Thursday, 9 March 2017

Game 57 - club match. Swale v Hastings

Swale vs Hastings - En Passant Cup - Board Three
Thursday 9 March 2017
White: K. Nevols (134) - Black: D. Cosens (135)

1. e4 c5
2. Nc3 d6
3. f4 g6
4. Nf3 Bg7
5. Be2 e6
6. O-O Ne7

A different deployment of the knight to the usual Nf6.

7. Qe1 Nbc6
8. d3 Nd4
9. Bd1

This is all standard stuff of the system that I play. The queen is moved to e1 to prepare to come to the kingside - the bishop drops back to d1 to protect the c2 point - and White prepares to eject the knight with Ne2 and c3. The computer now suggests 9. ...O-O with a completely equal position.

9. ....   Nxf3

A slight surprise. Black voluntarily exchanges the knight.

10. Bxf3 Rb8

The plan seems to be to advance b5-b4. Usually I would ignore this but I was concerned by the bishop on g7. Black's unusual deployment of his king's knight had kept the diagonal open and there may be threats towards b2. So I decided to prevent b5.

11. a4 O-O
12. Kh1 Nc6

I could sense this knight was replacing its colleague at d4 so I decide to pre-empt it by withdrawing the bishop. But getting on with development with 13. Be3 would have been better as Black now takes over the initiative.

13. Bd1 a6!
14. Qg3 Nd4
15. Ne2 Nc6

A crafty withdrawal, so I decide to keep an eye on both the b4 and d4 squares.

16. c3 d5!

The computer considers 16. .. f5 to be better. Nevertheless I was not happy here. My position did not look good with the pawns not doing a great deal, the d3 pawn looking especially weak, the queen stuck out on a limb, and both bishops on the back rank.

I decide to relocate the bishop with an idea of bringing a rook to d1 if the d-file gets opened.

17. Bc2 d4

The computer does not like this and now states the position as equal. It advises Bd7 and Rc8 before committing to the centre.

18. Bd2 Bd7
19. Rab1

A move which protects b2, moves the rook off the diagonal from g7, and defends along the b-file. I did not like 19. cxd4 but the exchanges lead to an equal position. (e.g. 19. .. Nxd4 20. Nxd4 Bxd4 21. Bc3 Bxc3 22. bxc3 Qa5 23. Qe1)

19. ....    b5
20. Qf2

My instinct was against opening files and after 20. axb5 axb5 21. Ra1 I was also worried about 21. .. b4 22. c4 b3 23. Bd1 breaking the connection between the rooks and having very little space. The knight in particular is gasping for air and the queen is cut off from the queenside.

Then after 23. .. Ra8 24. Rxa8 Qxa8 25. Bxb3 I saw 25. ... Rb8 getting the pawn back with pressure. (26. Nc1 Qa1).

But instead of 25. Bxb3 White has 25. Nc1! ... taking the pawn with the knight! If 25. .. Qa1 26. Nxb3 Qxb2 27. Bc1 Qxc3 28. Nxc5 - White is a pawn up. Black has some compensation, by way of White's muddled pieces, but White is better.

Bringing the queen back was aimed at deterring dxc3 because the c5 pawn would need to be defended.

20. ...    b4

I now considered 21. c4 but saw it loses a pawn to 21. ....  b3 22. Bb1 Nb4. Then 23. a5 Nxd3 24. Qg3 Nb4 25. Bxb3 Qxa5 and White is not happy. White's best move might be 21. Rfc1 - keeping the rooks connected for when the bishop has to drop back. Instead I decide to defend the a-pawn and risk letting the rook into the position.

21. Ra1 bxc3
22. bxc3 Rb2
23. Rfc1

I expected that the Black queen would now move somewhere to allow the other rook to take place behind its comrade. To my surprise, Black now abandons his queenside initiative and opens up on the other side. However he now succeeds in gaining a winning position with a deadly attack.

23. ...   f5!?
24. e5

Closing the diagonal - I was glad to get that opportunity.

24. .....   g5

24. .... Qa5 or 24. .. Qc7 would still be better. I now get the chance to ease a bit of the tension in the centre.

25. cxd4 cxd4
26. Nxd4 gxf4
27. Nxc6 Bxc6
28. Bc3

Now 28. ... Rxc2!? is interesting. With 29.Qxc2 f3! 30. gxf3 Bxf3+ 31. Kg1 - or 29. Rxc2 f3! 30. gxf3 Qxd3 - there is nothing forcing but White's king would have a very uncomfortable time.

28. ....   Rb7
29. Qxf4 Qd5

I'm a pawn up but have to tread very carefully.

30. Rg1 Kh8

Better is 30. .. Rc8 with the threat of Bxa4 and looking at the loose bishops nicely lined up.

31. Qd4

Again I was pleased with this - I thought life would be easier without the queens on the board.

31. ....   Bh6
32. Qxd5 Bxd5
33. Rge1??

A blunder in mutual time trouble. My plan was to place this rook on e2 and then allow the king to g1 to break that annoying pin. (White should have played 33. Bd4).

But 33. .. Rc8 wins a piece!! (34. Ra3 Bf8).

33. ...  Rg8??

And Black misses it - phew! He continues to focus on the g2 spot.

34. Re2 Rc7
35. Bd4

Black now wins a pawn with 35. .. Rxg2! then 36. Rxg2 Rxc2 37. Rag1 Rd2 - and with White tied up Black could keep up the pressure.

35. ..... Rcg7?

Fortunately for me Black again misses his chance. I saw 35. ... R8c8 and wondered if that won but 36. Bd1 Rc1 37. Re1 seems to hold.

36. Rg1 Rg4
37. Bb6?

The ending of errors continues - this is the wrong square. My intention was to follow this up at some stage with a5, but the correct move is 37. Bc5 with the possibility of Be7 defending the h4 square.

Black can now win the game with 37. ... Bf4! to attack the h2 pawn. (Had Black played 37. Bc5 he could now defend with Be7).

White has no defence.
- 38. Bf2 Bxg2+ 39. Rxg2 Rxg2 40. Bg3 Rxe2
- 38. Rf2 Bxh2 39. Rgf1 (39. Kxh2 Rh4 mate) Rxg2 40. Rxg2 Rxg2 41. Bb3 Bb7 and a deadly discovered check is on the way.
- 38. Bd1 Rh4 39. Rge1 Rxh4+ 40. Kg1 Bxg2 41. Rxg2 Rgxg2+.

For the third time Black lets White off the hook.

37. ....   f4?
38. Rf2

Intending to defend against Black's f3 with g3 or bringing the White bishop to f3..

38. ...   Bg7
39. Bd1! Rg5
40. d4 Bf8

Now the d8 square is available for the White bishop - but I was so focused on tightening up the defence that I did not notice. I am just trying to stay on the board.

41. Bf3 Bxf3
42. Rxf3 Rf5

So we can now breathe again. Meanwhile my team are 3-2 behind in the match so a draw is no good. I'm a pawn up and must try to play for the win, so first we activate the rook and plan to come to c6.

43. Rc1

While Black was thinking, I now saw the possible manoeuvre of the bishop to f6 via d8.

43. ....    Rfg5

I rejected 44. Rxf4 because of 44. .. Rxg2 - overlooking that 45. Rxf8 then wins a piece.
But I am heading for that f6 square.

44. Bd8 h5??
45. Bxg5

Black makes the final blunder and called it a day. Later on while going through the game, I became aware how close I was to defeat - but my luck had held. A roller coaster game but now eight games in a row undefeated.

Swale v Hastings

Keith Hyde (167) 0-1 Paul Kelly (171)
Trefor Owens (167) 0-1 James Wheeler (151)
David Page (135) 0-1 Marc Bryant (141)
Keith Nevols (134) 1-0 Derek Cosens (135)
Ian Lappin (125) 1-0 Mason Woodhams (121)
Dennis Simpson (105) 1-0 Umberton Jozwiak (78)

Swale 3-3 Hastings

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