Transforming advantages

Here’s a nice positional game I played recently as White against USCF expert Robert Radford. What started out as a nice space advantage for me first changed into a structural advantage, then into a dynamic advantage, and then finally into a decisive structural and dynamic endgame advantage. (Had my opponent not resigned, I would have concluded with a material advantage!)

[Event "Ventura Quads"]
[Site "Ventura, CA"]
[Date "2011.10.04"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Aaron Demby Jones"]
[Black "Robert Radford"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteELO "2106"]
[BlackELO "2030"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 b6
{A rare move order. If Black wants to play the English defense, more
standard is 1... e6 and 2...b6 in order to have the later possibility
of f7-f5.}
3.Nc3 Bb7 4.Nf3
{White decides to steer the game back into standard Queen's Indian
Defense lines. The more testing options try to control the e4 square
( 4.Qc2 )
( 4.f3 )
4...e6 5.a3
{Transposing to the Petrosian variation of the Queen's Indian Defense.
White's move prevents Bf8-b4 and thus indirectly fights for the e4
5...Be7 $6
( 5...d5 {is considered more accurate. Now White can make a space
grab.} )
{Playing against the bishop on b7.}
6...O-O 7.e4 exd5 8.cxd5 d6
{The pawn structure favors White. Black's bishop on b7 doesn't have
much scope.}
9.Bd3 c6
{Trying to free the bishop.}
( 10.dxc6 $6 Nxc6 {develops Black's knight for him.} )
{A concession. Now when White captures on c6, Black simply loses time.
( 10...cxd5 11.exd5 Nxd5 12.Nxd5 Bxd5 13.Bxh7+ Kxh7 14.Qxd5 {is
pleasant for White.} )
11.dxc6 Bxc6 12.Nd4 Bb7
{The bishop on b7 is no longer stymied, but now the pawn on d6 is a
potential target and White's knight is beautifully placed on d4.}
( 13.Bf4 {looks more concrete, eyeing d6.} )
{Pressuring the e4 pawn.}
{Natural, but unnecessary. }
( 14.Nf5 {defended tactically:} 14...Ncxe4 $2 15.Nxe4 Nxe4 16.Qg4 {and
the double threat wins for White.} )
{Grabbing the bishop pair while trading a pair of minor pieces helps
Black ease his spatial disadvantage.}
15.Qxd3 Nd7
( 15...d5 {is premature due to} 16.e5 )
{Pressuring d6.}
16...Nc5 17.Qd4 $6
( 17.Qe2 {was most accurate. } )
( 17.Qd2 $2 Nb3 )
17...Bf6 $1
{Liquidating into a queenless middlegame where Black is much closer to
equality. I completely missed this move, believing Nc5-e6 was forced.}
18.Qxd6 Qxd6 19.Nxd6 Ba6 20.Rfd1 Nd3 21.Nd5 $1
{The only try for an advantage. Now, despite the soon-to-be equal
material and lack of weaknesses, Black lags in piece activity.}
( 21.Rab1 {trying to keep the extra pawn fails to the simple tactic}
21...Nxb2 )
21...Bxb2 22.Ra2
{Threatening Rd1xd3.}
( 22...Rad8 $2 23.Rxb2 Nxb2 24.Ne7+ Kh8 25.Nxf7+ Rxf7 26.Rxd8+ Rf8 27.
Rxf8# {was a fun fantasy variation.} )
( 23.Nc7 Bxd6 $6
( 23...Rad8 {I eventually noticed, which immediately equalizes.} )
24.Nxa6 Nc5 25.Bxc5 Bxc5+ 26.Nxc5 bxc5 27.Rc2 Rac8 28.Rdc1 {and White
picks up a pawn and has some winning chances in the rook endgame.} )
{The knights were getting out of hand, so Black trades one off.}
24.Rad2 Bxd5 25.Ne7+ $6
( 25.exd5 {is probably better. I couldn't decide over the board
whether the newly created d-pawn would be strong or weak.} )
25...Kh8 26.Nxd5 Nb2 27.Rc1
{f2-f4 is a threat, removing the guard.}
{Trying to activate the rooks.}
28.Rdc2 Rxc2 29.Rxc2 Nd3 30.Nb4 $1
{A nice positional idea. White forces a favorable change in the pawn
{More or less forced. }
( 30...Nf4 31.Nc6 Rc8 32.Rd2 $1 )
{Now b4-b5 cannot be prevented. By fixing Black's queenside majority,
White maintains an advantage.}
31...h6 $6
( 31...a5 32.bxa5 bxa5 33.Rc5 {wins a pawn, although White would still
have to prove that his 4-3 advantage on the kingside is sufficient to
win with no other pawns on the board. The game continuation creates
luft, but perhaps Kh8-g8 was more natural.} )
{As planned.}
32...Rd8 33.Ra2 $2
( 33.f4 {to shut down any tactical ideas Black has involving Rd8-d1+
and Be5xh2 was stronger. Don't rush in the endgame!} )
33...Rd3 $6
( 33...Rd1+ 34.Kf2 Bxh2 {was probably the best try, playing for
complications.} )
34.Kf2 Bb8 $2
{My opponent offered me a draw with this move. Ironically, I believe
it loses by force!}
35.Rd2 $1
{Now a rook trade is forced due to the potential threat of Rd2-d8+.
The resulting bishop endgame is winning for White.}
35...Rxd2+ 36.Bxd2
{White's advantage is threefold: more active king, more active bishop,
and superior pawn structure.}
36...h5 $2
( 36...Kg8 37.Ke3 Kf8 38.Kd4 Ke7 39.Kd5 Kd7 {and at least Black has
kept the White king out of c6. But White would win regardless by
slowly advancing his kingside pawns. He is effectively up a pawn
thanks to the bind on the queenside.} )
37.Ke3 $1
{Now the White king reaches c6 with decisive effect.}
{It makes no difference whether Black grabs this pawn since he cannot
mobilize his kingside.}
38.Kd4 Bd6 $6
{As usual, all moves are bad in a lost position, but allowing Kd4-d5
with tempo certainly cannot be best. Black has completely lost the
thread of this endgame.}
39.Kd5 Bg3
( 39...Bc5 {was probably his first intention, but after} 40.Bf4 {,
Bf4-b8 is unstoppable.} )
{Simply threatening Kc6-b7.}
40...Bf2 41.Bf4 $1
{And Black resigned in view of Bf4-b8. White will win both Black's
queenside pawns, after which Black will have to sacrifice his bishop
for White's b pawn. The resulting position is then easily winning for
White. White's strategic bind with b4-b5 paid off handsomely!}

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