Sunday, 17 January 2016

Game 16 - club match. Hastings vs Swale

Hastings vs Swale - Board One
Saturday 17 January 2016
White: T. Wheeler (156) - Black: K. Nevols

Another trip down to Hastings, and another chance to enjoy the posters and cartoons and various elements of chess history. I have to say it is a very fine place to play chess. If only they had a bar, although, as I was driving, that wouldn't have been much good.

This was a six board match but we had problems in fielding a team and, in the event we had to default three boards. So I was on top and facing a tough opponent.

1. d4 Nf6
2. Nf3

I was aware that our only chance was to win all three games so I had intended to wheel out the Benko - alas I did not get the chance. One day.

2. .... g6
3. Nc3 d6
4. e4 Bg7

So it is the Pirc defence - another opening of which I know nothing. So I had to think of it as a King's Indian without c4.

5. Be3 O-O
6. Qd2 c6

6. ..  d5 is perhaps more accurate. If 7. e5 then Ne4 with a timely c5 to follow.

7. Bd3 Bg4

Normally when White as a Qd2-Be3 set up in some openings, he also has a pawn on f3 or h3 to guard the g4 square. The computer recommends here 7. ... Ng4 8. Bf4 e5

8. O-O-O Bxf3!?

Opening the g-file with the bishops pointing in that direction might not have been a wise move. A solid developing move like Nbd7 maybe.

9. gxf3 a5

Here we go! We needed a win so let's charge.

10. Rdg1?!

White told me afterwards that he thought this was a mistake and that he should have gone with the other rook and played Rhg1. As it plays, one of his rooks is out of the game.

10. ... a4
11. a3 b5

I haven't really got any plan here but I was inspired by my last game at Hastings (Game Seven) where I went down in flames after a pawn change.

12. Ne2

Preventing b4.

12. ....  Qb6

A safe square as I was intending to answer 13. d5 with c5.

13. c3 c5

Now I was beginning to enjoy myself.

14. e5!

White finds a way to counter.

14. ....  Nfd7
15. f4

I now had a big think and made the wrong move - as often happens after big thinks. I was concerned about f5 and considered moves such as Kh8, Rc8 and b4. I ruled out 15. .. b4 because of 16. dxc5 dxc5 17. cxb4 Rc8 18. Kb1 and I am just a pawn down.

But is White threatening f5? It just loses a pawn on the e5 square. On my scoresheet (later on) I wrote down Rc8 and think this is the best move but White gets a lot of play with 16. Be4.

(The computer recommends 15. ... cxd4 with 16. .. Nc5 and judges the position as equal).

15. .... e6?

Instead I play this with the intention of permanently ruling out f5 without realising that it blunders away a pawn.

16. exd6 Qxd6?

A second blunder which I played quickly. Had I realised that the b-pawn was loose I would have played 16. ... c4. Then 17. Be4 Ra6 18. d5 Nc5 19. Bxc5 Qxc5 20 dxe6 Rxd6 (or maybe 20 ... fxe6 straight away) 21. Nd4 (21. Qe3 Qxe3 22. fxe3 Rxe6 wins a pawn) Bxd4 22. exf7+ Rxf7 23. cxd4 Rxd4 24. Qe2 and I could be better here.

17. Bxb5 cxd4
18. Bxd4 Nc5
19. Bc4 Nc6

So White is a pawn up, has a passed pawn on the c-file, attacking chances against the black King including an open g-file and two good bishops. It don't look good. The only negative is the fact that his extra pawn is doubled.

My only chance of getting something is to try to activate my knights and rooks towards his king.

Now White forces off the exchange of queens.

20. Bxg7 Qxd2+
21. Kxd2 Kxg7
22. Ng3 Rfd8+
23. Kc2 Na5
24. Be2

My plan now is to rotate my knights to dominate the c4 square, and put a rook on b8 to aim at b2 and perhaps a3. If I can sac a knight for two of the queenside pawns I have holding chances.

24. ....  Nd7
25. Rd1 Nb6
26. Rxd8 Rxd8
27. Rd1 Rb8

On with the plan. I thought a further exchange of rooks would just increase the strength of his queenside pawns. Another line is 27. ... Rxd1 28. Bxd1 Nd5 29. Ne2 Nc4 and then activating the king.

28. Rd4 Nc6
29. Rd6 Na5

Pushed around so far.

30. Rd4 Nc6

I now expected 31. Re4 to avoid the repetition. Bb5 is now threatened so Black has to play 31. ... Na7. White then has 32. Bd1 Nc8 33. Kc1 Ra8 34. Rb4 and I am completely tied up.

31. Rd6?

But what's this? Surely he is not going to allow a repetition.

31. ....  Na5
32. Rd4

And he has! This is the third time this position has appeared so a draw it is. I breathed a big sigh of relief.

The computer comes up with the following at the above diagram. 31. Re4 Ne7 32. Bb5 Ra8 33. Rd4 Ned5 34. Bc6 Ra5. Although White is still ahead, it proves to be not easy to advance the c-pawn. With the king on the c-file Black has Rc5,and with the king on b1 or a2 there are some lines where the Black can sac his rook on c3 and get a knight fork.

Whether I would have had the skill to defend that position is another question, but I was relieved at the draw.

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