Rapid Game 2 of 4

Happy Lunar New Years!

Hi again everyone and welcome to game 2 of 4 of my rapid series review!

If you're new here, welcome to my blog! And if you're a returning reader, welcome back!

For this game, I had the wonderful opportunity to work with JJ lang (@ChessFeels on Twitter). He is a 2093 USCF rated player and Nebraska's #3 with a peak rating of 2143. Suffice it to say that he is a strong player and no doubt has some valuable insight to offer. JJ was kind enough to leave some comments on my game above as well so be sure to take a look at what he has to say! Let's get to it.

In this second 10 + 5 game, I am handed black. 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 and we have the advanced variation of the Caro-Kann. I play the Caro religiously and have done so for the last few years, so I like to believe I know what I am doing when I get into these positions. 4. Nf3 e6 5. Bd3...this is still theory and is a common idea to see in this line. White brings his light squared bishop out to get rid of blacks good bishop and then retake...usually with the queen....Bxd3! 6. Qxd3...and here c5 is the big move but by no means is my knight move bad....Ne7

7. Bg5 h6 I wanted that bishop out of there and didn't anticipate my opponent playing 8. Bh4 g5 9. Bg3 and white has a sadge looking bishop on g3 and you can bet I'm gonna throw my night in that juicy f5 square.

8. Bd2?! and to be honest I wasn't exactly sure why this was a dubious move and I thought it was fine, though the computer prefers Be3 which seems odd to me as I would have thought it would have even less moves AND Nf5 would just target the bishop again, but looking at it now, I wouldn't trade my knight on f5 for the bishop on e3.

....Nf5 9. Nc3 Be7 10. O-O Nd7, still ignoring c5. 11. Rfe1 O-O 12. a3 Qc7 13. Na2?! and oh boy was I happy (and confused) to see this move. White has placed his knight on the edge (nights on the rim are grim) and while every rule in chess has exceptions, I saw nothing good of this move....c5 (finally) 14. dxc5?! and white is just asking me to develop my pieces with tempo. I'll happily accept.

....Nxc5 15. Qc3 Rac8 16. b4?? and I agree. I will happily:

1) Place my knight on e4 hitting both the bishop and queen

2) Trade queens and take the semi open file

Had white played Qb3 I could play

- g5

- Nxd2

- Qxc2

These were my candidate moves if white played anything other than trading. Lots of options here and lots of good moves....Ne4 17. Qxc7 Rxc7 18. c3 Nxd2?! Both the computer and JJ didn't think this was the best move which I better understood why, but my original thought was "I'm clearly better here, trading should be fine." But this thought process can present problems as trades can sometime benefit the opponent. Here, getting rid of my good knight for his bad bishop doesn't make a lot of sense and isn't the worst move to see, but was unnecessary. Much better would have been to improve the placement of my rook and slide it over to its comrade Rfc8.

19. Nxd2 Bg5 Not my best move either. I wanted to try to get rid of my dark squared bishop since it wasn't doing much but white can just play 20. Nf3 and I gotta move my piece back. Wasted move here....Be7 21. Rac1 Rfc8 22. Nd4? I will happily trade here and open up the file for my doubled rooks.

....Nxd4 23. cxd4 Bg5! Here I'm asking white what they wish to do with their rook: Trade or move off the open file? They chose to trade

24. Rxc7 Rxc7 25. g3Rc2 26. Ra1 Rd2?! and I'm feeling GREEDY. Maybe GM Yasser Seirawan would be proud?

In the position, 26...Bd2 is much stronger as it "paralyzes both of whites pieces, and keeps the bishop active before being shut out by f4" (JJ Lang 2022) Though to be honest I didn't even see/consider the move which also resulted in my missing the bishop move.

27. f4 Bd8 My opponent should have played Nc1 or Nc3, attempting to bring their pieces back into play. 28. Rc1 Bb6! 29. Nc3 Bxd4+ 30. Kh1 a6! JJ and I talked about this move a bit and he got to hear my insight on my reasoning behind this move

I played this move because I didn't want whites knight to go into b5 nor was I eager to let white into the open c file and infiltrate into my humble 7th rank. Sure I'm still winning but I felt as though that was giving white too many chances at counter play. Especially with his a and b pawns, I wanted to chance for them to make passed pawns.

31. Na4 Ra2 32 Nc5 Bxc5

With less pieces on the board and my rook being active whilst my opponent has the passive rook. Whites rook on the c file doesn't intimidate me.

33. Rxc5 Rxa 34. Rc7 b6 35. Rc6 b5 36. Kg2 Ra4 37. Kf3 Rxb4 38. Rxa6 Rb1 39. Rb6 b4 40. g4 b3 41. f5 b2 42. Ke2??

Apparently, this is a famous trap that was covered in 100 Endgames You Must Know by Spanish GM Jesús de la Villa. I've never opened the book (though it is on my list) so I was fascinated that I was able to reach a key position. To be honest, I played what looked to be the best move. I'll chalk that up to having big omega brain endgame theory....Rh1 and white can't take due to Rxh2+ winning the rook and the game. 43. fxe6 fxe6 and white has no hope. 0-1 White resigns.

This was a fun game and I felt pretty much in control the whole time. Overall, I think I played well but as always, I'd love to hear your imput on the game! If any coaches are reading this, feel free to use my games to show to you students if it helps.

Well I think that's all for now. I'm going to sit back now and play some video games while my girlfriend is sleeping and with Sonic the Hedgehog movie playing in the background. Have a goodnight, morning, or afternoon and as always.

Be good, be safe. See you next week!

Christopher Herrera

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