Instructive team correspondence game from the club on Saturday

This game was played between 2 teams with 3-4 players each (Team White got an extra player during the game)

1.e4 e5 Very good both teams have completed goal 1 of the opening: put a Pawn in the centre to control centre squares!

 

2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 Great!! both teams working to complete Goal 2 in the opening: Get your Bishops and Knights on happy squares where they help control the centre.

4.0–0

Super! White Team completes Goal 3 of the opening:  Get your King safe! – usually by castling

4…Nxe4!! (here Team Black selected a move that was better than your cautious scribe would have! )5.Qe2 f5?!

This makes it hard to castle King side- not a good idea!  Always think before you move your “Forget it pawn” (F pawn!) opening in the opening and middle game!  Here 5…d5 was better striking in the centre.] Playing 5..d5!!! instead was the key idea that allowed Ne4 to work – notice that 5…d5!! hits the Bishop on c4 and gains important time so Team Black can make themselves safe after their greed!

 

6.d3 d5?!

 

75% of time it is better not to answer an attack with an attack.  So you really have to think carefully when doing so.  Here the simple retreat Nf6 was best.

 

7.Bb5 a6??

 

Oops! This does not help at all.  Again 75% of the time it is a bad idea to answer an attack on a piece with a counter attack.  This encourages White to gain a tempo (a move).  Remember a check must be answered so it is a very good way to gain time.  This is the root of all Black’s problems which follow.

 

8.Bxc6+ bxc6 9.dxe4 Now white has an extra piece.  Remember when one side gets to capture first and last of things of equal value that usually spells trouble.

 

9…fxe4 In this position White has an extra piece, is better developed and has a safer King while Black has a good Pawn mass in the centre. 

 

10.Nxe5 Ok this eliminates one of the central Pawn while preparing to use the Knight and Queen to cause huge problems to the Black King.  The thing about having extra space as Black has with his big pawn centre is that although it does restrict the opponents pieces if they manage to get in behind the pawns the pieces can cause huge damage with no pawns to stop them.

 

10…Bd6

11.Nxc6?! Bought off cheaply for a single pawn! – this is good enough but: 11.Qh5+!! This would have ended the game much quicker.  This position is much better than that which arises in say John’s beloved Latvian gambit since the defensive Knight is gone. 11…g6 all other moves lead to mate 12.Nxg6!! and now if 12…hxg6 the h pawn was pinned 13.Qxh8+ this is completely winning – White is up a Rook and soon will win more.  Interestingly some of the White team argued for 11.Qh5!! but they were voted down: you have to listen carefully to the ideas of your club mates  – this is how we all learn!

 

11…Qd7 12.Nd4 Qg4??

 

Sadly for Black this game is a very clear lesson in the advice: when you are down material avoid piece exchanges if possible but exchange pawns when you can.  Here Team Black offers to exchange their most valuable piece for no good reason!

 

13.Qxg4! Team White during the game were delighted with their opponents willingness to exchange at ever opportunity.  When up material try to exchange pieces where possible but avoid pawn exchanges.

 

13…Bxg4 14.Bg5 14.Nc3 This move makes a little more sense as you know where the Knights best square is here (c3) but you do not know where the Bishop should go yet.  Hence the advice usually you want to move Knights before Bishops.  Notice the Bishop ends up moving again soon after this.  However this minor inaccuracy made little difference.

 

14…0–0 15.Nc3

Now both sides have completed the first 3 steps of the opening: 1. they moved their centre pawns, they developed all their Knights and Bishops and 3. they got their Kings to safety.  Now time for the Rooks to get into the game.

 

15…Bc5 16.Be3 Nb3 wins more material but is complicated and Be3 is a good idea since white is clearly winning (being a Knight and a pawn up) and so just needs to avoid any big errors to win – if minimising risk in winning positions  is good enough for  World Champion Magnus Carlsen it is good enough for Team White!

 

16…Bxd4 17.Bxd4 c6 18.Rae1 Rfd8 19.Na4 Rab8 20.h3 Rb4!?

 

Here Team Black insists on exchange more pieces!  It was exactly the wrong thing for them to do but it made for a good lesson in why not to willingly exchange all your pieces when down material!

 

21.hxg4 Rxd4 22.Nc3 Rd2

 

Great play by Black getting a Rook onto the 7th rank so that it attacks the white pawns and if any of them move it can capture the others on the 7th rank and move in behind the pawns where they cannot escape without help (for example by creating a pawn chain).  Remember that Rooks like to get behind pawns once the opening is over.

 

23.Re2! 

 

Very good!  This offers another exchange (Team White correctly were really enjoying every exchange) as well as getting rid of the active Rook on the 7th rank for the less active white Rook on its first rank.

 

23…Rxe2 24.Nxe2 Rb8 25.b3

Notice that this move is better than Rb1 since b3 creates a solid pawn chain defence and frees up the White Rook for more active things (such as attacking Blacks weak points)

 

25…g6 26.f3

Team White correctly destroy Team Black’s beautiful pawn centre and also get ready to open a file for the White rook (remember Rooks love open files!!).

 

26…exf3 27.gxf3 h5 28.Kf2!

Getting ready to move the King to the centre of the board.  Remember when the King is not in danger of getting mated and the value of the opponents pieces are no more than 10 (Knight and Bishop worth 3, Rook worth 5 and Queen worth 9 – so here Black has 5 points of material – notice pawns not counted when evaluating if it is an ending)  then you are most likely in an endgame and you should centralise your king.  In the opening and the Middlegame the King is your little baby that you need to constantly mind very carefully.  However in the ending your King is your warrior that is almost as powerful as a Rook! (King worth around 4 points of attacking power while rook is worth 5).  Note that some books refer to the average value of the pieces in terms of material points whereas others refer to them as pawns.  It really does not matter what you call them as long as you count them correctly!

 

28…hxg4 29.fxg4 Rf8+ 30.Kg2 Rxf1??

 

Oh no, now we will exactly what happens when you exchange all your pieces when you are a piece down!  Notice if instead Black had exchanged all the Pawns then it would not be a draw as you cannot checkmate with only a King and Knight against a King with no pawns.  Thus the rule to try to exchange pawns when down material.

 

31.Kxf1 c5 32.c4 dxc4 33.bxc4 

 

Now ever pawn for each side is isolated (they have no pawns of their own colour beside them) and there is an opposing pawn in the same file.  Thus it will not be possible to get a passed pawn using the pawns alone.  So the easiest way for White to win is to get the White King into the centre and stop the Black King from making any progress and the knight is free at the other side of the board to feast on the helpless Black pawns.

 

33…Kf7!

Now Team Black show that they too know to correctly get their King forward, but sadly the game is lost at this stage

 

34.Nf4 Ok Team White go for another plan which also works in this case.

 

34…Kf6 35.Nd3 Kg5 36.Nxc5 Kxg4 37.Nxa6 Kf4 38.c5 g5 39.c6

Now Team Black resigned.  Excellent play by both tea ms, well done to all!  Just a few errors by Team Black but otherwise great game!

 

1–0

 

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