6 29.Bd1 Nb2 30.Be2 c5 { and the endgame remains complicated, but I prefer white.}) 27...Nxc3 28.Nxa5 (28.a4?! Nxa4 29.Nxa5 Nc5 {and the white knight is trapped because 30. Nc4 loses material to 30..Nb3. White can save the piece with some clever moves.} 30.f5 Bf7 31.Rd2 Ra8 32.Kg1 {The point of pushing the bishop back to f7 is clear. Black needs a tempo to threaten Rxa5.} Kf8 33.Rc2 b6 34.Nc6 $17 { Black enjoys the better endgame because of superior minor pieces.}) 28...b6 { I wasn't expecting this intermediate move. I decided it wasn't a good use of my remaining 15 minutes to try and work out the subtleties of the various knight moves, so I just played one.} 29.Nb3 (29.Nc6 {is more stubborn as black isn't able to get the c-pawn rolling so easily.} Nxb5 30.Rd2 Ra8 { Black is doing well, but this is far from clear unlike the game.}) 29...Nxb5 { 29..Nxa2 is stronger, but black is better in any case.} 30.Rd2 $15 c5 { The c-pawn rockets down the board. Black's pieces are well-placed to support it, and white's pieces are well-placed to give it plenty of tempi on its way to promotion!} 31.Be2?! {Moving the king across was better.} Nc3 $19 32.Bf3 Ra8 {My opponent played his last few moves instantly, compounding my dire situation both on the board and on the clock. I used almost all my remaining time to try and tactic my way out of trouble, but seeing nothing, I decide to improve my king!} 33.Kg1 Rxa2 34.Rxa2 Nxa2 35.Nd2 c4 36.Bd1 {My opponent didn't expect this move. I guess he assumed the c-pawn was unstoppable. He hunkered down for 10 minutes and found a clean and efficient way to finish the game.} Nc3 37.Bf3 Nb5 38.Bd1 c3 39.Nb1 Ba2 {A lovely sequence to force resignation before the time control.} {#R} 0-1
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