Saturday, April 30, 2016

Studying Boring Games

How often do you look at some games, perhaps the games from a tournament or of a player, and draws, or long games are glossed over as being not as interesting, or brilliant. But one thing can lead to another, so even looking at seemingly boring games can lead to some interesting finds.

I've been looking through games from Hastings 1895 (not for the first time) but this time I intend to look through all the games, the good, the bad and the ugly. Round 1 of the great tournament saw only 1 draw and some great games already. The draw was between Schlechter and Pollock. Schlechter was a bit of a drawing expert, the Giri of the late 1800's and still and up and coming player. Pollock, on the other hand, was not one of the strongest in the tournament, and fell ill soon after the event, and may have been suffering through it. so a draw would not have been objectionable to either of them. As the only draw of the first round I've never really paid it too much attention before. I mean, there were queen sac's, piece sac's, some amazing attacks and tactics, and the most terrible blunders to get one's chops around.

Well, there were still some interesting moments in this 24 move draw. The game started as a Spanish with one of the popular lines of the time (more n that later) and reached this position.

Pollock, as black, played 10..Be6, an ok looking move, but a blunder. The game continued 11.Nxf6+ Qxf6

The open f-file is crying out to be exploited but how? 12.Nd4 (12.d4 was also promising) 12..Qg5

White's knight can take on c6 or e6, and again, both moves are promising. Schlechter chose 13.Nxc6 and Pollock chucked in the check 13..Qxe3+ 14.Kh1 before dropping back with 14..Bd7

Schlechter played 15.Nxe5 regaining his pawn, and even winning a pawn after 15..Bxa4 16.Nxf7. It wasn't enough to win, as black had the excellent response 16..0-0!

But in the position above there was another possibility 15.Nb4. This will leave white a pawn behind, but black will have virtually nothing to do but wait for white to break through.

To regain the piece 15..Bxa4 is forced, and then 16.Nd5 forks black's queen and c7, so 16..Qc5 seems necessary.

In the tournament book, Schiffers analysed this game and considered this position to be no great shakes for white. I'd have to disagree. 17.b4 Qc6 18.Qg4 and black is struggling to find a useful move. g7 is attacked, and white' missing pawn allows the f-file to be used to great effect.

Defending g7 is not easy Rg8 allows Nf6+ winning an exchange, Kf8 lets white sac a rook on f7 for a devastating attack, and 0-0 loses the queen to a knight fork on e7, so it has to be 18..g6. But if white doubles rooks on the f-file, then black can basically resign. There is nothing black can do.

Now look, I'm not one for giving up material, but seeing positions like this helps with my understanding of compensation. Will it help me to bring these types of ideas into my games? I don't know, I'm very materialistic usually, but at least I'll think about these types of things now.

What's more, I learned a bit about an interesting opening, a variation of the Spanish played by among others World Champions Alekhine, and Spassky. More on this next time, because I've seen some amazing games. And I've leraned not to ignore the most boring game of the round!

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