Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Game of the Week

Wow! Major churn this week in our usually placid ladder. Eighth-grade up-and-comer John Werkheiser scored a point against the encyclopedic Gary Sargent, then got his own bell rung by our resident park hustler, Steve Black, who in turn let one go to Monica Kearney; while Ken Conter caught me zoning out in an endgame and beat me with a king-rook fork. At least one thing remains constant: It's very, very difficult to beat Will Engel.

Route 20 Chess Club
Freeport, Ill., May 10, 2011

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3
I know this is a perfectly legit book move and all, but I always mean to play 4.Bg5, and I always forget. Grrr.

An odd moment, and an odd way, to go out of book. And kind of an odd choice in general -- I know so little book, there's no real advantage in going out of it against me.

5.Bg5 c5 6.e3 Bb7?
The fianchetto seems natural, but if I were playing more aggressively, 7.cxd5 Be7 (≤7...exd5 8.Bb5+ Bc6 9.Qa4 Bxb5 10.Nxb5+−) 8.Bb5+ Kf8 9.dxe6 would set me up pretty nicely.

7.Bd3 Be7 8.0-0 0-0

I'd call this my first real miscue of the game. It's not even that serious an error, more like a missed opportunity to do the most right thing: 9.cxd5 Nxd5 10.Bxe7 Qxe7 11.Nxd5 Bxd5 12.dxc5 Nd7. I guess I just don't feel ready to set off the fireworks yet.

Incidentally, by not setting off the fireworks, I leave Will a chance to grab a slight advantage with 9...dxc4!? 10.Bxc4 Bxf3 11.gxf3 cxd4.

10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.cxd5 exd5 12.e4 cxd4 13.Nxd5 Nc6 14.Rac1 Rc8 15.Qa4 Ne5 16.Nxe5 Bxe5
Will should preempt 17.Rxc8 Bxc8 18.Qxa7 with 16...Rxc1 17.Nxf6+ Qxf6 18.Rxc1 Qxe5 19.Qxa7 Bxe4.

I've been playing a competent game so far. Time to do something about that.

Seeking to trade my bad bishop for Will's sniper. Alas, not only does a rook trade give him the tempo he needs to dodge my attack . . .

17...Rxc1 18.Rxc1 Bxd5
. . . but, in fact, if he calls my bluff with 18...Bxa6!? 19.Qxa6, then 19...Qh4! wins my e-pawn.

19.exd5 Qxd5 20.Bc4
20.Bd3 is slightly better.

I see the battery, and I see the easy way to thwart it (21.g3). But now, reasoning spuriously that I'm unlikely to win against Will anyway and so may as well try something and see what I learn from it, I play my next bonehead move:

21.Qxa7? Bxh2 22.Kh1 Bf4 23.Bxf7?? Rxf7
It's good to remember that kings can in fact defend other pieces.

24.Rc8+ Rf8 25.Rc7
A piece down, but clinging to a bad idea like a terrier.

25...Qf6 26.g3

What's the move that wins the game for Will? (Highlight to reveal answer.)

26...Bxg3! 27.fxg3 (27.Rxg7+ merely postpones the inevitable: 27...Qxg7 28.Qxg7+ Kxg7 29.Kg2 d3 30.f4 Bxf4 31.b4 d2 32.a3 d1Q 33.Kf2 Bd6+ 34.Ke3 Rf3+ 35.Ke4 Qd3#) 27...Qf1+ 28.Kh2 Rf2# 0-1


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