Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Wicked Die Slow

You may recall that last year I suddenly started suffering time-trouble, and that when I decided to do something about it, I played like an idiot and began losing all over the place. Well, the good news is the time-trouble is back. The bad news that I'm still losing.

Here is the crucial position from my most recent game. I have the black pieces, and white has just played 22.Nc5:

Now, white has maintained a slight advantage throughout the game. But despite his lead in development I felt sure I could equalize in this position, the symmetry and two bishop justifying this expectation in general terms. I started off by analyzing 22...Bxa2 23.b3 a4 but felt this still left my opponent an edge, and my intuition told me there was something better. Minutes went by and the something better remained elusive; with time-trouble looming I indeed ended up playing the obvious 22...Bxa2 23.b3 a4. White went on to exploit his enduring edge and claim the whole point.

But, my intuition was right: black can equalise in the above position. Can you spot how? With the clock ticking? Analysis and the game to play through after the jump.

Solution: 22...Bxa2 is correct, but after 23.b3 the key move is the sneaky 23...Rc8! The point is that now after 24.Rd2 the c5 knight is pinned, so 24...Ra6 is possible, winning the bishop trapped on b6. There are a couple of sub-variations to analyze but in short, mass exchanges and symmetry are the likely outcome.

Here's the whole game.

PS. In case you missed it, we had a bonus Tuesday post yesterday that you can find here.


Anonymous said...

Did Black get another bite of the cherry at move 28? 28. ... Ba7 29. Rxa8 Bxb6 appears to bag the bishops for rook + a-pawn - might even be better then, but that a-pawn is still a worry.

Anonymous said...

ohhh that's why I'm still a patzer. Not calculating far enough. 30. Rc8 Bb7 31. a5! Bxc8 32. axb6 .

Anonymous said...

28...Ba7 29.Rxa8 Bxb6 30. Rc8 Bb7 31.a5! I think


Tom Chivers said...

Yes 28...Ba7 loses to to the rather nice 31.a5. My opponent did well to calculate it before he played Rc8+.

simona said...

28... Bxa2 29. b3 Ba7! is my first thought, the idea is after 30. Bxa7 Rxa7 if White attacks the bishop then Black has ...b6 which should lead to a drawn rook endgame? If White doesn't attack the bishop, then ...a4 next.

simona said...

...but maybe that doesn't quite equalise as white can probably get a slightly better rook endgame somehow. Just looked at the solution given, that's much cleaner and is more aesthetically pleasing!

Tom Chivers said...

After 23...Ba7 (not 28), white wins a pawn with 24.Bxa7 Rxa7 25.Rd2 b6 26.Rxa2 bxc5 27.Rxc5, forking a5 and e5. It is possible that the resulting position is objectively drawn; I doubt it, and I think an evaluation of clearly better for white is probably fair at my level :)