Jon Speelman's Agony Column #25

by Jonathan Speelman
10/26/2016 – This week's pair of games are by Davide Nastasio, who is 50 and lives in Atlanta, Georgia. A nurse who has worked in various roles including medical-surgical oncology and emergency nursing, Davide got interested in chess in 2011 when he was looking after his then one-year-old son, who used to fall asleep on him. Immobilised lest he wake him, he one day saw an advertisement for a chess site. Thus began his chess career. Oh yes, and he grows orchids.

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Jon Speelman's Agony Column #25

This week's pair of games are by Davide Nastasio, who is 50 and lives in Atlanta Georgia. Davide, a nurse who has worked in various roles including medical-surgical, oncology, and emergency nursing, got interested in chess in 2011 when he was looking after his then one-year-old son who used to fall asleep on him. Immobilised lest he wake him, he one day saw an advertisement on Facebook, for a chess site.

Davide writes: "I went there and began to play while my son was still napping on me. From that time, I started playing daily, solving tactics. Then one day while going at the local farmers market...

I discovered there was a chess club in Atlanta – the Atlanta Chess Center.

I stopped by, and discovered there were tournaments and one could play in real life."

Apart from chess, Davide spends his free time "growing orchids...

...and wandering around with our rescue dog, Jack.

I also enjoy gardening, cooking, and eating chocolate, though I don't know if eating chocolate is an addiction or a hobby, because there are so many varieties out there and becoming a chocolate connoisseur requires serious work." He sent me the lovely pictures of Jack, orchids and himself.

The two games he sent me were both hard battles. We start with the "Ecstasy" in which he steered close to the wind but finally triumphed against an opponent rated over 300 points more than him (1931 v 2243).

[Event "GT Spring Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.03.26"] [Round "4"] [White "Nastasio, Davide"] [Black "Ghatti, Sanjay"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A03"] [WhiteElo "1931"] [BlackElo "2243"] [Annotator "Speelman,Jonathan"] [PlyCount "69"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [SourceDate "2015.07.13"] 1. f4 d5 2. Nf3 c6 3. e3 Bg4 4. Be2 Bxf3 {This nice simple move gives up bishop for knight but weakens White control of e5 and aims to aims to get in .. .e5.} 5. Bxf3 Nf6 6. b3 {Given that Black can now get in ...e5 unless White plays d4, this looks a bit odd.} Nbd7 7. Bb2 Qc7 {[#]} 8. d3 $6 {This weakens e3 . I wondered about} (8. c4 {and produced this fairly (or perhaps very) random line which finishes about equal.} dxc4 9. bxc4 e5 10. fxe5 Nxe5 11. Qc2 Bd6 (11... Nxf3+ 12. gxf3 Bd6 13. Nc3 O-O 14. O-O-O) 12. Be2 O-O (12... Neg4 $2 13. Bxg4 Nxg4 14. Qe4+) 13. Nc3 Neg4 14. Bxg4 Nxg4 15. h3 Bg3+ 16. Ke2 Nf6 17. Raf1 Qd6 18. Rf3 (18. Ne4 Nxe4 19. Qxe4 f6 20. Bc3)) (8. d4 {is also conceivable but doesn't fit in especially well with the queenside fianchetto.}) 8... O-O-O 9. Nd2 e5 10. fxe5 Nxe5 11. Qe2 Nxf3+ 12. Qxf3 Qa5 {Annoying White} 13. a4 (13. a3 {looks normal, even if White can't then castle long for the moment.}) 13... Bb4 14. O-O-O Rhe8 15. Qf5+ Kb8 16. Rhe1 Ka8 17. e4 Re6 18. Re2 Rde8 {[#]} 19. Bxf6 $2 {Initiating a combination. But it has a big flaw.} gxf6 (19... Rxf6 $1 {was correct since if} 20. exd5 {trying to use Black's weak back rank} Bxd2+ 21. Rdxd2 Qxd2+ $1 {wins on the spot.}) 20. Nb1 Qc5 21. Kb2 Re5 22. Qxf6 d4 {Fixing the black square weakness. I'm not sure about this, but if} (22... Qf8 23. Rf1 dxe4 24. d4 $1 R5e7 (24... R5e6 25. Qxf7 Qh6 26. g3) 25. c3 Ba5 26. Qf5 {White is better since his king is now safe and he has much the better pawn structure.}) 23. c4 $6 {allowing dxc3+ e.p. in order to get in d4, but in fact although} (23. Rf1 b5 24. axb5 cxb5 25. Qxf7 {looks a bit scary. White has active pieces and should maintain a considerable advantage.}) 23... b5 ({after} 23... dxc3+ 24. Kc2 {Black if he wants can play} Rf5 (24... R5e7 25. d4 Qa5 {is much more combative}) 25. d4 Rxf6 26. dxc5 Kb8 27. Nxc3 Bxc5 {with a pleasant ending}) 24. axb5 cxb5 25. Rc2 Rc8 26. Qxf7 Bc3+ 27. Nxc3 dxc3+ {[#]} 28. Kxc3 $1 {This brave recapture cements the advantage. Instead} ( 28. Rxc3 $2 {was met by} Qd4 29. b4 {The only move not to lose.} bxc4 {and Black obviously has lots of play and indeed according to the chess engine is absolutely fine.}) 28... bxc4 29. dxc4 Qe3+ 30. Kb2 Rb8 {[#]} 31. c5 $1 { The active queen is able to defend backwards.} Qxe4 32. Rd7 Qa4 33. Qf3+ Re4 34. c6 Rbe8 $2 {Losing his bearings, but it was gone anyway.} 35. bxa4 { An interesting battle in which I don't greatly like Davide's opeming play, but he showed determination, grit and invention in the middlegame, even if the back rank combination starting 19.Bxf6? had a huge flaw in it.} 1-0

In his "Agony" game, Daviide more or less equalised early on against an unusual move order, but then reacted badly to his opponent's central advance and quickly fell into a horrible position after surrendering the white squares. His opponent hurried to cash in, wrongly taking the exchange when he could have maintained a winning grip. They eventually reached an endgame in which the extra exchange gave White a big advantage. But Black could still fight. However, Davide hurried to exchange pawns and in so doing gave his opponent's king an easy route in. And White's technique was then excellent.

[Event "Georgia State Championship 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.04.30"] [Round "2"] [White "Kats, Amir"] [Black "Nastasio, Davide"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D15"] [WhiteElo "1941"] [BlackElo "1867"] [Annotator "Jonathan"] [PlyCount "125"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [SourceDate "2015.07.13"] 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 c6 4. Bg5 {Very unusual when it isn't pinning. Instead} (4. Nc3 {and}) (4. e3 {are the normal moves}) 4... Bf5 (4... Ne4 5. Bf4 Qa5+ (5... e5 $5 {is suggested by Houdini} 6. Bxe5 Nd7 {and Black's lead in development is serious}) 6. Nbd2 dxc4 {is close to taking a pawn}) 5. Nc3 dxc4 (5... Ne4 6. cxd5 cxd5 7. Qb3 Nxg5 8. Nxg5 Bd7) 6. e3 Ne4 {[#]} 7. Bxc4 ( 7. Nxe4 Bxe4 8. Bxc4 {runs into} Bxf3 9. Qxf3 (9. gxf3 Qa5+ 10. Kf1 $1 { so that .. .Rxb2 won't be with check.} (10. Ke2 Qxg5 11. Qb3 Nd7 12. Bxf7+ Kd8 13. Qxb7 Rb8 14. Qxc6 Rxb2+) 10... Qxg5 11. Qb3 Nd7 12. Bxf7+ Kd8 13. Qxb7 Qb5+ 14. Qxb5 cxb5 15. f4 {With two pawns for the piece and a little ahead in development White can certainly fight. But it is far from wonderful.}) 9... Qa5+ 10. Ke2 Qxg5 11. Qxf7+ Kd8 {is even less convincing for White}) 7... Nxg5 8. Nxg5 e6 9. Nf3 Nd7 10. O-O Bd6 11. e4 {This works out well, but} ({I think I'd probably prefer the quiet} 11. Bd3 {White can't deny that Black has the two bishops, but he has a some lead in development and can hope (on a good day) . to get a small edge while Black is freeing himself.}) 11... Bg6 (11... Bg4 { was easier to play with approximate equality.}) 12. d5 cxd5 (12... Qe7 { kept it tighter. Black has to check that nothing bad happens immediately, but if for example} 13. dxe6 fxe6 14. Nd4 Bf7 {is fine}) 13. exd5 e5 14. Re1 O-O 15. Bb5 f6 16. Nh4 Be8 $2 {Surrendering the white squares.} (16... f5 17. Nxg6 hxg6 {looks fine for Black}) 17. Qg4 Nb6 18. Bd3 (18. Bxe8 Qxe8 19. Ne4 { was unpleasant} (19. Nf5 Qd7 {is possible because the knight protects he black queen so that Nh6+ doesn't win})) 18... Qd7 $2 19. Bf5 Qe7 20. Be6+ Rf7 21. Nf5 Qf8 {[#]} 22. Nxd6 $6 {There was absolutely no need to give up a knight for what had become a target.} ({After} 22. Ne4 Be7 23. Re3 {the white pieces are entrenced and he's about to create mating threats which even if they are parried can be very damaging. For instance if} Kh8 (23... g6 24. Rh3 Rd8 25. d6 Rxd6 26. Nexd6 Bxd6 27. Qh4 h5 28. Qxf6 $1) 24. Rh3 g5 25. Rc1 {and Bklack is utterly crushed.}) 22... Qxd6 23. Ne4 Qd8 24. Red1 Kf8 25. Bxf7 $6 {Of course this should win, but it is a shame to give up the huge bishop and allow Black to get organised.} (25. Qh5 {should win. For example} g6 26. Qh6+ Rg7 27. Rac1 Bf7 28. Bxf7 Kxf7 29. Nc5 $18 {and now White will snag the exchange while keeping all his advantages.}) 25... Bxf7 26. d6 Nd7 27. Nc3 Qe8 28. Nb5 Bh5 29. Qh3 Bxd1 30. Nc7 Qf7 31. Nxa8 Ba4 32. Nc7 $6 (32. Qxh7 {was clearly winning}) 32... g6 33. Qe6 Qxe6 34. Nxe6+ Ke8 35. Rc1 Bc6 {[#]} 36. Nc5 $6 {Now Black is able to surround the d-pawn and has some hope.} Nxc5 37. Rxc5 Kd7 38. f3 Kxd6 39. Rc1 a6 40. Kf2 h5 41. h4 f5 42. b4 Ke6 43. Ke3 {[#]} e4 $2 {This gives the white king a route in.} (43... f4+ 44. Kf2 Kf5 (44... e4 $2 45. Rxc6+ bxc6 46. fxe4) 45. Rc5 Ke6 {was still a battle.}) 44. fxe4 Bxe4 ({If} 44... fxe4 { I'd want to play} 45. Rxc6+ bxc6 46. Kxe4 {if it wins, and it does seem to.}) 45. g3 Kf6 46. Kf4 Bc6 47. Rc5 Bb5 48. Rc1 Bc6 49. Ra1 Bf3 (49... Ba4) 50. a4 Bc6 51. Ra3 Bd7 52. a5 Bc6 53. Rc3 Bb5 54. Rc5 Bc6 55. Re5 Bg2 56. Re2 Bc6 {[#] } 57. Rd2 {Finally the rook gets to the d-file, and this is fatal.} Be8 58. Rd6+ Ke7 59. Rb6 (59. Ke5 {first is equally fatal.}) 59... Bc6 60. Ke5 Kf7 61. b5 Bxb5 62. Rxb7+ Kf8 63. Kf6 1-0

Did you enjoy the column and instructive analysis by GM Jonathan Speelman? Do you wish you could have a world-renowned grandmaster analyzing your play? You can! Just send in two of your games: one success story (Ecstasy) and one loss (Agony). Tell why you chose them, where or when they were played, and if they are selected, not only will you get free detailed commentary of your games by one of chess’s great authors and instructors, and former world no. 4 player, but you also win a free one-month Premium subscription to ChessBase Account.

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Jonathan Speelman, born in 1956, studied mathematics but became a professional chess player in 1977. He was a member of the English Olympic team from 1980–2006 and three times British Champion. He played twice in Candidates Tournaments, reaching the semi-final in 1989. He twice seconded a World Championship challenger: Nigel Short and then Viswanathan Anand against Garry Kasparov in London 1993 and New York 1995.


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