(1) Ulf Hammarstrom - Russianbear [C10]

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Sd2 dxe4
Rubinstein is a solid but somewhat passive line. Black gives up the center. Tarrasch variation (3. ... c5, 3. ... Nf6 or 3. ... Be7 - the lines I all play) is better in all ways but two. First is: once you know Rubinstein, you can not only reply 3. ... dxe4 to White's 3. Nd2, but also to 3.Nc3, which avoides a lot of theory not only in the Tarrasch, but in the Winawer (3. Nc3 Bb4) or the Classical Variation (3. Nc3 3 Nf6). the second reason to play is - my performance rating in Rubinstein is at least 150 points better than in either Tarrasch or Winawer. Besides, I have beaten kalten in the previous round with this variation, so I didn't mind repeating it against Ulf.

4.Sxe4 Sd7
[4...Ld7 [%emt 0:00:00]]

5.Sf3 Sgf6 6.Sxf6+ Sxf6 7.Lg5 Le7?!
Dubious decision.The main idea for black is to play c5 as soon as possible without compromising his position too much or without falling behind in development. If black succeeds in doing that, he will equalize and will often have chances in late middlegame/endgame because of his superior structure. If black doesn't do it, he will suffer, which is what happened in this game. 9. .. . Be7 probably just wastes a tempo, as black could play c5 right away.

8.Ld3 Sd5
Now, c5 would look stupid, as in case of white's playing dxc5, bishop would get on c5 in 2 tempi instead of 1. The move in the game is hard to evaluate. It turned out out we are still in theory, but it may seem strange that black move one of the only 2 piece he developed so far to exchange another piece he developed. However, it seemed like an OK move at the time, as Be7 decision earlier is made use of, as black gets white better posted bishop of the board.

9.Lxe7 Dxe7 10.0-0 0-0 11.Te1
The threat is c4, followed by d5, which could be dangerous, as white has a sound lead in development. With the next move, I get the queen away from the file of the e1 rook, while also attacking some pawns, so that I don't lose any more tempi.

11...Db4 12.c4
Logical move. White chases the knight away and gains more space with this in-between move.

Black reponds with in-between move of his own. Now I thought that since white has to defend the b3 pawn, I will exchange my knight for his bishop, which will give me a useful bishop vs. knight situation in the endgame.

13.b3 c6
I decide not to exchange now and get one more pawn attacking d5.

This was a strong move, I felt during the game. The threat I thought, other than the obvious Rxf4 was d5, as after any pawn capture on d5, the cxd5 recapture also attacks the queen.

Originally I thought I was just going to exchange, but after Nxd3 Qxd3 blacks position then looks pitiful and I have to worry about things like Qd6 Rh4 g6 Ng5 h5 g4. So I decide to keep my knight and move it to g6 where it does some defensive duties, like blocking h7, covering h4 and e5.

I almost capture d on e5 with a knight. I thought I could win a pawn with Nxe5 Rxe5 (dxe5 doesn't look right) Rd8 Re4 Qc3, but then realised that in such lines white has Rc1 Qb2 Rc2, defending d4, and improving the rook's position in the process. So I decided to play Rd8, which is the move that should be useful anyway.

15...Td8 16.Sxg6 hxg6 17.h4?!
Ulf gave this a "?", but at the time the move looked very dangerous to me. White is mobilized and has started a kingside assault, while black's queenside is still undeveloped. Black needs to find something quickly if he wants to stay alive.

I thought for over 7 minutes on this move and was very suprised to find out after the game that Shredder considers this move to be the best. I have seen the line of f5 Rf4 e5 dxe5 Qc3 Rf3 Qxe5 at this point and thought that even though I solve some problems like removing his center, pinning his pieces somewhat and gettting some freedom for my c8 bishop, it is a dangerous move to play, as black opens his king somewhat, and opens the center to the white's better developed pieces.

I missed Qd6 here, which would win me a pawn. I considered Qd6 in some other lines, but haven't thought of it here. Besides, was getting into time trouble and wanted to quickly play a line I calculated earlier. Interestingly enough, the line I mentioned would be the only point in the game where I had a chance to get the advantage - otherwise I was on defensive the whole time, thanks to some bad decisions in the opening.

18...e5 19.dxe5 Dc3 20.Tf3 Dxe5 21.c5
Haven't seen this resouce when I played f5.

The bishop that was passive the whole game arrives just in time and protects a critical diagonal. Now it seems like the following exchanges are forced, since otherwise black would play Bd5 and be at least equal.

22.Te3 Df6 23.Txe6 Dxe6 24.Lc4 Txd1+ 25.Txd1 Dxc4 26.bxc4 Tf8!?
Again I am playing by inertia. Before the line was played, I saw this and thought that this way I defend against Rd7 by responding Rf7 (I thought it was possible that we would draw right here by repetition - Rd7 Rf7 Rd8+ Rf8 Rd6 Rf6 etc). I missed the better Re8, after which I could respond to Rd7 with Re5, which would be the same line as in the game, except without the inclusion of Kh2 f4, which wasn't to my advantage, as f4 was later lost as it was hard to defend. I do believe that as soon as we reached the rook endgame, it is drawn, though. The main challenge from now on for me was the time trouble.

27.Kh2 f4 28.Td7 Tf5 29.Txb7 Txc5 30.Txa7 Txc4 31.f3 Kh7 32.a4 c5 33.a5 Ta4 34.a6 c4 35.Tc7 Txa6 36.Txc4 Tf6 37.Kh3
Here I noticed that I lose the f4 pawn. However, soon I realised that it is drawn anyway, since he can't make progress without exchanging pawns.

37...Td6 38.Txf4 Td5
White either has to move (and exchange) the pawns, or try to attack with pieces. However, the only try with pieces would be getting the pawns on f4 and g3, king on g5 and rook on 6th rank, with double attack on g6 pawn, which can only be protected once. However, black would then have a check on 5th rank and white has to retreat the king, as f5 would lose a pawn. I later play Kh6 anyway, to prevent his king from reaching g5.


39...Kh6 40.Kg3 Ta5 41.Kf2 Tb5 42.Ke3 Ta5 43.Kf2 Tb5 44.Kg1 Ta5 45.Kh2 Tb5 46.f4 Ta5 47.Tg5 Ta4 48.g3 Ta2+ 49.Kh3 Ta1 50.Tb5 Ta4 51.Kg4 Ta8 52.Tb6
Now I need to watch out for f5 or h5, winning the g6 pawn.

52...Ta5 53.Te6 Tb5 54.Kf3 Tb3+ 55.Te3 Tb5 56.g4 Tb1 57.Te8 Kh7
Russianbear offers a draw

58.Te2 Tb3+ 59.Te3 Tb1 60.g5 Th1 61.Kg4 Tf1 62.Tf3 Tg1+ 63.Kh3 Th1+ 64.Kg3 Tg1+ 65.Kh2 Ta1 66.f5 gxf5 67.Txf5 Kg6 68.Tb5 Kh5 69.Tb4 Ta3 70.Kg2 Tc3
I think it was a very well played game. Ulf pressed the whole time and didn't give me a chance to gain initiative, but I was able to defend accurately. 1/2-1/2