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Chess is Frustrating

May 2, 2012

Monday night’s game ended my non-losing streak, though only at the last minute. 45 moves of perfectly solid play leading to a drawn position against an expert, only to throw it away on one move with 13 minutes left on the clock.

Brian Beck (FIDE UNR, USCF 1790) vs. Edward Kopiecki (FIDE 2006, USCF 2041)
MCC FIDE Mondays Apr-May 2012, Rd 3
Ruy Lopez, Worrall Attack (C77)

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba5 Nf6 5. Qe2 b5 6. Bb3 Be7 7. O-O O-O 8. c3 d5 9. d3 d4 10. cxd4 Nxd4 11. Nxd4 Qxd4 12. Be3 Qd6

13. f3?!

Book moves are Nc3 or Rc1; h3 is also popular. 13. f3?! isn’t awful, and white is perfectly safe afterwards, but it’s very quiet and drawish.

13. … Rd8 14. Rd1 Be6 15. Bxe6 Qxe6 16. Nd2 Nd7 17. Nb3 c5

Computers evaluate the game as no more than 0.1 in either direction for nearly the entire game. The play proceeds naturally from here, as White concentrates on the c-pawn, trying to force Black to move to c4 and trade it for his backwards d-pawn, preferably leaving a weak isolated c pawn for black.

18. Rdc1 Rac8 19. Rc2 Rc7 20. Rac1 Rdc8 21. Qf2 c4 22. dxc4 Rxc4 23. Qe2 Rxc7 24. Rxc7 Rxc7 25. Qxc7

As planned; White’s pawn weakness is traded off and White’s pieces are slightly more active.

25. … h6 26. a3 Bg5 27. Bxg5 hxg5 28. Qc3 g4 29. Nc5 Qb6 30. b4 a5?

Black’s first blunder; it turns out that White can safely capture on g4 here with a substantial advantage. I see ghosts, however, and play instead:

31. Kf1? axb4 32. axb4 Nxc5 33. bxc5 Qa6 34. Qxe5 gxf3 35. gxf3 b4+ 36. Kf2 Qb5 37. Qd5 b3

Now at this point I’m going to need to start checking to hold a draw, which I do:

38. Qd8+ Kh7 39. Qh4+ Kg6 40. Qg4+ Kf6 41. Qf5+ Ke7 42. Qe5+ Kd7 43. Qd6+ Kc8 44. Qf8+ Kb7 45. Qxf7+ Ka6

And from here, White draws in lots of different ways, such as 46. Qf8! threatening Qa8#, or 46. Qe6+ Ka5 47. Qd5!, after which an immediate b3 loses to Qa2+, winning the pawn and trading queens. Instead, miscalculating and missing lines with Qc5+ covering the promotion square, I throw the game away with

46. c6?? b2 47. c7 Kb7 48. Qf8 Kxc7 49. Qxg7+ Kb6 50. Qh6+ Qc6 51. Qf4 b1=Q 1-0

All that solid chess thrown away in one move!

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