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

While the first game I examined was a little dull, the one I am about to look at was anything but. It has to be said that my encounter against N.Fallowfield was not correspondence chess at its finest; it was more like an entertaining “over the board” game where both sides made mistakes and the encounter was decided by blunders in time trouble. Admittedly, the positions that arose were rather complex and difficult to analyse; also, in those days, there was not the possibility of consulting a computer, so both players analytical skills were definitely stretched!

I achieved a clear advantage out of the opening, making use of a recommendation of Ray Keene’s from “An Opening Repertoire for White”. Admittedly, the position was rather sharp, as White had created some weaknesses to win material, but with accurate analysis that should not have been a problem. However, on move 16, I played inaccurately, allowing my opponent counterplay. The game then swung back and forth before some terrible errors on my part led to disaster.

Mansson, James C. – Fallowfield, N, BPCF Open Championship P???

1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 dxc4 4.Nf3

Funnily enough, many years later I faced the same opponent “over the board” and we played the same opening. Then I chose the other main line, advancing the pawn to d5. The game went as follows:

4.d5 Ne5 5.f4 Nd7 6.e4 Nb6 7.a4 a5 8.Be3 e6 9.Bxb6 cxb6 10.Bxc4 Bb4 11.dxe6 Bxe6 12.Bb5+ Kf8 13.f5 Qh4+ 14.Kf1 Rd8 15.Qc2 Bc8 16.Nf3 Qe7 17.Rd1 Nf6 18.Rxd8+ Qxd8 19.Ke2 g6 20.Rd1 Qc7 21.Qd3 Bxc3 22.bxc3 Qf4 23.e5 Qe4+ 24.Qxe4 1-0, Mansson – Fallowfield, 4NCL 2015

You can find annotations of the game in this blog post.

4…Nf6 5.e3

This was the main move advocated by Keene in “An Opening Repertoire for White”,
although he mentioned a couple of alternatives (5 Bg5 and 5 e4).

5…Bg4 6.Bxc4 e6 7.h3 Bh5 8.Bb5

“Otherwise Black plays …a6 to obtain a normal Queen’s Gambit Accepted.” (Keene)

8…Bb4

8…Bd6 was Keene’s main line, based on the following game: 9.e4 Bb4 10.Qa4 Bxf3? ( 10…O-O is recommended by Keene as an improvement. ) 11.Bxc6+ bxc6 12.Qxc6+ Ke7 13.gxf3 Qxd4 14.Qxc7+ Nd7 15.Bg5+ f6 16.Rd1! Rhc8 ( 16…Bxc3+ 17.bxc3 Rhc8 18.Qg3 Qxc3+ ( 18…Qc5 19.Be3! or 18…Qa4 19.Qd6+) 19.Bd2 – Keene ) 17.Rxd4 Rxc7 18.Bxf6+ Kxf6 19.Rxb4 Ne5 20.Ke2 Kg5 21.Rg1+Kf4 22.Rg3 Rd8 23.Kf1 Nc4 24.Rb5 Ne3+ 25.Ke2 Rcd7 26.Rbg5! 1-0, Keene – Cox, Lloyds Bank Masters 1983. White wins after 26…Rd2+ 27.Ke1 Nc2+ 28.Kf1 (Keene)

9.g4 Bg6 10.Ne5 Qd5 11.Bxc6+ bxc6 12.O-O

Keene assessed this position as clearly better for White. This is perhaps a
slight exagerartion, but White is certainly doing well at this point.

12…Bxc3 13.bxc3 Ne4 14.c4 Qd8 15.Qa4

White is clearly better now. Black cannot avoid losing a pawn. However, he needs to keep the initiative, as otherwise the weakness of his kingside will tell.

15…O-O 16.Nxg6?

16.Qxc6! is more accurate, as the absence of a pawn on g6 helps White.

Then 16…f5?! is the move Black would like to play, in order to transpose into the game lines, but after 17.Qxe6+ he lacks a good response.

However, the other possibilities are very good for White:

  • 16…Nd6 17.Nxg6 hxg6 18.Ba3
  • 16…Ng5 17.Nxg6 hxg6 18.f4 Nh7 ( 18…Nxh3+ 19.Kg2 Qh4 20.Qf3 ) 19.Ba3
  • 16…Qg5 17.Kg2

16…hxg6 17.Qxc6 f5!

Now Black seems to have enough for the pawn because of White’s weakened kingside.

18.Ba3

18.Qxe6+ Kh7 19.Qe5 Qh4 intending …Ng5 generates counterplay for Black.

18…Re8 19.Kg2 Rb8?

19…Qh4! intending …fxg4 or …Ng5 gives Black counterplay, e.g. 20.gxf5 gxf5 21.Rad1 Qg5+ 22.Kh2 Qh4 23.Kg2 Qg5+ repeats the position.

20.f3 Rb6 21.Qa4 Nf6 22.Rab1

22.Qxa7 e5 23.Bc5 Rb2+ gives counterplay.

22…Qa8?!

22…e5!? mixes things up. 23.Rxb6! ( Not 23.dxe5 Rxb1 24.Rxb1 Qd2+ or 23.d5 e4 ) 23…axb6 24.dxe5 Rxe5 ( 24…Qd2+? 25.Rf2 wins a piece. ) 25.Rd1 White is surely better with his extra pawn, but Black retains counterchances.

23.Bc5!?

23.g5 is safest, not allowing Black to open the position. After 23…Reb8 24.Rb3 Nh5 25.Rfb1 and White is consolidating his extra pawn.

23…Rxb1 24.Rxb1 fxg4 25.hxg4 Nxg4 26.Rb3 Nh6 27.Bxa7?!

White loses control after this move.

27.Qd7 is better, when White dominates the position.

27…Rf8

27…Nf5?! is tempting but after 28.e4! Nxd4 29.Qxe8+ Qxe8 30.Rb8 Qxb8
31.Bxb8 c6 32.Bd6 the outside passed pawn looks very strong, especially as White has bishop vs. knight.

28.e4 Qd8 29.Qa5 Nf5?

This is not sound, but White falls for Black’s bluff. White seems to be able to cover Black’s other attacking tries, although Black still has some play:

  • 29…Qh4 30.Qd2
  • 29…Qf6 30.Qd2

30.Qd2?

30.exf5 just seems to win:

  • 30…Rxf5 31.Qxf5 exf5 32.Rb8
  • 30…Qg5+ 31.Kf2 Rxf5 32.Qe1 looks hairy but the White king should be able to escape.

30…Nh4+ 31.Kg3 g5

Now Black has serious counterplay. He will establish his rook on f4, then bring his queen over. White will need to find a way to counter the threats he can then create.

32.Bc5

32.Rb8 Qd6+ 33.e5 Qa3 34.Rxf8+ Qxf8 35.Qxg5 Qxf3+ 36.Kxh4
Qh1+ leads to perpetual check.

32…Rf4 33.d5 Qf6 34.Qf2??

This terrible blunder leads at once to a lost position.

34.Rb8+ Kh7 35.Rf8 is better but still murky, e.g.

  • 35…Qg6 36.Qe3 e5
  • 35…Rxf3+ 36.Kg4 Qe5 37.Rxf3 Qxe4+ 38.Rf4 gxf4 39.Kxh4 g5+

34…Qe5 35.Kh3 Ng6?

Black misses a much stronger continuation.

35…g4+! and now:

  • 36.fxg4 Rxf2
  • 36.Kg3 Rxf3+
  • 36.Kh2 Rxf3+

36.Kg2 Rh4 37.Bd4 Nf4+ 38.Kg1 Ne2+! 39.Qxe2 Qxd4+?

Black missed a chance to win White’s queen: 39…Qg3+ 40.Qg2 Qe1+ 41.Qf1 Rh1+! 42.Kxh1 Qxf1+ Black’s queen is stronger than the White rook and bishop, especially in view of the threats of …g4 and …Qxc4.

40.Kg2??

This leads to a completely lost position and White cannot cope with Black’s threats.

40.Re3 was the only way to struggle on, although Black is much better after 40…g4.

40…Qe5 41.f4 gxf4 42.Qe1 f3+ 43.Rxf3 Qh2+ 44.Kf1 Qh1+ 0-1

White resigned as he loses his queen:

  • 45.Ke2 Rxe4+ 46.Re3 Rxe3+ 47.Kxe3 Qxe1+
  • 45.Kf2 Rh2+ 46.Ke3 Qxe1+
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