Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Game of the Week

In honor of our newly elected president (Will Engel) and treasurer (Steve McWhirter) . . .

Route 20 Chess Club
Freeport, Ill., April 12, 2011

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e4 e6 4.Bxc4 a6 5.a4
Steve might play ...b5, but that's nothing to worry about; it's easy enough for Will to step away with Bd3. 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Nc3 takes a commanding lead in development.

5...Bb4+ 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.f3
7.e5 deals with the threat of ...Nxe4 just as well, and gives Will a slight advantage.

7...0-0 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bh4 g5
That bishop is not going to get trapped. If Steve picks a fight with 9...c5!? 10.dxc5 Nbd7, then even though he's a pawn down, e5 is no longer a threat, while ...Qa5 is.

10.Bg3 Nc6 11.Nge2 Na5 12.Bd3
Deactivates Will's light-square bishop by tucking it back behind the pawn chain. 12.Ba2 keeps it powered up.

12...c5 now possesses added menace, as after 13.dxc5, Will's light-square bishop is pinned.


Except for that bishop on d3, it's looking good for Will so far. Not so much for Steve: his pawn structure and piece placement are haphazard, and he's behind in development.

13...b5 14.Bb1 Nc4?
It should be a good move, but it treads perilously close to a hidden bomb: 15.e5 Bxc3 16.exf6 Bxd4+ 17.Qxd4 Qxd4 18.Nxd4 Bd7, and Steve's surviving bishop is looking forlorn, consigned to pawn protection duty.

15.b3 Na5??
Tragically missing 15...Ne3, forking rook and queen -- Steve's last chance to keep a lid on Will's game.

Good, but 16.e5 is still better.

16...Nd7 17.e5 (at last!) f5 18.exf6

It's got to be 18...Rxf6, because of what happens next.

19.Qg6+! Kh8 20.Qxh6+ Kg8 21.Qxg5+
21.Qg6+ Kh8 22.Ne4 Ra7 23.Nxf6 Qxf6 24.Be5!! Qxe5 25.dxe5 is even better.

21...Kf7 22.axb5
22.Bg6+ is even more powerful.

22...Rg8, driving back the queen, gives Steve a little more room to breathe.

Even better is 23.Qg6+ Ke7 24.Bh4.

23...Nxe4 24.Qh5+ Ke7 25.Bxe4
25.Bh4+! demolishes what's left of Steve's defenses: 25...Nf6 26.Qh7+ Rf7 27.Bxf6+! Kxf6 28.Qh4+ Kg7 29.Qxd8.

25...Kd7 26.Bh4 Be7 27.Qh7 Bb7 28.b4 Nb3 29.Rxa8 Rxa8 30.Nc3 Nd2 31.Re1 Nc4

A crafty tactic, but in fact, Will has a quiet move that's downright devastating. Can you find it? (Highlight to reveal answer.)

After 32.Ra1!! Bb7 33.Ra7 (threatening 34.Bxe7!) Kc8 34.Qxe7 Qxe7 35.Bxe7 Rf7 36.Bc5 Rg8 37.Bxc6 Rxg2+ 38.Kxg2 Bxc6, white is up a rook and two pawns, and black is bereft of options.

32...cxb5 33.Bxa8 Nd6
If 33...Re8 then 34.Bc6+! Kxc6 35.Rxe6+ Kc7 36.Bg3+ Nd6 37.Bxd6+ Qxd6+ 38.Rxd6 Kxd6 39.Qg6+ Kd7 40.Qf5+ Kd8 41.Qd5+ Kc8 42.Qa8+ Kd7 43.Qb7+ Kd8 44.Qb8+ Kd7 45.Qxb5+. Where did all black's cover go?

Will has one more unpleasant surprise for Steve. Think you know what it is? (Highlight to reveal answer.)

34.Bd5! Rf7 (34...exd5 35.Rxe7+) 35.Bxe6+ 1-0
Checkmate is just over the horizon after 35...Kc6 36.Bd5+ Kxd5 37.Qc2.


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