[Event "WDCL Div 1"] [White "Myles, S"] [Black "McCarthy, Damian"] [Site ""] [Round ""] [Annotator "Damian"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [Date "2019.12.11"] [PlyCount "62"] {There is a saying in chess, "that you never beat a well man." Therefore I am usually reluctant to blame a bad game on feeling ill. However to tell the story of this game, I had been feeling dreadful and run down all week, and as such I text captain Iain Johnson on the morning of the match that I wasn't going to be able to play. Luckily Iain said that was fine as Rob had agreed to stand in in my place, the day went on... one hour before the match Iain is back in touch tugging on the heartstrings... Someone else has dropped out at the last minute, we were defaulting a board, anychance I can make it? Reluctantly I headed to the venue promising to try my best but making no promises as to the standard of my play. "Shall i put you on a lower board?" asked Iain concerned, "No if I blunder my Queen it won't help no matter what board I am on!" I replied...} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 {This was the first time I have every played this move in a match situation, I was hoping for a more strategic game as I didn't feel id be able to calculate very much if the position was to become very sharp due to feeling under the weather.} 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bg4 {The slightly offbeat Alekhine variation, more normal is to play into a classical system for black with moves like e6, a6, c5 and b5, finally putting the bishop on b7. Those lines are very solid but White does have the options for an early queen trade which does make it very hard for black to play for the win.} 5. Bxc4 e6 6. h3 Bh5 7. 0-0 a6 (7... Nc6 {first I was aware was a perfectly playable option for Black however I knew that the play can become pretty complex (something I was keen to avoid) after} 8. Bb5 {when black still has promising play even if he allows White to double the c-pawns. But I was not confident of remembering any of it, and by playing a6 first you side step the whole thing anyway.} )8. a4 {Black was not planning on playing b5 yet so this can't be the most critical, however in some positions an idea for white is to play b3 and Ba3 so the move is not a complete waste of time.} Nc6 {In the old days Black used to always put the Knight on d7 in these positions, but it has been discovered that White then gets good play with g4 followed by Ne5. The advantage of the knight being on c6 is that it does a better job of pressurising the centre as if White tries to play e4 then Black can play Bxf3 followed by winning the d4 pawn.} 9. Nc3 Bd6 10. Bd3 0-0 { A universal set up for black in this variation has been reached, one that I imagine regular players of Blacks position (Not me!) will get very often and be comfortable with. Whilst Blacks play has not been so ambitious the ideas are easy to follow and remember and it can often be reached against almost any white move order in this line.} 11. g4 Bg6 12. Bxg6 hxg6 13. e4 Bb4 { A very poor choice much better would have been to play the standar answer to e4 with 13...,e5. When Black has achieved equality. The bishop proves to be misplaced on b4 as once white plays Qd3 we has secured his e4 pawn and the bishop does not want to trade on c3 for nothing.} 14. Bg5 Qe8 {one of the advantages of having already exchanged hxg6 is that Black would be happy to exchange on f6 with a pawn. Still Black is under some pressure here due to my earlier inaccuracy of Bb4} 15. Qd3 {The best move, embarrasing the bishop on b4.} Be7 {admitting my earlier mistake} 16. d5 Nb4 17. Qc4 exd5 18. exd5 (18. Qxc7 dxe4 {would very very nice for black} )Qd7 19. Rad1 Rad8 20. Rfe1 { here I felt that Black was running out of good moves, I also have to be very careful not to allow tricks along the lines of Rxe7 and d6 winning the b4 knight. In the end I felt I had to play a5 to secure this knight but this is far from ideal as it grants access to the b5 square. White is clearly better} a5 21. Ne5 Qd6 22. Rd2 (22. Nb5 {was the move I had expected to face} Qc5 23. Nxc7 Qxc4 24. Nxc4 {when white should have a close to winning edge as it does not look like the d pawn can be captured} )Qc5 (22... Nxg4 {Was the best move and demonstration of my inability to calculate, I didn't even look for it! } 23. Qxg4 Bxg5 24. Qxg5 f6 {has eased the defensive task a bit} )23. Qb3 { Again Black seems to be without a move, Bd6 cannot be played because of Be3 trapping the queen. Also white has tactical threats due to the loose bishop on e7 which is x-rayed by the bishop on g5} Rde8 {it had to be this rook due to the weak f7 square if the f-rook moves away. Now thankfully White tries to cash in his advantage but in doing so relieves most of the pressure I am under. In fairness I am very lucky this sacrifice does not win the game.} 24. Nxg6 fxg6 25. d6+ Kh7 26. dxe7 Rxe7 27. Rxe7 Qxe7 28. Re2 Qd7 {After the smoke has cleared Black's task has been made easier then a few moves prior, the one remaining imbalance is the potential of the dark squared bishop in the ending, especially with at least one target on a5 and pawns on both sides of the board, however I hoped that this ought not to be enough to win.} 29. Qe6 Qxe6 30. Rxe6 Re8 31. Rxe8 Nxe8 {here as we were both heading into the last 5 minutes white accepted a draw, a lucky escape although given how I was feeling I was pretty happy to get the half point which helped the team progress to the next round of the cup!} 1/2-1/2