Swale vs Snodland - Board One
Thursday 3 December 2015
White: D Fowler (143) - Black: K. Nevols
A rematch of my third game of the season. This time I have the Black pieces.
1. e4 d5
2. exd5 Qxd5
3. Nc3 Qa5
The Centre Counter / Scandinavian Defence is wheeled out once more. White chooses an unusual plan to fianchetto the king's bishop.
4. g3 Nf6
5. Bg2 c6
6. d4 Bg4
To force a weakening of the kingside. If now 7. Nf3 then 7. ... Qh5.
7. f3 Bf5
8. Nge2 e6
9. O-O Nbd7
10. Bf4 Be7
All standard stuff for Black so far. The location of White's bishop on g2 is unusual - it is often found on c4 by now.
I now had a long twenty minute think, which left me with 43 minutes to get to move 35. After the last game, I did not want to get my king stuck in the middle again. But equally allowing White to take control of the d6 square had its perils too. And Nxe4 just strengthens the white centre. Eventually I think I found the best move which defends d6 by way of an indirect attack on e3.
(Incidentally the computer recommends 11. .. O-O 12. Nd6 Bg6 and meeting 13. Nxb7 with 13. .. Qb4! or 12. Bd6 Rfe8 13. Bxe7 Rxe7 14. Nd6 Bg6 15. Nxb7 Qb4! The possibility of moving the queen to b4 I did not see - I just did not like the idea of a white piece on d6 in principle).
11. ... Nd5
12. Qd2 Qxd2
13. Bxd2 O-O
White decides to exchange off the queens. I was not too displeased at this point as I considered how to get my rooks into the game.
14. Nf4 Rac8
White has 34 minutes left for 21 moves and Black has 37. We were both putting in the minutes.
This surprised me. I had expected c4 but now that the bishop can no longer go to a5 I have a good square for my knight.
15. ... N7b6
16. b3 Rfd8
17. Rad1 Nxf4
18. Bxf4 Nd5
19. Bd2 Rd7
Satisfied so far. I am planning to exploit the awkward position of White's black-squared bishop by doubling the rooks and breaking with c5. White finds a good plan which now throws me off balance.
20. g4 Bg6
21. f4! Rcd8
White has 26 minutes left for 14 moves while I have 14 minutes.
Better would be 21. ... Bxe4 22. Bxe4 Nf6. 23. Bf3. The f4-5 push I had overlooked and now underestimated. However I still felt comfortable and now make a huge miscalculation.
22. Ng3 Bh4?
22. .. h6 better. After preparing a c5 break, the bishop goes off on completely the wrong diagonal.
(The computer suggests an evacuation of the white-squared bishop with 22. .. Bc2 23. Rc1 Bd3 24. Rf3 Ba6 and then countering f5 with e5).
23. f5 Bxg3
24. fxg6 Bxh2+??
Better 24. ... Bc7 25. gxf7+ Rxf7 26. Rxf7 Kxf7 27. Rf1+ where White is better but not yet winning. However, here I am having an attack of 'chess blindness' as I think I am winning a pawn.
25. Kxh2 hxg6
Now I counted the pawns as I thought I had won one, and with satisfaction saw I had won two - only to my horror to see I was a piece down! For the next few minutes I stared at the scoresheet trying to work out how I had miscalculated. Where did that piece go? Not only that but he had two bishops to my knight and the h-file was asking to be invaded.
This was a four board match and we were 2-1 up. I only needed a draw for us to take the match and began kicking myself for being too clever again. I wondered how difficult it would be to take up Bridge.
26. Bxd5 cxd5?!
The poker players have an expression for it - being 'on tilt'- that when you've made a mistake you are so fed up, your concentration goes and you continue making mistakes. Taking back with the rook here would have left an e5 break possible. Blocking the file where one has doubled rooks does not make sense.
27. Rf3 Rc8
28. g5 Rc6
White is now playing well and has used this moves to gain space and close areas of the position in preparation for the h-file invasion. I decided my only chance to get a draw would be to try to lure his pawns forward on the queenside to try to get some sort of breakthrough in the confusion. But playing 29. .. b5 would have been better to place the rooks behind the pawns.
29. ... Ra6
30. a4 Rb6
31. b4 Ra6
32. Ra1 b5
33. a5 Rc6
Well, that didn't achieve much. My only chance to breakthrough would have to be on the c-file through maybe an exchange sacrifice. I expected White to wander the king over to defend c3, move the bishop to f4, and then invade the h-file. I could not see how I could combat this plan.
34. Rh1 Kf8
35. Rh8+ Ke7
Now we were past the time control, which I had made with two minutes spare, and had a long think. The g-pawn was going to go. The f-pawn could be under attack. The rooks could invade along the h-file and then the eighth rank. I had to get the king over to the queenside and defend as best as I could. So the following move is based on the principle that I might need a white square for the king. On balance, 36. ... a6 is probably better.
36. ... Rc4
37. Rxg7 Ke8
38. Rg8+ Ke7
39. Rh3 Rd8
Now I expected Rg7 with king over to c2 and bishop to f4-e5-f6.
40. Rxd8 Kxd8
But I was relieved to see a pair of rooks come off.
41. Rh8+ Ke7
Time for another think. Should I resign? If 42. .. a6 then 43. Rb6 Rc8 44. Rxa6 Rb8 45. Bf4 Rc8 46. Rb6 Rxc3 47. Rxb5 - White is a clear piece up with two passed pawns.
My only chance of a swindle was to get my rook into the forward half of the board and see if I could get perpetual check or at least pick up a pawn or two. Then suddenly I saw that if I could get my rook to the c2 square I would get my piece back! I would have to sacrifice a couple of pawns but it was worth a go.
42. ... e5!
43. dxe5 d4
44. cxd4 Rc2
Made it. I will get my piece back but be two pawns down.
Make that one pawn. 45. Kf3 Rxd2 46. Ke3 would hold on to the two pawn lead.
45. ... Rxd2+
46. Kf3 Rxd4
Now I perked up as I have some real chances of holding the draw.
47. Rb7+ Ke6
48. Rxa7 Rxb4
49. a6 Ra4
50. Ra8 Kxe5
51. a7 Kf5
Nicely shielded by the f-pawn. Material is now equal and I breathed a sigh of relief as I might have got out of jail.
52. Rb8 Ra3+
53. Ke2 Rxa7
Pushing his king away seemed like a good idea at the time. I was concerned about a mating net.
54. Rb5+ Kf4
Wait a minute! Now I was thinking - I could win this!
55. ... Re7
The white king is cut off and my rook is coming into the centre. If I can take the g-pawn, it is game over. On top of that, he was down to his last two minutes for the rest of the game.
56. Rd5 Re3+
Move away again.
57. Kd2 Re5
58. Rd7 Rf5
As his clock reached the last thirty seconds, White resigned. An amazing battle where I somehow got a win out of a lost position - but considering the earlier games, I think I am overdue a bit of luck.