Another recent chess game

Here is another game I played at the Capablanca Memorial tournament this past weekend.

Sinan Kaptanoglu (1900) vs. Simon Rubinstein-Salzedo (1966), Round 4

1. d4 f5

I’ve been playing the Dutch defense with black against 1. d4 for years.

2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 g6 4. b3

This is an unusual idea. It’s common for white to want to push the pawns on the queenside, but that generally comes later, after the kingside development has been completed and ey has played c4 and Nc3, and perhaps Rb1. Still, it’s fairly natural for white to want to contest the long diagonal.

4…Bg7 5. Bb2 0-0 6. Nd2 d6 7. Ngf3 Qe8

One of black’s main ideas in the Dutch (perhaps the main idea) is to put a pawn on e5. This is generally a good idea, even if it’s a doubled pawn that arises from capturing a knight on e5 with the d-pawn. An interesting consequence of white’s Bb2 move is that getting this move in is a bit harder. I was hoping to continue with Nbd7 and e5 at some point.

8. 0-0 c6 9. Re1

White is threatening to play 10. e4 now. If he’s able to do that, he’ll have strong control in the center, and I may find it hard to develop my pieces in an optimal manner. Therefore, I felt compelled to prevent this idea.

9…d5 10. Ne5

The logical consequence of playing d5 is that the e5 square is immediately inviting for a knight. However, there isn’t too much cause to worry yet; I can stick my own knight on e4 with similar effects.

10…Nbd7 11. Ndf3 Ne4 12. e3 g5

It’s essential for me to push my kingside pawns and try to start an attack before white can do something similar on the queenside. Also, here, I might have the possibility of g4 at some point.

13. Nxd7 Bxd7 14. Ne5 Rd8 15. f3 Nf6 16. Qd3 Qh5?

I think this move was a mistake. Better was 16…g4, when after 17. fxg4 Nxg4 18. Nxg4 fxg4 19. e4 dxe4 20. Bxe4 Qh5, black has such tricks as 21. Ba3 Rf2!? 22. Kxf2? Qxh2+ 23. Bg2 Rf8+ 24. Ke2 Qxg2 25. Kd1 Rf2 with a big advantage. Of course, white shouldn’t take on h2; the position is roughly equal after 22. h4.

17. Ba3! Rde8 18. Bc1?

After 18. Qd2!, threatening Qa5, I’d be in some trouble. Now I’m fine again.

18…Bc8 19. Bd2 Nd7 20. Nxd7 Bxd7 21. f4 h6 22. c4 e6

At the moment, there’s very little scope for any of the bishops on the board, but especially mine on d7. During the game, I was very much doubting that anything could happen; I just had to wait and see if my opponent wanted to do anything. It turned out that he did.

23. Rab1 Kh8  24. b4 Rc8 25. b5?

White wants to break through, but this move simply loses a pawn. Now black is better.

25…dxc4 26. Qxc4

A better way of dealing with the situation is 26. Qa3 cxb5 27. Bxb7 Rc7 28. Bg2 Rf7. Then black is better, but white has more compensation for the pawn than in the game.

26…cxb5 27. Qb3 Rc7 28. d5?

One of my problems in this positions is that my pawn on e6 is weak, and that at least for the time being, my bishop has to stay on d7 to guard it. I’d love to play Bc6 to contest the long diagonal. White makes it easy for me to follow through with such a plan.

28…exd5 29. Qxd5 Bc6 30. Qd3 Rd7

It was simpler to play 30…Bxg2 31. Kxg2 Qf7 32. Rxb5 Rd7 33. Qe2 a6! (since the rook can’t leave the 5th rank due to the fork on d5) 34. Rc5 Qxa2 35. Bc1 Qxe2+ 36. Rxe2, and the passed pawns on the queenside should allow me to win without difficulty.

31. Qc2 Qg6 32. Bc3 Bxc3 33. Qxc3+ Qf6 34. Qxf6+ Rxf6 35. Re2 Rfd6 36. Rbb2 Kg7

So far, I’ve done a pretty good job of emphasizing my advantage: I’ve managed to centralize my pieces so that they’re more active than those of my opponent. My plan  from here on out should be to trade off some pieces and advance my queenside pawns. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done!

37. e4 fxe4 38. Bxe4 Re6 39. Bf5 Rxe2 40. Rxe2 Rd1+ 41. Kf2 Kf6 42. Bc1 Rh1 43. Ke3 gxf4+ 44. gxf4 Rf1 45. Be4

I was worried that after trading bishops, white’s passed f-pawn would be enough to distract me from making progress on the queenside.

45…Rc1 46. Bd3 Rg1 47. Kd4 Rg4 48. Rf2 Rg7

Very slowly, I think I’m making progress. I’ve managed to lure the white rook to a slightly passive square (since the f-pawn isn’t likely to want to move any time soon). I’m ready to start putting pressure on white’s a-pawn.

49. Bc2 b6 50. Kc3 Rd7 51. Re2 Rd5 52. a3 Rc5+ 53. Kb2 Rc4 54. Rd2!

White defends with tactical tricks (54…Rxf4? loses to 55. Rd6+ and 56. Rxc6).

54…Be4 55. Bb3 Rc6

With the white bishop no longer defending the f5 square, I’m in a position to attack the f4-pawn with my king.

56. Rd7 a5 57. Rf7+ Kg6 58. Re7 Kf5 59. Re5+ Kxf4 60. Rxb5

That pawn trade only benefits me, as I have eliminated white’s most dangerous pawn.

60…Bf3 61. Bd5 Rc5!?

Rook-and-pawn endgames up a pawn can be very tough to win, and I wasn’t sufficiently confident in my chances here. With the white king cut off, it’s probably winning for black, but I liked this move better. However, white has the option of playing 62. Rxb6!? Bxd5 63. Rxh6. Since I can’t win with a light-squared bishop and an a-pawn, even if white loses everything, I can never exchange rooks unless the white king suddenly moves very far away from a1. Still, I strongly suspect that I can win that position. Eventually, I’d win both the white pawns. If we remove both white pawns from that position, the endgame tablebase confirms that black has a winning position, and it’s unclear to me what would change were the pieces rearranged slightly. Still, the thought of trying to win that position was somewhat frightening, so I was glad that he decided not to test me with it. The rest is simply an exercise in advancing my pawns.

62. Rxc5 bxc5 63. Be6 Ke5 64. Bc8 Kd4 65. Kc2 Be4+ 66. Kd2 c4 67. Ba6 Bd3 68. Kc1 Kc3 69. Bb5 Kb3 70. a4 Kb4 71. Bd7 c3 72. Be8 Bc4 73. Kc2 Bb3+ 74. Kd3 c2

It’s a bit quicker to play 74…Bd1, threatening Kb3 and Kb2. White can stop this idea only by playing 75. Bf7, after which I can simply take on a4, after which stopping both pawns is impossible.

75. Kd2 Bxa4 76. Bxa4 Kxa4 77. Kxc2 Kb4 78. Kb2 Kc4 79. Kc2 Kd4 80. Kb3 Ke4 81. Ka4 Kf3 82. Kxa5 h5 83. Kb4 h4 84. Kc3 Kg2 85. Kd2 Kxh2 White resigns.


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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