Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Game of the Week

Route 20 Chess Club
Freeport, Illinois, July 6, 2010

1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Bg2
Gary writes "Reverse Sicilian" on his scoresheet, but we know this, of course, as Bill's Opening.

3...Nf6 4.Nf3 h6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Nc3 0-0

A questionable move. White needs to play 7.d4 exd4 8.Nxd4 to gain an edge.

7...d6 8.e3 Nh7
Gary has his eye on Bill's wayward knight. Bill's best answer is to put it back on f3 where it belongs.

9.Nd5 Bxh4 10.gxh4 Ne7 11.d4?! Nxd5 12.cxd5 Qxh4 13.dxe5 dxe5 14.Qc2?! Bh3

Bill's minor stumbles are beginning to accumulate, giving Gary a significant advantage. Of course, Bill can't just allow Gary to play 15...Bxg2, but what's the alternative? 15.f4 discovers a defender for the bishop in the form of white's queen, while threatening e4 and fxe5. 15.f3 also makes e4 possible while defending the g2-bishop.

15...Qxh3 16.Qxc7??
Grabbing a pawn when his king is about to come under attack!

16...Qg4+ 17.Kh1 Qf3+ 18.Kg1

Missing 18...Ng5!!, which threatens mate in one and drives white inexorably toward his doom: 19.Qc8 Raxc8 20.h3 Qxh3 21.f4 Rc2 22.Bd2 Rxd2 23.Rf2 Nf3+ 24.Rxf3 Qg2#.

Not as good as 19.f4.

No longer packs the same wallop as it did a move ago. Better is 19...Rac8 20.Qe7 Rc2.

20.e4 Qd4+ 21.Kh1 Nh3
Black should consider the opportunistic 21...Nxe4!?, since the recapture 22.fxe4 is undesirable because of 22...Qxe4+.

22.Qc2 Rac8 23.Qg2 Nf4 24.Bxf4 exf4 25.Rfd1 Qb6 26.Rg1 g5 27.h4 f6 28.e5 Rc7 29.exf6 Qxf6
White needs to recapture with 29...Rxf6 because of the initiative gained from 30.hxg5 hxg5 31.Qxg5+. If black follows 29...Rxf6 with 30.hxg5, black blockades and pins the g-pawn with 30...Rg6.

30.hxg5 hxg5 31.Qxg5+ Qxg5 32.Rxg5+ Kh8

An even-looking endgame position with even material. But Gary's advanced f-pawn is a latent advantage just waiting to be activated.

33.Rh5+ Rh7 34.Rxh7+ Kxh7 35.Rd1 Kg6 36.Rd7 Rf7 37.Rd6+ Kf5 38.Kg2 Ke5 39.Rg6 Kd4 40.Rg4 Ke3 41.Rg5 Re7 42.Ra5 a6 43.Ra3+ Ke2 44.Kh3?
Better is 44.Rb3, tying black's rook down to the defense of his b-pawn while covering white's own f-pawn so that his king can outflank black's.

Setting up a rook trade that will allow Gary to pass his f-pawn.

45.Rxe3+ Kxe3??
Black wins the game with 45...fxe3, and I'd have sworn that was what Gary had in mind when he played 44...Re3. "Would you believe I didn't see it?" he says.

46.Kg4 b6 47.a4 1-0
And Gary resigns, since 47...b5 48.axb5 axb5 49.b4 forces him to abandon the defense of his f-pawn. But actually, it's not a lost cause in light of the continuation 49...Kd4 50.Kxf4 Kc3 51.Kg5 Kxb4 52.f4 Kc4 53.f5 b4 54.f6 b3 55.f7 b2 56.f8Q b1Q; in fact, it looks drawish. In contrast, white slams the door on black's hopes with 47.b4 Kd4 48.Kxf4.


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