Rusty in Montreal

The tournament in Montreal came after a long period without any chess practice for me. I was busy with the lessons and did not have any time for self-improvement. Unfortunately this became apparent in Canada. The first two games that I played were just horrible, I did not even know what to do with my pieces.
Then some wins came and at the seventh round I moved to board two for an encounter against one of the favourites, Wesley So:

So,Wesley (2653) - Bojkov,Dejan (2556) [D25]
Ch. ouvert du Quebec invitation Montreal, CAN (7), 26.07.2012

1.d4 d5 [A small surprise. I did not play like that for years.]

2.c4 dxc4 [However this is the real one. Before that i opted mainly for the Chebanenko Slav.]

3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Be6

This is a rare line in which White needs to play energetically to claim the advantage.]

5.Be2 [I suspect that White can play for something only if he develops the knight on c3 and tries to use his central pawns as fast as possible.]

5...c5 6.0–0 Nc6 7.dxc5 Qxd1?! [Inaccuracy.]

[A neat solution of all the Black problems is: 7...Qa5=]

8.Rxd1 Ne4 9.Nc3 [Wesley could have started play in the center with: 9.Nd4!? to which I was choosing between: 9...Bd5 or: (9...Bd7 10.Bxc4 Nxc5=) 10.f3 Nxc5 11.e4 Nxd4 12.Rxd4 Bc6=]

9...Nxc5 [The most natural move. I considered the position equal, but the Philippini GM starts to create problems.]

[9...Nxc3?! opens the b file in White's favour- 10.bxc3 Rd8 11.Rb1 Rxd1+ 12.Bxd1 Bc8 13.Be2 Na5 14.Ne5±]

10.Ng5 g6 [After some thought I decided to simplify the position and agree to double pawns. So was surprised of that decision and offered instead:]

[10...Bf5!? in the post mortem. Indeed, this looks like a good alternative- 11.Bxc4 e6=; On the other hand, the other retreat is not as good- 10...Bd7 11.Bxc4 Ne5 (11...e6 12.b3 is slightly better for White) 12.Be2 with slight advantage; Note that the pawn cannot be defended- 10...Ne5?! 11.Nb5 Rc8 12.Nxa7±; 10...Na5?! 11.Nb5]


[Black's problems are solved easier in case of: 11.Nxe6 Nxe6 12.Bxc4 Bg7 13.Bxe6 fxe6 14.Bd2 0–0–0= and the exchanges along the d file should secure the draw.]

11...Bg7 [Or: 11...Bd7 12.Bxc4 Ne5 13.Be2 with some advantage for White]

12.Be3 Nd3 [Black sticks to his plan to simplify the position. Accepting the sacrificed pawn is too dangerous-]

[12...Bxc3 13.bxc3 Na4 14.Nxe6 fxe6 15.Bxc4 Nxc3 16.Rdc1 (16.Re1!?) 16...Nxe4 17.Bxe6± the extra pawn is not a consolation once that you have a glimpse of the white bishops...]

13.Nxe6 fxe6 14.Bxd3 cxd3 15.Rxd3 Rd8 [Again simplifications. In case of:]

[15...Ne5 16.Rdd1 Nc4 17.Bd4 e5 18.Be3 Nxe3 19.fxe3 the white knight dominates the bishop. I thought that keeping the adversary pieces is a better idea.]

16.Rxd8+ Kxd8 17.Rc1 Bxc3!? 18.Rxc3 e5

Now Black's set up is obvious- the king goes to e6, h7–h5, and eventually a rook swap along the d file with fortress. However, White has two obvious plusses-the better minor piece and the slightly better pawn structure. So keeps on posing problems.]

19.Ra3! [He tries to force a weakening of the queen's flank.]

19...Kc7! 20.Kf1 [The pawn is poisonous:]

[20.Bxa7? b6 21.Ra6 Rd8 22.Kf1 Rd6–+ and the bishop is trapped after Kc7–b7.]

20...Rd8 21.Ke2 Nd4+?! [In the coming time-trouble I decided to clarify the situation. From practical point of view though this is a concession. The position still remains close to ballanced, but new problems arise and the play becomes much more concrete.]

[21...b6 22.Rc3 Rd6 with the idea Kc7–d7–e6 was the other way to defend.]

22.Bxd4 Rxd4 23.Rxa7 Rxe4+ 24.Kd2 Rd4+ 25.Ke3 Rd1

26.Ra4! [The rook is transfered to a more active position.]

26...b5 [So considered this move to be a mistake after the game. But as we shall see the defensive resources of the Black position were still sufficient.]

[26...Re1+ 27.Kf3 Rb1 28.Rc4+ Kd6 29.Rb4 (29.Rc2) 29...Kc6 and Black still needs to prove the draw; 26...Rb1 27.Rc4+ (27.Rb4) 27...Kd6 28.Rc2 and White can keep on playing]

27.Ra7+ Kd6 28.Rb7 Re1+! [The rook needs to be maximally active in these endgames.]

29.Kf3 [Better than: 29.Kd2 Rh1 30.h3 Rh2 31.Rxb5 Rxg2 32.Ke2 Rh2 33.Rb3 Rh1 and Black should be OK thanks to the active pieces.]

29...e4+ 30.Kg3 Kc5 [Unfortunately the position cannot be simplified with: 30...e3 due to: 31.Rxb5 e2 32.Kf3±]

31.Rxe7 Re2 32.Re5+ [A nasty in-between check.]

32...Kc6 [Keeping the material ballance with: 32...Kb4 33.a3+ Ka4 (33...Ka5!? gives draw chances.) 34.b3+ Kxb3 35.Rxb5+ Kxa3 36.Rb7+– should be lost for Black.]

33.b4 Rxa2 34.Rxe4 Kd5 35.f3 Rc2 36.Rh4 h5 37.Re4

The critical moment of the game and maybe the tournament. Wesley So won a pawn thanks to his clever play. However due to the reduced material the position is still a draw.]

37...Rc4? [The natural desire to do somthing in the time trouble spoils the defense. All Black needed was to wait:]

[37...Rb2 38.h4 Rc2 39.Kh3 and only when the king is far away to go: (39.Re7 Rc4 40.Rg7 Rxb4 41.Rxg6 Ra4 42.Rg5+ Kc4 43.Rxh5 b4 44.Rh7 b3 45.Rc7+ Kd3 46.Rb7 Kc2 and the Black's remaining pawn secures the draw. (46...Kc3) ) 39...Rc4!; 37...Rd2 would also suffice for a draw.]

38.Kf4 [Now White wins at least two tempoes to advance his king's side pawns and this proves decisive.]

38...Rc2 39.Re5+! Kc6 [Alas, the queen endgame after: 39...Kc4 40.Rc5+ Kb3 41.Rxc2 Kxc2 42.Kg5 Kc3 43.Kxg6 Kxb4 44.f4 Kc3 45.f5 b4 46.f6 b3 47.f7 b2 48.f8Q b1Q+ 49.Qf5! is pretty hopeless.]

40.Re6+ Kd5 41.Rxg6 Rb2 42.h4 Kc4 [Frustration, but even against best defense White is winning:]

[42...Rxb4+ 43.Kg5 Rd4 44.g4 b4 45.gxh5 Kc4 46.f4 b3 47.h6 b2 48.Rb6 Rd5+ 49.f5 Rb5 50.Rxb5 Kxb5 51.h7 b1Q 52.h8Q+–]

43.g4 hxg4 44.fxg4 Rxb4 45.h5 Ra4 46.h6 Kc5+ 47.Kg5 [Summarizing the game- White got nothing out of the opening but did not let go, kept on pushing, used all the chances he had (including the better time management) and deservedly won. Congratulations for Wesley So for winning the tournament!]