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Game Analysis – Surber vs. Croft 2014 (Part 2)

Despite all the research on tactics, strategy, openings, middle games and endgames, there really are only two kinds of moves in chess: good and bad. Most Grandmasters will tell you that chess is about finding ways to exploit the weakness of your opponent, but it is equally important to look for ways to exploit your opponent’s blunders. In the case of my game with my friend Walter, the second half of the game saw some unusual blunders on both sides and some very strange combinations leading ultimately to a checkmate in 30 moves. Here is the board after 8…♙g5.

9.♗xe4 ♙xe4

At this point, I expected that White would most likely go 10.♙d5 and attack my Knight on c6, which would have been consistent with his playing style since the game began. However, he ignored the Knight and decided to bring his h4 Knight to the f5 square, which reinforced his Pawn position on d4, but did not stop me from trying to execute my attack plan.

10…♙cxd4 11.♙c3 ♗c5 12.♙e3 ♕d7

There were a couple of options in this position, but I decided to move the Queen to d7 in an attempt to catch White not looking at his position. He was playing somewhat recklessly and I figured that if he took my d4 pawn then I would move my Knight two positions to e5 and ultimately end up on g4 so I could position my Queen on f2#. However, as you will see, I made it close to the position, but White caught on to my plans and foiled them.

13.♘g7+ ♔f8 14.♘h5 ♘e5 15.♘xf6 ♕f5 16.♘d5 ♘g4 17.O-O

At this point, White is somewhat carelessly moving his Knight around and trying to keep my Queen busy in a series of forced moves. 16…♘g4 was the moment where I was prepared to strike his King, but White saw through the easy ruse and played 17.O-O.

17…♕xd5 18.♙xd4 ♗xd4 19.♙exd4 ♕f5 20.♙f3 ♙exf3

This move opens up the e file and allows me to prepare my Rooks for action.

21.♖xf3 ♕b5 22.♘c3 ♕b4 23.♘d5 ♕c4?? 24.♕d2??

By far, this was the deciding moment in the game. White and Black both made incredible blunders that ultimately turned the game in White’s favor. 23…♕c4?? essentially gave the Black Queen to White with 24.♙xc4!!, but White missed the move and played 24.♕d2??. This was as much a psychological defeat for White as it was a strategic defeat. White immediately realized his mistake and began to panic with quick and impulsive moves.

24…♕xd5 25.♖e1 ♕xf3 26.♖f1 ♕e4 27.♖f3

27.♖f3 is another example of White’s panic-stricken moves.

27…♕xf3 28.♙d5 ♖d8 29.♙d6 ♘e3 30.♙d7 ♕f1#

White’s psychological imbalance after 23…♕c4?? 24.♕d2?? allowed me to eventually use my Knight-Queen combination to corner his King. The game was very exciting for both of us and we are already planning to play again before I finally have to pack up and leave Ohio.