I had an absolutely crazy game with my pet line: the Nimzovich Defence.
1. e4 Nc6
There are no virtues for my move Nc6. Yes, None.
It’s just a very awkward position for the knight. White can, and does attack it with d4, then d5.
2. d4 e5 3. d5 Nb8
Now that the d-pawns have been “provoked” into advancing, which is a polite way of saying we voluntarily took a bad position, the knight goes back home.
It’s a real challenge to defend this position from here on. And I do like to challenge myself every now and then.
4. Nf3 d6 5. Be2 Nf6
Now this is a subtle trick – the most natural way to defend White’s e-pawn would be Nc3. But that would block White’s c-pawn, preventing it from reinforcing the strong White point on d5.
White doesn’t fall for it. Well it was worth a try.
g6 7. 0-0 Bg7 8. c4 Na6?
Preventing b4, but I need to castle first. This move is a mistake, as it doesn’t stop b4.
I missed that White has the check Qa5+, picking up the Black knight.
In the game, both me and my opponent wrongly assumed that b4 drops a pawn. Happy coincidence.
Now i do castle, so b4 is ruled out.
10. Bd3 Ne8 11. Re1 f5
The thematic pawn break that is the highlight of Black’s entire opening. It’s very similar to, and might even be an exact copy of the King’s Indian Defence. Now White doesn’t usually take the f-pawn. Black can really come alive if he does.
12. exf5 gxf5
Now White is in for a world of trouble. During the game, I even believed my position was winning already.
How is White going to stop my e4, attacking three White pieces at the same time?
White saves his rook – the most valuable of the three.
Now when I went for this move I did see that White can gain two pawns for the piece, and my King would be stripped bare. I also did see the move Nb4, which I correctly calculated would give Black a slight edge even if no material is won. But there’s no reason to run away from this move. It unblocks the dark square bishop, and picks up a White piece.
14. Nxe4 fxe4 15. Rxe4
White knows he’s in real trouble if he sits still so he immediately goes for an attack. It does look promising.
His plan is to swing the rook to the h-file, attacking my h7 pawn and then my King as well.
The nimzo-knight jumps to the rescue forking rook and bishop. If I can exchange White’s light square bishop off, his attack would grind to a halt, and I would win by material advantage.
Now I couldn’t figure this out during the game. I knew that taking the bishop would blunt the attack, but what do I do once White recaptures with the queen?
Wouldn’t it be even more dangerous if a rook and queen were attacking h7, compared to just a rook and bishop?
So I’m an idiot, and there is in fact a simple solution. Nxd3 17. Qxd3 Bf5
Defending my pawn, skewering the White queen and rook – Black would be clearly winning. But the correct tactics are quite hard to find in the game itself. Instead of going for this, I played the crazy sacrifice…
You. Only. Live. Once. And thus the game descends into total madness.
This sacrifice removes the defender of White’s rook, allowing me to capture with the queen. If White just takes my rook, then I would just be two pieces up. Total greed, and totally winning.
The real problem is my h7 pawn. I haven’t done anything to defend it whatsoever.
Now White is expecting me to retreat to f8, when he can safely pick up my sacrificed rook with check. Surely I won’t risk my life with Kh8, letting both the bishop and rook have their way with my King?
It takes some real courage to play this move. My king steps into a cage, where it cannot escape, with an angry rook plus bishop.
White has to move because the discovered check, Bg6+ etc, doesn’t work if I can just smash the rook with my queen. If White had tried protecting the rook with g3 instead, things get really interesting.
18. g3 Qxh4!! 19. gxh4 Bg4 20. Bc2 Nf6
White’s attack is beaten off using a queen sacrifice. Well, I have two knights and a rook for the queen. Black, despite being queenless, has a clear advantage. The Black pieces have the power of sheer numbers, which can be aimed at White’s broken castle.
Keeping the White rook attacked so he cannot unleashed the discovered check. My rook is still left hanging.
If White had tried cashing his check, I had a response ready: 19. Bg6+ Bxh5 20. Bxh5
Black would be a rook plus knight up. Simply overwhelming, I can just retreat my rook to f8, and White will have to resign.
So let’s look at the move played by my opponent:
He’s attacking my queen, while doing nothing about the multiple pieces hanging on the chessboard. It is an absurd position.
I block his attack with my knight, and now my knight is also attacking White’s rook and bishop.
White moves his rook out of trouble. He has secured the h4 square from my queen and is really intending to cash his check now.
I still won’t let White get his discovered check. My rook is sacrificed, again, but I am uncovering an attack on White’s queen.
This time White does take my rook.
Allowing me to take his queen.
The discovered check has much less venom with his queen off the board. White can’t summon the firepower needed for a mating attack.
Kg8 23. Rxd1
The fireworks over, Black is an awful lot of material up. It’s time to convert this to a win.
Qe7 24. Rg4
White uses the pin on the queen to travel away from my knight.
Rf8 25. Rg3 Qe2 26. Rf1 Nce4
Transferring my knight for the attack. I’m running low on the clock now.
27. Re3 Qxa2 28. h4 Nd2 29. Re1 Ng4 30. Re8
White forms a battery on the e-file, but it will never reach my King.
Nf3+ 31. Kh1 Qxf2
Two knight, and a queen, against a lone King. 30 seconds left on the clock.
If I run out of time, I still lose this game.
32. Rxe8 Bxe8 33. Bf4
White covers the checkmate square on h2.
I take his last rook. Actually capturing with the Knight is even faster. But I have no time left to calculate.
34. Kg2 Qe2+ 35. Kg3 Qxh2+ 36. Kxg4 Qg2+ 37. Kf5 Be7
The White king is slowly being sucked up the board towards my army. Too slowly.
Seven seconds left on the clock.
Fortunately, my opponent took a moment to secure his bishop. He could have dragged things a bit longer by running further up with ke6.
Coolly played, this checkmate finishes the game. In my favor.