Monday, 29 March 2010

Kettinoffski vs David L, B21 Sicilian, Smith-Morra Gambit

Kettinoffski vs David L, B21 Sicilian, Smith-Morra Gambit

This next game is one where I played as Black. My opponent opened with e4, and I decided on the Sicilian, although I have been known to play the Ruy Lopez as Black. To be honest, I rarely play anything else against e4. Years ago, I'd play e5 as a matter of course, until Garry Kasparov and the 1993 World Chess Championship Final against Nigel Short, where Kasparov frequently played the Sicilian Najdorf, and it became all the rage (at least among my peers, and we were all still at school!). My opponent either knew the Sicilian very well, or not very well at all, and immediately went for an unusual opening.

1.e4 c5
2.d4 cxd4

I don't know much about the Sicilian, but I know for sure I'm not going to let White build a massive pawn platform in the centre. If I don't take the pawn on d4, I risk him advancing it to d5 and really causing me problems - I'll have a lack of space and I'll be really cramped, struggling to get my pieces onto strong squares. I therefore decided to capture the pawn, and White decided to recapture with his queen - moving the queen early in a game isn't recommended, as it can be chased by lesser pieces:

3.Qxd4 Nc6
4.Qd1 Nf6

5.c3 e5
6.Bg5 Be7

7.... Qb6

Since White has moved his dark-squared bishop and left b2 undefended, I have a look at it with my queen. Notice that once again, an online opponent has played c3 and f3 - there must be a real phobia in the online community about knights!

8. b4 O-O
9. a4

White advances his queenside pawns - an unusual way of protecting that half of the board, and an unexpected response to my Qb6 move. However, I realised at this point that White's bishop on g5 is not protected - and although I could have made this move earlier, I've not noticed it until now. I suspect we were playing a tightly time-controlled game - hence the less-than-perfect play.

9. ... Nxe4

I'm now threatening checkmate with Qf2#, and I'm also threatening White's bishop with mine. White has to capture the knight, and I grab the bishop - leaving me a pawn up. White then looks for some more initiative on the queenside, and I move my queen to the centre.

10.fxe4 Bxg5
11.a5 Qe3+
12.Ne2 Qxe4
13.Nd2 Bxd2+?

Not an ideal move - although it means I can keep my queen in the centre, it also means I lose a useful attacking piece in exchange for a defensive piece that's only just moved.

14.Qxd2 d5

15. ... Be6?

Probably not the best move. It's solid enough, protecting the d-pawn, but I could have moved the bishop directly to g4, pinning the knight. As it works out, White siezes the opportunity to move his knight, and I give a bishop check anyway.

16. Ng3 Bg4+
17. Kc1 Qg6
18. b5?

White misses the opportunity to grab the d-pawn, and I take the chance to defend it with the knight. I'm planning to move my rooks over to the queenside, open the c-file and get some reinforcements for my next attack on White's king. White continues his development, and I'm able to grab some more space in the centre.

18. ... Ne7
19. Bd3 e4
20. Bc2 b6
21. c4 Rfc8

This sets up the possibility of a strong attack on White's king which could win me his queen. If now, White plays c4xd5, then playing the pawn to e3 threatens checkmate (Qxc2#) and also White's queen. It's always useful to put your rooks on the same file as your opponent's king - this is an example of why. Although this doesn't quite work out in this particular game, it's a good principle to follow.

22. axb6 axb6
23. Rxa8 Rxa8

Instead of having my rook opposite White's king, it's now on an open file, which is also a strong position. The game now ends very quickly, surprisingly quickly, as White makes two very weak moves and I obtain a swift checkmate.

24. Kb1? Qf6
25. cxd5? Qa1#

White's last two moves - moving his king to b1 and then not realising my threat on a1 led to the quick ending. Perhaps he played Kb1 to prevent me playing Ra1+ but I can't quite see what prompted cxd5 - and didn't see the idea behind Qf6. I know for sure that we were both under close time controls, which accounts for a great deal!

No comments:

Post a Comment