Round three report

Best game prize: LeilaPeymani
Best fight: Lamolam - Alex_Escacs
Show-off prize: dikankan
Tip of the round: how do you win when you’re material up?
Lichess study: https://lichess.org/study/xaSY3zuw

Round summary:

It’s the half way point, the tournament is taking shape with some more excellent play this round.

Firstly best game prize goes to LeilaPeymani for a model game as Black in the Vienna gambit. In the game Black hits back in the centre with 3…d5, and instead of being sucked into 5…Qh4+ takes the far stronger 5…Nxc3! and 6…d4! If you win the centre, you will win the game and so it proves here, but as well as great position play the move 18…g5!! is a lovely tactical finish to a great game.

Best fight goes to Lamolam and Alex_Escacs. Both kings end up in mortal peril and it could go absolutely either way. Great fun for spectators!

Our special round prize goes to dikankan. The move 26.Ng1 is lovely, and just a bit showy!

Our tip of the round is about how to win position when you’re material up. This round several games were lost by players who had previously been a piece up. In general, if you’re a piece up, the best plan is to avoid going for more tactics unless they’re absolutely certain, instead activate all your pieces, control the centre, and swap, swap, swap, swap, swap. If you reach an endgame and are still that piece up, you’ll win easily.

Game summaries:

  • Yolksac - WearyWilly: An usual Exchange French. White opted for 4.d3 rather than the normal 4.d4 – this is problematic choice for White because it give Black more space in the centre and blocks the exit of White’s f1 bishop. Both sides develop, but Black’s space enables more aggressive development. Black’s 9…f6 looks odd, but the point becomes evident after 10…0-0-0 and 11…g5! with a powerful attack. Black is able to force open the g-file to bring a rook into play against White’s king. At move 28 both sides bishops look inactive and out of play, but Black finds the strong idea of brining it into play from e6, to d7, to b5, where it attacks White pieces on e2 and f1. Black’s more active pieces overwhelm White’s defence and checkmate is forced.

  • Glenton1812 – RiffArt: A French Winower with 4.exd5 – White plays the interesting 7.Qf3, which prevents Black from developing the c8 bishop easily. White pins the knight on f6 with 10.Bg5, and after 10…h6 11.Bxf6 Qxf6 12.Qxf6 gxf6 Black’s kingside pawns are shattered which leaves White with a positionally won position. Black does well to complicate, but is eventually forced to sacrifice the exchange. In return Black gains the bishop pair, giving black strong practical chances. While slowly manages to activate the knight, and break through onto the back rank with the rook. White’s threats are too many and Black loses a piece and resigns.

  • onlinek - Mark2_alias: A mainline French with 3…dxe4. In this opening Black solves the problem of the bad French bishop by playing 4…Bd7, and 5…Bc6. White is able to develop naturally with a small space advantage, but makes a small error with 8.Bg5 instead of 8.Ng3, and then 10.Bxf6?! The resulting loss of tension works in Black’s favour and the threat of 11…Bxf3 forces White to retreat with 12.Be2. Black centralises rooks and 13…e5! would have given Black an excellent game. Black does play 14…e5, but the exchange 15…Bxf3?! leaves White with a powerful bishop on f3, which is active both in attack and defence. White advances up the queenside, and a couple of inaccurate knight moves hand White free tempos to accelerate the attack. White doesn’t need two invitations and closes the game out in style.

  • Calcina – Tilbs_11: A Panov-Botvinnik attack in the Caro-Kann. White’s 6.Be3 is a bit out of keeping with the opening, where White usually seeks maximum activity. Instead of financhettoing the king’s bishop Black chooses …e6 and …Be7, and a levelish position arises. White plays 10.Nh4 attacking Black’s f5 bishop, and after 10…Be4 is drawn into playing f3. This is a permanent weakness, and Black follows with 14…dxc4 leaving White with a weak isolated d-pawn. The position that might have arisen after 19…Rfd8 would be highly illustrative, Black has doubled pawns, and White has the bishop pair, but White stands worse due to the isolated d-pawn and weaknesses caused b3 f3. At move 20 the tactics kick off, and a Black knight invades White’s position and is traded for a White bishop on f2. This exposes the White king and fantastic tactical play by Black results in checkmate on move 32.

  • NotJudit – dikankan: A King’s Indian Defence style setup in which White mixes Nc3 and e3. These moves don’t mix well, as Nc3 works best with e4, and e3 works best with c4. White is tempted into playing 6.dxc5 & 7.b4 – but this turns Black’s bishop on g7 into an absolute monster, with targets on c3 and a1. In such positions tactics are inevitable and defending is very hard, the position quickly runs away from White. Black’s 26…Ng1 is a fantastically showy move leading to a pretty checkmate on move 28.

  • Kobra666 – hsk4u: An epic, both in terms of the battle, but also the length! The opening is an interesting Open Sicilian, in which Black opts for rare move orders, but plays good moves. White plays a thematic move with 8.f3 – but the simple 8.Qd2 might have been a little stronger. Both sides castle on opposite sides and both sides plan direct attacks. The Open Sicilian leads to rich and fascinating chess, and the game evaluation swings back an forth. The game seems to hang on the apparent subtlety that the White’s bishop on d2 turns out to perfectly placed pinning the Black pawn on b4 against Black’s queen and preventing …b3! After 26.Nd3! White’s minor pieces turn out to be dominantly placed. White wins material, and achieves a winning Rook pawn endgame. Black holds White up, and causes White challenges, but White is eventually able to find a way through.

  • jonmill – LeilaPeymani: Black plays a model game in the Vienna Gambit. Control of the centre is a critical feature of opening play, and Black’s 3…d5! is Black’s strongest move. White’s 5.d3 is inaccurate and rather than the tempting 5…Qh4+, Black responds powerfully and centrally with 5…Nxc3! and 6…d4! Black’s central play enables stronger piece development and the position at move 15 is illustrative with White’s bishops trapped on c1 and d1, while Black’s pieces dominate the centre. Black finds a powerful tactic with the brilliant move 18…g5!! and White shortly resigns.

  • Xerxes51 – Aytacoglu: A Sveshnikov Sicilian, once known as the Pelikan due to Black’s weird pawn structure. Black’s choice of 9…Be7 instead of 9…b4 allows White to bring the badly placed knight on a3 into the game with 12.Nc4 and after Black’s 12…b5 could have gained the advantage with 13.Ncb6 and 14.Nxc8. White’s 13.Ne3 enables Black to use the thematic …Bg5 move to undermine White’s control of the centre and swap off a bad bishop. Black plays enterprisingly with 15…b4 and 19…f5, and the game turns into a tactical minefield, where both sides play some great chess, but playing perfectly is practically impossible. The evaluation fluctuates and then tragically White flags in a won position.

  • dmh6 - jack43lin: An incredibly symmetrical four knights game reaches a won position for Black when White gets the knight on f3 fatally pinned, and loses a pawn and has to accept a shattered king position in breaking the pin. Black is dominant, and sensing victory unleashes 12…Ng4+, unfortunately for Black rather than capture the knight White plays the coldblooded looking 13.Kg3 (13.Kxh3 would have been even better). Black suddenly has three pieces attacked, and Black misses the counterstrike 13…Bxf2, which would have still been winning. Three moves later the dust has settled, queens have been swapped off and White is a piece up and dominates the centre. White’s rooks are smoothly brought into play and it’s game over. Moral, be careful about going for clever tactics when you’re winning, sometimes it’s better to play simple strengthening moves and remove the complexity.

  • Mulummm - nokiokid: An unusual Petroff. Black makes a classic error in playing …Qe7 early on, which fails to create threats, but does put the queen in the firing line and unsurprisingly 8.Re1 follows shortly with a big advantage to White. Black can’t avoid losing a piece and it seems like White should have an easy game, but 17.Nc4 is a little loose and Black find the excellent mini-tactic 17…f5, which complicates things greatly. White can’t find the best moves and Black regains the piece with strong central control, Black pushes down the kingside and the game becomes very sharp. An oversight by White allows Black to win a piece, through a combination of knight fork and pin,  and White resigns.

  • TommyFischer99 - swissdave1066: A strange, open exchange French defence in which both sides drop their queens. This leaves White with two knights vs a rook, and some nice endgame play sees White home.

  • Blackscorpion2020 - Damo770: A well fought c3-Sicilian. Black’s set up with …e6 and …d6 is a little passive and White gains a space advantage. A Black knight is forced to h6, where White captures it shattering Black’s king shelter. White has the upper hand, but Black is tenacious. White plays a nice tactic sacrificing a bishop on h7 to pick up a bishop on d7, but then curiously gives up a pawn and releases the pressure on Black. A tough endgame battle follows, in which White eventually pulls ahead with a rook and three pawns vs a rook at one pawn. Rook endgames are notoriously difficult to handle and are often technically draw, White made good progress, but Black used a clever stalemate trap to win White’s extra pawns and leave only the rooks on.

  • tottydpogi22 - P1nFork: An interesting and destructive c3 Sicilian. Black opted for a setup with …c5, …e5 and …Nc6. This is quite solid, but after 4.Bb5 Black should continue with 4…a6, instead Black played the eccentric looking 4…Bd6?! This puts the bishop on a rare vulnerable location, and White uses this to play 6.d4! busting the centre open at the cost of a pawn. The position after 9.Re1 is highly illustrative, Black is a pawn up, but has three minor pieces in huge trouble, and there is a rook sitting on an open file across from the Black king. White plays beautifully sacrificing the exchange to win a piece, and then using the extra material, lead in development and exposed Black king in masterful fashion.

  • clhchess - forknskewer64: An exchange French in which Black makes two important early mistakes, the first is to play 5…Qe7+, which initially seems sensible, but it will not be too long before White can bring  a rook to e1, and Black’s queen will need to move again and Black will have lost vital time. The second was the move 13…g5, which wrecks Black’s king shelter, White doesn’t need any further tempting to sacrifice a piece and go for glory. The game is sharp and in the balance, White’s generates a devastating tactical trick with 18.Qg6+, that inexperience players should take note of, and Black resigned.

  • Anglo – Irenge: A fascinating battle in the London system. White plays well and wins a pawn on the queenside, with a solid position and excellent prospects. White is then tempted into grabbing a second pawn with 17.Nbxa5. The game is the extraordinarily sharp as the two knights are deep in enemy territory, protecting each other and controlling a lot of squares, but they’re also rather immobile and trapped, so they can easily be a strength or weakness. Black regroups, and is able to win of the knights, but White still has a lot of pawns. Despite this White doesn’t really have any chances for active play, While Black’s bishops and rooks can easily become dangerous at any moment. Black is able to swap pieces and in the endgame the extra piece eventually tells.

  • Lamolam - Alex_Escacs: A hugely enjoyable game, both sides play creative and interesting chess. White breaks through, wins huge material and drives Black’s king into the centre, but Black counterattacks and White’s king is trapped in the centre too. Both king’s in mortal peril, but it’s White who finds the checkmate and takes the prize!

  • Hydefc1 - BFS127: An interesting Torre attack, White develops smoothly, but the structure gives Black a powerful break in the centre with …e5, leaving the game equal. Black then overpresses with 9…e4?! and White wins a pawn. Black develops aggressively and White is spooked into sacrificing a piece, gaining a little activity in return. The game becomes a tactical battle in which both sides have chances, and once the dust settles White has a huge protected passed pawn on d6. Black’s king is exposed and White crashes through with an attack.

  • Anikamehta – verybadchess: An interesting modern/KID style game in which White bring the queen out to attack early. Black focuses instead on getting castled and moves that indirectly control the centre (…Bg7, …d6, …Bb7). Both sides strategies play out, with the White queen achieving 16.Qxh7+, and Black succeeding in clearing the centre of pawns, and unleashing both bishops, and a rook along central lines. Black’s lead in development and dangerous long-term pieces, combined with White’s king still on the e1 square mean that tactics are highly likely, and Black is able to launch a fatal attack. The learning point is that kings are not safe in the centre! (#welovecastling)

  • pranavmehta06 – szveltz: Not for the first time White shows an admirable enthusiasm for pawn sacrifices. Pawn sacrifices are great, and they key thing is to make sure you get enough in return! As a rule of thumb, a pawn is worth three good developing moves, and other factors could be gaining good central control, or causing your opponent some specific problems. White’s 4.b4 would be a very interesting sacrifice if Black had to recapture with the pawn, White could continue with 5.a3 and after 5…bxa3 6.Bxa3 then White would have gained a useful developing move, greatly reduced Black’s central control (by removing the c5 pawn) and opened up the path for the rook. Unfortunately Black has 4…Nxb4 and after 5.a3 Nc6, it is evident that White hasn’t developed any pieces during the sacrifice, and that Black’s control of the centre is the same as it was before. White then switches to an attack against f7 with the creative 9.Ng5, based on the good insight that the natural 9…h6 gives White good chances after 10.Qh5+! Black doesn’t fall for this this and plays the creative 9…h5!? – White attacks nicely, and 14.g4! would have left the game very unclear. Unfortunately White was tempted into 14.Qa4+ and after 14…Bd7 had two pieces attacked. Black is an experience player and having picked up the piece is able to control the rest of the game.