A Chess Game

I played in a tournament in Sacramento this weekend. Here is my best game from the event.

Aditya Kumar (1800) vs. Simon Rubinstein-Salzedo (1905), Sacramento Chess Club, Round 5, July 5, 2009.

1. d4 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. e3

4. g3 is more common, but this line is fine as well.

4… Bg7 5. Bd3 0-0 6. Nf3 d6 7. 0-0 Nc6 8. a3?

I am playing for the move …e5, so my opponent should prevent me from making this move, or at least extract concessions if I do make it. Better is 8. d5 Ne5 9. Nxe5 dxe5, when I have a pawn on e5, but at the cost of a compromised pawn structure. Still, I’d be happy to play that position with black.

8… e5 9. d5 Ne7 10. e4 f4 11. h3

One advantage of playing this system with white rather than the more standard system with g3 and Bg2 is that h3 is not quite as weakening here. My plan is to get my pawns to h5 and g4 eventually and break through against my opponent’s king. This move may slow me down a bit, and it allows him to set up a big of a fortress, which I will find difficult to break through.

White’s main idea here is to expand on the queenside with moves like b4, Rb1, Bb2, and c5, and try to make my queenside collapse. This is an especially appealing option for him, since my pieces will be heading over the queenside to attack the white king. Therefore, if he can avoid disaster on the kingside, I may find my pieces too far away to fight off an invasion on the queenside. So, let’s see what happened.

11…h6 12. b4 g5 13. c5 a6

The point of this move is to slow down his queenside invasion a bit. A move I’d like to play is Qe8, but after Nb5, it’s tough to fend off a quick invasion on the queenside. So, a6 prevents Nb5 and unties my queen from defense of c7.

14. Bb2 Qe8 15. cxd6 cxd6 16. Nh2 h5 17. Be2 Qg6 18. f3

So, he seems to be defending g4 adequately. I thought I needed to bring in one extra piece in order for the …g4 break to work. However, 18…g4 is already possible, since the pawn on e4 is not defended too well. One sensible line is 18…g4 19. fxg4 hxg4 20. Nxg4 Nxe4 21. Nxe4 Qxe4 22. Bf3 Qg6 23. Rc1 Nf5 (not 23…Bf5? 24. Rc7 e4 25. Bxg7 Qxg7 26. Bxe4! Bxe4 27. Re1, and white is winning), which is roughly equal.

18… Kh7 19. Re1 Neg8 20. Kf2 Nh6

Finally, I have enough pieces gathered to play g4.

21. Rh1 Kg8 22. Na4 g4 23. hxg4 hxg4 24. Nf1 b5?!

I looked at 24…Nxe4+ 25. fxe4 f3 26. gxf3 gxf3 27. Bxf3 for a long time but convinced myself that it wouldn’t work. But it does. After 27…Bg4 28. Nd2 Bxf3 29. Nxf3 Ng4+ 30. Ke1 Qxe4+ 31. Qe2 Qxf3 32. Qxf3 Rxf3, black is up a pawn and should win without too much difficulty. But my computer finds the response 26. Ng3 fxe2+ 27. Qxe2, which it claims is roughly equal.

Still, as we shall see soon, there are problems with this move I played.

25. Nb6 Rb8 26. Nxc8 Rbxc8 27. a4

This move wins a pawn, at least, sort of. But now 27…Nxe4+ really works. After 28. fxe4 f3 29. gxf3 (or 29. Ng3 fxe2+ 30. Kxe2 Rc4! is great for black; this is the difference!) gxf3 30. Bxf3 Qxe4 31. Ne3 Rxf3+ 32. Qxf3 Rf8, black is easily winning. I missed this line, but I thought that if I could convince his bishop to leave e2, then everything would work perfectly. So,


Now I can think about playing Rb7 to defend the pawn, followed by Rcb8 if necessary.

28. axb5 axb5 29. Bxb5 Nxe4+


30. fxe4 Qxe4 31. Bd3

Probably the best defense.

31…g3+ 32. Kg1 Qxb4 33. Rxh6!

I overlooked this move when playing 29…Nxe4+, so I was panicked. The first point is that 33…Bxh6? loses to 34. Qg4+, forking the king and rook. The second point is that 33…Qc5+ (defending the rook) 34. Kh1 Bxh6 is met by 35. Rc1, again winning for white. The best moves seem to be 33…Qxb2, and the move I played, namely

33… f3!

Cutting off the queen from g4 while retaining my threats of Qxb2, Bh6, and 34…Qc5+ 35. Kh1 Qf2 with the idea of taking on g2 with checkmate.

34. Bc1??

34. Bg6 seems to save white. A possible line is 34…Rf4 35. Bh7+ Kf8 36. Rh3 (forced, to prevent 36…f2+ 37. Kh1 Rh4+, when 38. Rxf4 fails to 38…Qxh4+ 39. Nh2 Qxh2#) Qxb2 37. Rxg3 e4, after which a draw is the most likely result, at least, if played by much stronger players. Now I finish him off quickly.

34…Bxh6 35. gxf3 Qd4+ 36. Kh1 Qxa1 37. Bh7+ Rxh7 38. f4 Bxf4 39. Kg2 Rh2+

I played this to trade off a bunch of pieces. If 40. Nxh2, then 40…Qa2+ 41. Bd2 Qxd2+ 42. Qxd2 Bxd2, and white needs to resign as soon as possible, if not sooner.

40. Kg1 Qa7+ 41. Ne3 Bxe3+ White resigns.

I missed a few strong moves for both sides when I was sitting at the board, but they were in very complex positions with lots of possibilities. I’m still very happy with my play in this game. But not in the rest of the tournament.


About Simon

Hi. I'm Simon Rubinstein-Salzedo. I'm a mathematics postdoc at Dartmouth College. I'm also a musician; I play piano and cello, and I also sometimes compose music and study musicology. I also like to play chess and write calligraphy. This blog is a catalogue of some of my thoughts. I write them down so that I understand them better. But sometimes other people find them interesting as well, so I happily share them with my small corner of the world.
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2 Responses to A Chess Game

  1. Anonymous says:

    Aditya Kumar
    I know an Aditya Kumar. Was he a chubby East Indian, about 18 years old?

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