Player (1800)
Stancil K. (2200)

40/2 - SD/1

This game was played this year (2004). I rushed my play, ended up in a fatally worse position, opened my eyes finally, began to see, lost more material, dodged a few bullets, attained good drawing chances, eliminated my weaknesses, activated all my pieces, and was able to play for a win, and won by a pawn! Wow, it sounds incredible like I ran and fell into the grand canyon, stopped in midair, shot webs out my hands, swung from the cliff face, climbed to its edge, asked to be pulled up, a rock gave way from under me, and suddenly I used my newly discovered powers of telekinesis to levitate me back to safety with onlookers looking for the strings. Yes, I was that lucky, or that good. Could I be a GM? Maybe, letís see:

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ Qxf6 6. Nf3 h6 7. Bd3 Nc6 8. c3 8. O-O is a sharp option, but it is difficult to find anything wrong with his move except that it eliminates the trap 8... Nxd4 9. Nxd4 Qxd4 10. Bb5+ with a chance to win the queen for the light-square bishop. My opponent makes a solid choice. 8... Bd6 9. O-O Bd7 was first played in 1881, Paulsen-Kollsch (London).

10. Be3 O-O-O 11. Re1 After rushing through these moves, I was mistakenly happy to have a position where I saw an illusion of great chances against my opponent's King. However, white has no weaknesses, and has better chances against my king. With a pawn on e6 blocking my light-square bishop, and both knight and dark-square bishop having limited scope and control in the center, my minor pieces effectively screen my stronger pieces from actively defending my king. 11... g5 12. Nd2 Qg7 Stuck on the idea of attacking the white king, I expand on the kingside. If my opponent plays anywhere from solidly to best moves, I should do badly here (which I do). 13. b4!!

Historically, it should be noted that b4 is a common and strong idea in this system, and black doesn't do well. White's positional plus of having no kingside weaknesses, a solid pawn structure, and freedom to expand on the queenside in a coordinated fashion (involving rooks, queens, and minor pieces) is too great. It is simply easier to play the white side of this system. Sadly, I was well aware of this from games against IM Larry Kaufman (G30: 0-1), and GM Ildar Ibragimov (40/2, SD1:1-0). Based on these games alone, I should have never played this system again (at least not before I was able to do corrective analysis), but I was stubborn. At this point, my opponent is now playing best, and I have no prospects. I am not the lower rated player, but I am definitely playing poorly. 13... f5?? Horrible move which is rooted in frustration. In a way, I am bluffing by sticking to the original plan, but I probably had only one practical chance which is 13... Ne7 to increase my level of defense and activity by uncoiling my minor pieces 13... Kb8 is also an option to consider, but defense of the black king will still be difficult. 14. b5 Nb8 15. Nc4 Be8 16. Qc2! Without any serious analysis, I consider this a beautiful move which maintains pressure, limits any light square activity on my king side (thus neutralizing threats to his own King), and continues to improve the white position which is boiling over with good options. Yes, I must lose this game since I have no real prospects or even tactical tricks. So, why don't I resign you may ask? My answer: To better your technique you must practice, and you can't do that if you quit. In addition, a good position may equal a win, but in the hands of the human player, 'good' depends on what the player can see or understand. How much does it take to win this position? Theoretically, not much, but psychologically, potentially alot as this influences every player's strategical horizon (what they can see in the near to distant future). Up to now, it seems that my opponent has played like a strong GM with no apparent weaknesses. What chances do non-GMs like me have?

16... f4 17. Bd2 Bd7 18. Qa4 Probably best, but he can also play 18. Nxd6+ cxd6 19. Qa4 now wins a7 because if 19... a6 20. Qc4+ wins a piece. But the move played is more decisive. 18... Qe7 19. Qxa7 Rde8 Strange as it might seem, this move is the beginning of a simple concept that highlights the phrase, 'to err is human'. Simply, when you are clearly losing, play for complications. This can be interpreted in this game as you should increase your chances of survival by giving your opponent only the options that don't involve checkmate. Often, opponents with the advantage make the mistake of expecting their opponent's resignation when they have not yet achieved the actual conditions for checkmate. Overcoming this expectation is a huge challenge for players with underdeveloped technique. Note that technique is usually not developed due to inexperience or because many past opponents have resigned too early by not looking for ways to resist when losing. As a simple example, when you have only a king, it is often unnecessary for you to prevent your opponent from promoting several pawns to queens when only one queen (with a king) is needed to deliver checkmate. As a result, your stalemate chances improve as each additional queen reduces the number of squares available to your king. With the idea of playing for complications, I wish to convince you that chess is still played mostly between two imperfect human players, and the player most aware of this fact can still see albeit a small potential for success in every situation. Yes, be optimistic, but carefully work to understand your chances. 20. Na5 c6 (b7, c6), Pawn #2, and Pawn #3 are freely given away. 21. Qxb7+ Kd8 22. bxc6 Bc8 I invite a Queen trade to lessen the impact of additional heavy pieces (rooks) acting along the b-file. 23. Qxe7+? Kxe7

Now black is 3 pawns down, and the queens have been traded. White is winning, but his advantage has diminished a little more than slightly since now black can consider how to use all of his pieces where before if white avoided the queen trade with Qa8 or Qb6, black should eventually succumb to threats along the b-file with moves like Rb1 or along diagonals after c4, Nb7, Ba5+, etc... 24. d5! Kf7 25. Nc4? White is getting sidetracked by the illusion that he can force the d and c pawns forward. Clearly, 25. c4! is the best move which activates whites bishops and strengthens white's three extra pawns. 25... Rd8! The strength of this move lies in the fact white's bishops are passively positioned on the d-file. 26. Rab1 Bc7

Black allows the following combination by white in order to regain a pawn and to weaken white's remaining extra pawns. 27. d6 Bxd6 28. Nxd6+ Rxd6 29. Rxb8 Rxd3 30. Rd1 Rd6 31. a4? 31. c7! Rc6? 32. Bxf4!! 31... Rxc6 I offered my opponent a draw here. Before it would have been poor form to do so much earlier, but I foresaw the likelihood of the position that occurred after move 35 below. 32. Be1 Re8 33. a5 Rc5 34. Ra1 Ba6 35. Rxe8 Kxe8

Wow!! Black has achieved what looks like an easy to hold draw. Many will shout yeah that's because of the opposite color bishops. Partly, this is true, but in fact, all of black's pieces are much more active than white's. Can black win this position while being a pawn behind? 36. h3 My opponent struggles to find an active plan. 36... Kf7 My king marches in!! The aim now is to press in the center and kingside, the area where I am strongest. 37. Kh2 e5 38. f3 Kf6 39. h4?

It is not a good idea to play actively in an area where you are weakest, unless you can gain time to coordinate additional elements that may improve your position. A simple example which illustrates this is the use of a deflection tactic. For my opponent, a simpler more global strategy would involve white stabilizing his queen side in order to activate his pieces with moves like Ra3 which protects both a, and c pawns so that the bishop can realize his freedom by Bf2, Bb6, etc... This plan should secure at least a draw by white. 39... Kf5 Black continues the simple plan of maximizing the activity and strength of his pieces. 40. hxg5 hxg5 41. Ra4 g4 White was able to prevent e4, but after his exchanges on g5, he has resigned himself to passive defence which he expects to end in a draw after the expected pawn exchanges on the kingside. 42. fxg4+ Kxg4 43. g3 Kf3!

Black's king is now officially super strong. He is deep in white's camp, and preparing to support the rook and bishop as their potential to switch wings and to attack the white king increases. 44. gxf4 e4!!

The major theme of black's comeback has been activity, activity, and more activity, so e4 is clearly the best choice since if black had recaptured the pawn by 44...exf4, then after 45. Bd2, white would be able to limit further gains by black, and if necessary secure a draw by trading rook and bishop for black's rook and f4 pawn. 45. c4 White now sees the danger, and desperately offers a pawn to stop the black's progressive e pawn, but it is too late. 45... e3 46. Kg1 Kxf4 47. Rb4 Kf3 47... Rxa5?? 48. c5+ Kf3 49. Rf4+ Kxf4 50. Bxa5= 48. Ra4 Bxc4!!

With this move, black begins a very precise combination which highlights the importance of knowing rook and pawn endgames. 49. a6 Bxa6 50. Rxa6 Rc1

51. Rf6+ Ke2 52. Kg2 Kxe1

53. Rf3 Rc2+ 54. Kg1 Kd2 55. Rg3 Rc1+ 56. Kh2 e2 57. Rg2 Kd1 58. Rg1+ e1=Q 0-1 [Stancil K.]

Game(s) in PGN