Saturday, May 03, 2008

chess: Kerr - Mdinaradze (lost opportunities)

This game is from the current Interclub competition. My team is the Modbury Marauders. Time limit is 60 min + 30 seconds extra per move.

Quite often this happens. One player spends more time thinking than the other and creates a good position with winning chances. But then the first player is short of time and if they can't clinch the win and makes one or two poor moves the tide can easily swing the other way.

In this game against Edgar Mdinaradze I played good moves up to move 25 but then went astray in a position that was still complex. By then I only had 4 minutes left on the clock and Edgar had 36 minutes. This has been a trend in my games this year - obtaining good positions and then not finding a way to clinch a win. So, I'm hoping by analysing these positions I can improve in this respect.

It could have been a brilliancy but instead it turned out messy. But that's normal in chess, very few games are "pure".

Kerr - Mdinaradze
1. f4 c5
2. Nf3 Nf6
3. g3 Nc6
4. Bg2 d5
5. d3 g6
6. O-O Bg7
7. Qe1 O-O
8. e4 e6 (?)
This creates some weaknesses on the black square, try 8___ d4 instead

9. h3
I think this is better than 9. e5, it certainly preserves more tension in the position, which I like

9 ___ Re8(?)
Not really a good idea to plan ___e5 in this position, black just seems to be pushing pieces around at this stage

10. g4!
This is a good counter to black's previous move. Now 10___ e5 is met with 11.f5 with excellent attacking chance on the king side for white

10___ dxe
11. dxe Qb6
12. Na3
The white knight threatens to go to c4 and then to d6, with a big advantage

12 ___ Qa6
Black attempts to keep the white knight out of play. Another attempt is 12___ c4+ Then 13. Kh1 Qa6 14. Rb1 b5 15. b3 looks good for white (if 15 ___c3 16. b4)

13. Rf2!?
The interesting idea here is to reposition the white bishop at f1 and threaten the black queen. But f2 is not a good square for the rook, it obstructs whites queen from moving to h4. The more direct 13. c4! might be better. Black can't exploit the resulting weakness on d3, eg. 13___ Nb4 14. e5 Nd7 15. Bd2 and 15 ___ Nd3 achieves nothing

13___ b5
14. c4! bxc
15. Bf1 Nb4
Black has to waste time moving this knight to get his queen out of trouble. eg. if 15____ Bb7 then 16. Nxc4. Also 15___ Na5 doesn't work because of 16. Bd2

16. Nxc4 Qc6
17. a3 Na6
The alternative 17___ Nxe4 is tricky but insufficient, failing to 18.N(f3)-e5! Qd5 19. axb4 Nxf2 and then 20. Bg2!

18. Ng5! Nd7
If 18___ h6 then 19. Nxf7! and black can't recapture due to 20. Ne5+ forks the king and queen. It's also necessary to look at black's reply 19___ Qxe5 but then 20.Be3! and Bg2 is a very strong threat

19. e5 Nb6
Although 19___Bb7 threatens mate, after 20. Bg2 white swaps bishops then forks queen and rook on d6

20. Nd6 Re7

White has a wonderful position. But how to win?

21. Bb5! Qc7
22. Ne8!?
This is good and possibly best. I saw 22. Be8 but rejected it on account of 22___f6 but missed 23. Bf7+ Kh8 24. exf6 and if Bxf6 25. Ne8 wins the exchange, but it's not simple. The advantage of Ne8 is that it eliminates blacks important black squared bishop, the main defender of his king and a piece that might be involved in a black counter attack.

22___ Qd8
23. Nf6+!
Also strong is 23.NxB but according to my calculations this is stronger
23____ Bxf6
24. exf6 Rc7
How should white continue?

25. Rd2?
After 25. f5! which opens up more lines of attack, white is winning. eg. 25___exf5 26. Rd2 Qxf6 27. Qe8+ Kg7 28. Rd8 wins. White was too anxious to move his queen to h4 but that attack is not decisive

25___ Nd5
26. Qh4 Qxf6
27. Qxh7+ Kf8
And now black seems to be safe ... maybe

28. f5
Pursuing the attack vigorously. Another option was 28. Ne4 Qg7 29. Qh4 f6 with a slight advantage. When you move from a winning position (move 25) to a not winning position it becomes hard to hold back psychologically and re-evaluate, especially when short of time.

28____ gxf5
29. Rxd5?
Losing the plot partly due to time pressure. Much better was 29. gxf5 and black can't take the knight (__Qxg5) because of the reply Rg2. So try 29___ Qe5 and then 30. Rg2 looks to be winning

29___ exd5
30. Nf3 f4
Keeps the bishop out of h6. Black is now winning due to white's errors on moves 25 and

31. g5 Qg7
32. Qh4 Bb7?
This lets white back into the game. With either 32___Re7 or 32___Rb8 black should win

33. Bxf4 Re7
34. Bd6 and white eventually did win (53 moves)

I'm mainly analysing this game as an exercise in lost opportunity, about how to clinch a winning position and the issue of time management in chess. It's hard in chess to consistently play good moves and this is what distinguishes good players from players who sometimes make good moves.

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