Blast from the Past: Mansson – Copley, BPCF Open Championship Preliminary Round

The first game I want to look at is my game with J.Copley. My opinion of it at the time was that it was a dull draw, with the most memorable aspect being that we used one of those elaborate correspondence chess score cards to send the game backwards and forwards. However, having looked at it again with a computer, I discovered that there was an interesting tactical possibility that would have allowed my opponent to gain a slight advantage in the endgame. I am not sure that it would have ultimately changed the result, but it would certainly have justified playing on.

Mansson, James C. – Copley, J, BPCF Open Championship P???

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3

I am not sure why I chose this move, given that it is not the line recommend by Keene’s “An Opening Repertoire for White”, which I was using as the basis of my White repertoire at that time.

3.Nc3 was recommend by Keene, intending the following lines:

  • 3…Bb4 4.e3
  • 3…d5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5

3…d5 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Nc3 Nbd7 6.e3 O-O 7.Bd3

This is not the usual move here, as it is considered that White loses time after Black’s next. 7.Rc1 is the main line. 7.Qc2 is an interesting alternative.

7…dxc4 8.Bxc4 c5 9.O-O h6 10.Bh4 cxd4 11.exd4 b6 12.Re1 Bb7 13.Ne5

This does not seem to offer much. 13.Qe2 followed by Rad1 leads to a normal middlegame with an isolated queen’s pawn. Both sides have chances.

13…Nxe5 14.dxe5 Ne8?!

14…Nd7 15.Bxe7 Qxe7 looks more natural, when surely Black has no problems.

15.Qxd8 Bxd8 16.Bg3

16.Bxd8 Rxd8 17.Rad1 Rxd1 ( 17…Nc7 18.Rd6 looks promising for White. ) 18.Rxd1 Nc7 19.Rd7 Rc8 followed by …Kf8-e8 seems to hold firm.

16…a6 17.Bd3

White aims to exchange bishops with Be4, but as we shall see this helps Black.

17.Ne4 Be7 18.Rad1 Rc8 19.Bb3 looks a more natural sequence, when Black is under pressure due to his passively placed pieces.

17…Be7 18.Be4?!

There is no reason to swap bishops like this, as it frees Black’s postion.

18.Rac1 followed by Rfd1 and Ne4 should give White some initiative based on his more active pieces.

18…Bxe4 19.Rxe4 Nc7 20.Rd4 Rfd8 21.Rad1?!

21.Rdd1 is better, in light of the improvement for Black on move 22.

21…Rxd4 22.Rxd4 Rd8

22…Nb5! is an interesting computer suggestion.

23.Nxb5? axb5 24.a3 b4! is the point. Now Black wins a pawn as 25.axb4?? loses to 25…Ra1+.

Better is 23.Rd7 Nxc3 24.bxc3 Ba3 and Black has managed to weaken White’s pawn structure, giving him a reason to play on in the ending.

23.Rxd8+ Bxd8 24.Kf1 Be7 25.a3 Kf8 26.Ke2 Ke8 27.Kd3 1/2-1/2

The players agreed a draw as the endgame looks completely level.

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