Wednesday, 22 September 2004

Archive: UNCUT! 33

The Sean Marsh Chess Column

Column 33
September 2004

Dear Readers,

It’s a funny thing, communication. The brain is useful for filling in the gaps and discrepancies that occur between the message sent and the message received.
For instance, next time you’re out shopping, listen very carefully at what the newspaper vendor is actually shouting. He’s not really calling out the name of the local newspaper he is selling. Listen and it sounds more like he’s shouting ‘Boiled cabbage! Boyyyyyyled cabbage!’ Yet the brain repairs the information slip and without thinking we actually understand what it is that he is trying to advertise.

While you’re there on the high street, you might also care to ponder the mysteries of why people who sell the ‘Big Issue’ always dress like they are the middle of a particularly bad winter, even on the hottest, sunniest days. Are they remnants of all those one-hit-wonder grunge bands from a decade ago? I have it on good authority that the best way to avoid dealing with a former Spin Doctor is to reply to their cry of ‘Big Issue!’ with a prompt riposte of ‘Bless you!’ and speedy turn of heel.

And what can we make of the religious enthusiasts who, good book in hand, shout out loud biblical lessons, whether you want to hear them or not. The curious thing to notice here is that they never seem to arrive or leave. They are just there, in full flow. Never do we see one of them arrive, sort his corner out, open the book, clear the throat and slowly build to a crescendo. Never do we see him finish the lesson, close the book and wander casually off to buy a newspaper. It’s very odd.

What has this got to do with chess? Nothing at all, of course but as the excitement of the new season starts to build we always encounter a small trickle of information/disinformation regarding who will play for which team, which star players Peterlee may or may not have up their sleeves for the big encounters this year, which players have given up and, most importantly of all, have any really strong ones just moved into the area and turned up, quite by chance, on the door step of Middlesbrough Rooks.

Usually, of course, the communications feature a huge amount of rumours and things remain pretty much as they always were. In a couple of weeks most of the cards will be on the table. All the old enthusiasm returns, rivalries are dusted off and plots and plans are devised and dreamed of.

Chess, chess chess! That’s why we’re all here. We chess, therefore we are.

Champions’ Games

For some people, the season never really ended. As reported last time, several of our local players braved the rigours of the British Championship and we were delighted to welcome back two British Champions.

Here’s a couple of games and a few snippets from the 2004 joint British Senior Champions, with their own annotations….

David Smith – G. Ellison
British Senior Championship (5), 11.08.2004

1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 f5 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Be7 5.0–0 0–0 6.c4 d6 7.Nc3 Qe8 8.b3 I don't know a lot about the systems where White goes for e4 so just went for a modest system of development. 8...Nc6 9.Bb2 Bd7 10.a3 Checking later on a database I found that 10 d5 Nd8 11 dxe6 Nxe6 is a common continuation. 10...Qh5 11.b4 Rae8 12.e3 Bc8 A strange move. 12 ... Bd8 aiming for ... e5 seems reasonable. 13.d5 White now seems to get the advantage whatever Black does. 13...Nb8 14.Nb5 c6 15.Nc7 Rd8 16.Nxe6 Bxe6 17.dxe6 Na6

Black is likely to regain the lost pawn but by then White will have serious play on the Queenside. 18.Nd4 Nc7 19.Qxh5 Nxh5 20.b5 No need for the tempting Nxf5 Rxf5 21 g4. It's simpler to play against Black's Queenside pawns. 20...c5 21.Ne2 b6 22.a4 Bf6 I can't find any improvement, eg. if 22 ... Nf6 23 a5 Nxe6 then 26 axb6 axb6 27 Ra7 23.Bxf6 23 Bc3 is quite a tempting alternative. 23...Rxf6 24.a5 Rxe6 If 24 ... Nxe6 25 axb6 axb6 26 Nc3 and then if 26 ... Nc7 27 Ra7 Rf7 28 Nd5 keeps Black tied up. 25.axb6 axb6 26.Ra7

26...Re7 27.Rb7 Nf6 28.Rxb6 d5 If he does nothing White can strengthen his position with moves like Rc6, Nc3, Rd1 or Rb1 and choose his moment to play b6. 29.cxd5 Ncxd5 If 29 ... Nfxd5 then 30 Rb7 30.Rc6 Rc7 31.Rd1 Rdd7

On the face of it Black seems to be 'holding on' but there's a tactical possibility for White. 32.Rxd5 Nxd5 33.Bxd5+ Kf8 34.Rxc7 Rxc7 35.b6 Rc8 36.b7 Rb8 37.Nc3 Ke7 38.Kf1 Kd6 39.Ke2 g6 40.Kd3 Ke5 41.Kc4 1–0

G. James – David Smith
British Senior Championship (2), 08.2004
In Round 2 my opponent played the opening poorly as White and after 15 moves his position was critical. I continued... 15...g5 16 Bg3 ...and could now have played 16 ... e6 as 17 h3 is met by 17 ... exd5 18 hxg4 de and various piece sacrifices seem to be inadequate eg. 17 Ndb5 exd5 18 Nc7 Bxc3 19 Qxc3 Nxe4 20 Qf3 Nxg3 21 Qxg3 Rb8 22 Na6 bxa6 23 Qxb8 Qe7+ However I preferred the simple win of a pawn by... 16...Nxe4 17 Bxe4 Qxd4 Now 18 Rd1 might have set Black a few more problems but White preferred... 18 Qxd4 Bxd4 19 Nb5 and after... 19...Bxb2 20 Rb1 Be5 21 Bxe5 Nxe5 ...he hoped to force a draw by... 22 Nc7 Rb8 23 Na6

However I had prepared the surprising 23...Bf5 so that if 24 Nxb8 Bxe4 the Nb8 is doomed and if 24 Bxb7 then 24 ... Bxc2 is deadly. White had nothing better than... 24 Bxf5 bxa6 ...and Black had a 'won position'. However a combination of imprecise moves by Black and dogged play by White eventually resulted in a draw after 50 moves. ½–½

D. Levens – David Smith
British Senior Championship (4), 08.2004
I had plenty of good fortune in Round 4. After 19 moves Black was in serious trouble, due to neglecting development. 19 ...0–0–0 is probably best but I played 19...d5 20 Rxf5 Bb4 Hoping to exploit the position of the Nc3. White had prepared 21 Qe1 Ne7 22 Bd2 Now ...Kf8 might be best. I played 22...0–0 and hoped that White would go wrong. If he had played Rf6 I can see no satisfactory defence to Qe2 and Qxh5 but instead he played 23 Rxb4 Now 23 ... Qxb4 24 Nxd5 Qxd4+ is good for Black but 23 ...Qxb4 24 Ne4 Qxd4+ 25 Be3 is very unpleasant for me. 23...Nxf5

White could now have interposed 24 Rxb6 when 24 ... Nxd4 25 Qd1 Qxb6 26 Be3 is very tricky but 24 ... Qxb6 25 Bxf5 Qxd4+ 26 Be3 Qe5 is probably winning for Black. 24 Bxf5 Qxb4 25 Ne4 Qxd4+ 26 Be3 Qe5 White is probably winning after 26 ... Qxe4 27 Bxe4, as Qe2 and Qxh5 can follow. 27 Nf6+ Kh8 28 Qf2

White threatens 29 Bd4 or 29 Qf3. I played 28...Rfe8 so that 29 Bd4 can be met by ... Qxe1+. White should now have played 29 Nxe8 Qxe8 30 Bxd4+ Kg8 31 Kg2 (threatening 32 Qf3) with practical chances. Instead he played 29 Ng4

allowing 29...Qa1+ 30 Kg2 Rxe3 31 Nxe3 Nc4 and after 32 Nf1 the only way to avoid the Knight exchange 32...Qe5 Black went on to win. 0–1

Meanwhile, Norman was stepping up the pace with this great third round victory…

Norman Stephenson – N. Gill
British Senior Championship (3), 09.08.2004
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 c5 White can now take a Semi-Tarrasch by 7 Nf3 which is slightly better for him but he can now avoid the ....Bb4 simplification by 7 Rb1 or.... 7.a3 Be7 8.Nf3 0–0 9.Bd3 b6 10.Qe2 Bb7 11.0–0

11...cxd4 Better to go 11 ...Nc6 directly when 12 Bb2 is not so attractive as in the game. 12.cxd4 Nc6 13.Bb2 Rc8 White now has to organise his Rooks....maybe d1/e1 would be better but he saw the game continuation as far as move 21 and thought it a strong argument in favour of 14.Rac1 Na5 15.Ba6 I don't think Black had thought of this simple plan. 15...Rxc1 16.Rxc1 Qb8 17.Bxb7 Qxb7 18.Qc2 Bd6 19.e5 Bb8 20.Ng5 g6 21.Ne4 Kg7 22.Nf6 b5 Without this move, Black could have packed it in. 23.d5

23...Nc4 24.d6 Rc8 Found 'when he got there', this keeps Black in the game (he is going to get my lovely N+P for his lousy R). 25.d7 Rd8 25 ...N e3 26 fxe3 wins easily. 26.Qe2 Rxd7 27.Nxd7 Qxd7 28.Rd1 Qe7 29.a4 It would simplify White's winning process if he could set up the §b5 as a target. 29...a6 but - 29 ...Qb4 30 axb5 Qxb2 31 Qxc4 Qxd4 would be hard for White to win once ... Bb6 is played. 30.axb5 axb5 31.Bc3 Qc5 32.Bd4 Qc7 33.Qe4 h6 White cannot get his Q connected to the key squares for mounting an attack on the Black King.... 34.Rc1 ...and instead heads after the pb5 34...Ba7 35.Bxa7 Qxa7 36.Qf4 Qe7 37.Rb1 Nb6 38.Rxb5 Nd5 39.Qc1 Qa7 40.g3 Qd4

Now it's a matter of driving off the Black Q from the centre - without allowing any shots like 41 Qb1? Qd1+ 42 Kg2 Nf4+41.Qe1 Nc3 42.Rb3 Nd5 43.h3 h5 44.h4 Ne7 45.Rb4 Qd5 46.Qe4 Qxe4 Black dare not allow the White Q possible access to f6. 47.Rxe4 The winning plan will be to bring the K&R to bear on Black's one weakness - the pf7 - while avoiding giving the N any scope among the White pawns. 47...f6? This relieves the crampedness but the resulting weakended pawns and squares will make White's task mush easier. 48.exf6+ Kxf6 49.Kg2 e5 50.Ra4 g5 51.Ra6+ Kf5 52.Rh6 1–0

Here’s Norman’s last round marathon in which he induced a Knightmare for the opponent…

David Anderton – Norman Stephenson
British Senior Championship (7), 13.08.2004
1.d4 e6 2.c4 Bb4+ Last year's fifth round encounter had gone 2 ...f5 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 g3 Bb4+ 3.Bd2 Qe7 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.a3 Bxd2+ 6.Nbxd2 d6 7.e4 e5 This was looking like a rather nice Bogo-Indian to me. 8.d5 Bg4 Gotta get rid of this other Bishop as well! 9.Be2 Bxf3 10.Bxf3

White's Bishop is a disgrace. 10...0–0 11.0–0 c5 12.b4 b6 13.Qb3 Rather superficial play by White - who was playing at a speed which reinforced my impression of the superficiality of his thinking. 13...Nbd7 14.Rfb1 I don't think he had even an inkling of my ideas in this position. 14...cxb4 15.axb4 a5 16.Qa4 Oops - he was lucky to have even this after he saw my last couple of moves. 16...Rfc8 17.Qb5 Qd8 18.Nb3 axb4 19.Qxb4 Qc7 20.Nd2

Compare the minor pieces if you want to assess White's opening play.20...Qc5 21.Qxc5 bxc5 22.Kf1 Kf8 23.Ke2 Rxa1 The Queenside has always been Black's playground since the 8th move. 24.Rxa1 Rb8 25.Kd3 Rb4 26.Bd1 Nb6 Ties up White's pieces and closes the 'a4' door on that pathetic Bishop....White still has not seen Black's ideas in this position. 27.Ra7 g6 28.g3 h5 After this, I heard him say 'Gosh' to himself, under his breath. Black's free Knight is about to commence a reign of terror of the Kingside. 29.h3 g5 30.f3 h4 31.g4 Ng8

Now, I was sure that I was going to win (and David was a pawn up on the next board). 32.Bb3 Ne7 33.Ra1 Ng6 34.Rh1 Nf4+ 35.Ke3 Nd7 36.Rh2 Ke7 37.Rh1 Kd8 38.Rh2 Kc7 39.Rh1 Kb6 40.Bc2 Kc7 Ok - he saw that one... 41.Bb3 Rb7 42.Rh2 Ra7 43.Nb1 Rb7 Ok - he saw that one, too. 44.Nd2 Nb6 45.Bd1 Ra7 46.Be2 Ra3+ 47.Kf2 Ra2 48.Ke1 Kb7 49.Bf1 Na4 50.Kd1 Nb2+ 51.Kc1 Nbd3+ 52.Kd1 Kb6 53.Bxd3 Nxd3 54.Ke2 Nf4+ 55.Ke3 Rb2 56.Rh1 Kb7 57.Rh2 Ka6 58.Rh1 Kb6 59.Ra1 Kb7 Ok - he saw that one as well. 60.Rh1 f6 61.Rh2 Rc2 62.Rh1 Kc7 63.Rh2 Rc1

But, did he see that one? 64.Kf2 Kb6 65.Nf1 Rc2+ 66.Ke3 Rxh2 67.Nxh2 Nxh3 68.Kd3 Ng1 69.Kc3 Ka5 70.Kb3 Ne2 71.Ka3 Nd4 0–1

...And with that classical Karpovian crush we shall say goodbye until next month!

Sean Marsh

September 2004