(1) Rumata (1619) - Struggler (1751)
ICS rated standard match freechess.org, 31.07.2003

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c6 4.Bf4 Nf6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 Be7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Nbd2 b6
Rumata: "Black is trying to find a place for QB, but this weakens c6." Well, let's not go too far. As the old saying goes, a weakness is only a weakness if it can be attacked. With a bishop on b7 protecting the c6 pawn, how can White bring any force against it? More importantly, this pawn dreams of c5 after Black finishes developing and he has to get the bishop out of the way to play a rook to c8. Except for the white bishop on f4 instead of g5, this position after ..b6 is very similar to one of the most popular lines of the Queen's Gambit Declined, the Tartakower variation. The bishop on b7 can be a powerful piece if the center opens. Black's problem comes on move 10, not here.

9.Qc2 Bb7
Rumata: This locks QB Bishop in. True, but the bishop wasn't better on c8 and it has a future! And that square is for a rook. Black's set-up is fine. [ 9...c5 10.cxd5 exd5 ]

10.cxd5 cxd5??
This move is the reason we selected this game for analysis. It's a little harsh to give two question marks to a move that doesn't blunder a piece, but this is a monumental positional mistake that ruins Black's position completely. Look at Black's position now and ask yourself how he can make progress. He has no control over the center and the move ..e5 is totally out of the question. The only open file is the c-file and White has the lead there. The b7 bishop has no hope of entering the game because the d5 pawn is frozen solid. The same is true of the d7 knight. The only hope for Black to get any freedom is with ..Ne4 at some point. All of this doom and gloom is in stark contrast to the position after the correct 10...exd5. There Black's position is full of dynamic potential based on the move ..c5 and other action on the queenside. Unlike ..e5, the ..c5 break is clearly possible thanks to the support of the b6 pawn, the e7 bishop, the d7 knight, and a rook that will play to c8. Just about every black piece is prepared for ..c5! Figuring this out doesn't require knowing a lot about the Queen's Gambit or openings at all. It's about "the breaks" we have discussed in White Belt before. (#32 "Analyze This" in particular.) That is, the pawn breaks in the position. After 10...cxd5?? Black doesn't have any and to play without any pawn breaks means you had better have advantages with your pieces (and he doesn't have them here). Black probably agreed with Ramata's comments above and saw the capture as a way to remove the c-pawn "weakness." It's true that the pawn on c6 looks vulnerable with the c-file open for White. This confirms that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Black eliminated a weak pawn on principle but he also eliminated every shred of play in his position! [ 10...exd5 ]

The logical move. The c-file is the main strategic item on the board and White has control of it. In the face of this Black now proceeds to self-destruct completely. It was already a tough position, admittedly, but you can't ignore the problems in the position, you have to combat them.

Rumata: "Black undevelops his knight in order to defend his QB on a6." Terrible and bizarre, giving White the c-file without a fight and losing time to do it. There isn't much Black can do to save the game after this so we won't add many more notes. White finishes him off convincingly. [ 11...Rc8 12.Qa4 a5 13.Rc2 Rumata: "And Rfc1 next move taking over c file." ? This is a little too direct. Black captures the rook and gains some time to regroup. Better is to keep putting pressure on with moves like Bb5 and Ne5.]

12.Qc7 Ba6
[ 12...Qxc7? 13.Rxc7 Rumata: And Black loses one of his bishops]

13.Bxa6 Nxa6 14.Qb7 Nb4
Rumata: forced

Rumata: Threatening to win the bishop

Rumata: "Forced." Not at all! It was better to give up a pawn now with ..Rb8! [ 15...Rb8! This pawn sacrifice was the best chance to confuse the issue. The rook will be protected by the queen on b8 so the Rxf7 trick won't be possible. 16.Qxa7 Bd6 17.Rfc1 Bxf4 18.exf4 Nd3 ]

16.Bxd6 Qxd6 17.Rxf7!
A nice tactical shot. Domination of the seventh rank always pays dividends. [ 17.Rfc1 Nxa2 ( 17...Rfb8 18.Rc8+ Rxc8 19.Rxc8+ Rxc8 20.Qxc8+ Qf8 21.Qc7 Nxa2 22.Qxa7 Nb4 23.Qxb6+- ) 18.R1c6 Qb4 19.Rxf7 Qxb2 20.Rcc7+- ]

[ 17...Rxf7 18.Qxa8+ Qf8 19.Qxf8+ Rxf8 20.Rc1! Developing a piece and dominating the open file is more important than the a2 pawn. White has a pawn but the control of the c-file is critical. The black rook is relegated to defensive duty because of the Rc7 threat.]

Rumata: "Didn't risk to take 2 pawns in fear of queen being trapped." Excellent logic. A winning position you are sure of is better than complications that are probably stronger but that you aren't sure of. Spending a lot of time to work out details and risking a mistake can get you into trouble. You don't have to play perfectly or finish every game spectacularly. [ 18.Rxg7+ Kh8 19.Qxa7 Ra8 20.Qe7 Qxe7 21.Rxe7 Rxa2 22.Rxe6 ]

18...Rxf8 19.Qxa7
[ 19.Ne5 ]

19...Nd3 20.Qa6 Nb4
[ 20...Nxb2?? 21.Qb5 Nc4 ( 21...Qa3 22.Qxb6 Qxa2 23.Rb1 ) 22.Nxc4 dxc4 23.Qxc4 ]

Rumata: Pinning the knight

21...Rc8 22.Ne5
Rumata: Heading to d3 in order to win the knight on b4

22...Rc2 23.Rd1 Qf8 24.Qb3 Ne4? 25.Nxe4 dxe4 26.Qxe6+ Kh8 27.Nf7+ Kg8 28.Ng5+ Kh8 29.Qxe4
Rumata: Mate is inevitable. ..Qxf2+ 30. Kh1 g6 31. Qb7! and 32. Qxh7# 1-0