Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Looking Back at My Match vs. RealChosenOne

My first match on Chess Matches HQ, was versus RealChosenOne. To me, chess matches are the ultimate form of chess; I especially enjoy the preparations between games.

Slated for 12 games, the match was unfortunately interrupted after only 7, as my opponent without explanation disappeared from all online chess communities. I still don’t know the reason behind this, but I hope that RealChosenOne is OK.

As I’ve always spent a disproportional amount of study on openings, I’d like to present a glimpse of what was played, including one strong novelty. As White, I faced the Sicilian Sveshnikov [B33] and as Black I defended with the 2..Nf6 Scandinavian.

As White

As White, I met the Sicilian Sveshnikov in games 2, 4, 6 and 7. All four games started with 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Bxf6 gxf6 10. Nd5.

Position after 10.Nd5

This is the main line Sveshnikov. From here, Black usually continues 10..f5. My opponent opted for this move only once in our match, while he chose the Novosibirsk variation with 10..Bg7 in the other three.

When he played the main 10..f5 move, the game continued 11. Bd3 Be6 12. O-O Bxd5 13. exd5 Ne7 14. Nxb5 Bg7 15. Nc3 e4 16. Bc4 Ng6 17. Qh5 Bxc3 18. bxc3 Qf6 19. Qh6 Qxc3 20. Bb3 Ke7

Position after 20..Ke7

Here, I had prepared a theoretical novelty, 21. Rae1!?N. Soon afterwards, I went astray and lost the game. In the end, I don’t think the novelty gives White anything, so this was a failed preparation. I felt hard pressed to find an improvement here, and was very relieved when my opponent didn’t repeat 10..f5 in the next game!

The Novosibirsk games were interesting. From the position in the topmost diagram all 3 games continued with the standard moves 10..Bg7 11. Bd3 Ne7 12. Nxe7 Qxe7. The first time this position came up, I went for the unambitious 13. c3 and quickly found myself in trouble. Next time, I improved and found the sharper 13. O-O O-O 14. c4 f5 15. Qf3 Re8 16. Rfe1 b4 17. Nc2 f4 18. Nxb4 Rb8 19. Nd5 Qg5 20. Be2 Rxb2.

Position after 20..Rxb2

In this position I had prepared the strong novelty 21. Qa3!N. Previously, 21. Reb1 has been played (Zhigalko-Saric 1-0, Pardubice, 2006) with equal play, but after the text move White has a clear advantage as he puts pressure on the Black pawns while keeping an eye on the 3rd rank. For example 21..Rb7 22. Rab1 Re6? 23. Qa6! and White is already winning.

As Black

As Black, I faced three different setups against my Nf6 Scandinavian. I equalized early in all three games, and subsequently won them all. There were no major theoretical battles; mainly because White kept changing variations. The following interesting tactical position arose in Game 5 after 17. Kh4.

Position after 17.Kh4

After spending more than half an hour on this position I played 17..g5?? which leads to equality after the prosaic 18.Bxg5. Unfortunately, I missed the beautiful mate in 7 moves, after 17..Nxe3!! 18.Qxe3 h5! 19.h3 Bf4 20.Qe6+ fxe6 21.Nf3 Qf6+ 22.Ng5 Qxg5#

I am already well underway with match number 2, this time against tseltzer. I can already now say that he has succeeded in putting my opening repertoire under heavy fire, and I have had strong reason to evaluate my opening choices more than once.

And, on June 1, the inaugural Online Chess Match Championships will start, and it is poised to be great! If you are a chess fan, don’t miss out on this free tournament cycle that I am organizing. Sign up here!