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In the last concluded Nigerian Breweries Plc Chess Championship conducted in December at the Teslim Balogun Stadium Surulere, I played of course like everyone else that partook in the tournament, a 7 round Swiss.
Of my 7 games, I found particularly my 6th round game the most interesting, reason being that it was the only game I really saw myself losing in, managed to gain an advantage eventually, but lost the advantage again to secure myself a draw. It was okay for me as initially I didn’t think I had a chance. Lol!
Let me take us through the game
I played white.
1. d4 d5 a queen’s pawn game we have here… 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bf4 e6 4. e3 c5 I particularly like this move because it shows a lot of confidence and a willingness to attack. My opponent clearly is in no mood for a defensive game, and he’s telling me to bring it on. And of course, my next move
5. c4 says I’m very much ready.… cxd4 6. Nxd4 I prematurely gave up control of the c4 square and also gave black a chance to fight in the semi-open d-file after say 6…dxc4. Of course, that’s not to say it’s a bad move, No. I played it cos I thought it gave my knight a much bigger scope and fight, tentatively. And also because I’m personally not comfortable with an isolated queen’s pawn. So of course, it’s playable. exd4 is another option for those who are more comfortable with the IQP.
…Bb4+ 7. Nd2 I had a tough time choosing between Nc3 and this Nd2. I guess in a bid to save time was why I played this move which as you would see in the next few moves was not such a bad choice after all.
…Nc6 I like this move a lot. It’s a move with a question. “do you mind leaving that place, or exchanging with me to solidify my centre?”. Now, I did not want the IQP still, so
8. N4f3 at this point, I was beginning to get too defensive. My opponent had me here just for a second. He had the center, an attack and clearly, the initiative.
…dxc4 serious panic for me here o. lol
9. Bxc4 Ne4 I saw this coming actually, and that’s why I earlier played the N4f3, so I’m safe here. Now also at this point, I realized that my knight was better on the d2 square than the c3 square, else I would have had an isolated pawn on the c-file after just a few moves.
10. a3 that move was begging to be played. The apparent best move.
…Nxd2 11. Nxd2 Bxd2+ 12. Qxd2 Qxd2+ I don’t know why my opponent decided to exchange queens so early but I guess it’s safe and simple. I was a bit surprised, because I had judged my opponent to be in the mood for a real fight/attack.
13. Kxd2 e5 14.Bg3 f6 15. f4? Ke7 16. Kc3 at this point, I wasn’t feeling so comfortable anymore. My king was kind of exposed to quick attacks from the black rooks without so much scope to move to. My dark squared bishop also was in a bad place, I needed it in the action. And after the next move, I almost dint have any active piece in play. My mind at this point resolved to simply play for a draw if possible.
…Be6 17. Bxe6 Kxe6 18. b4 trying to stop the knight from coming in.
…Rac8 oh no! I’m in a very bad spot here.
19. Rac1 my position keeps getting worse because of my vulnerable king. Lol. The game still appears drawn, but black has the initiative
…Rhd8 20. Rhd1 Na5+ this move initially scared me and as a matter of fact, my opponent thought he had me after 21.Kb2 Nc4??. Luckily for him, he took his time before he played his next move.
21. Kb2 Nc6 22. Bf2 this wasn’t such a solid move, but I needed to activate my bishop somehow and also to clear the path for my g-pawn …a6 23. g4 Rxd1 24. Rxd1 Rd8 25. f5+ Kf7 at this point, I started to feel much more comfortable. But I was still worried that the end game won’t be in my favor because of the knight versus bishop ending. Little did I know…
26. Rxd8 Nxd8 27. Kc3 a4 was a better move …b5 28. e4 g6 29. h4 gxf5 30. exf5 Nb7 31. Bc5 phew! My best move played so far. Oh, I so much wished my opponent fell for this. Lol. But of course, he’s a tactical player.
…Nd8 32. Kd3 Nc6 33. Ke4 Ne7 34. g5 Nc6 I knew I had the advantage at this point, but I was a bit under time pressure, as was my opponent, so I didn’t calculate how well to proceed. I played “rubbish”
35. Bd6 this move was too hasty. 35.gxf6 would have won me a pawn and the game with the zug-zwang …kxf6 36. Bd6 and the king or the knight has to leave the defense of the e5 pawn.
After this move, the game became a draw, and my opponent and I held our positions till the end.
…Nd4 36. gxf6 Nc2 37. Bxe5 Nxa3 38. Kf4 Nc4 39. Bc3 Nb6 40. Ke4 Nc4 41. Be5 a5 42. bxa5 Nxa5 43. Kd3 Nc4 44. Bc3 Nd645. Kd4 Nxf5+ 46. Kc5 Nxh4 47. Kxb5 h5 48. Kc4 Nf3 49. Kd3 h4 50. Bb4 Kxf6 51.Ke3 Ng5 52. Kf2 Kf5 53. Be7 Kg4 54. Bxg5 Kxg5 55. Kg1 Kg4 56. Kg2 h3+ 57. Kh2 Kh4 58. Kh1 Kg3 59. Kg1 ½ – ½ .
Oh, and yes of course, my opponent was Micah Igubor. And I enjoyed playing this game with him.