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

My win against G.Wilkinson as Black was a pretty mediocre game. As in the Musgrave game, White played a dubious gambit. Following a series of innaccuracies by both players, the game resolved to an endgame with an extra pawn for Black. White was unable to stop Black gradually improving his position, and decided fairly soon to give up.

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

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.c3?!

White chooses the objectively dubious Morra Gambit. While this can be effective
in “over the board” play, it shouldn’t work too well in correspondence chess.

4.Nxd4 leads to the Open Sicilian.

4…dxc3!

Black has a safe way to decline the gambit, but why not accept it?

4…Nf6 5.e5 dxe5 6.Nxe5 is level.

5.Nxc3 Nc6 6.Bc4 e6

Black chooses the traditional defensive line.

7.O-O Nf6 8.Qe2 a6

8…Be7 is most common, but the move played is well-known. Black prepares …Qc7,
stepping out of the line of tricks based on Rd1 and e5.

9.Rd1 Qc7 10.Bf4 Be7 11.Rac1 O-O 12.e5?!

This is dubious.

12.Bb3 is the main move, when White has some compensation but Black is solid after 12…Qb8.

12…Nh5?!

This is not the best way to meet White’s pawn thrust.

12…dxe5! is good for Black, e.g.

  • 13.Nxe5 Bd6
  • 13.Bxe5 Nxe5 14.Nxe5 Bd6

13.Bg5?!

This is not the best.

13.exd6! Nxf4 14.dxc7 Nxe2+ 15.Nxe2 leaves Black with difficulties developing.

13…dxe5 14.Bxe7 Qxe7?!

This allows White to take back one pawn at once. White possibly has enough compensation for one pawn, because of Black’s difficulties developing, but not two.

14…Nf4! 15.Qe3 Qxe7 sees Black consolidating his material advantage. Note that White cannot take on e5 at once, as in the following game that ended very quickly!  16.Nxe5? Qg5 0-1, Milazzo – Tonon, Trieste 2007.

15.Nxe5 Nxe5 16.Qxe5 Nf6 17.Bd3?!

Black starts to unravel his position after this as White no longer has the threats against his queenside.

Better is 17.Nd5 Nxd5 18.Bxd5 with compensation, as Black remains tied up because of the pressure on the h1-a8 diagonal.

17…Bd7 18.Ne4

18.Qc7 Rab8 19.Ne4 Nd5 pushes White back.

18…Bc6 19.Nxf6+

19.Nc5 Rfd8 is not much better.

19…Qxf6

19…gxf6? 20.Qg3+ Kh8 21.Qh4 wins as 21…f5 is met by 22.Qxe7.

20.Qxf6

20.Qe2 Rfd8 and Black is just a pawn up.

20…gxf6

White can claim some compensation for the pawn as Black’s pawn structure is
compromised. However, White lacks an active plan, while Black can gradually improve his position.

21.f3 f5 22.Kf2 Rfd8 23.Bc4 Kf8 24.Kg3 Ke7 25.Rxd8 Rxd8 26.Bxa6!?

This tactical tric is met simply enough.

However, 26.Rc2 Rd6 was hardly more attractive.

26…Rd2!

Black regains the pawn, and has his rook in a strong position.

27.Bc4 Rxb2 28.Bb3 f4+!

Black swaps off his doubled pawn and weakens White’s pawn structure with this simple tactic.

29.Kxf4 Rxg2 30.Rc2 Rxc2 31.Bxc2 h6 32.h4 f5 33.Ke3 Kd6 34.a3 Kc5 0-1

White decided to throw in the towel. He could have struggled on, but it is hard to believe that the extra pawn won’t prove decisive, especially because of White’s own pawn weaknesses, such as f3.

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