Matt Rausch v Javier Vara
Bishops vs Alysham Spitfires 18.10.18
Analysis by S.Parker
Here are my thoughts on this very instructive game:
Really nicely played, grandmasterly until move 5, and still excellent thereafter. At move 10 b4 threatens nothing because white would very much enjoy bxc3 straightening out his pawns. Instead I would prefer 10. … O-O, 11. … d5 accelerating the ideas from the game.
Aside from that, seriously exemplary play throughout the opening, I pray for a position like after move 20 as black.
The key strategic moment:
At move 26 the game is winnable strategically with the power of the passed ‘a’ pawn. The two knights and the rook are not going to easily threaten a checkmate counterattack, so eventually white will likely have to sacrifice a knight for the pawn and black will win R + B + N vs R + N.
Unfortunately there was a serious strategic mistake starting at move 30… Rd8, with a manoeuvre that both undefends the back rank and breaks the Tarrasch rule: “The Rook's place is behind the passed pawn; behind the enemy pawn in order to hold it up, behind one's own in order to support its advance.” And I would say that this is the key strategic idea that drew the game, rather than the incredible computer move required at move 43.
Since white does not have the material to create a credible counter-threat, black has time to be patient and reposition his pieces. I would suggest 30 … Nd3, aiming to centralise the knight, with a slow plan of Ne6 eventually if nothing exciting happens. Also note that if the rooks, knights and bishop are removed from the board, black wins, so don’t be afraid to trade. (If the white king has to travel to the a-file, the game will be won.by the black king moving to take the kingside pawns.)
At 35.g5, Bg7 gets the bishop pinned (as in the game), better would have been Bb2, which frees the rook to move from a1 and participate in the game again. At 41 white makes a move (Nd6) that should set of a tactical alarm bell, white creates some undefended pieces. I would spend some time here looking for something juicy (e.g my first instinct is 41 … Rd1 leading to 42. Nc2 a2 43. Ra8 Nc7! 44. Rxa2 Rxd6 -/+)
In the game after 41… a2 42 Ra8, either Nc7 or Nb6 attack a8, which mean that the rook has to make a choice between continuing to attack the a-pawn OR continuing to pin the bishop:
If he undefends the a-pawn then the textbook tactic Rg1+ and a1=Q wins easily.
If he unpins the bishop, the knight on d6 falls and black should secure the win.
At move 42, Nc3 exemplifies the problem with putting the rook in front of the pawn – you have to draw another piece in to protect it in order to move the rook out of the way. Nc3 was a tactical mistake, caused by the earlier strategic mistake.
The ending *** SPOILER ALERT ***:
And now the key move after 43 Ne8. I did not find the move after 5 minutes of staring at the board, having already looked through the whole rest of the game, so I asked the computer. The computer move 43 … f5 is highly unintuitive except when considering the following two ideas:
• the idea that the king is a strong piece in the lategame and is best placed in the centre. I would think that the king would be harassed and possibly some of the kingside pawns would fall.
• the available squares for the king to escape the perpetual, the only one is f7 which is blocked by a pawn (f8 bishop is pinned, g8 covered by knight, Kh8 leads to mate, h7 covered by knight, f,g,h6 all covered by pawn, leaving only f7 as an escape, for which the pawn must be moved.
Of these two ideas, only the sharpest tactical thinkers would see this idea, and only the best can expect that level of tactical vision 40 moves deep into a longplay game. However, even after f5, black is not out of the woods, and white may have several opportunities to tie things up unless black finds only-moves.
The game was seriously excellently played for the very most part. I disagree that the key moment was at move 43, in my opinion earlier strategic inaccuracy provided the opportunity for later tactical difficulties. I’d be surprised if (m)any of us could see with confidence how the game would continue after escaping the perpetual, and at the end of a long tough game against a formidable opponent, to miss the move Is nothing to be ashamed of.
I am eager to see more of Javier’s games, as he demonstrated some serious skill here.
I have attached a .pgn with this commentary [see above]