Round five report

Best game prize: dikankan
Best fight: dmh6 – swissdave1066
Rapid improver: anikamehta
Tip of the round: In the endgame kings are mighty!
Lichess study: https://lichess.org/study/2ny0zpdr

Round summary:

One round to go and Glenton1812 is in pole position having won all five games so far! Will anyone catch up? Can he be beaten? We’ll know in a week’s time!

Firstly best game prize goes to dikankan. This ticks a lot of boxes, plays the Alekhine (awesome!), plays an offbeat move order (interesting!), sacrifices the exchange in a sound, but somewhat speculative manner (nice!), and then plays top drawer destructive attacking play (sweet!).

Best fight goes to dmh6 and swissdave1066. The phrase hard fought draw hardly covers it, swissdave1066 probably can’t believe they didn’t win, indeed dmh6 probably can’t believe swissdave1066 didn’t win. Brilliant play by Black, unbelievable resilience by White. Both players have a huge amount to be proud of.

Our round special prize goes to anikamehta. One of our less experienced players who has improved throughout the tournament. This round anikamehta played a great game, developing well and pushing for central control, and then set up a really powerful attack with the sacrifice 22.Bxg6! It then went wrong with an overambitious follow up, but we’re really impressed with the quality of play for a new player.

Our tip of the round that in the endgame the king is no longer the hunted, but a powerful fighter equal to a rook. The end of fredspassky - Damo770 shows this as a tragedy, as White could have won by simply marching the king up the board and capturing Black’s pawns, but a few moves spent on unnecessary pawn moves and it all went horribly wrong. At the end of the epic battle dmh6 – swissdave1066, Black’s 64…Rc3? turns out to be the final turning point of the game, it gifts White two free king moves, activating White’s previously inactive king, and enabling White to hold the game comfortably.

Game summaries:

  • Glenton1812 – WearyWilly: An epic battle in the French Winower, Delayed Exchange Variation. In a tense battle White gains the bishop pair and doubles Black’s pawns, this perhaps should have given an edge, but the move 15.Bg3?! is problematic as it accelerates Black’s plan of throwing pawns down the kingside. Black’s aggressive strategy works beautifully and White doesn’t really have a plan, but Black’s pawns rush down the board like a battering ram and open up White’s king’s defences reaching a won position. A crucial check enables White to take queens off the board, and Black is unable to find the tactic needed to break through, and cruelly it is White that finds a way to first grab a pawn and then win a piece. At this level a piece is decisive.

  • onlinek – dikankan: The Alekhine’s defence – I love it! White goes all in with the aggressive four pawns attack. Black’s plays an interesting sideline, which White handles in the same way as the mainline, and this seems to give Black a slight improvement. The game is tense and White’s 15.Qxf5 is extremely ambitious given that White was yet to castle. Black sacrifices an exchange, invades with the queen, and while the position is holdable for White superhuman defensive technique is probably required. Black shows masterful attacking technique.

  • Julianclissold - Tilbs_11: An unusual game, firstly Black chooses the rare 1.d4 e5. I honestly have a low view of this opening and love playing against it, but then I’m a crazy theory buff, for people who aren’t opening obsessives it can be a dangerous gambit style opening. White shows great understanding in not being drawn into tactics, and finding a good balance between careful development, and strong development. Black could have equalised with the excellent central break 6…e5! But having missed this crucial move White gains a big positional advantage. Furthermore White then wins a pawn and damages Black’s king shelter. Usually when material up heading for an endgame is a good choice, but here White is too keen to trade pieces, which neutralises the advantage White has in Black’s exposed king. Furthermore, the endgame reached with Queen and Rook vs Queen and Rook, is one in which a one pawn advantage may not prove all that important. Despite dominating the game with excellent play, White is unable to prevent Black gaining the draw through perpetual check.

  • Kobra666 - Riff-Art: An interesting Veresov/French opening. Black drops a pawn in the opening, and at move 14 the game seems set for a straightforward positional grind, in which White slowly and securely advances a 3 vs 1 queenside pawn majority crushing the life out of Black. White instead advances the pawns extremely aggressively, but this somewhat backfires, White’s pawn structure is rather messed up, and Black gains strong drawing chances. White manages to break through with a passed pawn, wins a piece, and then closes out the game.

  • tottydpogi22 – Yolksac: An opening in which neither side tries to seize the centre. The opening yields one really interesting point, Black plays …Bd7, …Qc8 and …Bh3, threatening to trade White’s bishop on g2. White plays Bh1 to avoid this, but I would argue the following: Black’s lightsquared bishop is Black’s ‘good’ bishop, as it stands on the opposite coloured squares to Black’s pawns (e5 and d6 being dark squares). White’s lightsquared bishop is White’s ‘Bad’ bishop, as it is blocked by White’s pawn on e4. Therefore the trade of bishops would actually suit White, not Black! If Black had played 12…f5, then I would prefer Black. Instead Black opts for 12…Bf6 where the bishop is immobile and it immobilises the f-pawn. In the next few moves White wins the battle for the centre decisively and after 16.Rad1 both White’s rooks are in the game, neither of Black’s rooks are doing anything. White smashes through like the Incredible Hulk.

  • abeswick – LeilaPeymani: The Petroff defence has an unfortunate reputation for being drawish, which isn’t really based on people’s experience, but that of Super-GM tournaments in the 1990s. Super-Grandmaster play isn’t the same as the games of mere-mortals and at our level the Petroff is full of exciting and sharp chess. White plays a couple of inaccuracies, a check on move 7 that doesn’t require Black to do anything Black didn’t want to do anyway (play …Be7) and the attempt to bring a bishop back to the centre by playing f3, which opens up the king slightly. Black needs nothing more and White is checkmated on move 25. The Petroff is not boring!

  • Aytacoglu - hsk4u: One of those games that shows that chess is cruel. Black plays well in a …g6 Slav, both sides manoeuvre carefully, but it is Black who does best, mostly due to White having a horrible Bishop on c1 locked in by the White pawns. At move 26, Black’s knight on f6 is attack and has to choose between the solid looking …Nd5, and the interesting looking …Ne4. Black goes for …Ne4 and after 27.Qg2 it turns out that the knight on e4 is pinned against Black’s queen and Black will lose a piece. Even then White’s exposed king gives Black drawing chances, although the move required to draw 38…c3!! would be extraordinarily difficult to calculate out. White forces queens off and the game is done.

  • TommyFischer99 - Mark2_alias: An interesting Black Lion defence. Both sides develop naturally, and then Black’s queenside pawns roll down the board. Either White decided to play for an ambitious piece sacrifice or White miscalculated and was forced to sacrifice a piece. The game is incredibly complex and hangs in the balance. Black pieces develop to active pieces, 16…Ba6! being an excellent and not obvious move. 18…b4! would have been an ideal follow up and won significant material. Instead the tension remains until White unwisely chooses to exchange queens. With the reduced material Black’s king becomes an important attacking piece. The position after 39…Ne7 is crucial, White’s pawns on e6 and f5 look threatening, but they are ‘blockaded’ by the knight and king – rendered immobile – and sooner after they are captured. Black’s material advantage is then decisive and closes the game out with further excellent play.

  • Mulummm - Xerxes51: An exciting Sicilian Dragon, as often happens in this opening White launches an aggressive kingside attack. White could have perhaps been even more aggressive with 11.h4 instead of 11.0-0-0. White’s 13.g5?! is a significant positional error, White should be looking to open up lines on the kingside, but instead this closes them. After this Black seizes the initiative and wins a pawn. Black’s 28…e6?! however enables White’s knight to permanently settle on f6 where it cramps Black’s play. Both sides continue to fight, and the game boils down to a pawn endgame in which both sides have protected passed pawns that the kings have to defend against and a draw is agreed.

  • dmh6 – swissdave1066: A fantastic game, Black dominates the opening (starting with a classic …Nxe4 temporary piece sacrifice), but White manages to hit back in the centre. White then allows the g-file to open and Black picks up a huge attack. White’s king wanders all over the board, they think it’s all over, but it’s not. There are waves of Black having huge pressure, but White keeps on managing to scrape through by the finest of margins. Eventually Black pushes through to a really promising endgame, but the unfortunate 64…Rc3 gives White two free tempos to centralise the White king and Black can’t do anything other than swap everything off to the draw. A wonderful fight from both sides.

  • clhchess – nokiokid: A fascinating sharp battle in the same line as the dmh6 – swissdave1066 game (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Nxe4!). Here White plays the natural, but dubious 5.Bxf7, but Black doesn’t know the key defensive idea. After 5…Kxf7 6.Nxe4 Black is naturally worried about king safety and is drawn into 6…h6. This misses the vitual opportunity for 6…d5! when Black defends the king by dominating the centre. The game is tense, and White smashes through decisively on the kingside.

  • Calcina – Anglo: A hard fought centre counter. Black plays the opening well, but 10…c6 is just a bit passive, instead 10…c5! or 10…Be6! would be more dynamic. The game is largely a piece-play battle and eventually White pulls ahead. Both sides kings come under fire, but White’s attack proves more powerful and Black suffers critical material loss.

  • Blackscorpion2020 - forknskewer64: A fascinating struggle in the French defence. White chooses an offbeat line in the Winower and Black equalises leaving a dynamic position equal chances. Black gains a small edge, but the move 24…Qd7 putting the queen on the same line as White’s rook backfires and enables White to trade down to a balanced endgame. The game has imbalances, with White having an active king, but Black’s pawns controlling the centre better, and White has a queenside pawn majority vs Black’s kingside pawn majority. The battle is intense and eventually boils down to a sharp knight pawn endgame, and eventually to three pawns vs a knight. Black with the knight is able to hold back, and eventually win the three pawns to draw the game.

  • fredspassky - Damo770: An interesting battle, Black plays something that looks like a French Winower, but with …c5 instead of …d5. White gains a strong advantage trading queens early  leaving Black with tripled isolated pawns on the f-file. However, Black’s minor pieces hit active squares and Black is able to win a pawn and trade down in to winning bishop vs knight endgame. The game then suffers from two major reversals, firstly Black misses the chance to win the knight with 34…Kb6 – a thematic occurrence in bishop vs knight endgames, and this suddenly leads to both minor pieces being swapped off and a king pawn endgame arising. This change favours White, whose king is nearer to the pawns and who has a healthy pawn structure. However, White is inexperienced in pawn endgames and doesn’t realise that king activity is everything! The moves 41.g3, 42.f4 and 43.h4 were all unnecessary, and could have been used for 41.Kf3, 42.Kf4 and 43.Kf5 when Black’s pawns would be lost, with Black’s king too far away to do likewise damage to White’s pawns. Unbelievably Black’s king gets back in time and 51.g4 by White backfires horribly giving Black a won endgame which is closed out nicely.

  • jack43lin – NotJudit: A fascinating Ruy Lopez. White could have tried grabbing the e5 pawn with 6.Bxc6 and 7.Nxe5. Black’s should have played 9…cxd5 instead of 9…Bb7, which left White a pawn up. An interesting position arises in which Black is a pawn down, but has the bishop pair vs two knights. Black then unfortunately allows White a cunning tactic with 20.dxc5 attacking the Black queen and driving it away from the defence of the bishop on c7. White then wins the endgame with the extra piece.

  • anikamehta - Hydefc1: An excellent game. The opening is Queen’s Gambit declined, both sides develop smoothly, although White drops a pawn on  move 11. White pushes back in the centre, and creates winning attacking chances on the kingside. 19.Nxf7 would have been strong, and White lands a great tactical blow with 22.Bxg6! Black is wise not to capture the bishop, but go on the defensive, and White then overpresses with Bxf7+, when withdrawing the bishop and then doubling rooks on the g-file would have been very strong. Having been given a lifeline Black plays excellently, activating the Black knight and is able to launch a decisive attack.

  • pranavmehta06 – Lamolam: A queen’s gambit accepted. The game is shaped by a thematic tactic on move 7. Black is able to capture a knight with 7…Nxe5 as although White can recapture on e5, Black’s bishop on d7 would capture a White bishop on b5. White can’t escape with 8.Bxd7 because then the knight on e5 can recapture on d7. White fights well, but Black is able to shepherd the extra piece through to the endgame where it proves decisive.

  • Smthdeedog778 - P1nFork: A full blooded London System in which both sides go for the maximum aggression. Black castles kingside, White queenside, White attacks down the kingside, Black down the queenside. Much tactics. White almost gets through, but Black lands a rook on the back rank and forces mate.

  • BFS127 - Alex_Escacs: A smooth win for White in the Scotch game. Black has an early  oversight playing 8…b5 when the pawn can simply be taken with 9.Bxb5+. Having invested several moves in queenside pawn pushes, the loss of this pawn leaves White almost completely developed and the Black forces all sleeping at home. Under pressure Black drops the exchange and the game quickly snowballs out of control.