Thursday, 2 February 2017

Game 50 - club match. Swale v Rainham

Swale vs Rainham - En Passant Cup - Board Three
Thursday 2 February 2017
White: C. Marshall (143) K. Nevols (134)

1. e4 d5

Nice to get back to a Scandinavian defence.

2. exd5 Qxd5
3. Nc3 Qa5
4. Bc4 Nf6
5. d3

White adopts a quieter set-up with d3 instead of d4. The drawback is that it can interfere with the movements of White's white squared bishop, but is otherwise fine.

5.  .....c6

Preparing to drop the queen back and continuing the restriction of the bishop.

6. Bd2 Qc7
7. Nf3 Bg4

I usually play this bishop to the f5 square but chose this more aggressive option in the absence of the Be2 possibility to create a weakness.

8. h3 Bh5
9. Qe2 e6
10. g4 Bg6
11. Ne5 Bd6
12. Nxg6 hxg6

This is the sort of position I often get in the Scandinavian and have played many times. White has the space, bishop pair, the edge in development and has caused doubled pawns, but Black is quite solid and has just one more piece to develop.

13. Ne4 Be7
14. O-O-O Nbd7
15. Kb1

I did not understand this - perhaps just taking a breather to improve the safety of the king. I now thought about castling queenside but did not like Ng5. Also kingside castling would give White an initiative after 16. h4.

15. ..  Nd5
16. Bxd5!?

White now carries out a very interesting plan. Black's king is still in the centre so White has spotted a way to offload his bishop and advance the f-pawn. (The computer prefers gaining space with 16. d4 with Bb3 and c4 to follow).

16. ...   cxd5
17. Ng5

Now our electronic friend recommends 17. .. Rc8 18. c3 O-O, but having had a bad experience from 'castling into it' in a previous game, I had no wish to repeat the experiment. With the knight on g5, Black is also unable to castle queenside.

17. ...   Nf6

A brave White player might now fancy 18. Nxe6? fxe6 19. Qxe6 but 19. .. Qd6 repels boarders.

18. f4!

A good move and now things are looking difficult. White clearly plans to play f5 and smash through the centre.

18. ...  Qb6!

But I was quite pleased with this reply which combines lateral defence along the sixth rank with a counter attack upon the White king. The computer now rates the game as equal and produces the line 19. Nf3 O-O 20. g5 Nh5 21. Rhg1 Rac8 22. Ne5 Bc5 23. Nd7 Qc7 24. Nxc5 and a draw is not far away.

19. f5!

White goes for it, with a temporary pawn sacrifice to continue the pressure.

19. ...    gxf5
20. gxf5 exf5
21. Qe5

Now it was time for a big think. The threat is 22. Rhe1. If Black plays 21. .. g6 then 22. Rhe1 Qd8 23. Qxf6. I thought about 21. .. Qd6 but then 22. Rhe1 Qxe5 23. Rxe5 g6?? 24. Bb4 Ng8 25. Rde1.

So Black has to give up any thoughts of holding on to the pawn and, being unable to castle, I played the only move left, and that was to break the pin. I also saw a line in which I could try to counter attack.

21. ...   Kf8!
22. Qxf5 Ba3

I, and perhaps my opponent, now assumed that White could not play 23. Bc3 because of 23. .. d4 overlooking the fact that 24. Bxd4! is playable (24. .. Qxd4 25. bxa3).

23. Bc1 Rh4

The main point of this move was psychological. It develops the rook ands threatens to swing across to attack the king. But White could simply play 24. d4! with the same idea in the last note (24. .. Rxd4? 25. Rxd4 Qxd4 26. bxa3 wins a piece).

24. b3 Bxc1
25. Rxc1 Qd6

Centralising the queen

26. Rhf1

I figured White had the better position now - he has central pressure, a safer King, and Black's pawn on d5 is not happy. To counter this, however, White has a weak pawn on h3 and, if I could clear some pieces, the f-pawn is passed and that could be useful in an ending.

26. ....   Re8

Grabbing the e-file. Now some juggling goes on.

27. Qf2 Rh5
28. Nf3 a6

The queen was threatening to take the a-pawn. The computer now rates the position as completely equal but I did not feel it was equal at the time.

29. Qg2 Rh6

Planning to move to g6.

30. Rce1 Rxe1
31. Rxe1 Rg6
32. Qe2 Rh6

I quite liked these small rook moves. Essentially Black is asking White what is he going to do? How does he plan to win this game? And I was always keeping an eye out for the knight moves Ne5 or Nd4-f5.

33. h4 Rh5

However White can ask the same question - what are you going to do - and can take some time to conjure up an advantage while Black can only wait.

34. a4 Qd7
35. Kb2 Rh6
36. Qe5 Qd8

To protect against Qb8+.

37. Qd4!

Beginning a good redeployment of the queen.

37. ....   Qc7
38. Qb4+ Kg8
39. Re7

A third piece moves into the attack and now it is getting uneasy for Black. He effectively only has one move - but it is a good one.

39. ...   Qg3
40. Ng5 Rxh4

If Black plays 40. .. Qxh4 then after 41. Qxh4 Rxh4 42. Rxb7 is clearly winning.

But White to win now ... can you spot it?

White could play 41. Re8+!! Nxe8 42. Qe7! - an amazing pair of moves that takes a computer to spot.

Black can only survive by sacrificing his queen so .. 42. .. Qxg5 43. Qxg5 Rh6 44. Qxd5. There is still a lot of work for White to do but he is clearly ahead here.

Another move would be 41. Qd2 - Black would get the initiative after 41. .. Rh2.

41. Qxb7?

My chess luck holds as White goes wrong - sacrificing a piece. We were by now both very short of time.

41. ...   Qxg5
42. Rxf7 Rh1

White now considered 43. Rxf6 expecting 43. .. Qxf6 and then taking on d5, forking the king and rook - but, of course, 43. .. Qxf6 is check.

43. Rc7

I now invested much of my remaining time to see if I could finish this off. 43. .. Qc1+ 44. Kc3 Qe1+ is the correct path. Initially I thought he could just go back to 45. Kb2 and overlooked the simple 45. .. Qa1 mate, so instead if would be 45. Kd4 Rh4+ 46. Kc5 Qe3+. It seems unlikely that I could mate the King but exchanging the queens seemed a real possibility.

Also I was aware that the pawn on a6 seemed unlikely to be held and that gives White two powerful passed pawns.

43. ....  Qe5+

So I went the other way.

44. Ka3 Qd6+
45. b4

No more checks but Qe5 is now best. I was worried about the g-pawn but after 45. .. Qe5 46. Rxg7+ Kh8 White has nothing.

45. ...   Qg3

I now expected 46. Rc8+ Kh7 47. Qxa6 and a draw offer, which I may well have accepted, as I did not like the look of those pawns coming down the queenside. In fact, Black is still a long way ahead and 47. .. Qf4 covers the bases and prepares to resume the attack around White's king.

With his clock entering the last two minutes, White blunders and the game is over.

46. Qxa6? Qxc7
47. Resigns

Another exciting battle where I held on to the cliff and watched the other guy go over - and as a result we won a close match.

Swale v Rainham

Keith Hyde (167) 1/2-1/2 David Barnes (167)
Trefor Owens (172) 1-0 Andrew Waters (163)
Keith Nevols (134) 1-0 Chris Marshall (143)
David Page (135) 1/2-1/2 Peter Lloyd (148)
Peter Blundell (120) 0-1 Robert Springett (120)
Tyrone Jefferies (116)  1/2-1/2 Gary Clifford (103)

Swale 3.5-2.5 Rainham

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