Welcome to my Réti Opening game with Ashwin Kumar page!

On this page I have posted one my chess games in which I played the White side of the Réti Opening.

The game includes analysis and diagrams. This is the first game that I started and the fourth that I finished at Stan’s Net Chess. My rating at this site became 1910 after this loss. Ashwin increased to 2191. I am no longer a provisionally rated player right now. I added Ashwin’s comments that I received by email on 19 Feb 2004.

[Event “Online Correspondence Game”]
[Site “Stan’s Net Chess”]
[Date “2004.02.13”]
[Round “1”]
[White “Mike Serovey”]
[Black “Ashwin Kumar”]
[Result “0-1”]

1. c4 e6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 c6 4. b3 Bd6 5. Ba3 Nf6 6. c5 $2 Bc7 7. d4
b6 8. e3 e5 9. Ne2 Be6 10. O-O Nbd7 11. Qc2 b5 12. b4 O-O 13. Bb2 e4 14. Nbc3 Re8
15. a4 a6 16. axb5 axb5 17. Rxa8 Qxa8 18. Ra1 Qb7 19. Qb1 Ra8 20. Rxa8+ Qxa8 21.
Qa1 Qxa1+ 22. Bxa1 g5 23. Nc1 Nb8 24. Nb3 Kf8 25. Bf1 h5 26. h3 h4 27. Ne2 Kg7
28. Bc3 Kg6 29. Nd2 Nh5 30. g4 Nf6 31. Kg2 Nxg4 32. hxg4 Bxg4 33. Ng1 Bc8 34. f3
f5 35. fxe4 fxe4 36. Nb1 g4 37. Na3 Kg5 38. Nxb5 $5 h3+ 39. Nxh3+ gxh3+ 40. Kh1
cxb5 41. Bxb5 h2 42. Ba4 $4 Bg4 $1 43. Bd1 Bxd1 0-1

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Correspondence Game
Stan’s Net Chess
Game Ended 13 Feb 2004
White: Mike Serovey (Unrated) Black: Ashwin Kumar (2180-P15)

1. c4 e6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 c6 4. b3 Bd6 5. Ba3

Réti Opening after 5. Ba3

Réti Opening after 5. Ba3

Here I considered playing 5. Bb2 instead. I decided that I wanted to trade dark-squared bishops in order to weaken Black’s Kingside position. That trade never took place. Nf6 6. c5 Bc7 7. d4 b6 8. e3 e5 9.Ne2 Be6 10. O-O Nbd7 11. Qc2 b5 12. b4 O-O 13. Bb2 e4 14. Nbc3 Re8

Réti Opening after 14... Re8

Réti Opening after 14… Re8

Now, we have a very closed position. I was Ok with that because I was willing to accept a draw in this game. However, I wanted to open up the Queenside and trade of major pieces first. Ashwin’s comments here, “Here the position was really stifled. I an generally a better player in closed positions, so I was fine with it. At this point of time, I was eying a major attack on your king, but nothing was firm yet.” 15. a4 a6 16. axb5 axb5 17. Rxa8 Qxa8 18. Ra1 Qb7 19. Qb1 Ra8 20. Rxa8+ Qxa8 21. Qa1 (Ashwin says, “I did not enjoy trading off my rooks and queen, but felt that I had to in order to ensure that I didn’t concede the A file.”) Qxa1+ 22. Bxa1 g5

Réti Opening after 22...g5

Réti Opening after 22…g5

Now we have traded off all of the major pieces and have a minor piece and pawn endgame. About this point I offered a draw which my opponent declined. Black starts his Kingside advance which I handled poorly. At this point I considered sacrificing the Knight on c3 for two pawns on the Queenside in order to create connected passed pawns. I did try this later on in the game, but it was too late. 23. Nc1 Nb8 24. Nb3 Kf8 25. Bf1 (Ashwin, “In this position, I just wanted to make sure I placed each of my pieces effectively. The knight on b8 was protecting the c6 pawn in anticipation of Na5. I knew I needed to gain space, so I started pushing my pawns up.”) h5

Réti Opening after 25... h5

Réti Opening after 25… h5

Now I’m set up for the sacrifice, but am a little concerned about Black’s Kingside Pawn advances. Also, I only saw a draw in the sacrifice, not a win. So, I decided to “play it safe” which may have been a mistake. 26. h3 h4

Réti Opening after 26... h4

Réti Opening after 26… h4

I’m not sure what the best move here is. 27. Ne2 (Ashwin, “I was hoping you’d play gxh4 here, followed by me playing gxh4. After that the h3 pawn would have been mine with Nh7, Ng5 and then Nxh3. You would have been able to defend it, but your position would be a bit more stifled, and I’d have some more initiative.”) Kg7 28. Bc3

Réti Opening after 28. Bc3

Réti Opening after 28. Bc3

I wanted to guard the Pawn on b4 if Black ever plays Na6 and also have Be1 if needed. Again, I’m reluctant to play the Knight sacrifice. I also looked at Na5 hoping for Bxa5 bxa5 with a passed Pawn on the a file. That never happened either. Kg6 29. Nd2 Nh5 30. g4 Nf6 31. Kg2 Nxg4

Réti Opening after 31... Nxg4

Réti Opening after 31… Nxg4

Here Black plays the sacrifice of a minor piece for 2 pawns and gets connected passers on the Kingside. I figured with my King over there I was OK. Ashwin, “I was always willing to give up a knight for 2 pawns, and this position allowed it I  honestly feel, it’s a very effective sacrifice, especially in this case, where it gave me a passed pawn as well. Towards the end of the game in particular, I recommend giving up a knight for 2 pawns. I would have done what you were planning on doing if I were in your position. It’s the right move. Given the position that we had, where there were no rooks or queens, mating would have been extremely difficult unless some sort of pawn promotion took place. So, the only way to win in this position was to promote a pawn. By reducing your number of pawns, I gave myself more winning chances.” I still believe that a knight is worth 3 pawns, not 2. Thus, I will not trade a knight for 2 passed pawns if my opponent can sacrifice a knight or bishop to capture those 2 pawns. My analysis of the sacrifices lead me to believe that a counter sacrifice by either player would lead to a draw. 32. hxg4 Bxg4 33. Ng1 Bc8

Réti Opening after 33... Bc8

Réti Opening after 33… Bc8

Black’s bishops control the Kingside Pawn advances from a safe distance. I realized that I may need to give back the piece for two pawns to stop those connected passed pawns. Here I decided to open up the game and try to trade off all of the pawns. Now, I think that keeping the position closed was better for me. 34. f3 f5 35. fxe4 fxe4 36. Nb1 g4 37. Na3  (Ashwin, “At this point I actually did not see your intentions, which were to exchange the knight for 2 pawns. I think playing Kg5 was a weaker move than Bd7 which would have prevented you from taking the b5 pawn and stifled you further.” Ashwin’s repeated use of “stifled” reminds me of what Archie Bunker kept telling his wife, Edith, to do! Because I was playing for a draw I didn’t mind being “stifled”.)   Kg5 38. Nxb5!? h3+

Réti Opening after 38... h3+

Réti Opening after 38… h3+

Here, I don’t know if just moving the King and keeping my Knight was better. 39. Nxh3+ (Ashwin, “I myself am not sure if you should have just moved your King.”) gxh3+ 40. Kh1 cxb5 41. Bxb5 h2

Réti Opening after 41... h2

Réti Opening after 41… h2

Here, I completely overlooked the mate in two! I wanted to get the Bishop on b5 out of the way to move the b Pawn to b6 and try to position the Bishop on b5 to support the Pawn advances. I also considered moving the Bishop back to e2 to stop the King advances. I saw Black’s next move as an attempt to trade bishops, but not the mate threat that went with it, until it was too late! Ashwin stated, “At this point, I was fairly certain of a won game for me. Had you played 42 Kg2, I’d have played Bh3+, 43 Kh8 (He meant Kh1.), and then I’d bring up my king to f3 or g3 without you being able to stop me, and then mating with Bg2++. “The move that I anticipated you playing though was 42 Bf1, which would have followed with me playing Bg4, 43 b5 Bf3+, 44 Bg2 Kg4, 45 b6 Bg3, 46 Ba5 (could be anything really) Nc6, 47 b7 Bb8 (assuming that you didn’t play Ba5), 48 Be1. At this point I’d have to get the knight on c6 into play and the rest is a little too far ahead to think of. I’d have been fighting for the g3 square for the next few moves.”

Position at the end of Ashwin's analysis

Position at the end of Ashwin’s analysis

Here is the position at the end of Ashwin’s analysis. Neither on of us can make any progress in this position. If Black’s knight moves too far away from c6 then White can advance those Queenside pawns and force a knight or bishop sacrifice. Thus, if 48… Ne7 49. Bd2 Nf5 50. c6 Kg3 51. Be1+ Kg4 52. Ba5 Nxe3  53. c7 Bxg2+ 54. Kxh2 Bxc7+ 55. Bxc7 Bf3 56. b8=Q Nc2 57. Be5 (Guards the pawn and takes some escape squares away from the Black King.) Be2 58. Qg8+ Kf3 59. Qg3 mates. If instead 58… Kf5 then 59. Qxd5 and White should eventually win. If instead of Black moving the Knight over to the Kingside he had left it to guard the Queenside then both sides would have moved the bishops around on the same diagonals and the game would have been the draw that I wanted. I think that this game illustrates the dangers of playing for a draw instead of a win. It is usually best to play for the win while being willing to settle for a draw. Also, it is a mistake to lack confidence in your own abilities. However, it is also a mistake to be overly confident. 42. Ba4?? Bg4! 43. Bd1 (I would have resigned here but needed to make a move in order to send a message to my opponent. “The rest is history.”) Bxd1 0-1

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