Blast from the Past: Mansson – Cross, BPCF Open Championship Semi-Final Round

I remember being very disppointed with the outcome of my game against G.Cross, and looking back at it now, I think this feeling was justified. Up to my 40th move I had played well in slowly building up my kingside attack. However, I then went wrong and the position was soon turned on its head; it was only a few moves later that I felt compelled to resign. A stronger choice on move 40 would have left my opponent in some trouble.

Mansson, James C. – Cross, G, BPCF Open Championship S??

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.a3

The Petrosian System. White is prepared to spend time on the move a3 in order to fight for e4 by preventing …Bb4. The reasoning is that Black’s position is not active enough to exploit this loss of time.

4…Bb7 5.Nc3 d5 6.cxd5 exd5

This is the solid approach. 6…Nxd5 is more dynamic.

7.g3 Be7 8.Qa4+!?

White plays this to disrupt the Black position. 8.Bg2 is the most popular move.

8…c6

  • 8…Bc6 9.Qc2 would leave the bishop misplaced.
  • 8…Nbd7 9.Ne5 leaves c6 exposed.
  • 8…Qd7 9.Qxd7+ Nbxd7 10.Nb5 is awkward for Black.

9.Bg2 O-O 10.O-O Nbd7 11.Bf4 Nh5 12.Rad1!?

White is prepared to give up the bishop pair and weaken his pawn structure in return for an open g-file. He hopes in the long term to mount a kingside assault.

12.Bd2 is the more common move.

12…Nxf4 13.gxf4 Re8 14.Ne5 Nxe5 15.fxe5 Bh4 16.f4 Qd7 17.f5 Qe7 18.Qc2 a5 19.Rf3 Rad8 20.Kh1 f6!?

Black does not want to allow f6 to open up the kingside. White gains a passed
e-pawn, but Black may be able to undermine it by attacking the f-pawn in the long run.

21.e6 Qd6 22.e3

The basic struggle is now defined. White will attempt to build up on the kingside, while Black will attempt to counter on the queenside.

22…Re7 23.Rg1 b5 24.Bf1 Rc8 25.Bd3 Rcc7 26.Qe2 Bg5 27.h4 Bh6

27…Bxh4? 28.Rh3 Bg5 29.Qh5 g6 ( 29…h6 30.Qg6 ) 30.fxg6 Qxe6 31.gxh7+ Kh8 32.Ne2 gives White a strong attack.

28.Nd1 c5?!

Black tries to speed up his attack, but I am not sure this sacrifice is sound.

29.Nc3

29.Bxb5 Qb6 30.Rg4 c4 31.Nc3 was possible, when it is not clear that Black has enough compensation.

29…c4 30.Bb1 Bc6 31.Nd1 Kh8 32.Rfg3 b4 33.axb4 axb4 34.Nf2 Be8 35.Bc2 b3 36.Bd1 Ra7 37.Qd2 Ra1 38.R3g2 g6?!

Although this works out well, this is rathy risky and could have backfired.

39.Ng4 Bg7 40.h5?

The leaves White with a weak e-pawn and exposed to attack down the h-file.

40.e4! dxe4 41.h5! gxf5 42.Ne3 Qf4 ( 42…Rxe6?? 43.Rxg7; 42…Qxe6? 43.d5 Qe5 44.h6 leaves Black in trouble. ) 43.d5 gives White good compensation. Black should probably seek a repetition with 43…Qh4+ 44.Rh2 Qf4 but White can look for more with 45.Rh3 when Black seems to be in some difficulties because of the threat of Rf1 followed by taking on f5.

40…gxf5 41.Nxf6 Bg6! 42.Ne4?

This is the wrong way to give up the knight, for reasons that will soon become apparent.

42.hxg6? Bxf6 43.gxh7 Rxh7+ 44.Rh2 Rxh2+ 45.Qxh2+ Qxh2+ 46.Kxh2 Rc1 was also not to be recommended.

42.Nxd5 Qxd5 43.hxg6 hxg6 leaves White clearly worse, although he can still fight on.

42…fxe4 43.hxg6 Rxe6 0-1

White resigned as he will soon be two pawns down, as he cannot take on h7: 44.gxh7 c3! 45.bxc3 ( 45.Qxc3 Rh6+ 46.Rh2 Qxh2# ) 45…Rh6+ 46.Rh2 Ra2.

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