Thursday, October 14, 2010

Game of the Week

Another battle for the top of the ladder!

Route 20 Chess Club
Freeport, Ill., Oct. 12, 2010

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 g6?!
An unusual way to continue a Sicilian, though not unprecedented: Veselin Topalov has used it successfully. (Though, of course, he's Topalov.)

3.d3 Bg7 4.Be3 d6 5.Qd2 Nc6 6.a3

6...Be6 7.Nge2 a6 8.Nf4
Gary has set himself up well for a d4 push; it's a shame to discard that opportunity.

That's one way to try to discourage a trade on e6, but 8...Bd7, retreating the bishop, might be better. Because as it turns out, Gary isn't discouraged after all.

9.Nxe6 Qxe6 10.Rb1
With Will's queen blocking his e-pawn, d5 is a nice outpost for Gary's other knight, and 10.Nd5 also packs the threat of a fork on c7. Does Gary perhaps mean 10.Rb1 to defend his b-pawn in anticipation of moving the knight?

Bye-bye outpost. Gary's plan is too slow.

11.Be2 Nd4 12.Nd5
Or Gary could just castle. Because that knight's not going to get to stay there.

12...Nxd5 13.exd5 Qxd5 14.0-0 0-0

Up a pawn, Will can increase his advantage by trading minor pieces on e2 before castling: 14...Nxe2+ 15.Qxe2 0-0.

15.Bxd4 Qxd4
Down a pawn, Gary should not be trading. Instead, he should evacuate his e2-bishop to g4. Will, meanwhile, is right to retake with his queen -- 15...Bxd4?! 16.Bf3 Qe6 17.b4 is lame for black.

16.c3 Qa4 17.Rfe1 e6 18.Qd1
The queen is more active on e3, and anyway, Gary should not be inviting trades.

It's odd that Will passes up a trade when one is offered. Is he hoping to avoid a grinding endgame?

19.c4 b5 20.b4 cxb4 21.axb4 Rfb8 22.Qc2 Ra7 23.Red1 Qc8

In an otherwise blunder-free game, this move begins Gary's unraveling.

24...bxc4 25.Qxc4 d5 26.Qxc8+ Rxc8 27.g3 Rc6 28.b5 axb5 29.Bxb5 Rb6 30.Bd3 Rxb1 31.Bxb1 Ra1 32.Bc2 Rxd1+ 33.Bxd1 Bxd4 0-1

Gary: "Despite the opposite-color bishops, Will's pawns can't be stopped." Fritz bears this assessment out: 34.Kf1 Kf8 35.Ba4 Ke7 36.Bc6 f5 37.h3 h5 38.f3 g5 39.Bb5 Bb6 40.Ba4 Kf6 41.Kg2 e5 42.Bc6 Ke6 43.Bb7 e4 44.Bc6 Ke5 45.h4 (45.fxe4 fxe4 46.h4 gxh4 47.gxh4 d4 48.Kf1 d3 49.Be8) 45...gxh4 46.gxh4 d4 47.Be8 d3 48.fxe4 fxe4 49.Kf1 Bd8 and white resigns.


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