A bolt from the blue

The following game was played in the ICC 5-minute pool against an opponent whose FIDE rating is 2071. I don’t normally annotate or show blitz games that I’ve played for obvious quality reasons, but I uncorked an extremely snazzy tactic in this game that I can’t help but share. (To my opponent’s credit, he was very gracious and also congratulated me on the move.) A steady diet of exercises based on ‘invisible’ moves seems to have finally paid off!

*Spoiler alert* The key positions is after White plays 18.g3, so you can try to work it out for yourself if you like! Of course, knowing ahead of time the critical moment makes any tactic easier to spot, which is part of why finding moves like this can be so difficult!

[Event "5-minute pool"]
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
[Date "2013.05.14"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Pavel"]
[Black "Aaron"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteELO "2071"]
[BlackELO "2098"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Bc5
( 4...Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 {is the
classical Berlin.} )
( 5...d6 $2 6.d4 Bb6 7.d5 a6 8.Ba4 {and White wins material.})
6.d4 Bb6 7.Re1
7...d6 8.Bxc6 $6
{Since White does not win a pawn on e5 as a result of this trade due
to tactical reasons, this move is premature.}
8...bxc6 9.dxe5 Ng4
{The point. With the double attack on e5 and f2 Black retains material
( 10.Rf1 $2 Ba6 )
10...Bxe3 11.fxe3 Nxe5 12.Nxe5 dxe5
{The position is approximately even, assuming White can find a good
square for his knight.}
{This maneuver is a bit slow.}
{Pressuring e4 and eying the kingside.}
14.Qf3 f5 $5
( 14...Be6 {was safer, but Black plays for more.} )
15.exf5 Bxf5 16.Qxc6
{White accepts the pawn. But now Black gains time to coordinate an attack on
the king.}
( 16...Bd3 $2 17.Qd5+ )
( 17.Qc4+ Kh8 18.Qe2 {was a safer alternative.}
17...Kh8 18.g3 $2
( 18.Rf1 {and White is alive and kicking. The point of 18.g3 is that
18...Qh3 is impossible. However...
} )
18...Rf2 $1
{Once the initial shock wears off, this move is actually pretty simple
to calculate. The myriad checkmating threats force White to capture
either the rook or the queen (apart from trivial spite moves like
Qc8+/Qe8+/Qg8+/Qh6). But both captures lead to forced mate!}
( 18...Rf2 19.gxh4
( 19.Kxf2 Qxh2+ 20.Kf1 Qg2# )
19...Rg2+ 20.Kf1
( 20.Kh1 Rg3# )
20...Rf8+ 21.Qf7 Rxf7# )

Training games

I’ve played a couple training games with a friend of mine from undergraduate recently. Here is one of them, which features an instructive rook and pawn endgame.

[Event "ICC"]
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
[Date "2012.09.14"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Aaron"]
[Black "Jason"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteELO "?"]
[BlackELO "?"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+
{The Bogo-Indian. A solid choice.}
4.Bd2 Qe7 5.g3 Nc6 6.Nc3
( 6.Bg2 Bxd2+ 7.Qxd2 $6 Ne4 8.Qc2 Qb4+ {and Black equalizes.} )
6...O-O 7.Bg2 d6
( 7...Bxc3 8.Bxc3 Ne4 {and the bishop is snagged.} )
8.O-O e5
( 8...Bxc3 9.Bxc3 Ne4 10.Be1 {is now possible.} )
9.Nd5 $1
{Emphasizing Black's failure to capture on c3.}
9...Nxd5 10.cxd5 Bxd2
{Forced. But now White has an interesting choice of captures.}
11.Qxd2 $6
( 11.dxc6 Bh6 12.dxe5 dxe5 13.Qd5 {was the most precise.} )
11...Nxd4 12.Nxd4 exd4 13.Qxd4 $5
( 13.Rfe1 {is simpler, but the game continuation is more combative.} )
{Facing the prospects of a passive defense of the weak c7-pawn, Black
chooses instead to grab some material and start a fight. But now White
obtains a massive lead in rook development.}
14.Rfe1 Qb5
( 14...Qg4 15.Re4 )
15.Rac1 Re8
{The idea of Black's Queen placement. Now Black's back rank hangs by a
thread! }
{Finally, I decided on this simple continuation. Trading off a pair of
rooks highlights Black's pathetic rook on a8.}
( 16.Qc4
( 16.Bf1 Qd7 17.Qg4 Qd8 18.Qg5 Bd7 )
( 16...Qxc4 $4 17.Rxe8# )
16...Qxe8 17.h4
( 17.Rxc7 $2 Qe1+ 18.Bf1 Bh3 )
{Black tries to defend c7, but he cannot hold it for long.}
18.Qc3 Bf5
{Black finally mobilizes, but now the material balance is
reestablished, with White maintaining the active Rook.}
19.Qxc7 Qxc7 20.Rxc7 Rb8
{With perfect play, the position is likely a draw. However, Black's
pieces are so passive that White has excellent practical chances.}
21.Bf3 $1
{Starting a good plan of kingside expansion. In order to create
winning chances, White must activate his King and probe for more
{Removing the a-pawn from the vulnerable 7th rank.}
22.g4 Bc8
{Not ideal, but if the Bishop abandons the c8-h3 diagonal, White can
continue with Rc7-d7, picking off the d6-pawn. }
23.Kg2 Kf8 24.Kg3 Ke8 25.Be4 $1
{Probing for weaknesses in order to try to gain entry for the King
into Black's position.}
{Regardless of whether Black plays h7-h6 or g7-g6, he creates holes in
his sixth rank.}
26.Kf4 Bd7 27.Bf5 Bxf5 $2
( 27...Bb5 {and White has trouble coordinating his King and Bishop,
since both of them would like to occupy the f5-square.} )
28.Kxf5 b5
{Starting the plan of b5-b4 and Rb8-b5. But it's too slow.}
29.g5 $1 hxg5 30.hxg5 b4 31.g6 $1
{The point. White gets into the sixth rank. }
31...fxg6+ 32.Ke6
{White is now 'up a King' and winning.}
32...Kf8 $6
( 32...Rd8 33.Rxg7 Kf8 34.Rxg6 {and White is still winning, but not as
quickly.} )
33.Kxd6 Rb6+
{Basically a spite check, as Black cannot realistically stop White's
34.Rc6 Rb7
{This move does lose immediately, but it's hard to criticize since
Black is losing regardless.}
35.Rc8+ Kf7 36.Rc7+
{and Black resigned.}
( 36.Rc7+ Rxc7 37.Kxc7 {and the d-pawn is unstoppable.} )

Lessons from a grandmaster

The next game is the only tournament game I’ve ever played against a grandmaster. My opponent was Georgian GM Mikheil Kekelidze. Not surprisingly, he outplayed me in every phase of the game. Obviously, I’ve still got a lot of work to do!

[Event "Marchand Open"]
[Site "Rochester, NY"]
[Date "2012.05.30"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Mikheil Kekelidze"]
[Black "Aaron Demby Jones"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteELO "2563"]
[BlackELO "2106"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5
{Not my usual repertoire, but I hadn't been getting good results with
the Queen's Indian Defense lately.}
4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.h3
{White plays to increase the value of his space advantage by avoiding
trades. (His move prevents a future Bc8-g4.)}
6...g6 7.e4 Bg7
( 7...Nxe4 $4 8.Qa4+ )
8.Bd3 O-O 9.O-O Re8
{Pressuring the e-pawn.}
{White defends. Now Black has to figure out how to develop his
remaining minor pieces. It's always a struggle in the Modern Benoni.}
{The start of the typical queenside expansion plan.}
{The usual reply. White has no hurry in this position and first plays
to restrict Black's possibilities before embarking on his own plans.}
{A bit clumsy, but there was no clear alternative.}
{White puts his finger on Black's awkward coordination. The d6-pawn
needs defense.}
{An undesirable move from a future tactical point of view. (See
White's 17th move.)}
13.Re1 Nh5
{Dangerous, since if White lands g2-g4 at the right moment, Black will
lose a lot of time.}
( 13...Rb8 )
( 13...b6 )
14.Bh2 Ne5
( 14...Bh6 {was an interesting alternative.} )
{Retaining the bishop pair and threatening Nf3xe5, discovering an
attack on the knight on h5.}
15...Nxf3+ 16.Bxf3 Nf6
{Forced. Now Black has traded off a pair of knights but at the cost of
17.e5 $1
{Very energetic play. White takes advantage of Black's unfortunate
queen placement.}
17...dxe5 18.d6
{The point.}
18...Qb6 19.Bxe5 Be6 $2
( 19...Bd7 {was necessary to keep the rook eyeing the bishop on e5.} )
20.a5 $1 Qb4
( 20...Qxb2 $2 21.Nd5 {and White wins. Had Black played 19. ... Bd7,
this resource would not be available to White.} )
21.Ra4 Bb3
{The point of 19. ... Be6. But this is based on faulty calculation.}
{Starting a favorable forcing sequence.}
22...Bxd1 23.Rxb7 Bxf3 24.gxf3 Nh5
{I had foreseen this sequence on move 19 and thought that I was
winning material here. However...}
{... I overlooked this defense in my calculations. White has won a
clean pawn.}
25...Red8 26.Ne4 Bxe5 27.Rxe5 f5
{Trying to eliminate the dangerous d-pawn.}
28.Nxc5 Rxd6 29.Re6 Rxe6 $2
{Overly cooperative.}
( 29...Rd2 30.Rxa6 Rxa6 31.Nxa6 Rxb2 {and Black has some chances to
draw.} )
30.Rxe6 Nf4
{Black no longer has any meaningful counterplay. White is clearly
winning now.}
31.Rxa6 Rd8 32.Ne6 Rd1+ 33.Kh2 Nd3
{Desperately hoping for some sort of mating net.}
34.Rd6 $1
{A nice tactical solution. White forces trades.}
34...Re1 35.Rd8+ Kf7 36.Ng5+ Kf6 37.Nxh7+ Kg7 38.Rxd3 Kxh7 39.a6
{And I resigned. White's pawn promotes without much resistance.}
( 39.a6 Ra1
( 39...Re7 40.Ra3 Ra7 41.b4 Kg7 42.b5 Kf7 43.b6 )
40.Ra3 )

Bishop stifling

I played the following game with the White pieces against WFM Anna Levina. The middlegame shows the thematic idea of playing with a good knight against a bad bishop. The finale shows off a beautiful twist on the same idea.

[Event "Grand Prix"]
[Site "Rochester, NY"]
[Date "2011.02.10"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Aaron Demby Jones"]
[Black "Anna Levina"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2106"]
[BlackElo "2111"]
[ECO "D31"]
[PlyCount "85"]
[Variant "Standard"]
[Opening "Semi-Slav Defense: Accelerated Move Order"]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e3 Bd6 5.Nf3 Nd7 6.e4
{Since Black isn't playing her knight out to f6, why not?}
6...dxe4 7.Nxe4 Bb4+ 8.Bd2 Bxd2+ 9.Qxd2
{The trade of these bishops seems to help White, since Black's
remaining bishop is worse than White's.}
9...Ndf6 10.Nc3
{Trying to make Black suffer from redundant knights.}
10...Ne7 11.Be2
( 11.Bd3 {looks more aggressive.} )
11...O-O 12.O-O Qc7 13.Rad1 Ng6 14.Rfe1 b6
{Black plans to slowly unroll with Bc8-b6, c6-c5, etc.}
15.b3 $6
{White drifts here for a few moves.}
15...Bb7 16.Qb2 $6 Nf4 17.c5 $1
{White wakes up and plays with a plan. Black's bishop shall not free
itself so easily after all.}
17...Nxe2+ $6
{This trade doesn't seem to help Black much. White can easily end up
with a favorable knight vs. bishop scenario.}
18.Qxe2 bxc5 19.dxc5 Qa5 20.Qe3 Nd5 21.Nxd5 exd5 22.b4 $1
{A rather deep pawn sacrifice.}
22...Qxa2 23.Nd4 Rab8
{If Black passes, say, with}
( 23...h6 {, White wins material via} 24.Ra1 Qc4 25.Rec1 Qxb4 26.Rab1
{The knight, having feinted to the queenside, now goes for the throat
on the kingside.}
24...Qb2 25.Rd4
{Blocking the line and threatening Qe3-e5.}
25...Bc8 26.Nxg7 $6
{A tactical solution, but simpler was}
( 26.Ne7+ Kh8 27.Nxc6 {and Black's position collapses.} )
26...Kxg7 27.Qg5+ Kh8 28.Qf6+ Kg8 29.Rg4+ Bxg4 30.Qxb2
{After the dust clears, White has a queen against rook and bishop. As
usual, the queen manages to prove superior by exploiting the color
complex opposite the bishop.}
30...a5 31.Qf6 Rxb4 32.h3
{Getting some luft with tempo.}
32...Be6 33.Re3 Rfb8 34.Qh6
{Trying to keep the king cornered by cutting off f8.}
{Intending Bf5-g6, plugging up the g-line.}
{Trying to cross her plans with h4-h5.}
35...Rb3 36.Rxb3 Rxb3 37.Qg5+ Bg6 38.h5
{The bishop is caught. But all of a sudden, Black is whipping up some
counterplay with a passed a-pawn.}
38...a4 39.h6 $1
{The 'drive-by' in action! White doesn't need to capture the bishop.
The pawn is actually more valuable in this position since it
coordinates in deadly fashion with the queen on the dark squares.}
39...f6 40.Qxf6 Rb7 41.Qxc6 Rb1+ 42.Kh2 Ra1 $2
{Losing on the spot, but otherwise White wins easily by pushing the
{Black resigns. Qf6-g7 mate can't be stopped. A thematic finish!}

My chessvideos.tv analysis can be found here.

In-between moves

Here is a miniature I played with Black against Class B player Jack Oleksyn. This game highlights the power of what FM Carsten Hansen calls “ESTs” (i.e., equal or stronger threats). White’s threats find themselves dominated by Black’s ESTs throughout.

[Event "Saturday tournament"]
[Site "Rochester, NY"]
[Date "2010.10.17"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Jack Oleksyn"]
[Black "Aaron Demby Jones"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteELO "1675"]
[BlackELO "2106"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3
{Playing for e2-e4, which would transpose to a Pirc/Modern.}
{Holding up the center.}
( 4.Bf4 {is the Barry Attack, and probably more accurate.} )
4...Bg7 5.Qd2 $6
{This move doesn't mesh well with the bishop on g5.}
5...Ne4 $1
{Black goes for immediate equality by trying to snag the bishop pair.}
6.Qf4 $2
{A serious error. Now the White pieces trip over each other.}
( 6.Nxe4 $2 dxe4 {and the d4 pawn hangs.} )
( 6.Qe3 {was best.} )
6...h6 $6
{Winning material, but not the most accurate.}
( 6...f6 {was more precise--see the followup note.} )
7.Nxe4 $6
( 7.Bxe7 Kxe7 {and Black has been a bit discomboulated, although he
remains up a piece.}
( 7...Qxe7 $2 8.Nxd5 {is unpleasant.} )
7...dxe4 8.Ne5
{Threatening mate on f7.}
( 8...Bxe5 $2 9.Qxe5 {hitting the rook in the corner is an unpleasasnt
surprise.} )
9.Bh4 $6
{White expected g6-g5, but Black has other plans.}
9...Qxd4 $1
{Black doesn't bother picking off the useless White pieces on the
kingside, instead focusing his attack on the exposed White queenside.
Now e5 and b2 are hanging, and g6-g5 is still in the cards.}
{Probably expecting f7xg6.}
10...Qxb2 $1
{With White's queen away from the defense, his queenside is falling
apart. }
{Capitulation, but alternatives weren't much better.}
( 11.Rd1
( 11.Rc1 Bc3+ 12.Kd1 Nc6 {and a rook comes to d8 with devastating
effect.} )
( 11.Qc1 Qc3+ 12.Kd1 fxg6 {and Black has an overwhelming position
with too many threats.} )
11...Bc3+ 12.Rd2 Qc1# )
{Cashing in.}
{White tries to hide on the kingside.}
{Another in-between move! Black seals the door on any hope of White
development. Now the king and the bishop on f1 become permanently
( 13.Qxe3 Bd4 )
( 13.Kxe3 fxg6 {might have been better, but it's all rather depressing
for White.} )
{Finally there was nothing better to do than take the knight! Black is
now up a whole rook and a knight.}
{Of course White could resign, but who can resist threatening mate?}
{Staying alert. Black doesn't care about any of his pawns if he can
quickly mobilize his extra pieces.}
15.Qxb7 Nd7 16.Bxe7 Rab8
{Suddenly White's back rank looks vulnerable.}
{Threatening Qe4xe6+, winning back some material. But Black has a very
pretty counter.}
17...Qxf1+ $1
{Remeniscent of a puzzlebook checkmate!}
18.Kxf1 Rb1#
{The pawn on e3 pulls its weight after all. Black's pieces completely
overpowered their White counterparts.}

Here’s my chessvideos.tv video analysis.

Chaos on the board

This game is a crazy encounter between myself playing the black pieces and six-time Venezuelan chess champion László Tapasztó. It features several mutual blunders, but also many twists and turns, and explosive tactics. Not to be missed!

[Event "Wednesday night chess"]
[Site "Rochester, NY"]
[Date "2012.05.26"]
[Round "?"]
[White "László Tapasztó"]
[Black "Aaron Demby Jones"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteELO "2301"]
[BlackELO "2106"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5
{The Trompowsky attack.}
{A combative continuation. Black immediately attempts to counterattack
the dark squares.}
{This move was already unknown to me. Out of book on move 3!}
3...cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Qh4
{The position has some features resembling the Open Sicilian. Black
has more center pawns, but lags behind in piece mobility. White is
prepared to castle long and potentially attack in the kingside or the
{I decided to set up my pieces similar to a Sicilian Dragon.}
6.e4 Qa5
{Threatening 7...Nxe4 8.Qxe4 Qxg5.}
{Breaking the pin.}
{Since White has committed his king position to the queenside, I
decided to immediately focus my attack there. Black can mobilize very
quickly with Ra8-c8.}
{Safeguarding the a2 pawn. A typical tidying move.}
( 8...Nxe4 9.Nxe4 Qxa2+ 10.Kc1 Qa1+ 11.Kd2 Qxb2 {was also plausible,
where Black has three pawns for the sacrificed knight. I couldn't
easily evaluate that position over the board, so I settled for
increasing the pressure without making any sacrifices for now.} )
{Probably forced, otherwise Nc6-b4 was very strong. (Black would be
ready to sacrifice the exchange on c3.)}
9...a6 $5
{It seems more natural to try to start mobilizing the kingside, but in
fact it is not so easy to do so. I decided to leave my king in the
middle and launch an immediate assault on White's king. White's pieces
are anticipating that Black will eventually castle short, so they are
now temporarily misplaced. The idea of 9...a6 is of course to play
b7-b5-b4 and open lines.}
10.f4 $1
{White wastes no time in changing plans, starting his attack in the
middle rather than the kingside.}
10...b5 11.f5 b4 $5
( 11...Bd7 {was more sedate, but possibly better.} )
( 12.axb4 $2 Nxb4 {and Black's attack is suddenly overwhelming with
the threat of Rc8xc3.} )
12...bxc3 13.exf7+ Kd8
( 13...Kxf7 {is also possible, but it appeared dangerous to step onto
the a2-g8 diagonal with White's bishop ready to pounce.} )
14.Rxd6+ $2
{This move wins a few pawns, but should lose by force! White's pieces
become hopelessly disorganized in their greed.}
14...exd6 15.Bxf6+ gxf6 16.Qxf6+
{The point. But White's queen will be buried away from the action on
16...Kd7 $6
( 16...Kc7 {was more accurate to avoid a later queen check on h3.} )
{With best play, White is now lost.}
17...Rb8 $5
{This move doesn't throw away the win, but }
( 17...cxb2 {was simplest.} )
18.b3 Ne5 $2
{Plausible, but now White can defend! }
( 18...Bh6 {was a shot!} 19.Qxh7
( 19.Qf6 Qxa3 20.Qxc3 Qc1+ 21.Ka2 Nb4+ {and Black mates soon.} )
19...Rxb3+ 20.cxb3 c2+ {and Black will eventually mate.} )
19.Qxh7 $1
{With the defensive idea of Qh7-h3+ and Qh3xc3, should Black abandon
the defense of the c3 pawn. If White can consolidate, he has a winning
material advantage.}
19...Qxa3 20.Qh3+ Ng4 $5
{An amusing idea. It's not every day you can "hang" a piece with
( 21.Qxg4+ $4 Kc7 {and White's queen is on the wrong defensive
circuit.} )
{Black at least tries to win some material back. Unfortunately, the
rook on h1 is not a very useful piece to win ...}
22.e5 $6
( 22.Nf3 {was simplest and more natural. } )
22...Nd1 $5
{An excellent twist! Black spurns the rook in favor of extra pressure
on the king. The point is that the White queen must stay on the a1-h8
diagonal to prevent Qb2#.}
23.Qd4 $2
{Allowing an immediate draw. }
( 23.Qa1 $4
( 23.e6+ $1 Ke7 24.Qh8 {and by covering the long diagonal as well
as h6, White wins!} )
23...Rxb3+ 24.cxb3 Qxb3+ 25.Kc1 Bh6# )
23...Rxb3+ $1
{Black wastes no time in forcing a perpetual check. Any other
continuation is likely losing.}
24.cxb3 Qxb3+ 25.Ka1 Qa3+ 26.Kb1 Qb3+ 27.Ka1
{The king can never escape to c1 because of Bf8-h6+. Of course, if
Black pushes his luck by playing for a win, White will be able to
mobilize his pieces with tempo and consolidate. For instance, }
( 27.Ka1 Nc3 $4 28.e6+ Ke7 29.Qh4+ Kxe6 30.Bc4+ {and White wins.} )

Here’s my chessvideos.tv video commentary as well.

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!}

A sacrificial attack

Here’s one of my finest attacking games. I’m playing Black against FM Ben Dean-Kawamura (2413 FIDE).

[Event "Rochester Round Robin"]
[Site "Rochester, NY"]
[Date "2010.05.20"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Ben Dean-Kawamura"]
[Black "Aaron Demby Jones"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteELO "2413"]
[BlackELO "2104"]

1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 exf4
{A simple line that attempts to neutralize White's gambit rather than
refute it.}
4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Be2 $6
{A rare and seemingly passive continuation. More common are }
( 5.c4 )
( 5.Bb5+ )
( 5.Bc4 )
( 5.Nc3 )
5...Nxd5 6.c4
{The point of White's previous play. White wants to drive the knight
away from the defense of the pawn on f4.}
{With the threat of Nb4-d3+.}
{White protects d3 and threatens the pawn on f4.}
{Now there is a new threat, Nb4-c2+.}
{Forced. Now White is finally ready to capture the pawn on f4, barring
any new threats.}
8...Bd6 $6
( 8...g5 {was sharper and stronger:} 9.h4 g4 10.Ne5 f3 $1 11.gxf3 g3
$1 {and Black is better. After the game continuation, White can regain
his pawn. I spent some time choosing between Bf8-e7 and Bf8-d6 and
eventually decided that provoking c4-c5 was actually advantageous to
Black because of the weakening of the d5 square.
} )
{White must capture f4, otherwise he risks standing worse.}
9...Be7 10.Qb3
{The beginning of a tactical excursion that ultimately ends up
favoring Black. White tries to take advantage of the fact that his
pawn on c5 has cut the line of communication between the bishop on e7
and the knight on b4.}
{After a lengthy think. Certainly Nb8-c6 is the most natural move, but
I feared the continuation 11.Bc4, with the dual threats of 12.Bxf7+
and 12.d5. However, I eventually foresaw a satisfactory counterattack.
See the game!}
11.Bc4 $2
{Superficially strong, but in fact, the losing move!}
11...Nxd4 $1
{Black strikes immediately in the center. The first minor piece is
{12. Nxd4 Qxd4 13. Qxb4 is even worse than the game continuation. 12.
Bxf7+ Kf8 also fails to help White. His bishop must stay on c4 to
control the light squares around his king.}
( 12.Nxd4 Qxd4 13.Qxb4 {is even worse than the game continuation.}
( 13.Bxf7+ Kf8 {is worse still! White needs his light-squared
bishop to defend the area around his king.} )
{The second minor piece eliminates a key defender.}
13.gxf3 Bh4+
{The point of Black's play. Now White's king finds himself stuck in
the center with lots of open lines...}
14.Kf1 $2
( 14.Ke2 Qg5 {with the threat of Qg5-g2+ is very strong for Black, but
White is still fighting. The game continuation is basically mate for
Black!} )
14...Qd1+ $6
{This leads to the flashiest mate, but not the simplest.}
( 14...Bd3+ {arrives at similar positions to the game but without
White having a bishop on c4!} )
15.Kg2 Bh3+
{The bishops now insist that the White king makes a journey to greet
his Black counterpart.}
16.Kxh3 Qxf3+ 17.Kxh4
{Black has lost all his minor pieces, but his rooks are itching to
leap into action.}
17...g5+ $1 18.Kxg5 Rg8+ 19.Kf5
{If 19. Kh4 Qg4#. Or 19. Kh6 Qh3#. 19. Kf6 is similar to the game
( 19.Kh4
( 19.Kh6 Qh3# )
19...Qg4# )
( 19.Kf6 {is similar to the game.} )
19...O-O-O $1
{A momentary lull in the attack. By tucking the king away from
nuisance checks and activating the final piece, Black shuts the door
on the White king's escape plan. Even with a free move and three extra
minor pieces, White is helpless to prevent mate. The hard part was
foreseeing this a bunch of moves ago!}
( 19...Qg4+ 20.Ke4 {and White might slip away with Ke4-d3-c2 if Black
isn't careful!} )
20.Qc3 $6
( 20.Bxf7 {would have forced Black to find some nice maneuvers to reel
in the full point:} 20...Qg4+ 21.Ke4 Qg2+ 22.Kf5 Qg5+ 23.Ke4 Qe7+ {and
Black crashes through. The nicest 'fantasy' variation might go} 24.Kf3
Rd3+ 25.Kf2 Rg2+ 26.Kxg2 Qe2+ 27.Kg1 Rd1+ 28.Qe1 Rxe1# )
20...Qg4+ 21.Ke4 Rge8+ 22.Qe5
{Hoping for Re8xe5+, which isn't actually so clear. However...}
{...this move is a reasonably strong alternative! A nerve-wracking
game, but well worth it.}

My video commentary of this game can be found over at chessvideos.tv under the handle Laurent.