[Event "KinoKing's Study: David Munoz - Karl Tolentino"] [Site "SGVCC"] [Date "January 4 2022"] [Result "0-1"] [Variant "Standard"] [ECO "B72"] [Opening "Sicilian Defense: Dragon Variation, Classical Variation"] [Annotator "https://lichess.org/@/KinoKing"] [Source "https://lichess.org/study/ywORi7uU/WW5Yl0Oh"] [Orientation "white"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Be2 { This natural move would be totally fine against most set ups, except for the dragon Sicilians. In those systems, the bishop is much better on c4 as it actively stops black from achieving the all important d5 break. } 6... g6 7. Be3 Bg7 8. f3 O-O 9. Qd2 d5! { This move was made available by the tempo that Be2 cost. As a general rule of thumb, if black can ever pull off the d5 break in the Sicilian he tends to be ok. } 10. Nxc6 bxc6 11. e5 Nd7?! { Oddly enough, this move is inaccurate. Ne8 is much better, as the knight can eventually route to d6 or c7-e6, both of which are more useful posts than d7. } (11... Ne8 12. f4 f6 13. exf6 Nxf6 14. O-O Rb8 15. Rab1 Qc7 16. Bd4 Bf5 { Where black has a bit of potential to push his central pawns. The position still has rough equality for both sides but it would be easier for me to understand black's plans. }) 12. f4 e6 13. Na4 a5 14. O-O Re8 15. Rad1 Bf8 16. c4 Ba6 17. b3 Bb4 18. Qc2 Qe7 19. Kh1 Red8 20. Nb2 Nc5 21. Bxc5 Bxc5 22. g4?! { Bold and committal. I have a hard time believing this move can work when the center can still be opened. That being said, the way I handled it during the game was not optimal. } 22... Ba3 23. Na4 c5? { It was better to start opening the center directly. } (23... dxc4 24. bxc4 Rab8 25. Rf3 Rxd1+ 26. Qxd1 Bb4 27. Rb3 Rd8 28. Rd3 { White will have a hard time in the ensuing middle/endgame as his king will always be more exposed without a concrete threat for black to be worried about. The bishop pair may also be of importance sooner rather than later. }) 24. cxd5 Bxe2 25. Qxe2 Rxd5 26. Rxd5 exd5 27. Qf3 Rd8 28. Nc3 Qe6 29. Rd1 Bb2 { Here I thought I was actually much worse, and had made my peace with sacrificing a pawn for activity to potentially play against White's more open king. I figured if my bishop was active on the d4 square and white only had a knight on f6, I might be "ok". The silicone engine insists on a more cold blooded follow up to maintain the balance: } (29... d4 30. Ne4 Bb4 31. Nf6+ Kg7 32. Qe4 { I had rejected this because my bishop looks much worse on b4 than it does on d4, and white's knight is terrorizing the kingside. It dazzles me that the machine can call this equal. } 32... Qc8 33. f5 Qa8 { An instructive maneuver to swap off the queens. Had I seen this from a distance, I might've thought I was ok here. } 34. Qxa8 Rxa8) 30. Nxd5 Bd4 31. Nf6+ Kg7 32. g5? { I don't like this move. From White's point of view, there's no need to control h6, and it gives black avenue to h3 and the f5 square. In addition, black can open up the h-file now to activate his rook towards the king on h1. } (32. h4 { All in. White needed more fuel to break apart the pawn cluster around black's king. I've added what the top engine moves suggest from this point onward, and indeed black is on his back heel for the entirety of the game. } 32... h6 33. Kg2 a4 34. h5 g5 35. fxg5 Qxe5 36. gxh6+ Kxh6 37. Ne4 axb3 38. axb3 Qd5 39. Rd3 Rb8 40. Qf4+ Kg7 41. h6+ Kh7 42. Rxd4 Qxd4 43. Nf6+ Kg6 44. Qf5+ Kxh6 45. g5+ Kg7 46. Qh7+ Kf8 47. Qh8+ Ke7 48. Qxb8 Qd2+ 49. Kh3 Qxg5 50. Ng4 Qd5 51. Qa7+ Kf8 52. Qb8+ Ke7 53. Qg3 Qh1+ 54. Nh2) 32... h6 33. gxh6+ Kxh6 34. Rd2 Kg7 35. h3 Rh8 36. Ng4 Qf5 { Time to take stock of the position. White is up a pawn, but black has a more compact pawn structure around his king, along with occupation of the semi-open h-file with control of the b1-f4 diagonal. It will be easier for black to coordinate an assault as white has to keep an eye on more entry points for the black queen/bishop/rook. In contrast, it is hard to determine how white's queen and rook can coordinate in a meaningful way without leaving white's king defenseless- his knight is the only piece that can directly threaten the kingside. Strategically speaking, I think black's position is easier to play, but the pawn he had to pay for it keeps the evaluation balanced. } { [%cal Gf5b1,Gh8h3,Gd4g1] } 37. Rg2 { This move immediately blunders a pawn, but it also highlights the dangers in the white position. In my opinion, holding onto material for dear life to have a tenable position is terribly difficult. } 37... Bxe5 { Either capture of the bishop fails to tactical reasons. } 38. Re2 (38. fxe5 Qxf3) (38. Nxe5 Rxh3+ 39. Qxh3 Qxh3+) 38... Bd4 39. Kg2 Qb1 40. Ne3 Rh5 { It is hard for white to find an acceptable move here. The engine suggests Kh2 or Nf1, both of which turtle up and give free reign for black to make trouble. } 41. f5 { Giving the g5 square proves fatal. } 41... Rg5+ { My opponent resigned here in light of checkmate or loss of the queen. } 42. Qg4 (42. Ng4 Qg1#) 42... Qe4+ 43. Kf1 Rxg4 0-1