Mental discipline and hard work improves luck.My success finally winning a club championship at the Spokane Chess Club included a lot of luck. I was strategically lost in the first round, but my opponent failed to find the correct plan (see "Fiddling with the London System"). In round two, play was balanced until I blundered. But, my opponent failed to calculate the winning combination and was then lost (see "Solve This"). In the third round, I secured a nice position out of the opening only to squander it in the middle game. However, my opponent got into such time trouble that he was unable to convert a rook ending with two connected passed pawns when I had only a rook. He lost one pawn and then let me force exchanges leading to lone kings.
I prepared extensively for my fourth round game against our city champion. I expected a long struggle, but there was one line that could give me a decisive advantage in the opening. He played that line (see "Home Preparation"). In the last round, I was thoroughly outplayed in the opening. That is something that rarely happens to me in the French Defense. My position slowly worsened, but I stubbornly labored to create counter-play while playing rapidly. At a critical point, my opponent missed a resource in my position. He had about three minutes on the clock to my thirty.
Karl Reutter (1853) -- James Stripes (1791) [A34]
SCC Winter Championship Spokane (5), 16.02.2017
1.e4 e6 2.c4
This is an interesting approach to the French Defense. I use it myself to transpose to the Exchange variation. For me, it is mostly a blitz strategy, but I used it a few months ago at the the Spokane Chess Club. See "Useful Knowledge".
I usually play 2...d5 and it might have been a better choice as I'm familiar with the resulting positions, haviing played them over 500 times in online blitz and a few times over the board. It is the most popular move. However, the move that I played has a better score. I was aware of the statistics before the game. I let that knowledge guide me.
In the tournament that first lifted my rating into A Class, I played this game: 3.exd5 exd5 4.cxd5 Nf6 5.Nc3 (5.Bb5+ Nbd7) 5...Nxd5 6.Qf3 c6 7.Nxd5 Qxd5 8.Qxd5 cxd5 9.Bb5+ Bd7 10.Bxd7+ Nxd7 11.Nf3 Bc5 12.0–0 0–0 13.d4 Bb6 14.Be3 Rac8 15.Rac1 Nb8 16.Rfd1 Rc6 17.Rxc6 Nxc6 18.Rc1 f6 19.Kf1 Kf7 ½–½ Mathews,D (1786) -- Stripes,J (1764), Spokane 2009.
I spent about eight minutes considering my move, and kept looking at and rejecting a move that I had forgotten I played in 2010. 3...d5? 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Nxd5 (5.Bb5+; 5.exd5) 5...Nc6 6.Bb5 (6.Nf3) 6...Bd7? (6...Nf6) 7.Ne2 (7.Nf3) 7...a6 8.Bxc6 Bxc6 9.0–0 Bxd5 (9...Nf6) 10.exd5 Nf6 11.Nc3 (11.Re1) 11...Be7 12.Qf3 Qd7 (12...0–0) 13.Rd1 0–0 14.d4 c4 15.Bg5 Rad8 16.Rd2?= Nxd5 17.Bxe7 Nxe7 18.d5 Qf5 19.Qxf5 Nxf5 20.a4 Rfe8 21.Kf1 Nd6 22.a5 Kf8 23.Na4 Re5 24.Nb6 Nc8 25.Nxc4 Rexd5 26.Rxd5 Rxd5 27.Ke2 Rd4 28.Rc1 f6 29.Ke3 Rd7 30.Rc3 Ke7 31.g4 Rc7 32.h4 Nd6 33.Nxd6? Rxc3+ 34.bxc3 Kxd6 35.Kd4 Kc6 36.Kc4 b6! 37.axb6 Kxb6 38.Kd5 a5 39.Kd6? Kb5 40.Kd5 a4 41.c4+ Ka6!–+ 42.c5 (42.Kd4 Kb6 43.Kc3 Kc5 44.h5 g6 45.h6 f5 46.gxf5 gxf5 47.Kd3 a3) 42...a3 43.c6 a2 0–1 Julian,J (2023) -- Stripes,J (1862), Spokane 2010.
When I arrived home, I first entered the game in Hiarcs on the iPad. I was pleasantly surprised that its opening book prefers my move. Of course, its presence in Hiarcs' opening book means that it is a good line for the computer and I am not a computer.
4...Nf6 is the most popular move, and I considered it. It may be easier for the human player.
5.Bg2 Nd4 6.Nge2 Nec6 7.d3 g6N
White to move
I think that my novelty is unsound. I recall aiming for a set-up that I have used with success against the Grand Prix Attack in the Sicilian, but there are several differences in the position that I failed to appreciate.
7...d6 was a move that I thought about, but not seriously enough until a move or two later. 8.0–0 g6 9.a3 Bg7 10.Rb1 0–0 11.b4 a6 12.h3 Rb8 13.Be3 b5 14.bxc5 dxc5 Meijers,V (2496) -- Halkias,S (2579), Kavala 2008 and Black won in 32 moves.
8...d6 transposes to Meijers -- Halkias above.
Harry the h-pawn starts his charge! At least I can blame Simon Williams and his video lectures on h-pawn attacks for my faulty strategy.
9...Nxe2+ 10.Qxe2 Bd4+ 11.Be3
9...d6 still is probably best.
White's move ends my fantasies of using my dark-squared bishop to make trouble for White's king, cramps my center, and creates a nice outpost for White's knight.
I considered 10...d6 and it is still best.
11...hxg3 12.hxg3 Nf5 was probably better. Black's pawn belongs on d6.
Now was the time for 12...Nxe2+ but White is clearly better in any case.
13.Nd6+ Kf8 14.Nxd4 Nxd4 15.Bxd5
Black to move
15...hxg3 16.hxg3 Qd7
I made this move and then went to the toilet, thinking that I could get a perpetual with Qh3-g3. While taking care of business, I realized that the bishop could block the check. Back to the board to find a new plan.
I do not recall considering 16...Nf5 17.Nxf5 Qxd5 when Black has a playable game.
I expected 17.Nxf7 Rh5 18.Nd6 Qh3 19.Rf2
17.Bxf7 would be an error due to 17...Qh3–+
My pieces are awkwardly placed. White's greater mobility and superior coordination are far more significant than his extra pawn.
19.Be3+- Bd7 20.Bxc5+ Kg8 21.d4 Rc8 22.Rf2 b6 23.Bb4
Black to move
23...g5 24.fxg5 Qxg5 25.Qf3 Qg6 (25...Qh6 26.Qxf7+ Kh7 27.Be4+ Qg6 28.Bxg6+ Kh6 29.Bd2#)
24.Bxc6 Rxc6 25.Bc3 Rh3 26.Qf3 Rc7 27.Kg2
Black to move
I considered resigning. I am two pawns down with no play. Even so, my opponent still has work to do, so I should do my best to create complications and make him do the work.
27...f6 28.Rh1 Rxh1 29.Kxh1 Qb1+ 30.Kg2 Bf8
30...Qxa2 31.f5 g5 32.Qa8+ Kh7
31.Qd5+ Kh8 32.Qd8 Rf7
32...Qe4+ 33.Kg1 Rf7
33.Re2 Qd3 34.Kf2 fxe5 35.Qh4+
35.Rxe5 Qc2+ 36.Re2 Qf5
White to move
This blunder gave me the Spokane Chess Club's 2017 Winter Championship.
My opponent told me after the game that he missed this move. Perhaps it was easy to overlook this bishop's ability to come to life. It has been a sorry piece for most of the game.
37.Ke1 Qb1+ 38.Kd2 Rd7+ 39.Bd4 Rxd4+ 40.Ke3 Rxf4+ 41.Kd2 Bb4+ 42.Ke3 Qe4#
37.Re3 Qxe3+ 38.Kg2-+
37...Rh7 38.Qg4 Rh1+ 39.Kg2 Qd5+ 0–1