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My chess game yesterday December 7, 2006

Posted by dorigo in chess, games, personal, social life.

Below is a report of my game with Alex Pehas, played yesterday on board 2 of the Dragons-Fermi match for the Chicago Industrial Chess League.

Alex Pehas (Dragons) – Tommaso Dorigo (Fermi), Chicago Industrial Chess League, 12/5/061.Nf3 d5 2.c4 c6 3.g3 Bf5This early sortie of the lightsquared bishop is playable although not best. It is a move I often employ with black in these kinds of positions to avoid the main lines where knowledge of theory (which I do not possess) might prove a factor. It’s a bit like saying “now we’re both on our own, pal”.

4.cxd5 Bxb1

Again, a psychologically-driven decision. My opponent is supposedly weaker than me, and also a tad older. Bxb1 destroys the simple plan white might have, of playing against d5 with Nxc3, Qb3 and Bg2, and places the game at a more tactical level. Sure, I have to part with my bishop pair, but I am not afraid of a fight…

5.Rxb1 Qxd5 6.b3

Probably not best. The a2 pawn really is to be defended, but it was more accurate to play a3, taking away a checking square from the range of the black’s remaining bishop.

6…., e5 7.Bg2

Again not the best move. I confess I thought i would destroy my opponent very quickly at this point, although objectively black has only just equalized here.

7…., e4!


Sadly, Nh4 loses the N by 8….,g5, so the retreat is mandatory.

8…., Nf6 9.f3

Another move I did not expect, and which arose killing instincts in me. Surely the weakening of black squares around the white king is a clear signal of a mandatory attack by black ? However, 9.f3 is not really a losing move. It is actually perfectly playable, and poses some difficult problems to black. In fact, here I thought for 10 minutes before replying.

9…., Bc5 10.Qc2

I had been thinking for a while at 10.fxe4 Nxe4 11.d3? Qf5! where black is winning (12.Nf3 Nc3 and a rook goes), or the more complex 10.fxe4 Nxe4 11.Qc2 f5 12.d3 Dd4 13.e3 Qc3+ 14.Qxc3 Nxc3 which is roughly equal. But 10.Qc2 is perfectly playable and forced me into another long think.

10…., e3

I did not even look at Bxg2, considering it too much. I love bishops, I think they are superior to knights in most positions, and already Bxb1 was a concession – so Bxg1 was not in my agenda, although the computer likes it – white loses the right of castling, and after 10…., Bxg1 11.Rxg1 Qh5 black retains the initiative. Instead, I considered exf3, but I concluded that white would get a pleasant game, with two central pawns and an open f-file. So I really had to sacrifice a pawn for positional aims… Which is ok, of course, but always a grievious decision.


Here I also thought for a while at the possibility of 11….,Ng4!? 12.e4, Qd4. Here, if white plays 13.fxg4, there might follow 13…., Qf2+; 14. Kd2,Qxg2; 15.Qxc5 and I thought that 15…., Qxh1 would lose because of 16.Ba3! In fact, however, black defends from mate with the simple 16….Qxe4, while if 16.Nf3 black has 16….,Nd7 and things look good for him. This was my worse miscalculation in the game. However, I did reject 11….,Ng4 also because of 12.e4, Qd4 13.Nh3, when it is not clear how black should continue.

11…., 0-0 12.Qc4 Qd6

After playing this move I got worried about 13.b4!, which is strong indeed, and thinking that 13.b4! Bb6 14.Rb3?! would get white in a very good position – after all, he is threatening to come to d3 with the rook, getting possession of the d file, and defending the e3 pawn. However, it is not all so clear. After 13.b4! Bb6 14.Rb3?! Nbd7 black retains an edge.

13.Nh3, Nd5 14.e4, Bb4+ 15.Kf2, Nc3

All my moves are aimed at keeping tactics in the agenda for as long as possible – such that my opponent cracks under pressure. Here I thought white is forced to play Ra1, since Rb2 gets forked: 16.Rb2, Nd1+ 17.Rxd1+, Qxd1 18.Qxb4, Qxc1 19.Qd2 and black is on top. However, my opponent found another possibility, which took me aback. He offers the exchange in another way, which forces the exchange of queens and leaves on the board a position where black has a rook for a bishop and pawn, and white’s bishop pair dominates the scene.

16.Bf4!?, Qc5+

Indeed, if black were to speculate on some tactical possibilities here he would get the worst of it: 16…,Bc5+ 17.Kf1 Nxb1?! 18.Bxd6 Nd2+ 19.Ke1 Nxc4 20.Bxc5 Nb6 21.Bxf8 is better for white.

17.Be3! Qxc4 18.bxc4 Nxb1 19.Rxb1

Sure, black has a rook for bishop and pawn, but the position is not nice. Objectively it is still a perfect balance, but with little time to play, black’s is the most uncomfortable side.

19…,a5 20.Nf4, Na6 21.Nd3, b5 22.cxb5,cxb5 23.Bh3,Rab8 24.Bd7,Rfd8 25.Bc6,Rdc8 26.Bd5,Rc3

Still trying to enter into tactics… The trick is easy: 27.Bd2?? Rxd3 and if 28.Bxb4 Rxd5! and black wins.

27.Bd4, Rc2 28.Bb3, Rcc8; 29.Bd5, Bc5; 30.Nxc5, Nxc5

And here I half-hoped on Rc1, which would save me from the pain of attempting to win a still balanced position… Objectively, the natural conclusion of the game would have been 31.Be5, Rb6; 32.Bd4, R6b8; and a threefold repetition. But my opponent, finally, played a bad move in a game otherwise surprisingly well played. My efforts to complicate the game payed off when I least expected it…

31.Rc1?? Nxe4+ 32.Bxe4 Rxc1

That does it. White is lost.

33.Ba7, Rbc8 34.Bd3, b4 35.Bd4, g6 36.h4, a4; 37.Bb2, R1c2!

The last finesse (and Fritz agrees!). Black gives back one exchange, but white has to pay dearly for it: part with his coveted bishop pair, and lose the a2 pawn. However, there is no choice.  

White resigned.


1. Alejandro Rivero - December 7, 2006

After 15 Kf2, the white player seems to be completely cracked. He could recover only by taking some time of his clock to refocus himself, but I had already bet for you at this point. C’mon, even after you forced to move the Rook in move 5, I had though you had the point. Can you give the timings? I suspect white moved too fast.

2. dorigo - December 7, 2006

Hi Alejandro,

after 5.Rxb1 the position is equal – white has a bishop pair and black has solved a good part of his opening problems. True, black has the initiative from early on in the game, and this – in the hands of an attacking player as myself – is a good thing against weaker players.
After 15.Kf2 the position is still equal IMO. Fritz 8 agrees🙂 Of course, if you take into account psychological problems as well, things change hue a bit.
Timings: ok, since you ask… I always write that down in my scoresheet. So here is it: the game was 45 moves in 90 minutes.
I give below the time before each of the moves.

5.Rb1 [2.5′] Qxd5 [3′]
9.f3 [18′] Bc5 [11′]
11. dxe3 [29′] 0-0 [35′]
14. e4 [44′] Bb4+ [43′]
17. Be3 [53′] Qxc4 [47.5′]
21. Nd3 [54′] b5 [55′]
27. Bd4 [77′] Rc2 [70′]
30.Nxc5 [-10.5′] Nxc5 [-17′]
37. Bb2 [-3′] R1c2 [-14′]

So overall nobody was pressed by time too much… I spent more time on the opening, when I was trying to blow white out of the board with some smart tactics that I could never start, and he spent time when we reached the queenless middlegame – I suspect he hadn’t a clue of what he had to do then.


3. Joachim - December 7, 2006

I wonder how a game played on such high level can be thrown away with a move like Rc1.
I particulaly liked White’s Bg2-h3-d7-c6-d5.

I suppose Black would have had better practical chances in the endgame anyhow. He should manage to trade the knight against one bishop and always have the threat to create a passer on the queenside. But it’s tough, no question.

4. dorigo - December 8, 2006

Hi Joachim,

well, not a very high level – I am a 2100 player, and my opponent is probably below 2000. But indeed, Rc1 is a real howler of a move. I explain it by the pressure white had to face during the whole game – he handled it well until then.

Yes, the bishop roundabout manouver was a good one. I would have also considered freeing it on the long diagonal by pushing f4 and e5, but maybe placing the B on d5 was really the better idea. Only, W should have followed it by Ne5.


5. Joachim - December 8, 2006

Oh come on – how many players are beyond 2100 ?! 0.001%? 0.0001% ?? It’s like you’re the 4 sigma of chess🙂 Of course this may depend on the definition of “play” (rather than “pushing pieces”) :-))

And besides Rc1 i didn’t see any funny move – well, ok, some looked funny to me but some of Kramink’s moves look funny to me as well (and i’m not talking about this very very funny Qe3…)


6. dorigo - December 8, 2006


hmmm let’s see, I think if you consider the universe of people that know the rules of chess, 2100 may be 4 sigma, but if you consider only club players and above, 2100 is maybe at the 2% level. So, strong, but not exceedingly so🙂
A 2100 player may occasionally play a correct game even against strong opposition – it happened to me a couple of times in my life. But typically, here or there a computer will spot a blunder, often two per game. Rc1 is a very bad blunder – I may have played only a dozen of such low level moves in my career – but still not impossible even at our “high” level!


7. Alex Pehas - December 11, 2006


I enjoyed reading your annotations to our game. Playing against a 2100+ rated player while being rated 1864 and being 25 years older is very challenging. To lose the game with such a horrible move was very frustrating especially so because I saw the error the instant I let go of the rook. Next time crush me in the opening! I like the quote by the recently deceased GM David Bronstein: “We should never forget that we are all one big family of chess amateurs!”

take care,

8. dorigo - December 12, 2006

Hi Alex,

how nice to see your visit here! I confess your comment compelled me to read back what I had written to double check I had in no way said anything malicious or irritating, which I am glad does not seem to be the case.

I imagine it is tough to play a supposedly stronger and younger player… It does happen to me too from time to time, since there indeed are 15 years old kids with ratings in excess of 2300 these days!

As for the game, you should not be too frustrated since you played very well – by double checking with Fritz it appears we played a surprisingly correct game. A bad move happens in time pressure…

Thank you for stopping by!


9. Fred - December 12, 2006

And to further level the human playing field, the new, improved Deep Fritz (supposedly examining 8 million positions per second) took out Kramnik, thus systematically and collectively plunging us deeper into our roles as chess underachievers. Kind of like Tiger vs. the rest of the golfers, except the computer rarely gets mentally fatigued and doesn’t need to use the restroom.

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