Annotation of a game I just played on ICC, I thought it was pretty interesting so I decided to share with all of you.
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6
As white I always play the Open Sicilian against 1.e4, here black opted to play the popular Najdorf Variation.
I've only ever heard this move referred to as the "Freak Attack." Against the Najdorf I always opt for this line, I like the positions that generally result and I also like that I almost always know the lines better than my opponent who likely has never even seen or considered this move as an option for white. Objectively it's probably less sound than 6.Be3, 6.Be2, 6.Bg5, and 6.Bc4 but in practice it has worked well for me.
Black counters here with something that I have never seen, I spent a lot of time thinking about my next move (Relatively speaking of course, the game is a 15-0)
I played this with the idea that black would play 7...Nxh2 with 8.Be2 e5 9.Nf5 Bxf5 10.exf5 to follow where white now has an open h-file and black has a misplaced and potentially trapped knight on h2.
Instead of pawn grabbing and following my expected variation black instead chooses to retreat the knight to what may be a strong center square
8.Be3 Nc6 9.Qd2
Both sides develop pieces, it is clear that my aim is to castle queenside and attack on the kingside and down the half open d-file.
I can't say why black chose to make this trade, in his position I think it would be better off to try 9...e6 to continue development before making trades in the center, from what I can see the move 9...Nxd4 does little to help black's position
This trade makes more sense to me, it seems to neutralize any immediate attacks that white may have. However, black currently has no developed pieces and it seems fair to say that white has at least a small advantage at the moment.
This move seemed natural to me but Crafty much prefers 13.Qa4+, although I'm not sure why...
13...Qc7 14.Qc4 Qxc4 15.Bxc4
Black still has no developed pieces, however, this is not altogether a major problem because the queens have been traded and there are no immediate threats that white can create.
15...b5 16.Bb3 Bb7 17.Bd5 Bxd5 18.Nxd5
Funny enough, after move 18 black technically still has no developed pieces. In this position I felt quite comfortable because of the strong knight outpost on e5.
I could have improved here with the move 19.Rd3 when the rook will be able to slide over and attack the a pawn as in the line 19.Rd3 Rc6 20.Ra3 Be7 21.Rxa6 Rxa6 22.Nc7+
19...Rc6 20.Nd5 Be7 21.g4 Bg5+ 22.Kb1
And the game has come to a roughly equal position. It seemed to me at this point of the game that both sides still had chances to win.
22...O-O 23.Rh1 Rfc8 24.h4 Bd8 25.Nb4 Rb6 26.Nd5
At this point it crossed my mind that black could try to end the game by repetition, however, this thought did not bother me too much because black had over 200 rating points on me.
Obviously black felt the same way about this
27.Nb4 a5 28.Nd5 Kf8 29.Ne3 Be7 30.Nf5 Rb6
So over about the last ten moves there had been a lot of piece shuffling. Both sides trying to arrange their pieces best to prepare for the endgame. I felt now that I could create a lot of pressure on the d6 pawn and began looking to steal a pawn.
In order to prepare doubling of the rooks and remove it from the threat of black's bishop
Black now begins to counter attack, focusing on my c2 pawn
A simple way to prevent this, although in hindsight I preferred 32.Rh2 instead simply to avoid losing a tempo to the following bishop attack
Not my best attempt apparently because it takes the pressure off of blacks pawn on d5. Black simply expands on the queenside, tightening the pressure on my king.
33...b4 34.Rd1 Be7?!
34...g6 to remove the knight is definitely stronger for black here, now white can again put pressure on the d5 pawn.
A move too late, 35...Rd8 to protect the pawn is much better for black.
36.hxg6 hxg6 37.Nxd6 Bxd6 38.Rxd6 Rxc2 39.Rd8+ Kg7 40.Rxc8 Rxc8 41.Rd5
So I will soon be a pawn up entering a rook and pawn endgame. These types of endgames are very often draws but in this situation I felt I had enough resources to play for the win
41...a4 42.Rxe5 Kf6?
This is apparently a bad mistake for black, 42...Rh8 is much stronger. Endgames are currently by far my weakest area but I believe this is extremely bad for black because Rooks need to be behind past pawns and this move allows me to get behind blacks past pawns and puts black's rook in a passive defensive role.
43.Ra5 also works
Like I said, my endgames are not very good. 44.Ra5 is much better for white
Here 45...Rc3 is stronger for black
46.Kc2 Ke6 47.Rc5 Rd8 48.Rc4?
f4 is stronger, and I saw this after I made my move but at this point I was beginning to feel some time pressure
Black needs to centralize his king with 48...Ke5 to have a chance to hold this game, this move once again gives white the initiative. Note that after 48...Ke5 white cannot take the b pawn because of the move Kf4
49.Kd3 Ke5 50.Ke3 g5 51.Rc5+ Kf6 52.f4 gxf4+ 53.Kxf4 Rb6 54.g5+ Kg6
55.Rc4 f6 56.gxf6 Kxf6 57.e5+ Ke6 58.Ke4 Rb5
And here, with just under two minutes on my clock, I offered a draw which black accepted. This position seems winning to white for me after 58.Rc6+ but I couldn't find it in time and decided that I might not have enough time to convert this game into a win, unfortunately for me. In any case I was happy to get a draw against a 1900+ player and especially happy to do it in one of my favorite opening variations. Any comments, particularly on the endgame, would be greatly appreciated.