Straight into a Slav!
Unfortunately, I forgot that here I can play dxc4 and try to hang onto the pawn with b5. Instead I played e6 and we soon transposed into a semi-slav.
I was pleased to have properly remembered to start with Qa5.
My opponent then played c5, trying to close the queenside, but I think this must be really bad as I have the easy b6 break.
Confirmed, out of what looks like 2400 games, c5 has never been played in the masters database.
Even for online players, pretty rare:
According to the machines, there are two good ideas, Ne4, threatening to win the bishop pair or give an awkward backward pawn, and b6 right away, going for the break.
I went for Ne4. Credit to my opponent who played the best move, Qc2.
I could have now gone for the b6 break or Nxg5 or Nxc3.
Apparently Nxg5 scores pretty poorly despite taking the bishop pair. That’s what I did.
I played h6, planning to play b6 next.
My opponent decided to get wacky and play Nh7, which is obviously tricky but doesn’t really seem to contain much threat:
Funny enough, Bxc5 is very playable, following it up with g6 and winning the knight.
I played the only more accurate move, Be7, threatening to win a piece. White played Bd3, trying to hang on for dear life. I calculated for a while between f5 and g6. Apparently b6 is still really strong!
Fortunately I did not play g6, which gets really tricky. He miscalculated and try to sac his bishop after f5:
I have to admit to getting a little lucky here, I was pretty sure Nf6 kept a clean advantage, but I thought Nf8 might be even better, but wasn’t able to get myself totally sure.
He decided to resign after I took his knight on move 15:
Opening: 2/3, I transposed into theory and got an nice edge, but I missed a chance to take advantage.
Middlegame: 3/3, I calculated well and had a good plan (though his goofy Nh7 antics meant I never pushed b6).
Nice quiet little scandi, and my opponent hit me with the goofy Ne5:
I replied with the best, Bxe2. We quickly reached a queenless middle game. I made a mistake pushing a pawn here:
h6 or moving my knight was much better, e5 would have let him put some uncomfortable pressure on the d file, and I’m not really threatening to take the knight.
Luckily he gave me a little time and space and I was able to untangle. Here I missed the excellent h5!
I ended up down a pawn after some trades:
But, I calculated well and my kingside was faster than his queenside pawn:
I found the winning move, h5.
Sadly, down to less than 2 minutes, I missed the only move here:
Double tragic, I missed the only now-drawing move:
Opening: 3/3, got a very nice position. Totally equalized.
Middlegame: 1/3, not terrible, but missed the best plans and made some mistakes.
Endgame: 1/3, found some nice moves and ideas, but missed the important ones when it counted!
Opponent came out with a goofy Kan.
Already a mistake! I should have played c4 for a Maroczy bind structure on move 3!
Anyway, despite that, I manage to get a nice attack rolling:
However, I missed the key move, can you find it?
Instead I ended up getting traded down into this clearly worse position:
Things were looking dark, but with opposite colored bishops, anything is possible!
Once I swapped rooks and picked up a pawn, I was pretty sure I could easily hold.
I got a little bit lucky that this move didn’t throw away the game:
Opening: 0/3, missed the Maroczy bind idea twice!!
Middlegame: 1/3, created a nice attack but didn’t find the key move!
Endgame: 2/3, played very well and managed to save a game that should have been lost, but could have been better.