[Event "Jake Darmanin - David Cilia Vincenti: Robert, Zerafa - David, Cilia Vincenti 0-1"] [Site "https://lichess.org/study/RgJZMgoP/Rtni4388"] [Result "*"] [Variant "Standard"] [ECO "B40"] [Opening "Sicilian Defense: French Variation, Normal"] [Annotator "https://lichess.org/@/Szicko2023"] [UTCDate "2023.04.23"] [UTCTime "14:57:56"] [Source "https://lichess.org/study/RgJZMgoP/Rtni4388"] [Orientation "white"] 1. e4 { At this point I had 2.5 points out of three, and was leading with Colin. My tournament was therefore going pretty well, whilst my opponent had not started too well and was therefore forced to play for a win. Robert plays a variety of first moves, so it is trickier to prepare against him. } 1... c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Bd3 Nc6 { Robert took the plunge and went for an open Sicilian. I had prepared the Four Knights for this tournament, mainly because it can only be challenged with long forced theoretical lines, and the quieter lines are pretty pleasnat for Black. Robert already varied with 5.Bd3, which is already much less critical than the main move 5.Nc3 } 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. O-O d5 8. Qe2 Be7 9. Bg5 O-O 10. Nd2 Nd7 11. Bxe7 Qxe7 $10 { Black has an extra pawn in the centre and the bishop on d3 can get harasssed by my knight. I was happy with the opening phase and the game is now objectively equal. However White has to play accurately to keep the balance as Black's plans are more intuitive. } 12. exd5 cxd5 13. c4 Nc5 14. Bc2 dxc4 15. Nxc4 Bb7 { It was more logical to play 15...Ba6, pinning the knight, though it would be harsh to call the text move an inaccuracy. } 16. a4 a5 17. Ra3 { So that was the idea behind 16.a4. My opponent goes for the rook lift to attack my King, an imaginative but risky idea. If he attack is not succesful, the rook might easily end up somewhat stranded and uncoordinated. } 17... g6 { Pre-empting Greek gift sacrifices on h7. I was getting very scared at this point although objectively I thought my position was resilient enough. Now the pressure was on me to defend accurately. } 18. Rb1 Rfd8 { My opponent's previous move signalled he was planning b4 at some point but it is not really problematic for Black so I just got my rook to an open file. } 19. Ne5?! { The first real innacuracy of the game. The knight achieves nothing here as g6 and f7 are too well defended } 19... Rd4! { A very accurate defensive move. It prepares to double rooks on the important d-file, whilst the rook will also do a useful job on the fourth rank. For the time being, it stops b4 } 20. Rg3? { Now it was becoming clear that Robert was overpressing. The position doesn't justify an all out attack and I should have taken the opportunity to keep centralising my pieces harmoniously. } 20... Qf6? { My turn to play poorly. I should have stuck to my plan and played 20...Rad8, threatening . ..Rd2. The move I played was a result of fear and seeing ghosts. I wanted to keep g6 protected, but sacrifices there lead nowhere. } 21. Ng4 Qf4! { A brave and accurate move keeping an eye on h6 whilst threatening ...Rd2 again. } 22. Qb5? { The decisive mistake. Robert tries to use his queen to cause some mischief but his pieces lack coordination and his back rank will sonn become a problem. } 22... Rc8! { An obvious move but a very strong one. Note how my knight, bishop and rook protect each other. Also, the bishop on c2 is unprotected and if I land a check on c1 with my rook it will be disastrous for White. } 23. h4 { This solves the back rank problem but by now Black is far more active and well co-ordinated. Over the next few moves I didn't find the crispiest continuations but I never squandered my advantage. } (23. Qxa5? Ne4 { Taking the pawn would have been far too greedy. }) 23... Rd2 24. b4 Rxc2? (24... Rxf2! 25. Nxf2 Qxg3 26. Qf1 axb4 27. Rxb4 Rd8 $19 { This was much better, and not too hard to see. It is very important to keep looking for tactical blows even when you are strategically better. }) 25. bxc5 Bd5 26. Qd7 R8xc5 27. h5 Rc7 28. Qb5 Rb7 { Over here I breathed a sigh of relief. I am winning material whilst the attack on my King still doesn't look like taking off. } 29. Qxb7 Bxb7 30. Rxb7 Kf8 { This nice prophylactic move is not strictly necessary, but it is useful to play it before introducing my rook into the attack, to avoid getting mated by Rb1 followed by h6. Also I am now threatening ...gxh5 without getting exposed to a discovered check. } 31. h6 f5! { A nice shot. The knight is chased away and the pawn on h6 falls. } 32. Ne3 (32. Nf6 Rc1+ 33. Kh2 Qxh6+ 34. Rh3 Qf4+ 35. Rg3 (35. g3 Qxf2#) 35... Qh4+ 36. Rh3 Qxf6 $19) 32... Rc1+ 33. Kh2 Qxh6+ 34. Rh3 Qf4+ 35. Rg3 h5 { 0-1 My opponent resigned. This was my best game of the tournament. I kept my cool and defended well against my opponent's aggressive play. I wasn't afraid to counterattack with my own threats and calculated quite accurately when under pressure, with only two innacuracies on move 20 and 24. } *