My Best Game

This game was played in the 1996 Capablanca Memorial played in Cienfuegos Cuba. I played my best chess in between 1996-1998 . I was training hard and had access to some good events .Before I go over the game I want to warn any potential students to avoid a big mistake I made when developing as a player. There was a year where I didn’t lose a game .I was very proud of this . I told G.M. Spraggett about this once and he noted I clearly was not playing strong enough players. Most of us are very resistant to change and there is plenty of evidence that real growth happens when we step outside of our comfort zones and this is no different in chess. I have come to believe it is far better for developing players to play in quality events rather than playing non stop .

This game is against a Cuban I.M. and gave me hope that all the work I had been doing on tactics was not a waste of time. There are numerous books and d.v.d. stating anyone can be great at tactics. I think this is false and even misleading. Some people are naturally gifted in tactics , which is surely the most important skill for a chess player. Realistically if we have average or minimal talent in tactics the best we can hope for is with proper training to be competent. It is possible for anyone to be well prepared and play the endgame well with proper training and study. I have no doubt anyone who is willing to do this work can become an I.M. but I am not sure G.M. will be possible and there are scores of really strong i.m. who just cannot become G.M.’s to prove my theory despite a lifetime of trying. O.K.  enough chess philosophy , lets look at a game !

D.  Ross [Can] vs R.Perez [Cuba]

1 NF3 d6 2 e4 Nf6 3 c3 This move is a little goofy but it does guard the e4 pawn indirectly [3..Ne4??4 Qa4+ winning the knight]. 3…c5 4 Be2 g6 [Nbd7 is another popular line] 5 0-0 Bg7 6 Rel 0-0 Finally the middle pawn needs gaurd. 7 Bf1 Nc6 [Bg4 was possible] 8 h3 . up to here black has played perfectly but here he starts to make some second best moves. We were both likely under the impression 8..e5 would be met with 9 d4 but there is an unlikely problem. 8…e5! 9 d4? exd4 10 cxd4 cxd4 11 Nxd4 Nxd4 12Qxd4 Re8! threatening Nxe4 is surprisingly awkward to deal with.  White probably has to settle for 9 d3 with an equal positional game coming. Instead black played 8..Bd7 which is certainly fine but after 9 d4 cxd4 10 cxd4 Black really does make a very bad decision . It is clear white’s center needs some cutting into and black picked the wrong way. 10…e5 ? 10….d5 ! was the way to go . Neither 11e5 nor exd5 leads to anything .

The game on the other hand becomes difficult for black after 11 d5 Ne7 12 Nc3 White is better here . Blacks position is not well coordinated and the only plan is to play for f5 but white is very well placed to meet this.   12 ..Ne8 13 a4 f5 14 exf5 ?! [Qb3 ] gxf5 ? We were both thinking control of e4 was more important than it really is ! 14.. Nxf5 15 Bd3 is only a little better for white.

15 Qb3 b6 16 Bg5 ! h6 17 Bh4  e4 ? The game turns here . 18… Rf7  and white is only a little better.   Black assumed white would need to put the f3 knight on a poor square but it isn’t true .  18 Rad1 ! bring the last piece into play and giving the knight access to d4. this makes all the difference . Black goes down hill fast after this. Bf6 19 Bxf6 Rxf6 20 Nd4 Ng6?[Nc7 was better] 21 Nc6!Qc8 22 Nb5 [22 g4! was very strong too]  Qb7 23 f3 ! blowing up black’s center and clearing the way for white’s pieces to get at blacks king. Kg7 24 Nbd4 exf3 25 Qxf3 Nc7 black is lost now . I was somewhat short of time and missed some faster ways to win but the evaluation that white is winning never changes.26 b4 [h4!] Raf8 27 b5 Kh7 28 Bd3!pointing at the king Ne8 29 Re2 Ng7 Black is trying to gaurd his king with knights ,cool idea but it doesn’t work.30  Rde1  Bc8 and here we are ! I remember thinking I have got everything on the perfect square , there has to be a tactical solution .  31 Re7 !! Nxe7 32 Rxe7 Bd7 [Qa8 Rxa7]33 Ne6

33 Nf5! was faster but not more attractive. The game finished 33..Rg8 34 Ncd8 Qc8 35 Qxf5!+Rxf5 36 Bxf5+Kh8 37 Nf7++ This combination made it into informant 67 and is probably what I am most proud of in my chess life because I had to work so hard to get to the point something like this could happen.

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