Monday, 6 November 2017

The Twelve Knights - Tania Sachdev Simul

After another pretty disastrous week at the chess board, Saturday was a chance for some light relief as I took part in the "Twelve Knights" simultaneous event with Indian Women's Grandmaster Tania Sachdev. This had been organised by Carl Potman. Carl does so much for local chess and this was another terrific occasion  - thank you Carl. Tani has been the Indian Women's champion twice and the Asian champion once and it was a real honour to take part. If anything,  just being around some chess in a bit of a relaxed environment was exactly what I needed. Everybody was so nice, especially Tania and it was really good fun. OK - it didn't hurt that for the first time in far too long I actually managed to win - and with a good tactic!

I had reached the stage where it had seemed to me that ever winning again was somewhat unlikely. I had even considered purchasing a lucky horse shoe, to try and shake things up but ruled such a move out as way too risky, essentially on the grounds that I would most likely either find myself in a lightening storm on the way to the venue and said horse shoe would act as the conductor that saw me electrocuted. Or perhaps more prosaically that if this didn’t happen it would probably fall on my head and render me unconscious during play… It was fair to say that my morale/ confidence levels were not high. And my only remaining option was just to turn up and get on with it…

That said, I had nothing to lose and it was a chance just to enjoy playing and being around chess – that’s why we all play after all. I've struggled to work the software so have written the game moves out below with some analysis. As you will see, I get completely outplayed and end up down the exchange with my King side on the verge of implosion. Having spent quite a lot of time at my board earlier in the game, I think Tania (fairly) thought she had the game well under control (to say the least) and played the losing mistake very quickly at the end. 

I can't claim this is a work of brilliance. In truth I get a big slice of luck (not something that has happened for a while on the board!) Of course I should have lost really. But the tactic at the end is pleasing on the eye. In the final position I am down a Knight and a pawn and both my Queen and remaining Knight are attacked, but I have a forced mate in one...

Tani Sachdev v Ben Graff

1. d4      N-f6

2. c4      N-c6

3. N-f3   e6

4. N-c3  d5

5. B-f4   B-b4

6. e3      0-0

7. Q-c2  BxN +

8. PxB   N-e4

9. B-d3  f5

10. h3    B-d7

11. g4    B-e8

12. 0-0-0  Q-e7

13. K-b2  R-b8

14. R-b1   N-a5

N-a5 is a mistake and is where Fritz says I start to go wrong. dxc4 Bxc4 b5 is given as a slight plus for black. I should see this. The point is if White takes the otherway I can skewer her Queen and Rook by bringing my Bishop onto g6. 

My basic thought in this position is that Tania's Queen side might present some opportunities if I can open up some files. As it turns out, she proves to be far more skillful at ripping open my King side than I do her Queen side.

15. cxd5   exd5

16. K-a1 

Walking into what will eventually prove to be the white King's tomb, but such a prospect seems a long way off right now.

16...   b5

I think I just miscalculate. Because Tania was only playing twelve of us, there was not all that long to think things through and the next few moves aren't great by me,

17. PxP  RxP

18. N-d2 


18. ...      NxN

19. BxR  g6

Fritz says g6 is terrible, but it thinks everything else is pretty terrible too. I'm clearly well and truly on the canvas.

20. QxN   PxB

21. Rh-g1+ B-g6

22. Q-d3   Q-d7

23. h4       K-f7

24. R-g5   h5

25. Q-e2   R-b6

26. Rxh5   Q-c6

I wonder... Q-c6 is the best move as it sets the trap. Fritz doesn't particularly like Rxh5 because of Q-c6, but says after R-c1, whilst Black can pick up a bit of material, White is massively winning. What Tania misses is the lack of ways to defend her King.

27. R-g5 which Fritz gives as terrible.

27. ......   Qxc3+

28. Q-b2 played in an instant and the game is over..

28....         N-b3+

The Queen can't take the Knight it is pinned and after the pawn takes it, R-a6 is mate.

If you see the threat 28. R-b2 is a way out, but Fritz gives the position as back to roughly level after a long combination. 

So of course I am fortunate and as a whole it is not a great game - but the final position is pretty cool. Tania was very gracious and racked up nine wins and a draw in her other games, from her perspective this was no more than an occupational hazard that can sometimes occur in simuls. From mine - well it made me feel a bit better. It was my first stoke of luck of the season and I did see the tactic which is something. I think I still have someway to go to get my play back to where I want it to be, but it was a start!

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