Monday, 8 February 2016

Game 19 - club match. Weald of Kent vs Swale

Weald of Kent vs Swale - Board One
Monday 8 February 2016
White: K. Nevols (132) - Black: D. Warrick (123)

Now I was wearing my proud first grade for January 2016 - 132 - which was more or less what I had expected. This was based on nine games from 2015, and my terrible start had been saved by two wins over grades 149 and 143 (Games 10 and 12).

For this game we were in Cranbrook Library, a few miles south of Maidstone and quite a pleasant location. One of those lovely small libraries that they are always trying to close down.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5

Once more into the Ruy Lopez.

3. .... d6

This is known as the Steinitz Defence - named after the great 19th century world champion. 4. d4 exd4 5. Nxd4 Bd7 6. Bxc6 seems to be good for White. But, after another poor run of results, I again wanted to play simply.

4. O-O Nf6
5. Re1 Bd7
6. c3 a6
7. Ba4 b5
8. Bb3 h6

Perhaps a pre-emptive defence against Bg5 but I was more concerned about Black playing Bg4 so I put a stop to that.

9. h3 Be7
10. d3?!

My plan was to secure the centre and them play a slow build up. I did not yet know where Black planned to put his king but this move gave me the option of Nd2-f1 if I need it. But d3 is far too slow. 10. d4 at once was better.

10 ...  Qc8

And Black shows his hand. He wants to attack my kingside while I am still under-developed.

11. Kh2 Nh7

Planning a surge forward with g5 and maybe f5, so I had better get on with it. The computer here recommends 11. ... O-O and 12. ... Na5 to punish White's timewasting of d3 and Kh2.

12. d4 g5

I now noticed the weakness at f7 and along the d5-a8 diagonal and thought I had a sequence to get an advantage.

13. dxe5 Nxe5
14. Nxe5 dxe5
15. Qd5?!

15. Qh5 is far better grabbing a quick pawn either on h6 or f7 - my move is based on an oversight. By attacking e5 and f7 the only way to defend both (I thought) was by f6 when Qf7+ dislodges his king. Then I saw I could not take on e5 anyway because Black has the pin with Bd6. So Black could now play 15. ... Be6 where I had 16. Qc6+ which would force 16. ... Kf8 then 17. Bxe6 fxe6 and I could think about 18. Re3 or 18. Be3.

15. ....  O-O

A complete surprise as I had forgotten this move was still legal. Back to the drawing board.

16. Nd2

With the intention of adding to the defence of the king.

16. ... Nf6
17. Qd3 Bd6

I was not too worried about 17. .. g4 18. hxg4 Nxg4+ 19. Kg1 Bh4 20. g3 but now I see that Black could try 20. ... Kh8!? with the plan 21. gxh4 Rg8 22. Kf1 Nh2+ 23. Ke2 Bg4+ with one line being 24. f3 Bxf3+ 25. Nxf3 Rg2+ 26. Kd1 Qg4 and White is very uncomfortable. Or 24. Ke3 Bh5 25. Nf1 Ng4+ 26. Kd2 Rd8 or Nxf2.

After 20. .. Kh8!? if White takes the pawn there is 21. Bxf7 Rg7 22. Bd5 Qf8. Or instead of 20. g3 White could instead stick with 20. Re2. But 17. .. g4 could still give a nasty attack.

The computer instead recommends 17. .. c5 18. Qg3 Qc7 as the way forward.

18. Nf1 c5
19. Qf3 Kg7
20. Ng3 g4

Instead g4 is played too late (again 20 ... c4 would have been better). White has some defences in order. Now here my first thought was simply 21. hxg4 and then either 21. ... Bxg4 22. Qe3 or 21. Nxg4+ 22. Kg1 when I saw a tactic. The first move was OK and won a pawn but then I saw the second move and leant forward with interest.

The tactic seemed to turn the tide by forcing the win of material - but could it work? What have I overlooked? I went off to the kitchen to grab a biscuit while pondering it in my mind. Could it work? I came back, sat down, gave one more run through the possibilities and played the moves.

21. Bxh6+! Kg6
22. Qe3!

The point! Not only does White threaten the rook but he also threatens an immediate mate in two.

22. ...  Nh7

The only move.

23. Bxf8 Bxf8
24. hxg4 Bxg4
25. f3 Bd7

Satisfied! I am now the exchange and a pawn up. I surveyed the board to see where Black might have counterplay and saw the possibility of c4 and Bc5 so I decided to move that bishop before it gets cut off.

26. Bd5 Rb8

OK, so he could think about c4 and Bc5. I decide to improve the position of my knight.

27. Nf5 Bxf5?

I was pleased to see this. Black's could get counterplay chances with both the bishops working together.

28. exf5+ Qxf5???

But I was even more pleased to see this. The game comes to an immediate halt.

29. Be4 Resigns

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