Thursday, 21 April 2016

Game 26 - Swale Club Championship 2015-16 - Final Group - Round One

Swale Club Championship - Final Group - Round One
Thursday 21 April 2016
White: K. Nevols (132) - Black: T. Jeffries (118)

And so into the final group. The top six of the club championship were to play each other again - with colours reversed. I was in third place but 1.5 points behind the top two.

My first game was a return of a tough match I had been involved in earlier.

1. e4 c5

The Sicilian Defence - I decide to enter the closed variation.

2. Nc3 Nc6
3. f4 e6
4. Bb5 Nd4

An unusual move threatening to play against the bishop. The computer now recommends 5. Bf1.

5. Nf3 Nxb5
6. Nxb5 Qb6

Black has made three of his six moves with a knight that is no longer there! Probably best now is 7. c4 to defend the knight and keep a bind in the centre.

7. Nc3 c4

Opening the diagonal of the queen to prevent White castling and disrupting development all round. I gave some thought here to 8. d4 cxd3 9. Qxd3 Nf6 and then see what I could do about developing the queenside. I also thought about 8. d3 just to get rid of that pawn. 8. Ne5 is also interesting with either d4 or Qe2 to follow.

Instead I decided to develop the queen and see if I could round up that pawn.

8. Qe2 Nf6!?

But Black sacrifices it for some play in the centre. This surprised me. Well, as Bobby Fischer (or someone) once said 'a pawn is a pawn is a pawn'.

9. Qxc4 Be7
10. d4

I was feeling quite confident with the position but, as I let go of the pawn, I suddenly saw 10 .. Nxe4. I pondered the position after 11. Nxe4 d5 12. Qd3 dxe4 13. Qxe4 O-O and thought, OK, I'm still a pawn up so it is not too bad once I can settle the position of the king. That queen on b6 was becoming a right pain.

10 . ...  O-O

Instead Black stays calm and castles. I decide now to prevent any Nxe4 tricks.

11. Qd3 d5
12. e5 Ne8

Although White has gained space, and has pushed Black's pieces back, Black now has chances of pawn breaks. My own mind is now looking at attacking the kingside. I considered 13. f5 here but instead decided to get the king safe and bring the rook to f1 before those sort of thoughts.

13. O-O g6

That's an end to f5. Now I have 45 minutes left for 22 moves.

Now here 14. a4! is a good move gaining some space on the queenside and following up with b3 and Ba3, or think about a5. If Black replies with a5 then the b5 square becomes free for a knight. Instead, my eyes were looking at the kingside and a desire to throw pawns forward.

14. Kh1

Moving off the queen's diagonal, improving the king's safety, and thinking of Rg1 if the g-file opens after g4 and f5.

14. ....  Ng7
15. g4 Bd7

Now the lines are set. Although White is still a pawn up. it is difficult to make progress. Black's kingside defences seem quite solid and making space on the queenside might make sense - again with a4. Black could think about a f6 break.

16. f5?

A mistake. I was thinking about a kingside attack, with opening the g-file and moves like Rg1 and Bh6.

16. ...   exf5

 ... and did not see that this was possible. I had ruled it out because of ...

17. Nxd5 Qd8

Now the computer recommends 18. g5!? . the idea being to restrain Black's kingside and then 18. .. Ne6 19. Nxe7 Qxe7 20. d5 with good play. I did not see this.

18. Nxe7 Qxe7
19. Bg5 Qb4
20. a3 Qb6

Of course 20. ... Qxb2 21. Rfb1 traps the queen.

Now I am very concerned about the c6-h1 diagonal. I could see the bishop, which I had previously kept quiet, now coming to c6. Also the pawn is still loose on g4, and Black has ideas of Ne6 and rooks coming to the c-file. It did not look good. Probably it was time to grovel with gxf5 and bringing the bishop back. Instead I decide to try to improve the position of my bishop.

21. Be7 Rfc8
22. Bc5 Qc6

Instead I've put it in harm's way. The queen is nicely placed opposite the king, and b6 is now threatened winning a pawn.

23. b4 fxg4
24. d5 Qc7
25. Ng5

With 12 minute left for 13 moves - an attempt at counterplay.

25. ...  Bf5

26. Qe2??

Better 26. Qd4. Now Black has a forced win of material with 26. ... Qd8 27. Ne4 Qxd5 28. Rae1 b6 29. Bd6 Rc4 30. Rf4 Ne6.

26. ...  b6?

Phew, my first bit of luck.

27. Bd4?

Ruined again - 27. .. Qd8 was now even stronger. 28. Ne4 Qxd5 and two pieces are under attack. 27. Bd6 would have been better.

27. ...  Qxc2

Missed again. But Black's position is now so good that it does not matter. White's only hope is to get the pawns going. It is strange how both sides have completely forgotten about the knight - stranded on g5 and continue to do so.

28. Qe1?

Should have played 28. Rae1

28. ...  Qc4!

28. .. h6 picks up the knight (it can't move because Be4 is deadly) but this is the final winning move. The d-pawn is about to fall and the rooks enter the game.

29. Qe3 Qxd5+
30. Kg1 Rc2
31. Rf2 Rac8!

White can resign now.

32. Re1 Rxf2
33. Qxf2 Rc2
34. Re2 Rxe2
35. Qxe2 Qxd4+

Well mopped up. White's position is hopeless and I resigned.

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