Ben Fiedler

SMM 2022 - 2nd Round

My second game for SC Réti in the 2022 SMM was played against an opponent rated about 1450.

Time control is again 90 minutes per player from move 1, with a 30 second increment from move 1 as well. Time control is reached after 40 moves, and both players get additional 30 minutes.


We begin 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 d5 3. e3 c6 4. c3 e6 5. Bd3 Bd6 6. Bg3 Bxg3, and White is very happy with this trade, opening the rook on the h-file. The game continues 7. hxg3 0-0?. I was winning here, but I completely missed this opportunity. 8. Bxh2! wins a pawn, and forces Black to walk his king to the center after 8. … Nxh2 9. Qh5 f6 10. Qxh7.

White is completely winning after 7. … 0-0

I’m still better though, which matches my intuition during the game.

We continue 8. Nbd2 Nbd7 9. f4? g6, better would have been 9. g4, since it exerts more pressure on the knight, and threatens g5 immediately. 10. g4 Kg7 11. Qf3 Rh8 and my kingside knight can finally develop via e2 or h3. 12. Nh3 Nf8 13. 0-0-0 b5.

Critical position after 13. … b5

During the game, this felt like a critical position to me. My position is clearly better: my pieces are much more developed than Black’s and can join in the kingside attack. But how should I continue? The candidate moves I found were g5, f5 and e4. I was not able to evaluate the nuances of these moves. Best is g5, followed by f5. 14. g5 kicks out the Black knight and keeps the center closed - exactly what I want when attacking the Black kingside. The move 14. … Nh5 is impossible because of 15. g4! trapping the knight.

14. f5 is also interesting: taking on f5 leads to a series of exchanges which end up which leave the Black king wide open: 14. … exf5 15. gxf5 gxf5 16. Bxf5 Bxf5 17. Qxf5. I was unsure how forced this exchange was though, and I was not sure what to do after 17. Qc8 Qg5+ Ng6. Black’s position still looks pretty bad, but there is no immediate win. There is also the possibility of 14. … h5 15. fxg6 hxg4 16. Qxg4, which keeps some tension but activates the Black rook on the h-file.

I was not really happy with g5 or f5, which was stupid in hindsight, and chose to play 14. e4 without much thought, a bad idea as it allows Black unnecessary counterplay with 14. … dxe4 15. Nxe4 Qd5. The engine claims that no advantage has been lost, but here I make another big blunder: 16. Bb1??. This move is spectacularly bad for two reasons: my king would much rather defend a2 than my bishop, and during the game I had temporarily forgotten that my queen was defended, so I was terrified to move my knight by accident and “blunder” my queen. I realized this mistake a move later, once I saw that my queen was actually defended by the pawn, but it is too late.

The most principled move is probably 16. Kb1. Stockfish wants 16. Nxf6, since Black has to recapture the knight with the king to avoid losing a piece for free. However, there is also 16. … Qxa2, which is ok according to the engine but gives activity to Black for no reason.

My opponent finally develops his bishop, and I offer him a queen trade 16. … Bd7 17. Nc5 Qxf3 18. gxf3 Nd5.

After 18. … Nd5, what is the bishop doing on b1?

I felt like I lost my advantage after e4, but here it really starts looking unpleasant for me. 19. Rde1 a5 20. Nxd7 Nxd7. An unfavorable trade, as the bishop was really doing nothing on d7, while my knight had a good outpost on c5. 21. f5 exf5 22. gxf5 N7f6 23. fxg6 hxg6 24. Kd2 Rae8 25. Ng5 Rxe1 26. Rxe1 Rh2+ 27. Re2 Rxe2+ 28. Kxe2. I think my opponent should have brought his rooks on the open files much sooner, something like 21. … Rae8, and not trade as aggressively. One possible variation is 27. Nf4, preparing the move Rh2+ because I cannot block the check with my rook that way, and my king would be confined to the first rank.

Our endgame after 28. Kxe2

After trading the rooks I felt like the game was equal again, and potentially even allowing me some long term winning chances because I have a bishop and knight instead of two knights. We continue 28. … Nf4+ 29. Kd2 N6d5 30. Ne4 f6 31. Nd6 Kf8?. I feel good in this position, Black’s king is far away from the action and my king and isolated pawn are excellently positioned against Black’s knights: neither knight can easily check my king or threaten my pieces.

32. c4 bxc4 33. Nxc4, threatening the pawn on a5, 33. … a4 34. Bc2, again threatening the pawn. My opponent tries to resolve this threat aggressively, however the c6 pawn will fall after the a4 pawn, giving me a clean pawn advantage. 34. … Nb4 35. Bxa4 c5?? a pretty bad blunder. Instead letting me take the pawn with my bishop, I can take it with my d-pawn, bringing it closer to promotion and allowing the b-pawn to defend it in the future.

Black allows my d-pawn to re-enter the game after 35. … c5

36. dxc5 Nxa2 37. c6 Nd5 38. Ne3 Nb4 39. Nxd5 Nxd5 40. b4 Ke7 41. b5 Kd8 The knight cannot take on b4 because the pawn is unstoppable 40. … Nxb4 41. c7! … 41. c8=Q. Now I have two connected passed pawns that force Black’s king to constantly stay close to the b and c files. Exchanging knight for bishop would be winning for me, as Black has to prevent my connected passed pawns from queening and I can go take all of Black’s pawns in the meantime.

Black is down a pawn and have I two advanced passed paws

41. Bb3 Nb6? is the final nail in the coffin. According to Stockfish the knight should have gone to e7 to help out with the defense of the black pawns and simultaneously prevent the b-pawn from walking. With the knight on e7 Black’s position, while very unpleasant, may be holdable.

Apparently Black can hold this endgame

From here on out it is a matter of technique: 42. Kd3 Kc7 43. Kd4 Nc8 44. Kd5 Kb6 45. Bc4 Kc7 46. Ke6 f5 47. Kf6 Nd6 48. Bd3 Kb6 49. Kxg6. Black cannot take on b5 because the c-pawn will queen: 49. … Nxb5?? 50. Bxb5 Kxb5 51. c7. Therefore, Black has no option but to continue shuffling 49. … Kc7 50. Kf6 Kb6 51. Ke6 Nc8 52. Kxf5 Nd6 53. Ke6 and Black resigns.

The final position

This game felt very similar to my first game: I had a huge advantage out of the opening, traded into a disadvantageous middlegame and then won due to endgame opponent’s blunders. In both of my games I had very good attacking chances - this game I should have kept everything closed with f5 or g5 instead of playing time I opened the center instead of playing 14. e4.

Thanks to my team captain Raphael M. and my fellow chess players Raphael S. and Iversen at SC Réti for analyzing my game with me and showing me how to improve my game!

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