[TimeControl "1 in 3 days"]
[Termination "reflaxion won by resignation"]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 O-O 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.Qxc3 b6 7.Bg5 Bb7 8.e3 d6 9.f3 Nbd7 10.Bd3 c5
11.Ne2 Qc7 12.b4 cxd4 13.exd4 d5 14.c5 bxc5 15.bxc5 Rfe8 16.O-O e5 17.Rac1 exd4 18.Nxd4 Rac8 19.c6 h6 20.Bxf6 Nxf6
21.cxb7 Qxc3 22.bxc8=Q Qxd4+ 23.Kh1 Rxc8 24.Rxc8+ 1-0
I think this was a big game for me. I saw a lot of things in it that I probably wouldn't have seen a couple of months ago. Even so, I still didn't fully understand it, so any analysis by those better than me is greatly appreciated. :)
A few quick notes:
3. Nc3 Bb4: I am finding that the Nimzo-Indian defense really isn't my favorite queen's pawn opening. I tried something new with 4. Qc2, but it still felt a bit awkward.
8. e3, 9. f3: This seemed the most effective way to develop my kingside while dealing with the threat of the fianchettoed bishop. I didn't like wasting two turns on pawn moves, and I also didn't like opening up the pawn row in front of where my king would castle to, but I had little choice.
13. exd4: I had a strong space advantage at this point, and my opponent's minor pieces couldn't advance very far due to my pawn positions, so I knew my opponent would throw pawns at me to break up my lines. I didn't have everything calculated, but given the position, I felt I could hold. It worked this time, but I definitely need to learn more about pawn coordination.
13. ... d5 14. c5: I think this was a bit of a blessing. My c4 pawn was really only blocking one square for Black's bishop, and Black ended up blocking with his own pawn by pushing his. Losing the light squares didn't seem a big deal, as my opponent had weakened his own bishop.
15. bxc5: I chose to isolate the rook pawn rather than let out Black's knight. Seeing potential for a pawn fork in the future, I chose to hold back the knight and try to create an opportunity to capitalize.
15. ... Rfe8 16. O-O: After Rfe8, I knew e5 was coming, so I wanted to safeguard my king against a potential pin. I had calculated three moves ahead and knew that exd4 Nxd4 would hold, at least for a little while. But I was starting to lose confidence in my plan.
17. Rac1: Preparing to capitalize on the pawn fork by turning an impending pin into an even trade. I could now capture with the pawn.
18. ... Rac8: At first I thought my plans had come to a halt and I would just find some way to tie up my opponent's pieces with the threat. After some more calculation, I realized that utilizing the pawn fork could pay off after bxc8=Q. I would come out a piece ahead if everything went according to plan, so I went for it.
19. c6!: My plans, at last, are revealed!
19. ... h6: I wasn't sure why my opponent played this. Looking back now, I think it may have been to open up an escape square for his king, but the open square was guarded by my bishop. I seized the opportunity to trade, with a fairly certain material advantage in the works, and grabbed the knight on my next move.
22. ... Qxd4+!: At first I thought my plans had come crashing down around me, as they have a tendency to do. After a few moments of screaming and cursing at the monitor, though, I saw that my opponent's zugzwang still wouldn't win the queen - taking the queen would result in walking into a back rank mate, and taking the bishop gave me the chance to save the queen. Knowing that I would still be up the exchange after 23. ... Qxd3, I played 23. Kh8 with renewed confidence in my advantage.
23. ... Rxc8??: Black's final (and possibly only) blunder of the game. The queen was tempting, but the queen is a small price to pay for mate!
Any feedback would be a great help to me. :)