The first round of the Twin Cities Chess League, aka TCCL, is always a bit crazy. Everyone in the Swiss system registers the first night. (The teams in the round robin section are registered months ahead of time.) As a result of this chaos, some teams do not have enough players.
Our team, Tal Tales, was organized and all four of us showed up. Our opponents were not so fortunate, and only boards one and two were filled. By default, boards three and four were forfeit wins for us. That started us out with a draw for the match at worst. If Kelly or I scored a draw, we would have won the match.
Kelly is a few points higher than me, so he had board one in a game playing White against the Sicilian. I played Black on board two, and my opponent played the English.
I have not had many games against the English, and the few I have had for the most part been disasters. I was a bit distraught early as my opponent rattled off his first six moves using a mere minute. I was keeping pace, but I wondered how long it would be a race.
By my eighth move, the game had settled down. I spent 25 minutes on my eighth through twelth move. This is significant, given that the whole game is 90 minutes per side with a 5 second delay per move. However, he continued to use his time like I was.
My goal with 7...Bd7 and 8...Qc8 was to weaken his White-squared bishop. Although this was my better bishop in the position (I had a pawn chain from e5 to c7), I wanted to eliminate his defensive bishop.
His sixteenth move was solid, but I could not take the bait. If I played 16...Bxc6, he would have had a nasty Knight parked on a nearly invincible square. So I avoided that continuation.
Unfortunately for him, he miscalculated on his eighteenth move. I was forking a Knight and Bishop, and there were two solid ways he could have countered. However, he played neither of those, and I ended up a piece ahead.
He more or less forced me to trade off my White-squared Bishop on move 20. He had a potential of 21. Nxe7+ forking my King and Queen if I did not respond appropriately.
He tried me again on his twenty second move. I trade off Knights, followed by a trade of Queens.
Although he was a piece behind, his Bishop parked on c6 effectively cut off one of my Rooks unless I wanted to exchange sacrifice this piece. I did not, and finally I put that Rook on a7 to good use by coordinating an attack along the a and b files.
I did not think his 27. a3 was a good move. Not only did it allow my Knight to get into his territory, it also exposed itself to eventual attack.
During this late phase of the game, Kelly had lost his game. I did not get to look at much of it because of my intense concentration on my own, so I was fighting to win against some pretty decent counterplay of my opponent.
I had to get my King into safer territory. I played 31...g6 to allow my King to move to a dark square and allow my f7 pawn to move.
I do not remember the specific moves after move 45, as I was down to forty four seconds while my opponent was down to 2:11. I remember that he got his King deep into my territory, that I could not exchange Rooks by Rxd7, else cxd7 and he would have promoted a Pawn before me. I promoted and he resigned shortly thereafter.
We will have a tougher job next month, as we will be playing an even stronger team, and I don't expect any forfeits.
[Event "Twin Cities Chess League"]
[Site "Roseville Skating Oval"]
[Black "Joe Erjavec"]
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 d6 4.Bg2 Be7 5.d3 O-O 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.O-O Bd7 8.Bd2 Qc8 9.Qb3 Na5 10.Qc2 b6 11.b4 Nb7 12.Rfe1 a5 13.b5 Nc5 14.d4 exd4 15.Nxd4 Ra7 16.Bc6 Bh3 17.Bg5 Ne6 18.e3 Nxg5 19.f4 Ne6 20.Nf5 Bxf5 21.Qxf5 Nc5 22.Nd5 Nxd5 23.Qxd5 Qe6 24.Qxe6 Nxe6 25.Rad1 Nc5 26.e4 a4 27.a3 Nb3 28.e5 dxe5 29.Rxe5 Bc5+ 30.Kg2 Nd4 31.Bd5 g6 32.Rd3 Kg7 33.Kh3 f6 34.Re4 Nc2 35.Bc6 Nxa3 36.Rd7+ Rf7 37.Rxf7+ Kxf7 38.Be8+ Kg7 39.g4 Nc2 40.Re2 Ra8 41.Bc6 Nd4 42.Ra2 Nxc6 43.bxc6 a3 44.Kg3 Ra4 45.Kf3 Rxc4 0-1
Tags: chess, Twin Cities Chess League