Thursday, 12 November 2015

Game 8 - Swale Club Championship 2015-16 - Round Two

Swale Club Championship - Round Two
Thursday 12 November 2015
White: K. Nevols - Black: P. Blundell (122)

So back to the club championship and now I am in a determined frame of mind. I decided to go for a different tactic.

My motto was 'simple chess'. Back to basics. Back to the beginners books when I was ten years old. Play simply, develop, move pieces to the best squares, find weaknesses, no heroics, no rush of blood - just simple play.

1. e4

So the first change. d4 had given me two draws and three losses so out the window it goes. Time for something else.

1. ... e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4

The Giuoco Piano - one of the first openings we learn as kids. Stops d5, hits f7, develops slowly.

3. ... d6

Apparently this is called the 'lesser Giuoco' - Black's aim is to play Bg4 and fight for the d4 square.

4. O-O?!

The main line is 4. c3 (I discovered afterwards) with other options being 4. d4, 4.h3 and 4. Nc3. I of course did not know this - so just castled.

4. ... Bg4
5. h3 Bh5

I was not afraid of 5. Bxf3 6. Qxf3 Nd4 7. Qd1 as I have c3 coming next.

6. d3

Now if 6. ... Nd4 I intended 7. Nbd2. Black could play Qf6 with the aim of doubling my f-pawns but one line is 6. Nd4 7. Nbd2 Qf6 8. c3 Nxf3+ 9. Nxf3 Qg6 which does not look very comfortable. Perhaps 10. d4 with if 10. .. Qxe4 11. Re1 gives some initiative. But then 10 .,.. O-O-O or Nf6 looks good.

After 6. Nd4 7. c3 Nxf3+ 8. gxf3 Qf6 or Qh4 does not look much fun.

Another option is 6. Nd4 7. g4 Bg6 8. Nxd4 exd4 9. f4 where Black might consider Qh4 and/or h5.

6. ... a6

Fortunately Black does not take the opportunity to put me under pressure.

7. Be3

Stopping Nd4.

7. .... Nf6
8. Nbd2 Be7
9. c3

So far so good. Ideas now of moving the queen to break the pin and advancing in the centre.

9. ...  b5

Slightly loosening. The manoeuvre with this and Na5; Bc2 c5 is often seen in the Ruy Lopez but then Black's bishop is usually on c8, not over at h5. 9. .. d5 could be considered as an alternative.

10. Bb3 O-O

I had expected Na5 when I intended Bc2 and aiming for d4.

11. Qe1

Breaking the pin at last. Long term I am thinking of a kingside attack with Nh2 and f4. (On the last few moves, the computer has expressed a preference for White playing g4. I did not want to go down that road - as I said, I wanted to keep things simple and I did not want space around my king).

11. ..  Kh8

Also considering pushing the f-pawn.

12. Nh2 Nd7?

A mistake which allows me to put Black under some pressure along the d5-a8 diagonal and create some weaknesses in the top left hand corner.

13. Bd5 Ndb8
14. a4 bxa4
15. Rxa4

Black's queenside is now in a tangle and I thought he might now play a5 to follow up with Ra6.

15. ... f6

Instead he decides to swap off the bishops. Having now created a weakness I could not see any further way to exploit it. (16. Qa1? blunders to 16. ..Be2) so I figured I'd leave it over there for the moment and go back to Plan A.

(The computer points out that after 16. Qa1 Be2 there is 17. Rc4. It then gives the line 17. ... Bxd3 18. Rxc6 Nxc6 19. Bxc6 Bxf1 20. Nhxf1. The rook on a8 is trapped and will soon be on its way and that will leave White with two knights for a rook and pawn).

16. f4

I now have 42 minutes left for 19 moves.

16. ... Bf7

Now 17. f5 is a possibility with 17. .. Bxd5 18. exd5 Na7 19. Ne4 with advantage to White.

17. Bxf7 Rxf7
18. f5

But I am satisfied so far. I have created a weakness on the left and have advance opportunities on the right.

18.  .. Qg8
19. Nhf3

He has 54 minutes left for 17 moves and I have 31 minutes for 16. I am scratching my head to see how I can advance further.

19. ... g5

This did surprise me. I decided now to work on the h-file but I could have played 20. fxg6. If 20. Qxg6 then 21. Nh4 and then into f5. But if 20 .  fxg6 it is not so easy to progress. Perhaps 21. Qg3 or 21. b4.

20. g4 h6
21. Kf2 Bf8
22. Rh1 Rh7

Black has defended well on the kingside but I could now see that his bishop is trapped by its own pawns and also the queen is cut off from the defence on the queenside. So it is time to move back to the left hand side of the board and advance in the centre.

23. d4 Nd8
24. d5 Nd7

With 40 minutes left for 11 moves, his knights adjust their position. After my next move, I had 19 minutes for ten moves. I pondered where to put the queen. Should I play Qe2 with Rha1 to follow? After 25. Qe2 a5 26. Qb5 looks good. So 25. Qe2 Nb8 but then what?

25. Qa1 Nb8
26. b4

So instead I decide to advance the pawns with the help of a pin.

26 . ... c6

We looked at this position after the game. I was tempted to play 27. dxc6 but was worried about opening up the diagonal for the queen and stopping Nb3 or Nc4. However after 27. ... Ndxc6 then simply 28. b5 is strong. 28. ... Nd8 29. bxa6 Ndc6 30.Rhb1. But I could not see an immediate win and, always remembering my desire for 'simple chess' decided to keep his queen blocked in.

(The computer agrees with this line and adds that 30. a7 Nd7 31. Ra6 Nd8 32. Qb2 is strong).

27. c4? Rb7

I had expected a5. But Black now begins to defend well.

28. Nb3 c5
29. b5 Rba7

So now my attack was blocked on this side too. I no longer had control of the a5 square. b6 Rb7 just loses a pawn. My only hope was now to go back to the kingside.

30. h4 Be7??

And fortunately Black blunders! Better was 30. .. Kg7 31. hxg5 hxg5. If White now plays 32. Rh5 preparing Qh1 then Black has the marvellous defensive move 32. ... Nf7 - which defends all the key points. Then if 33. Qh1 axb5 34. Rxa7 Rxa7 35. cxb5 Ra2+ and Rb2.
If 32. Bxg5 fxg5 33. Nxg5 Kf6 and again how does White progress?

(How did we manage before computers? The line with 32. Rh5 and 33. Qh1 does lose all of White's advantage. Going back with 32. Rb1 is better with b6 and Na5 coming up.

And after 32. Rh5 Nf7 White can try 33. Bxg5! If 33... Nxg5 then simply 34. Nxg5 and if 33. .. fxg5 then 34. b6 Rb7 35. Nxc5! Rxb6 (.. dxc5 36. Nxe5 with a deadly discovered check on the way) 36. Ne6+ Kf6 37. Rxg5!! .    Of course I saw none of this).

For just the second time this season, however (the first was the perpetual in Game Two) luck was with me. It is now a simple mop-up operation.

31. hxg5 fxg5

31. ... Ng7 avoids immediate loss with 32. g6 Kg7 33. gxf7 Kxf7 34. Rxh6 Qxg4 35. Qh1 or 35. b6 and a piece up with an attack.

32. Rxh6+ Kg7
33. Rg6+ Resigns

My first win of the season! At last!

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