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

There is a small mystery regarding my win against R.Musgrave. The game ends after my opponent’s 19th move. The position is roughly level, so it is unlikely that White resigned because of the position on the board, especially as there is no reason he might have done so by mistake (e.g. there is a threat that he thought was decisive but was not). It is possible that my opponent withdrew, as several others have done over the years, but as the game ended after my opponent’s move, this seems unlikely, as a player who withdraws tends to do so without first playing a move. I do have a vague recollection that my opponent overstepped the time limit (yes, there is one in correspondence chess!), so I think this is the most likely explanation. However, it is over two decades since the game was played, and I don’t have the original cards to hand, so I can’t be entirely sure.

Looking at the game, my opponent player a dubious gambit. I played solidly enough at first, but then allowed my opponent to regain the pawn. The resulting position was level at the time the game ended for whatever reason.

Musgrave, R – Mansson, James C., BPCF Open Championship S??

1.d4 Nf6 2.f3 d5 3.e4?!

This leads play into a dubious gambit line. White has some compensation, which
means that Black has to be careful, but it is hard to believe that giving up a whole pawn like this is justified.

3…dxe4 4.Nc3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4

This is the most common line, but Black has various alternatives.

6.h3 Bxf3

This reduces White’s attacking prospects, but gives up the bishop pair; this means that White has at least some compensation.

6…Bh5 is the main alternative. 7.g4 Bg6 8.Ne5 e6 is then the most usual continuation.

7.Qxf3 c6 8.Be3 e6 9.Bd3 Nbd7 10.O-O Be7 11.Ne4 O-O 12.c4 Rc8 13.Rac1 Nc5?!

This allows White to win back the pawn.

13…g6 holds onto the pawn, but White has some compensation because of his more active position.

14.Nxf6+

14.Nxc5 Bxc5 15.Bxh7+ Nxh7 16.dxc5 is similar to the game.

14…Bxf6 15.Bxh7+! Kxh7 16.dxc5

16.Qh5+?! Kg8 17.Qxc5 b6 18.Qa3 Bxd4 is not so good.

16…Qe7 17.Rc2 Rcd8 18.Qe4+ Kg8 19.Rcf2 0-1

Here the game ended. I believe that my opponent overstepped the time limit, and so I successfully claimed the win. The position itself is unclear; White is clearly more active, but Black has the superior pawn structure.

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