Thursday, November 10, 2016

Chess Camp Curiosities (2016 edition)

Good afternoon, my friends. Firstly, I will like to thank y'all for the memorable day yesterday. For that brief afternoon I was there, we forgot about the hate, bullying and bigotry that was tearing through the outside world. Instead, we spent our time enjoying the one thing we had in common: Chess. You guys have showed me that love truly trumps hate (*cough cough*).

Image from Student Problems on Facebook

But let's get back to business. As promised, here is the analysis from Game 3 of our final activity. I have tried my best to provide comments while keeping a straight face.

Black Knights vs Anonymous
Black Knights Camp 2016 (Day 3)

1. e4 c5
2. Nc3 Nc6
3. Bb5 d6
4. Nf3 g6
5. Bxc6+ bxc6

White gives up his bishop pair to give Black doubled pawns, a common strategy in many openings. The question is, are the doubled pawns a major weakness in this position? For now they control vital squares on the queenside, open the b-file, and allow the light-squared bishop access to a6; the only vulnerability being the weak square on c4.

6. d4

The threat is to take on c5. After the exchange, Black's isolated doubled pawns will become vulnerable to attack.

6... Ba6?

While well-intended (developing the bishop and disrupting White's chances of kingside castling), Black overlooks the earlier threat. 6... cxd4 had to be played, 7. Nxd4 c5 8. Nf3 Ba6 gaining tempo for Black.

7. Be3?

But White returns the favour by not being aware of his own potential. Both sides spend the next few moves seemingly unaware of the threat. 7. dxc5 dxc5 8. Be3 was better

7... Bg7
8. Qd2 Rb8
9. O-O-O

Out of the frying pan, into the fire!

9... Qb6
10. Na4 Qb5
11. b3 (D)

Position after 11. b3

Let us analyze the position. White is far ahead in development: His immediate threat is dxc4, opening up the d-file for his heavy pieces to attack Black's exposed king. Yet he needs to be careful of Black's b-file control, and the opening of the long diagonal for the enemy dark-squared bishop should he capture on c5.

11... e6?!

Better was 11... cxd4 12. Bxd4 Nf6... You get the idea. After ... 0-0 Black will have a very comfortable position.

12. dxc5 d5

The purpose of 11... e6. But this wasn't the soundest plan.

13. Bd4?

Missing an opportunity to gain the advantage, as I will explain in the variations:

  • 13. exd5? is tempting; 13... cxd6 gives White a passed pawn, while 13... exd6 further exposes Black's king and creates a weakness on c6. But Black has a cunning way to slip out: Qxa4! 14. bxa4 Bb2+ 15. Kb1 Bg7+ with a draw by perpetual.
  • Fritz suggested the intermezzo 13. Nd4! Qb7 upon which White can safely take on c5 without fear of the enemy queen interfering. 14. exd5: Now, Black is in trouble whichever pawn he recaptures with.

13... Bh6
14. Be3

Once again, the silicon monster Deep Fritz conjures up a winning variation for White: 14. Ng5! f6 15. f4! upon which we see that Black's rook is pretty much useless, since the adjacent knight cannot move out of the way without compromising kingside safety. But admittedly, spotting the winning combination would be no mean feat!

14... Bxe3
15. fxe3 (D)

Position after 15. fxe3

At first glance this looks ludicrous... why would one accept doubled pawns so willingly when it was perfectly alright to recapture with the queen? But by leaving the queen on d2, it allows White to retain control of the d-file, threatening the exposed Black king as well as the possibility of Qd4 securing the long diagonal.

15... Nf6

Otherwise 16. exd5 is detrimental to Black's position.

16. Qd4 Ke7
17. Nc3 Qb7
18. e5?

Locking up the centre only makes the Black king safer. I still feel it was better to undouble the pawns asap: 18. exd5 Nxd5 19. Nxd5+ cxd5 20. Ne5 with the passed pawn playing to White's advantage. 21. c4 opening the d-file could follow next.

18... Nd7
19. Rd2

Since White can't make progress in the centre, he turns to the semi-open f-file.

19... Qb4

Attempting to trade pieces to relieve the pressure on the king.

20. Rf2 Nxc5
21. Qxb4 Rxb4
22. Nd4 (D)

Position after 22. Nd4

Better was 22. Ng5! focusing on the kingside; Black cannot hope to defend both f7 and h7 at the same time: 22... Rf8 23. Nxh7

22... Bb7
23. Rhf1 Rf8
24. a3 Rb6
25. Nf3

Finally bringing the knight back to hit f7, but is it too late?

25... f5
26. exf6+ Rxf6
27. Ng5 Rxf2

Black successfully simplifies and reduces the strength of the attack.

28. Rxf2 Rxb3?

Attempting a Cheap tactic, but White can step over it easily.

29. cxb3?

Except that White doesn't!

29. Rf7+! This powerful intermezzo is what both sides missed. 29... Ke8 30. cxb3 Black can resign.

29... Nd3+!
30. Kd2 Nxf2
31. Nxh7 Ng4 (D)

Position after 31... Ng4

Black has equalized comfortably in the endgame, although his pawn structure is still slightly inferior.

32. h3 Nf6
33. Ng5

The correct decision. 33. Nxf6 Kxf6 helps Black centralize his king.

33... Ba6
34. Na4 Bf1
35. g4 Ne4+?

The final mistake of this crazy game. This trade benefits Black in no way, and only harms his pawn structure by creating weak, isolated doubled pawns.

36. Nxe4 dxe4
37. h4 Kf6
38. Nc5 Bg2
39. Nd7+ Kf7
40. Ne5+ (D)

Position after 40. Ne5

Black lost on time, but the endgame was already better for White.

I understand that this was not the most legit of games, played under non-tournament conditions with much discussion and disagreement. My hope is that our playing skills in the tournament hall will not be as comical as what we have just seen!


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