Speelman's Agony #55

6/27/2017 – This week's games are by Tanmay Srinath, who is sixteen and from Bangalore, India. A Taekwondo Black Belt, his is an international gold medalist, who has represented India at the highest level with distinction. Tanmay started playing chess at the age of 13 and has already played in four state championships and one national open. Jon Speelman evaluates his Agony and Ecstasy games.

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Tanmay writes:

“I got a classical rating of 1393 in the 2015 Karnataka State Championships. I got my rapid rating that July, but because of my 10th board exams, I lost a ton of points and am currently 1218. I am primarily a 1.e4 player as White, and I play the French and Benoni as Black. My favourite player is Misha Tal, and I model my game after his. I am currently training with BS Shivananda, a famous coach who has many nationally successful students under his guidance(K S Raghunandan is one of them).”

Obviously, being so good at Taekwondo means that Tanmay is able to operate under extreme tension and this should certainly stand him in good stead playing chess as well. He's certainly considerably stronger than his rating and sent me two rapidplay games against opponents rated just over 2000 and a draw at blitz against grandmaster RR Laxman.

We start with the “Agony” where he outplayed his opponent in a Closed Sicilian but then began to implode. It and the “Ecstasy” game were played in the Main Playing Hall at Playchess with 15 minutes for the game plus 5 seconds per move, and Tanmay was operating as “Scorpion 29”.

Most of the notes are his and I've pitched in, as usual, as JS.

[Event "Rated game, 15m+5s"] [Site "Playchess: Official B"] [Date "2017.02.11"] [Round "?"] [White "Scorpion29, (Srinath Tanmay)"] [Black "Gavi"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B25"] [WhiteElo "1743"] [BlackElo "2038"] [Annotator "Tanmay,S/Speelman,J"] [PlyCount "87"] [EventDate "2017.02.11"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 a6 3. a4 {JS: A concession if White is going to play an open Sicilian, but not so much if it's closed.} d6 4. g3 Nf6 5. Bg2 Nc6 6. d3 g6 7. f4 Bg7 8. Nf3 O-O 9. O-O {Again, a main line closed Sicilian position. I never play the Open Sicilian due to the vast amount of theory and maniacal preparations.} Qc7 {JS: Not a great square for the queen since it encourages Nd5 later if White can disturb the f6 knight.} ({JS:} 9... Rb8 {is normal to prepare ...b5-b4.}) 10. h3 Nd4 11. Be3 ({JS:} 11. a5 $5 {is interesting. Black can try to round it up with} Nc6 {but this takes time.} 12. Be3 Nxa5 (12... Qd8 13. e5 Ne8 {is less clear cut so perhaps a better option for Black.}) 13. e5 Nd7 14. exd6 exd6 15. f5 Nc6 16. fxg6 hxg6 17. Nd5 Qd8 18. Qd2 {with an attack. }) 11... Nxf3+ {JS: Definitely a concession. Black would much prefer it if White exchanged knights on d4 and so} (11... Nd7 {made sense} 12. Nd5 Qd8 13. Bc1 ({not} 13. c3 $4 Nxf3+ 14. Qxf3 e6) 13... e6 14. Ne3 Rb8 15. a5 {with an edge.}) 12. Qxf3 Rb8 {Already White is to be prefered. Gavi is slightly passive and has no immediate play, while White can launch g4 and f5 in quick succession, a reason I love the closed so much.} 13. g4 {[#]} e6 $2 {JS: This weakens f6 encouraging f5 and g5 and may well be a serious mistake.} (13... Bd7 14. g5 (14. f5 Bc6) 14... Nh5 15. Nd5 (15. f5 Bc6) 15... Qd8 {Despite the loss of two tempi with Qd8-c7-d8, Black has decent defences here. For instance if} 16. f5 Bxb2 17. Rab1 Be5 18. f6 exf6 19. gxf6 Re8 {is actually very good for Black.}) 14. f5 Nd7 15. Qg3 Bd4 {JS: Black doesn't want the bishop to get stuck if White plays g5 and f6 but exchanging it leaves the black squares round the king weakened.} ({Perhaps he could have tried} 15... b5 16. axb5 axb5 {and now if} 17. g5 Be5 (17... Re8 18. f6 Bf8 19. h4) 18. Bf4 b4 19. Nd1 Bb7 { though this is till clearly better for White.}) 16. fxe6 {A very interesting decision. White decides to liquidate into a better endgame. But, pragmatically speaking, it was a bad choice. JS: Yes, White should keep the tension for as long as possible since both f6 and an exchange on e6 remain on the cards.} (16. Qf2) 16... fxe6 17. Rxf8+ Nxf8 18. Rf1 (18. e5 {is a suggestion by Houdini (you can't imagine an engine immedaitely flagging up such a move a decade ago) which frees e4 for the knight.} Bxe5 19. Bf4 Bxf4 20. Qxf4 e5 21. Qf6) 18... Bxe3+ $2 (18... Bd7 {was much better. The exchange of bishops without improving the pawn structure leaves Black vulnerable to the break that follows. }) 19. Qxe3 Qg7 $2 (19... Bd7 {was much better.}) 20. e5 $1 {A lovely pawn sac, that isolates all black pawns and locks that Bc8 JS: Yes this gives White a big positional advantage.} Qxe5 21. Qxe5 (21. Ne4 {JS: was also good, but why complicate matters when you can get a clear plus by the simplest means?}) 21... dxe5 22. Ne4 Bd7 $6 (22... b6 23. Nd6 Bd7 24. b3 {was grim but less bad than the game.}) 23. Nxc5 Bc6 24. Bxc6 bxc6 25. b3 a5 26. Re1 Kf7 27. Rxe5 Ke7 {[#]} 28. Na6 $6 {Still winning, of course, but completely unnecessary. Simply} (28. Kf2 Kd6 29. d4 {kept total control.}) 28... Nd7 29. Nxb8 $4 {A horrific blunder, the first of the game.} (29. Rxa5 {Now White can win at his leisure... } Rf8 (29... Ra8 30. Nb4 $1) 30. Nc5 Nxc5 31. Rxc5 {etc}) 29... Nxe5 30. d4 $4 {One more!!! JS But this was presumably his intention when playing Nxb8 so the question marks belong there rather than here.} (30. Kf2 c5 31. Ke3 h6 32. d4 ( 32. Na6 Kd6 33. Nxc5 $1 {JS leads to a pawn endgame which is winning but very complex to calculate in a rapidplay game:} Kxc5 34. d4+ Kb4 35. dxe5 Kc3 36. b4 $1 Kxb4 (36... axb4 37. a5 Kxc2 38. a6 b3 39. a7 b2 40. a8=Q b1=Q 41. Qe4+ Kc1 42. Qxb1+ Kxb1 43. Kd4) 37. Kd4 Kxa4 38. Kc5 Ka3 39. Kb5 a4 40. Ka5 g5 41. Kb5 Kb2 42. Kxa4 Kxc2 43. Kb5) 32... cxd4+ 33. Kxd4 Kd6 34. Na6 Nf3+ 35. Ke3 Ng5 36. h4 Nf7 37. b4 {And White is winning...}) 30... Nf3+ 31. Kf2 Nxd4 32. c3 $4 {Last, but not the least....} (32. Na6 {saves it and after} Nxc2 (32... Kd6 $1 {JS is already much better for Black.}) 33. Nc5 Kd6 34. Nb7+ Kd5 35. Nxa5 Nd4 36. Ke3 e5 {White is breathing.}) 32... Nxb3 33. Nxc6+ Kd6 34. Nd4 Nc5 35. Ke3 Nxa4 36. Kd3 Nb2+ 37. Ke4 Nc4 38. h4 e5 39. Nf3 a4 40. Ne1 a3 41. Nc2 a2 42. Na1 Ke6 43. Nc2 Nd2+ 44. Kd3 {A very painful loss... JS: Yes a very nasty turn around for Tanmay after he'd played a nice positional game to get total control. The errors began with 29 Nxb8? but the previous move Na6 prepared them since when you have total control of a position it's impractical to cash in unless it's totally clean.} 0-1

[Event "Rated game, 15m+5s"] [Site "Playchess: Main Playing Hall"] [Date "2016.12.25"] [Round "?"] [White "Scorpion29, (Srinath Tanmay)"] [Black "Bpenezic"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C45"] [WhiteElo "1793"] [BlackElo "2007"] [Annotator "Tanmay,S/Speelman,J"] [PlyCount "62"] [EventDate "2017.01.04"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nxc6 bxc6 6. e5 Qe7 7. Qe2 Nd5 { I think the preceding moves need no explanation. Both players are following theory of the Scotch Opening, popularised by Kasparov.} 8. c4 Ba6 (8... Nb6 { is the other popular option. Play normally continues...} 9. Nc3 Qe6 10. Qe4 g6 11. Bd3 Bg7 12. f4 O-O 13. O-O {with a pleasant position for White.}) 9. b3 { [#]} g6 (9... g5 {Anand had popularised this variation in the 1990s. The idea of this move is to stop f4 and later play Bg7 with pressure on the e5 pawn. This variation fell apart after white players discovered that a timely h4 break destabilises Black's position.} 10. h4 Bg7 11. Bb2 O-O-O 12. Nd2 Rde8 ({ JS:} 12... Nb4 13. O-O-O c5 14. a3 Nc6 15. hxg5 Qxg5 16. Rh5 {should also be better for White.}) 13. O-O-O {With a better position for White.}) 10. f4 d6 11. Qf2 $5 {An interesting pawn sac. White contemplates a quick attack.} (11. Qe4 {deserves attention, but after} f5 12. Qf3 Nb4 13. a3 Nc2+ 14. Kf2 Nxa1 15. Qxc6+ Kf7 16. Qxa8 $17 {the queen is out of play, and black is to be prefered. JS: Yes, after} Nxb3 {Black's pieces come into the game. The loss of the c6 pawn has actually helped the a6 bishop, which now has a nice diagonal to go to. }) 11... Nb6 {[#]} 12. Be2 {I had other choices as well, but felt that simple development is best.} (12. Bb2 dxe5 13. Be2 Nd7 14. O-O f5 15. fxe5 Bg7 16. Nc3 Nxe5 {I am not happy with White's position; there is no immediate attack and Black has solved some problems of his. A pawn is a pawn, and I believe White doesn't have enough for an edge.}) 12... dxe5 {[#]} 13. O-O $5 {Again, I show an inclination to attack.} (13. Bb2 {first is a possible improvement. Play might continue} Bg7 14. f5 (14. O-O f5 {and White has no f5 break, and no immediate attack.}) 14... Bc8 ({JS:} 14... gxf5 15. Qxf5 Bc8 16. Qf2 Be6 { is also interesting.}) 15. Bd3 Rb8 16. O-O Bxf5 17. Bxf5 gxf5 18. Ba3 Qe6 19. Nd2 {with a dynamically balanced position.}) 13... Bg7 14. f5 $1 {I believe it is a good move. I calculated till the 19th move, as the rest of the variation is more or less forced.} gxf5 15. Qxf5 e4 ({JS:} 15... Bc8 16. Qe4 Bd7 { is also very possible but e4 is most critical.}) 16. Bg5 Bc8 17. Qf4 Qc5+ 18. Kh1 O-O {The critical moment. I spent some time trying to figure out if Bf6 was better, but I wasn't satisfied. Then, using my intuition alone, I came up with...[#]} 19. Nd2 $1 (19. Bf6 Bxf6 20. Qxf6 Nd7 21. Qh6 ({JS:} 21. Rf5 Nxf6 22. Rxc5 {is given by engines.}) 21... Qe5 22. Nd2 f5 23. c5 {JS: And here Houdini wants to repeat with} Qf6 24. Qf4 Qe5 25. Qh6 Qf6) 19... Bxa1 $5 { JS: Very gung-ho. My instinct would certainly be to keep this bishop.} ({If} 19... f5 20. Qxc7 Be6 21. Be7 Rf7 22. Bxc5 Rxc7 23. Rad1 {Black's pawns are rather weak.}) (19... Qf5 $2 {doesn't work after} 20. Qh4) ({But the clever} 19... Bf5 20. Rad1 Bg6 {looks fairly secure.}) 20. Nxe4 Qe5 21. Nf6+ Kh8 22. Qh4 {I saw till here, and concluded White has enough for the rook, if not more. } Bf5 23. Bg4 $1 {[#]} Bd3 $2 {A poor move under pressure. JS: Yes this is a fatal mistake, because after White's next move the bishop is en prise.} ( 23... Bg6 {Had to be played, and after} 24. Nxh7 Bxh7 25. Bf6+ ({JS: Also} 25. Bf5 Qg7 26. Bh6 Qg8 27. Bxf8 Rxf8 28. Rxa1 {Despite having only one pawn for the piece, it seems that White may well be okay due to Black's bad discoordination. Of course this is an engine line and I didn't initially have any real intuition as to how much White has.} Nc8 29. c5) 25... Qxf6 26. Rxf6 Bxf6 27. Qxf6+ Kg8 28. h4 Bb1 {JS: Necessary to make room for the king before h5-6 happens.} 29. h5 Kh7 30. Qxc6 {JS: This shouldn't be a risk yet, but if White wants to make a draw then he can of course do so immediately with} (30. Bf5+ Bxf5 31. Qxf5+ Kh6 32. Qf4+ Kxh5 33. Qf5+ $11) 30... Rae8 31. Qxc7 Nc8 32. Bd7 {Black is closer to equality, and can then press with the two rooks.}) ({ JS:} 23... Bc2 {was also possible and transposes directly after Nxh7.} 24. Rf3 $2 {would lose here to} Rg8 $1 {(since Rxd3 isn't an option).}) 24. Rf3 Rae8 ( 24... Rg8 {isn't possible due simply to} 25. Rxd3) 25. Nxe8 Qxe8 26. Rxd3 { Material is equal, and the game is now finished...} f6 27. Bf5 Rf7 28. Re3 Qg8 29. Bh6 Qd8 30. Qh5 Be5 31. Be6 Rg7 {[#] Bpenezic resigns JS: A very interesting game, in which Tanmay's intuition created a vigorous attack which his opponent was unable to defend against at a quick time control.} 1-0

[Event "Rated game: 3 min"] [Site "Playchess: Main Playing Hall"] [Date "2016.12.04"] [Round "?"] [White "Laxman, RR."] [Black "Scorpion29, (Tanmay Srinath)"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A75"] [WhiteElo "2524"] [BlackElo "1704"] [Annotator "Tanmay,S/Speelman,J"] [PlyCount "65"] [EventDate "2016.12.04"] [EventType "blitz"] [SourceDate "2015.07.13"] {3 minute chess. GM R R Laxman is a well known player in the Indian Circuit, having won numerous tournaments throughout his career. He is a solid positional player, with a very strong endgame sense. He is also the 'Blitz King' of Indian Chess. This game however, he fails to take advantage of some small errors I make, and liquidates unnecessarily. My aim in this blitz game was to make natural moves.} 1. d4 {Laxman is a 1.d4 regular, so it is no surprise.} Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 {Laxman enters regular QGD territory. It is interesting to note he can take advantage of Black's move order to play a Torre or a London, but he chooses not to.} c5 {By transpositon, I transform the game into a Benoni, with a small finesse. By playing 2.Nf3, White denies himself a chance at playing the agressive f4 lines. Also, these lines have a drawback, which I take advantage of.} 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 7. e4 a6 $1 {This is the point. By playing this, I either get a Bc8xf3 exchange or the b5 push. That is why white players nowadays prefer 7.h3 to enter the Modern Main Line.} 8. a4 {Stops b5, but allows Bg4 and the bad light square bishop gets exchanged.} Bg4 9. Be2 Bxf3 10. Bxf3 Bg7 11. O-O O-O 12. Bf4 Qe7 13. Re1 Nbd7 {We arrive at the main line of the Anti Modern Main Line. White has the bishop pair, but the LSB is a potential bad piece. I have had reasonable results with this line.} 14. e5 {A surprise. In a blitz game, it is better to play non forcing chess, making your opponent think. I think Laxman is not playing objective chess and hopes to power his opponent off the board. Sadly for him, I defend well.} (14. a5 h5 15. Na4 {JS This hasn't been tried. Instead } (15. h3 {is most common.}) 15... Nh7 16. Bd2 Ng5 17. g3 Nxf3+ 18. Qxf3 h4 { Is a sample line, with play for both sides.}) 14... dxe5 $1 15. d6 {Otherwise, Black is just better.} Qe6 16. Bxb7 {The point of e5 maybe. But why give a central pawn and open the b-file for me?} Rab8 17. Bxa6 Qb3 $2 {Now, this is just an error.} (17... Rxb2 18. a5 {White's advantage is manageable. But still, in a practical game the a-pawn supported by White's pieces still gives him chances.} ({JS:} 18. Bb5 {is an obvious alternative, keeping more control of the queenside and probably better.})) 18. Qxb3 $1 Rxb3 19. Bg5 $6 {An inaccuracy.} (19. Bc1 $1 $18 {Just protecting the extra pawn. Now Black has a mountain staring at him.}) 19... Rxb2 20. Bb5 h6 {I get some useful tempi in and save up time.} 21. Bh4 (21. Bc1 Rb3 22. Bd2 Rb2 23. Red1 {keeps much better control.}) 21... g5 22. Bg3 {[#]} Re8 $2 {A weak move. I am clearly playing materialistic chess.} (22... Ra8 {Keeping the a-pawn in check.} 23. Bxe5 $2 {JS: This releases all the tension and is completely wrong. White's advantage consists to a great extent of the fact that Black is tied down with the Nf6 having to defend Nd7 and Nd7 defending e5, so capturing on e5 makes no sense at all.} ({Instead, White should challenge Black's only active piece, the rook on the seventh rank..} 23. Reb1 Rd2 24. Rd1 Rb2 25. Rab1 Rc2 26. Rbc1 Rb2 {in avoiding the exchange, Black has allowed both white rooks to occupy excellent squares with tempo.} 27. f3 Ra7 28. Bf2 {and White can play Ne4 at a moment when a pawn should drop off and he keeps control.}) 23... Nxe5 24. Rxe5 {Doesn't work, on account of} Nd7 25. Re7 Bxc3 26. Bxd7 Ra6 27. Be8 Kf8 28. Bxf7 Rxd6 29. Re3 Bd4 30. Rf3 Rb4 $11) 23. Ne4 $4 {A terrible move, given Laxman's strength.} (23. a5 $1 $18 {Passed pawns must be pushed!} Ra8 24. a6 Ra7 25. Bxe5 {and Black is close to lost. JS: Now that the a-pawn is so advanced, Bxe5 is okay, but I'd probably play} (25. Reb1)) 23... Nxe4 $1 $11 {I don't miss the opportunity.} 24. Bxd7 {Accepting the draw.} (24. Rxe4 Rd8 $14 { If he still wanted to win, he had to try this, but his chances are minimal.} 25. Re2 Rxe2 26. Bxe2 f5 27. f3 e4) 24... Rd8 25. Rxe4 Rxd7 26. Bxe5 Bxe5 27. Rxe5 Rxd6 28. h4 gxh4 29. Rxc5 Rf6 30. Rf1 Ra2 31. Rc4 Ra6 32. Rxh4 R2xa4 { Laxman offers a draw} 33. Rxa4 {I am still proud of this game, as I managed to hold a GM easily. JS: An excellent draw for Tanmay against a very strong opponent.} 1/2-1/2

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psamant psamant 6/28/2017 10:08
Nice games. I was waiting for the next edition of the Agony column... looks like Mr. Speelman had taken a short break!
Leonilo Leonilo 6/27/2017 08:30
Did anyone notice that the king and queen are swapped in the main picture of this report?