Thursday, 7 January 2016

Game 14 - Swale Club Championship 2015-16 - Round Six

Swale Club Championship - Round Six
Thursday 7 January 2016
White: T. Owen (170) - Black: K. Nevols

My first game of 2016 and a very tough opponent to start with. There are two very highly graded players at the club - I had already lost to one and now here is the other.

1. e4 d5

My usual first move against a strong opponent. He had expected me to play 1. .. e5 as in my last club game when he was intending 2. f4 and the Kings Gambit.

2. exd5 Qxd5
3. Nc3 Qa5
4. d4 Nf6
5. Bd2 c6
6. Bd3 Bg4
7. f3

White opts for the system of f3 and Nge2 to slowly develop. Nothing wrong with this. Nf3 is considered to be more active.

7. .... Bh5
8. Nge2 e6

All standard developing moves. Now I was a little concerned about 9. Bf4 although of course there is nothing wrong with 9. ... Nd5.

9. O-O Qc7

I think this is inaccurate and 9 ... Be7 or 9. Nbd7 is more solid. For some reason I am still concerned about Bf4.

10. Ne4 Nbd7

11. b4?!

A new plan. Normally White will try to keep his advantage in development and will play something like c4 or N2c3. Black still has to develop a bishop and castle.
11. Bf4 again is also adding pressure forcing 11. ... e5 with perhaps 12. dxe5 Nxe5 13. Nxf6+ gxf6 14. Nd4 and the f5 square is just waiting for a piece to arrive. (14.... O-O-O might hold with 15. Bf5+ Kb8 and White's knight on d4 is awkward).

The plan with b4 is to start an advance on the queenside with maybe c4, Rc1/b1 and b5 but it strikes me as too slow. Here the computer recommends 11. .. Nxe4 answering 12. fxe4 with 12.  ... e5 and answering 12. Bxf4 with 12. ... Nf6.

11. ....  Be7

But I opt for development.

12. Qe1!

A multi-purpose move with the option of a kingside attack and adding to the defence of b4.

12. ... O-O
13. Rb1 Nd5
14. c4 N5b6

Normally I don't like putting the knight here in this system as it is vulnerable to a4-a5 or Ba5. However neither is possible here.

15. Bf4 e5

The standard defence. I had given it much thought and considered 16. dxe5 Nxe5 17. Qc3 f6 18. Nd4 Qd7. White has a lot of piece play but Black might have enough resources to avoid immediate disaster.

(After 16. dxe5 Nxe5 17. Qc3/g3 f6 I now see that White has 18. Ng5! with a strong attack. 17. .... Nbd7 would be a better defence).

16. Bg5!

Instead White spots a brilliant way to attack on the kingside. This was a move I had not considered. Now I should have stayed solid with 16. ... f6 with Bf7 to follow but I was worried about the weak white squares.

16. .... Bxg5
17. Nxg5 h6

If 17. ... Bg6 18. Qh4 h6 19. Bxg6 fxg6 20. Ne6 wins material.

18. Qh4!

Another move I had not seen.

18. ... Nf6

19. g4 is now a strong attack but I think 19. ... hxg5 20. Qxg5 Bg6 21. Bxg6 fxg6 22. dxe5 Nh7 23. Qxg6 Qxe5 will hold.

19. Nh3

A sensible withdrawal.

19. ... Rae8

White has 23 minutes for the next 16 moves while I have 36. Although material is equal I was very concerned abut the attack which was coming my way, so first I've got to get rid of that bishop.

20. Rbe1 Bg6
21. Bxg6 fxg6
22. dxe5 Qxe5

Back to the computer who recommends 22. ... g5 and then if 23. Qf2 Rxe5 intending to double rooks down the e-file.

Instead we now see some moves where White builds the attack up and I am scrambling around trying to hold something together. Although I felt I was on the ropes, the computer has me about 0.5 ahead!

23. Nd4 Qh5
24. Qf2 g5
25. Ne6 Rf7
26. f4 g4?

Better is 26. ... Qg4! and hitting the knight on e6 and also pinning the f-pawn against the White queenside pawns which now look vulnerable.

27. Re5! g5?

Bad. Grovelling with 27. ... Qg6 28. f5 Qh7 29. Nhf4 looks bad but after 29. .. Nxc4 White has to retreat his rook and the f-pawn goes.

28. Nhxg5!

I completely overlooked this too. Very briefly I considered 28. hxg5 29. Rxg5+ Qxg5 30. Nxg5 Rfe7 but a queen and a pawn for a rook and a knight seemed to be quite overwhelming. Instead it is back to scrambling mode.

28. ... Rfe7

28. ... Nfd7 is better.

29. Nh7?!

This looks spectacular but a recommended move is the difficult-to-see 29. Qc2! which keeps the Black queen on h5 for the discovered attack (it now can't go to g6 or h4) and also defends the c-pawn. One line could be: 29. ... Nbd7 30. Ne4 Qg6 31. f5 Qh7 32. Qf2! Nxe4 33. Rxe4 Nf6 34. Rd4 keeping the pressure up and remaining one pawn up.

29. ... Qf7

Better is 29. ... Qg6 because now White has 30. Neg5! Qg7 31. Nxf6+ Qxf6 32. Ne4 Qg7 33. Rxe7 Rxe7 34. Re1 - again still a pawn up and with pressure.

30. Nxf6? Qxf6
31. Nc5

Amazingly I am still on the board - the game is equal - and here comes the losing move. I should now of course play Nxc4. It is often the case that when you think you are out of danger that you make the final mistake.

31. .... Rxe5?
32. fxe5 Qxf2
33. Rxf2 Rxe5?

Another chance for Nxc4 and another mistake with Rxe5.

34. Rf4!

The winning move. White preserves his pawn lead.

But it is not over yet. Black could now play 34. ... g3!? 35. hxg3 Re1+ 36. Kh2 Rb1 harassing the pawns from behind and doubling White's extra pawn.

34. ...  Re7?!
35. Rxg4+ Kh7
36. Kf2 Nc8

My pieces are now very tied back and White advances his king and threatens a variety of forks.

37. Ne4 Rf7+
38. Ke3 Nb6
39. Kd4 Rd7+
40. Ke5 Rd8

To defend against Nf6+ and Rg8 mate.

41. Nf6+ Kh8
42. h4 Nd7+
43. Nxd7 Rxd7

The knights are gone. My opponent's only problem now is the clock - he is down to his last few minutes for all the game.

44. a4 Kh7
45. Rd4 Re7+
46. Kf6 Rg7
47. g4 Rg6+
48. Kf5 Rg7
49. g5 hxg5
50. hxg5 Kg8
51. g6 Re7
52. Kf6 Re8
53. Rd7 Rb8
54. Ke7

Now Rd8+ is the threat. If 54. .. Kg7 55. Kd6+ Kxg6 56. Kc7.

54. ..... b5

A Hail Mary!

55. axb5 cxb5
56. c5 Kg7
57. Rxa7 Kxg6
58. c6 Rc8
59. Kd7 Rf8
60. c7 Rf7+
61. Kc6 Rf6+
62. Kxb5 Rf5+
63. Ka4 Rf8
64. b5 Rf4+
65. Ka5 Rf8
66. b6 Rf5+
67. Ka6 Rf8
68. Kb7 Rf7
69. Kb8

White has 90 seconds left - which I decide is enough time to finish it off, so Black resigned.

It is no disgrace to lose to a better player, and I was pleased that I was able to survive the kingside attack, but disappointed with the game which I was never in. Clearly further work required.

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