Sensing the Decisive Moment

So I’m back from the World Open! I finished the U2000 section with 2 wins and 7 draws, but no losses. While I didn’t reach my goal, I did finish higher than I came in, and still gained rating points.

Here is my first game. I think that in this game, I got off to a slightly worse position, but found a way to turn the result around.

Yan–Steincamp (World Open 2014)

1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4

3.c3 This is the Smith–Morra Gambit, probably the last opening I wanted to play against a lower rated player in the first round.

3…g6 4.cxd4 d5 5.exd5 Nf6 6.Nf3 Bg7

7.Bc4 I thought this was an odd idea, 7. Bb5+ is the main line, followed by 7… Nbd7 8. d6 exd6.

7…O-O 8.Nc3 Nbd7 9.Ne5 Nb6 10.Bb3 Nfxd5

11.Qf3 Despite awkward placement for the bishop, white has found a way to attack the kingside.

11…e6 12.Ne2 Bd7

13.h4 This move scared me a bit, even though there is nothing in it. I played 13… Qf6? Thinking that I could trade queens, but after 14. Qh3, I have to move my queen due to the threat of Bg5, and a following queen trap.

13… Qf6? 14.Qh3

14…Qe7 Due to the wasted move, I stand slightly worse.

15.g4? This is actually a mistake. But its hard to find the reason, isn’t it? This move doesn’t really threaten anything immediate, and gives me a free move to try to get back in the game.

15…Bxe5! This is the decisive moment. Despite being under attack, I trade my fianchettoed bishop for his e5 knight. In order to make this move, I had to find a string of forcing moves. 15… Qb4+ isn’t nearly as strong, because I won’t be able to put my queen on e4. 

16.dxe5 Qb4+ 17.Bd2 Qe4

18.Kd1? My opponent flinches, and concedes that there is no perfect defense with this move. Now that white can’t castle, it will be very easy for me to find a win.

Bb5 19.Ng1 Nf4 20.Qf3?

20….Qxf3+ Not the best move. In this game, it never occurred to me that the knight can be overloaded from g1. 20… Be2+ wins on the spot, if 21. Nxe2 Qxf3 –+ or 21. Kc1 Rfc8+ –+.

21.Nxf3 Be2+ 22.Kc2

22…Rac8+ No need to take the knight yet, need to improve my position first.

23.Bc3 Bxf3 24.Rh2 Nbd5 25.Re1 Nxc3 26.bxc3 Bxg4 27.f3 Bf5+ and white resigned.


I thought that this was a interesting game because if I didn’t find 15…Bxe5, I don’t think I could have still won in such a fashion. The key is, always look for active play, as the best defense is a great offense.

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