Games, analysis and discussion

Two Ottawa English Four Knights games

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[Event "Shirov Simultaneous Exhibition "]
[Site "Ottawa, CAN"]
[Date "2011.02.03"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Pacey, Kevin"]
[Black "Shirov, Alexei"]
[Result "1-0"]

{In 1975 when I first played against a super-GM (Keres) in a simul, someone informed me that a simul giver's strength is roughly 400 points below his rating, which didn't encourage me much back then.} 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.e3 {The first time I've played this move. I wanted to play something potentially less tactical than say 4.g3 or 4.d4.} Bb4 5.Qc2 0-0 6.Nd5 d6 {Afterwards in the RA Fieldhouse Bar & Grill, Alexei assumed this was bad, but it is a perfectly viable alternative to the usual 6...Re8 (do even super-GMs tend to neglect studying flank openings!?), when the most popular response is 7.Qf5 (which Alexei wanted to avoid), after which follows 7...d6 (bad is 7...Nxd5? [or 7...e4? 8.Ng5] when White wins at least a pawn.) 8.Nxf6+ when Black's pawn structure will become flawed after either recapture, but his lead in development is thought to suffice to hold the balance in either case.} 7.a3 Ba5 8.b4 Bb6 9.Nxb6 {Interestingly Fritz suggests that okay is the apparently untried 9.Ng5 g6 10.Nxb6 axb6 11.Bb2, and if 11...h6 12.Ne4, but at the board I wasn't sure this was a good idea.} axb6 10.Bb2 e4 {10...Bg4 or 10...Re8 first are alternatives that also have been played.} 11.b5 {Apparently a novelty. Previously 11.Ng5 had been played in at least one game.} Na5 {11...exf3 12.bxc6 bxc6 13.gxf3 seems messy, but I prefer White's assets.} 12.Ng5 Re8 13.d3 Bf5 14.dxe4 Nxe4 15.Nxe4 Bxe4 {A routine recapture. Better was 15...Rxe4, which I half expected, with a roughly equal position according to Fritz. The justifying point is that if 16.Bd3? then 16...Rxc4!} 16.Qc3 Qg5 {Fritz slightly prefers the optically ugly 16...f6, calling the position slightly better for White.} 17.h4 Qh6 18.Rh3 {A non-routine move, at least for non-beginners, with a view to assisting the battery on the a1-h8 diagonal while trying to exploit the position of the Black queen, and even trying to exploit the position of Black's bishop, as we shall see.} Re5 {Fritz prefers 18...f6, claiming just a slight disadvantage for Black.} 19.g4 f5? {Losing material and essentially the game, as White soon traps the Black bishop in mid-board; better was 19...f6, with a large disadvantage.} 20.g5 Qh5 21.Be2 Qf7 22.f3 f4 23.exf4 {Perhaps a matter of taste? Against a tactical super-GM like Shirov I didn't like unbalancing the position so much with 23.fxe4 Rxe4 24.Bd3 (or 24.Bf3 Rxe3+ 25.Qxe3 fxe3 26.Bd5 Nxc4) when Black could try 24...Rxe3+ or perhaps even 24...Rxc4, though White should win in all of these cases as well. Hence my chosen move, which (after rejecting 23.fxe4) I hastily assumed would more cleanly win a piece for a pawn or two.} Qxf4? {Better was 23...Bf5, saving the bishop, but Alexei may have been resigned to losing a piece, as he quickly made his chosen move. After 24.fxe5 Bxh3 Fritz rates Black as lost all the same. Now White soon simply consolidates up a piece for a pawn, although I did pass making a move on two occasions after this move, trying to play accurately after starting to feel slightly fatigued.} 24.fxe4 Rf8 {Here I made my first pass.} 25.Rd1! Qxe4 26.Qd3 Re7 27.Qxe4 Rxe4 28.Rd4 Re7 {Here I made my second pass, the last one that I opted for.} 29.h5 {Fritz slightly prefers 29.Kd1 here, but this is spliting hairs.} Rfe8 30.Rh2 Nb3 {FWIW, Fritz prefers 30...Re4.} 31.Rf4 Nc5 32.Kd1 Re3 33.h6 {Or 33.g6 (Fritz).} g6 34.Bf3 {Black resigns. Notes based on those I made in an old chesstalk social group picture post.} 1-0

[Event "R F Rodgers Memorial"]
[Site "Ottawa, CAN"]
[Date "2013.10.10"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Pacey, Kevin"]
[Black "Zhou, Qiyu"]
[Result "1-0"]

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.e3 {The second time I've played this move.} Bb4 5.Qc2 0-0 {Nowadays many players seem to prefer to capture White's knight here.} 6.Nd5 Re8 {My opponent and I go into the main line for the 4.e3 English Four Knights.} 7.Qf5 d6 8.Nxf6+ Qxf6 {The other recapture was also popular when this line was still highly in vogue.} 9.Qxf6 gxf6 10.a3 Ba5 {10...Bc5 should transpose.} 11.b4 Bb6 12.Bb2 a5 13.b5 Nd8 {ECO gives 13...Ne7 as eventually equalizing here, but I think this whole line, starting with 6...Re8, gives White slightly better chances in practice.} 14.Be2 {Instead of this, 14.d4 has also been tried here.}Ne6 {14...a4 has been played here too.} 15.Rd1 {A novelty? 15.0-0 Nc5 16.a4 is given by ECO as leading to equality. I prefered not to give Black any real target on a4.} Nc5?! {My machine rates 15...f5 as better, but still +/=.} 16.d4 {+/-} Nb3 17.c5 dxc5 18.dxe5 fxe5 19.Nxe5 a4 20.0-0 {20.Nc4!?} Be6 {20...Ba5!?} 21.Nd7 Bxd7 {Better is 21...Red8 22.Nf6+ Kf8 23.Bf3 +/-.} 22.Rxd7 {White is now winning. There may be a few inaccuracies in what follows, but White seems to keep his decisive edge the rest of the way, IMO.} Rad8 23.Rfd1 Rxd7 24.Rxd7 Kf8 25.Bf6 {My machine prefers to quickly win the Exchange with 25.Bc4 or even 25.Bh5, but I had some worries about possible queenside play by my opponent later on.} Re6 {+/- Fritz, but the position still seems likely to be winning for White to me.} 26.Rd8+ Re8 27.Rxe8+ Kxe8 28.Bd3 h5 {28...h6 may be at the least a slight improvement.} 29.h4 Ba5 {If 29...Nd2 30.g4! is winning.} 30.g4 {Now White is clearly winning again.} c4 31.Bf5 {At least as good is 31.Bxc4.} Nd2 {A better try was 31...Nc1, but White is still winning after 32.Kf1 Na2 33.gxh5 Bc3 34.Bd7+.} 32.gxh5 Nf3+ 33.Kh1 Nxh4 34.h6 Nxf5 35.h7 Kd7 36.h8Q Ke6 37.Bb2 {An acedemically better move is 37.Be5, in case Black now plays ...Nd6.} c3 38.Bxc3 Bxc3 39.Qxc3 1-0
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Games played by Kevin Pacey