Saturday 18 February 2017
White: K. Nevols (134) - Black: W. Ransome (133)
To Dartford - for a home match for the Kent Under 140s. There was another Kent match going on, so there were about 60 people in the hall. They were all male, almost all were white, and almost all of them were over 40. I reflected that we really need to make chess more diverse.
I played the move, press the clock, and sat back - looking at the empty chair opposite me. My opponent had been held up by traffic and directions and was 15 minutes late. He apologised, shook hands, and away we went.
1. ... c5
And it is time for another Closed Sicilian - at which I am becoming quite good.
2. Nc3 e6
3. f4 d5
I never know whether to put this bishop on e2 or b5. 4. exd5 exd5 5. Bb5+ Nc6 6. Qe2+ looked exceedingly dull.
4. ... Nc6
A surprise. I had expected 4. .. Bd7. Now I can double Black's pawns at the cost of the two bishops.
5. Bxc6+ bxc6
Now 6. .. dxe4 7. Nxe4 looks horrible for Black but the computer claims Black can now take the advantage - either with 6. .. d4 7. Ne2 Nf6 (7. .. d3!?) 8. d3 Ba6 9. O-O Be7 or 9. .. Qb6 - or 6. .. Ba6 7. d3 Nf6! 8. e5 (White can't castle because of 8. O-O dxe4) d4 9. exf6 bxc3 10. bxc3 Qxf6 (Now 11. O-O looks fun 11. .. Qxc3 12. Bd2 Qf6 13. Ne5).
7. d3 Ne7
8. O-O O-O
Now that Black has castled I can get an attack going. I also wanted to keep the tension in the centre. If I play e5 he then has the f5 square for his knight. Equally if he plays d4 I have the possibility of using e4 or c4.
Black chooses to play on the queenside.
9. .... Qb6
10. Kh1 Ba6
To defend the b-pawn and free the queens' bishop. Now Black could consider 11. .. d4! and then c4 to take a strong initiative in the centre.
12. Be3 Qb7
I was worried about those pawns coming through and so now decided to try to close the centre.
13. .... Ng6
After a big think. I wanted to remove that knight on g6 and see if I could get an attack against the king.
14. .... Bb4
15. Nxg6 hxg6
Objective achieved. The centre is closed, his knights are gone. Now if I could hold the queenside, I might have some chances on the kingside.
16. .... Rab8
17. a3 Ba5
So I was satisfied. His bishops were not great, especially the white squared one which is completely out of play. Now I was thinking of Na4, trying to exchange the bishops and putting the knight on c5. At the moment, a plan of Rf3-h3 and Qh4 would be too slow as Black can play f6 and make space.
The computer favours Black suggesting 18. .. Bb6 19. Ne2 f6 breaking down the White centre.
18. .... Bxc3?
But this is a mistake. Now my bishop dominates the black squares unchallenged.
19. Bxc3 Qd7
White seizes this wonderful diagonal. I think that Black realised at this point that he had made a mistake.
20. .... Re8
21. Rf3 Qd8
22. Rh3 Bb5
The best defence. If the bishop can come to a4-c2-f5, it would be a strong defender.
The point of this is to play g5 and then Qh4. Black could now try 23. .. g5. I might have considered 24. Rh5 with Qf1-h3. The bishop on b4 does a wonderful job of keeping the king locked up. I also saw 23. ... Ba4 and tried to decide between 24. Rc1 or 24. b3 cxb3 25. cxb3 Bb5 26. g5.
23. .... Rb7
24. g5 f5
Black had been relying on this move. By now, we had a crowd around the board, seeing if I could finish it off.
Now 25. Qh4 should still win, with Qh7 and Rg6 to follow, but breaking up the pawns in front of the king could not be resisted.
25. gxf6 e.p.
If now 25. ... Kf7 then 26. Rh7 with Qh4 keeps up the pressure.
25. .... gxf6
The game is now won - Black goes into a mate in two.
26. ... fxe5
27. Qh8+ Kf7