In round four I played against IM Marc Tyler Arnold. He is a 19 year old who already has one GM norm and a FIDE rating over 2500. I expect him to get the GM title sometime this year. I’m not sure how people like to see games, so I’ve included an annotated version here if you want to play out the game with a real chess board, and a PGN version below it where you can click through online. It’s hard to edit in Chessbase, so the text format is probably nicer.
USATE (4), 19.02.2012
Throughout the round it looked like my team was winning the match, but eventually we lost on boards two and three with a draw on board 4. The positive looking match situation affected the course of the game, making me overly eager to draw and Marc overly reluctant. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 b6 Last month I faced c5, which is the other main move. That game is annotated elsewhere on the blog. 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 Bb7 Now I had to think for a bit. I have a book that recommends Nd2 here, but I don't have much experience there, so I transposed to what would have happened if black had played g5 before Bb7 anyway. 7.e3 g5 8.Bg3 d6 In my experience black usually prefers Ne4, so I wanted to check if there was a refutation. I spent 10 minutes trying to decide if Qa4+ wins a piece (it doesn't). Then I continued with normal developing moves. 9.Qc2 Nbd7 10.Bd3 Qe7 11.0–0N Marc said that this was the first new move of the game for him. I was attracted to it because I concerned about allowing black to grab the g2 pawn with g4 and Bxg2. Now my king is somewhat vulnerable, but harder to attack than it may appear. 11...Bxc3 otherwise the bishop will be trapped after Nb5. 12.bxc3 0–0–0 [12...Bxf3 This looks scary for white, but eventually the bishop pair and big center should matter more than the exposed king. 13.gxf3 h5 14.h4 gxh4 15.Bxh4 Rg8+ 16.Kh1 Black can't really get any attackers at the open white king.] 13.e4 Nh5 14.a4 It's useful to push this pawn as part of an attack, but also simply to try to trade off my isolated pawn. 14...a5 15.Nd2 e5 16.Rab1 Nf4 I'm not sure if I really need to eliminate the knight right away, but it seems like a better pieces right now than my bishop. 17.Bxf4 gxf4 18.f3 So far the position is double edged but roughly even. After the game my opponent suggested c5 as a way to completely block up the queenside. As long as a night protects b6 then it's hard to see how white can break through on the queenside. Instead, he came up with the positional plan of Bc6 and Qf6 which would force white to play d5 and block up the position. Fortunately for me, white can strike first. 18...Bc6? [18...Rhg8] 19.c5! At the cost of a pawn I let my bishop and knight use the c4 square and black's king comes under fire. 19...dxc5 20.Ba6+ Bb7 [20...Kb8 21.d5 Ba8 22.Nc4 Ka7 23.Bb5 Nb8 looks horribly passive for black.] 21.Bxb7+ Kxb7 22.d5 Ra8 This is ugly, but needed to defend the a5 pawn. 23.Nc4 Rhg8 He finds a good multi-purpose move to eye the white kind and defend along the 6th rank. 24.Qd3?! [24.Qb3 was suggested by black after the game. The plan is simply to play Qb5 and either capture with the knight on a5 or to bring the queen to c6. I would probably have played this way if I had remotely considered it as a candidate move. 24...Ra6 25.Qb5 Ka7 26.d6 cxd6 27.Rfd1 Rg6 28.Qc6 Nb8 29.Qd5± The two pawn deficit is not nearly as important as all of black's pieces being essentially paralyzed.] 24...Rg6 25.d6 I was overly hasty to cash in on my initiative. This move and the previous one allow black back into the game. [25.Rfd1 continuing to simply improve my position is better.] 25...Qe6 26.Rf2 cxd6 27.Nxb6?! This essentially forces a draw, but white could still have played for more. [27.Rfb2 Ra6 28.Rd1 Kc7 (28...Ra8 29.Nxd6+) 29.Nxe5] 27...Nxb6 28.Rfb2 Kc7 Based on the match situation black tried to keep the game going. [28...Ra6 29.Qxa6+ Kxa6 30.Rxb6+= would have probably been the end of the game if it were not a team event.] 29.Rxb6 Kd7 Black tries to get some winning chances by bringing the king to shelter on the kingside. 30.Rb7+ [30.Qb5+ Ke7 31.Rxd6 Qxd6 32.Qb7+ Qd7 33.Qxa8 Rd6 34.Rb7 Rd1+ would be a draw] 30...Ke8 31.Rb8+ [31.Qd5 I seriously considered offering a queen trade to try to take advantage of my active rooks. Even after some analysis, I'm not sure who's better in this position. Do any of you have thoughts on this?] 31...Rxb8 32.Rxb8+ Ke7 33.Qb5 Kf6 34.Qxa5 Kg5 35.Qd8+ Kh5 36.Qc8 Qa2 Neither side can keep their king safe long enough to make progress, so black offered a draw which I accepted. ½–½
Unfortunately, by this point my result was irrelevant from a team perspective as we scored only .5/3 on the remaining boards. I took a bye in round 5 and then we left for the 5 hour drive back before round 6. Overall I was quite happy with my 3.5/4 performance for the weekend, but with long drawn out games playing down and a missed opportunity playing up, I got a good performance review showing what to work on. For instance in just this game I made three mistakes common among lower rated players:
1. I was overly eager to make a draw when playing up.
2. I was uncomfortable being down material and hence too quick to simplify to a drawn position.
3. Doing post-game analysis with Marc, I could tell that he just saw a lot more than me during the game, including the key move Qb3, that might well have won. Speed and depth of calculation is probably still the main thing separating me from GM strength players like him.
Oh, well. It was a fun weekend. Now back to work.