Thursday, 18 February 2016

Game 20 - club match. Swale vs Maidstone

Swale vs Hastings - Board Two
Thursday 18 February 2016
White: K. Nevols (132) - Black: B. Lane (148)

I did not feel too good for this game. As soon as I sat down, I felt cold and began shaking. Not sure why.

1. e4 c6

The Caro-Kann Defence.

2. d4 d5

I recall one system which went 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. c5!? and played it against a computer a few times - but I kept getting knocked back by counterplay in the centre - so instead I go for simplicity.

3. Nc3 dxe4
4. Nxe4 Nf6
5. Nxf6 gxf6!?

So much for simplicity. This is the 'Bronstein-Larsen' variation. Raymond Keene once did an 'Audio Chess' cassette on this variation many years ago. Black accepts a broken pawn structure but gets active play using the open g-file, and gets the sort of odd position that I can imagine Bent Larsen would like.

How should White play? No idea. But development is always a good plan. And castling queenside - as putting the king in front of an open file did not look sensible.

6. Nf3 Bg4

The computer now recommends (and keeps recommending) an immediate h3 here.

7. Be2 e6
8. Be3 Bd6

8. ... Qb6 might have been better - just to be annoying.
Now White should play 9. Nd2! to ask the bishop what it wants to do, and relocate the knight to either c4 or e4. One possible line is 9. Nd2 Bf5 10. h4 e5 (10. ... h6 11. g4 Bh7 12. c3 Bf8 13. Qb3) 11. Nc4 with initiative.
This move never occurred to me - I am still just thinking of getting castled.

9. Qd2 Nbd7
10. O-O-O Qc7
11. h3 Bh5

OK, so far so good. All the pieces are now doing a job but what next? Black is looking at playing c5 or e5. 12. Kb1 might be sensible, with ideas of c4, but instead I decide to chase the bishop - which ends up in a good position.

12. g4 Bg6
13. Nh4 O-O-O
14. Nxg6?!

I regretted this move as soon as I made it.  His well-placed bishop goes for the knight, but now the h-file is open and, without making a single move, the rook on h8 is now an active piece against the backward pawn on h3. 14. Kb1 might have been better to improve the king safety and avoid any tactical ideas Black may have over the f4-c1 diagonal.

14. ... hxg6

I now had a long think and came up with a bad move. For some reason I was very concerned about Black playing e5, although I could simply play d5 in reply. Other moves I looked at were Bf3 or h4. And of course Kb1 is still there. Instead I stop the move e5 by placing the bishop on the wrong diagonal where it soon falls out of play.

(The computer gives a fascinating long line around 15. h4 with 15. ... f5 16. gxf5 exf5 17. d5 cxd5 18. Qxd5 Nb6 19. Qb3 Bf4 20. h5!? Bxe3+ 21. fxe3 Rxd1+ 22. Bxd1 Kb8 23. h6 Qc6! 24. Rh3 Qg2 25. Qc3! Rd8 26. Rh4 g5 27. h7! gxh4 28. h8 (=Q) Rxh8 29. Qe5+ Kc8 30. Qxh8+ Kc7 31. Qxh4 =)

15. Bc4?

I now have 33 minutes left for the next 20 moves. Immediately I saw 15. ... Bh2!? for Black and thought the h-pawn is a goner, but of course there is 16. f4 Bg3. Instead Black uses the loose bishop to improve the position of his knight.

15. ... Nb6
16. Bb3 Nd5

Now the f4 square is weak. 17. Bxd5 cxd5 18. Kb1 would swap the now poor bishop for the active knight and might result in 18. .. e5 19. dxe5 fxe5 20. Qxd5 Be7 21. Qf3 (defending h3). Instead I play another poor move blocking the bishop, and the knight gets exchanged for the other one.

17. c4? Nxe3

I saw 17. .. Nf4 which looked nasty overlooking that White has 18. c5. But Black now has 17. .. Bb4! 18. Qe2 Nxe3 19. Qxe3 Bd6 then bringing the bishop to f4 and taking a good position on g5.

18. fxe3 c5

Making his move.

19. Qf2

With 25 minutes left for 16 moves, and looking for something to do (and not liking 19. d5 Be5) I decide hitting the f-pawn and relocating the queen is something.

19. ...  f5
20. Kb1

At last! Better late than never perhaps.

20. ...  Rh7

Now building up on the h-file.

21. gxf5 exf5
22. Bc2 Rdh8
23. Qf3?

Better was 23. Qg2 as Black now has 23. ... Bh2! picking up the h-pawn straight away.
I don't know if Black missed this odd looking move but he came up with another good one anyway.

23. .....  Rh4!

The simple threat is cxd4 making the f-pawn passed and visually the rook makes an impact in the centre.

Still feeling unwell, running very low on time, and with no desire to be squashed flat - I go for a Hail Mary - sacrificing the bishop for two pawns and an attack - but Black defends well.

But there is no need to panic. The correct move is 24. Qg2 to admit the previous oversight and prevent the Bh2 trick. Black then has 24. .. cxd4 25. exd4 Qxc4 (25. ... Kb8 26. c5) 26. Bxf5! Kb8 27. Bg4 f5 28. Bf3 b6 - Black has an edge but still some work to do.

24. dxc5? Bxc5
25. Bxf5+?? gxf5
26. Qxf5 Kb8

The game is simply lost now.

27. Rd7 Qc6
28. Qe5+ Kc8
29. Rd5 b6
30. Rhd1 Re8
31. Rxc5? bxc5
32. Qf5+ Kb8
33. Qxf7 Rhe4
34. Rd7 Rxe3
35. Qf4+ Ka8
36. Resigns

This game was lost as a result of lacking a middle game plan, worrying too much about the opponent's initiative, and then panicking once he had the initiative. A poor show.

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