Foto del Día National Geographic

18 July, 2010

Pre-Nacional Absoluto (2)

Here comes the second part of my tournament review. After defeating Arely, I was in good mood for the next round. I knew that with 2.5/4 I was probably going to be paired with a stronger player then I prepared my mind for a tough struggle.

Round five was a kind of disaster right from the opening. I played against Juan Manuel García, from Jalisco. I hesitated for an instance to play 1.d4 and practice some of the stuff I had been training and play for the minimal advantages. At the end I played 1. e4 and we played an Accelerated Dragon.

I fell into a trap of that move order and finished in an inferior position quickly. I was feeling bad during the game because all those tricks I had trained them a lot of years before with my former trainer Benjamin Ferrera (RIP), a Cuban immigrant well known for his book on the Dragon. I knew those traps, I just couldn't take out the dust of my mind.

I was 2.5/5 before last round. I needed to win. I had gone to the tournament with the clear objective to finish at least with +1. And it was my last chance to not to lose so many rating points (Arely hadn't international rating so my rated games score was 1/3).

I was taking a break with Juan Carlos, Luis and Saul in the hotel lobby bar when Luis said he wanted to check the next round pairing. When he came back I was shocked. I had to play against Luis. The first question all launched us was if we did wanted to play or just make a quick draw. I said I had gone to the tournament to play and so did Luis, therefore we needed to make this interesting for training purposes given the fact he's my friend.

To spice the things up, I beat him last April in the National Open Chess Champ in Monterrey with a sicilian. I knew for sure he wanted to taste my blood so I didn't expect an easy battle.

We agreed to pre-arrange the opening setup. I play 1.e4 and he usually plays Sicilian game. After some discussion about when it was fair to pre-arrange the moves, he said he plays the Dragon and asked me if I would like to play it. I said yes, of course, one of the openings I best score is the white side of the dragon. So we agreed the first 8 moves and played them at blitz speed:

Pre-Nacional Absoluto 2010
Héctor Juárez Velázquez (IPN)
Luis López Raygoza (AGS)
1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 d6
3. d4 cd4
4. Nxd4 Nf6
5. Nc3 g6
6. Be3 Bg7
7. f3 Nc6
8. Bc4 0-0

Here finished our agreenment and from now, we started to play. With Bc4 white intends to stop forever the d5 central breakthrough and enter into a sharp game with opposite castling. Now the race begin, the first to approach his enemy's king will be victorious.

9. Qd2 Bd7
10. 0-0-0 Rb8!?

I don't know very much theory of this variation (I promise, I will re-read the labyrinth), but I would prefer to set the rook to c8 for the following reasons:

- In b8 it is obstructed by its b pawn.
- In c8 white must care about Rxc3 exchange sacrifice
- I will never take the b5 pawn, then, even if he is able to open the b-file I've enought time and ways to obstruct his attack.

But he'd study it and perhaps it fits better his style than Rc8. I don't know, I hope later Mr. Polugayevzky can give me further ideas, by now I'm writing only in my current state of preparation and memory!!

11. h4

This is my favourite plan. Launch immediatly the h pawn to black's king and try to weave the mating net. He has many options to slow down my attack and counterattack in the queenside to finally win the race.

11. ... b5
12. Bb3

I think I must keep me from taking the pawn. If I do so, his rook move will be justified.

12. ...Nxd4

He pointed me out after the game that perhaps this is an strategic mistake, because he lose some pressure in the center and exchange a good knight spending a tempo. I'm not completely sure about that because now I must take the knight with my bishop and I no longer have the threat Bh6. It's a matter of taste.

13. Bxd4 a5

Now the red light started to blink. His pawn storm can break into my king castle with tempo because he will push them against my minor pieces. Now I have many options. I can push my pawn to h5 and continue the crossroad (as defined by Tartakover), but I realized I have no room for my bishop. He's threatening a4 and the only square free for my bishop is d5, and after e6 it's trapped. The attack doesn't justify the piece sac.

If I try to make room for my bishop with a3 he move a4 and b4 and my king is in trouble. I needed to make room for my bishop with tempo in order to stop his threats and start my own's. I realized it was maneouvre in which I could accomplish this. I spend 22 minutes to figure it out.

14. e5! de5

The option is the retreat of the knight to e8 but in that case I can continue my attack without hesitation, then I'd have room for the bishop and time to exhange the dark squared bishops and push the h pawn to h5.

15. Bxe5

Now I'm attacking the b8 rook, taking advantage of what I think is not its best placement. And I'm threatening to take the d7 bishop so it must be protected. His response is unique.

15. ...Rb7

Now I have the rook where I wanted it. In the case he attacks my bishop with a4 I can move it to d5 attacking the rook. It gives me the time to save the bishop and at the same time my attack can run faster with no worries. Now he stopped and thought for about 20 minutes.

16. h5 b4
17. hg6!

The starting point of a combination that gave me the upper hand in the attack. I weakened his king at the cost of a piece, and now he needed to give back some material in order to protect his king. He accepted the sacrifice almost immediatly.

17. ...bc3
18. gf7+ Rxf7

Forced. If Kh8 he's mated after Qg5! when I threat Nxh7+ and if Kxh7 Rh1 and mate, or if Nxh7 Qxg7 mate.

19. Bxf7+ Kxf7
20. Bxc3 Qd6

Now the things had settled. I had a rook and two pawns for a knight and a bishop. He'd the bishop pair, so the material is somehow balanced. Although he'd the bishop pair, the were not coordinated and my two rooks and bishop were very active. He'd an exposed king whereas mine is completely safe. So I had a dynamic advantage, that I had to exploit if I didn't want to face a pretty difficult endgame. Again, I spend about 15 minutes to figure out how to continue.

21. g4 Be6?

This was a mistake that put his king under fire. It was necessary 22....h6.

22. g5 Ne4?

One error follows another. This was the point of black's play, perhaps he didn't saw my reply:

23. Rxh7

Now his g7 bishop is pinned and if Nxc3, Qxc3 and there's no way black can protect the g7 bishop. After about 15 minutes, he replied:

23. ... Nf6

He gave a full piece. Nevertheless, his position was lost at this point.

24. gf6 ef6
25. Bd4!

The last subtlety. In some variations it gave me the possibility to play Rg1.

25. ... Qb5
26. Qh6 Kg8
27. Rg1 Bg4

A kind of trap. However there's no danger.

28. Rxg4 Qf1+
29. Kd2

And with no further checks, he resigned.

Finally I succeeded to finish the tournament with +1. I could savour the moment just a few minutes, it was Sunday night and next day I had to work...