This is extension of Mission Accomplished – Part 1. I finished with a score of 4.0/6 this past weekend, and I had quite a few quality games to show for it. Today’s game is from the second round, after my loss to GM Erenburg. I knew I needed to win, but after move 3 I knew I should win. Here’s the game.
Steincamp – Kremenchugskiy (Virginia Closed, 2014)
1.c4 e5 2.g3 Bc5 3.Bg2
3…Qf6?! What?! Surely this cannot be theory! Black makes a very obvious threat on f2, but its highly out of principle. This Scholar’s Mate idea is not a line, so its a matter of punishing my opponent. My opponent was rated over 1850, so I knew it wouldn’t be too easy.
4.e3 Nc6 5.Nc3 Nb4
6.d3 While Black has made petty threats, I’ve just developed naturally, and I am ready to punish Black with either Nc3-d5 or Nc3-e4.
7.Ne4 My first forcing move of the game. My position is extremely solid, so Black will begin to see the holes in his logic, with my next few moves, I am able to push Black into passivity.
7…Be7 8.a3 Nc6 9.Ne2
9…f5 This looks like the most natural move, but I think this helps me. While my knight is strong on e4, its even stronger on d5, where it could attack c7. Also, the pawn on f5 blocks out the queen so it emphasizes how the queen is misplaced on g6. So honestly, this move kind of helps me. I think that 9… d6 would have been better, as it gives the bishop on c8 a chance to breathe.
10.N4c3 Nf6 11.Nd5 Nxd5
12.cxd5 There are a few lines in the English where this is best for White, and with Black’s delayed development, this is fine for me. Black will have to move this knight again, ending its epic journey from b8-c6-b4-d8. Four moves to travel two squares!
13.f4! A much needed break. Black will play c7-c6 soon, opening his position. This move will eliminate one of his center pawns and make d4 or f4 potential outposts for my pieces.
13…Bd6? Blocking in the pieces! 13…d7–d6 was much needed.
14.fxe5 Bxe5 15.O-O
15…O-O Black’s king is safe, but his position is not. Black has a good bishop on e5, but it can easily get pushed around. The queen is awkward, and Black has yet to develop. At his point in the game, I focused on developing my space advantage.
16.Nf4 Qb6 17.Qc2
17…g5? Creates weaknesses in front of the king unnecessarily. My opponent did not consider my immediate response 18. Nh3. I was expecting a move like 17… c6, but Black can only do so much.
18.Nh3 g4 19.Nf4 c6 20.d4 Bh8
21.Bd2 Black’s position is in shambles, and there is no reason to exchange on c6. By developing the bishop into the game, I bring another piece into the attack.
21…d6 22.Bb4 Rf6 23.Rac1 Bd7
24.Nh5 I’ve tied down Black’s pieces to his c- and d-pawns, but I only have 5 minutes left to reach move 30. I found this as a creative resource to get there. If I had time, I might have seen the winning 24.dxc6 bxc6 25.Nd5! cxd5 26. Bxd5+ forking the king and queen.
24…Rg6 25.Nf4 Rf6 26.Qd3 Nf7 27.Nh5 Rg6
28.Nf4 I only have two move left to reach the time control, but I’m starting to plan on my opponent’s clock. At this point I was looking at e3-e4 ideas, but also playing Nh5 and sacrificing the exchange on f5. I didn’t have anything concrete, but I knew there would be opportunity there.
28…Rf6 29.dxc6 bxc6
30.Nh5 Phew! Only had 6 seconds left when I hit the clock! Now I have 60 minutes to go into a deep think.
30…Rg6 Black offered a draw here, but how could he be equal?
31.Kh1? Unnecessary. Not a blunder, but I played this to play e3-e4. I should have just taken on f5 and sacrificed the exchange. I realized this after I made the move, and shifted gears.
31…Ng5 32.Rxf5! Bxf5
33.Qxf5 +- This is the point of the sacrifice! Everything hangs in this position: c6,d6, and g4. I’m at least going to equalize materially, and I have a lot of play on the kingside.
34…Nf3 An aggressive approach, but I was expecting 34…Ne6 followed by 35. Qe2 and one of the pawns (c6 or d6) hang next turn (critical that 35. Qe4 is not played because Black plays 35… d5 with tempo. The move my opponent made loses immediately as seen in the game.
35…d5 And Black has the initiative, right? Nope!
36.Qe7! It was at this point in the game that my opponent realized how lost he was. the rook on f8 is overloaded, and material will be lost here.
36…Rc8 37.Bxf3 Qb8
38.Nf4 While I am completely winning with this move, I wish I had seen the beautiful 38.Rxc6!! A hard move to find but if 38… Rcxc8 39. Bxd5+! Rcd6 40. Bxd6+ Rxd6 41. Qxd6# Truly spectacular!
39…hxg6? Black should have taken my queen with 39… Rxe7 but 40. Nxe7+ Kf7 41. Rxc6 and Black can just throw in the towel.
40.Qg5 Re6 41.Rxc6 1-0
A fun, instructional game! My opponent played out of principle, and so by playing solidly, I got a very strong advantage. For players who love Queen’s Raid type play, I would recommend that you tune in to the Sinquefield Cup. GM Fabiano Caruana has won 7 straight because of principled play. If I can’t tell you that early queen play is often bad, maybe Caruana will!
Feel like I missed something? Feel free to comment below!