Wednesday, 13 July 2016

My Favourite Chess Game

I've covered a range of my Chess games in the past - some wins, some losses - but in this post I'd like to review my favourite Chess game, the strongest opponent where I scored a win.  This was within the Kidsgrove Chess Club's own internal league, and all six players played each other twice (once as White, once as Black).

This was my game against Jules H, the strongest player I've scored a win against.  I was White, and played my standard Queen's Gambit.

1. d4 d5
2. c4 e6
3. cxd5 exd5

Now I'm sure 3. cxd5 is regarded as a poor move, reducing the tension in the centre, but I thought it made sense to trade my c-pawn for my opponent's central e-pawn.

4. Nc3 Bb4
5. Bd2 Bxc3
6. Bxc3 Nf6
7. e3 0-0
8. Bd3 Re8
9. Ne2 Qd6
10. Ng3 Bg4

I can't play 11. f3 as I would immediately lose to Rxe3+ and have ongoing trouble on the now-open e-file.  However, I identified that Bg4 left b7 unprotected, so I decided to play Qb3 and look to castle as soon as possible.

11. Qb3 Qb6
12. Qxb6 axb6

No, I wasn't initially intending to trade queens, but since I could leave a scar on my opponent's pawn structure, with b7 as a fixed weakness, I decided to go for it... and then finally castled!

13. 0-0 g6
14. Bd2
Supporting the e-pawn, so that I can finally push play f3, which will kick the bishop and in future enable me to play e4.

14. ... c5  My opponent looks to straighten out his kingside.
15. a3 c4
16. Bc2 Bd7
17. f3 Nc6
18. Rae1
Completing my development. Putting the rooks behind the e- and f-pawns should enable me, with the support of the minor pieces, me to push them forwards and make significant gains in space.

18.  ... b5
My opponent is grabbing space on the queenside, but I'm slowly and steadily preparing to advance my central pawns.

19.Bc3 Re6
20.e4 h5
21.Ne2? dxe4?

After getting lucky with Ne2, I've now developed a t
riple threat:  I can advance the d-pawn, forking knight and rook, and if the rook retreats I can then capture the knight on f6.  If the rook moves to d6, I can then also advance the e-pawn, forking the rook and the other knight (the pawn on e5 would be supported by the bishop on c3.  The bishop pair on c2 and c3 are beginning to see their diagonals open up, and they're pointing towards black's king.

22. ... Re7?
A blunder, since I can immediately play Rxf6.  I guess the complications of the position got to my opponent, and he figured he could save his pieces by retreating the rook.  The software I've consulted suggests Nxe4 as a better continuation.

23.Rxf6 Nd8
24.Nf4 Ra6
25.d5 b6?

I'm not sure what my opponent was doing with these moves.  After threatening my rook on f6, he's now locked his rook out of the game, and is continuing to play on the wings, while I move through the centre.

26.e5 Nb7

Earlier that week, I'd been reading about 'clearing the barriers' towards your opponent's king, and I considered this very carefully.  I'm a knight ahead (after the capture on move 23),  so I have extra material to play with.  Also, I have both of my bishops pointing towards white's king, so I anticipated that after Nxg6 I would force white's king into the corner, and potentially get a discovered check to capture more material.  After 28. Rxg6+ Kh8 I can play e6 winning a bishop, or after 
28. Rxg6+ Kh7 I can play Rxb7+ winning a rook.

So I went for it, trading my knight for two pawns and a direct attack.
27.Nxg6 fxg6

After 28 Rxg6+ there are possibilities for me to win material through discovered checks

28.  ... Kf8

Avoiding both of the discovered checks, but enabling me to bring my other rook into play.


I was expecting 29...Rf7 30.Rxf7+ Ke8 31.e6 Bxe6 32.dxe6 which lengthens the game but enables me to win more material.  Instead...

29. ...  
30.Rg8# 1-0

A surprisingly quick finish to a very pleasing game.  I appreciate that my opponent made a few suspect moves, but I'm pleased with the way I handled the game, the tactics and strategies I used (placing my rooks and bishops on squares that would maximise their range and usefulness) and as I said, this is probably one of my favourite games.