Queen’s Team Championship Rd. 3

images
Tonight in the farthest corner of Queens, Pavel and I both beat our opponents in interesting games. His was an English Attack in the Najdorf, which I will post later, while mine was a Sicilian that turned rather Frenchy.

My opponent was a really nice guy I have to say it. I showed up about 20 minutes late, but he let me start with the full time control anyway. While I do tend to be a fast player, this gesture was nonetheless appreciated. Looking at the game now with my computer, many of the moves that both me and my opponent made were either the first or second choice with only a few exceptions, and one particularly bad blunder at the end. Some slightly better tries for me were 15…Nc4! an interesting move that leads to dead equality, but at least it is more dynamic than the massive exchange of pieces as in the game. I’m not sure if I would have the guts to play a move like 15…Nc4 in the heat of battle, but looking at it now I almost wish I had tried it. 20…h5 would have lead to a clear edge for Black, and this move I actually did consider, though I didn’t play it until later when it lacked the bite that it has in the current position. Finally, 21…Rf5 is apparently not the best move as it allows white to solve his problems. Once again, best is now 21…h5! 25…g6 is the most accurate way to hold the edge, but what can I say for myself? Patzer sees check patzer plays check. 32…Qg3 is a major error, as i should have played Rd2 with the idea of scooping up some central pawns. However, I was so focused on the idea that bishops of opposite color favor the attacker in middlegames that I thought pawns were more or less irrelevant at this point as I was convinced I had a mating attack. While this is what ultimately unfolded, it required a blunder on the part of my opponent to materialize. 34.Rb8 was a game losing blunder, as now the dark square mating attack becomes possible. After 34.Qb3 my opponent would be holding everything on the Kingside while maintaining an advantage due to his pawns, though even here the evaluation shows +.34 and it isn’t entirely straightforward. In case anyone is curious, 35.Qg1 loses to 35…Rf1! Finally, his surprise Queen sacrifice on move 36 sets up a checkmate trap for me to fall into! While it would have been an elegant mate and an incredible save, I have to say I’m thrilled I didn’t allow this embarrassing swindle because it really would have ruined my night to lose in such a position. In the final position after Qxh5, it’s mate in 2 after either 37.Rxh5 Rf1# or 37.Kg1 Bh2+ 38.Kh1 Rf1#.