County Match (Open) 2017-18: Sussex – Kent

The Sussex Open Team managed to secure a draw away againt Kent last Saturday, despite being comfortably outgraded. I played my part by winning against Ian Snape with Black, in a game where the advantage swung back and forth. Both players ran short of time. The decisive action took placed just before the time control; my opponent resigned a move after that was passed as his position was hopeless.

I give the game below with some notes.

Snape, Ian L – Mansson, James C, County Match (Open) Kent – Sussex, Dartford 2018.03.10

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Bb4 3. Nd5 Bc5 4. Nf3 c6 5. Nc3 d6 6. d4 exd4 7. Nxd4 Nf6 8. e3
O-O 9. Be2 d5 10. cxd5 cxd5

The players have reached a standard isolated queen’s pawn postion via an unusual order of moves. Chances are roughly equal, with Black’s attacking chances balanced by White’s superior pawn structure.

11. O-O Nc6 12. b3?!

White should capture on c6 before playing this.

12.Nxc6 bxc6 13. b3 leads to a typical position with hanging pawns.


This leaves Black with extra weaknesses after White captures on c6. Black should instead take the chance to capture on d4, when he is slightly better as White has an extra weakness in the form of b3, e.g. 12… Nxd4 13. exd4 Bb4.

13. Nxc6 bxc6 14. Bb2 Re8 15. Rc1 Ba7

The alternative was to put the bishop on d6.

16. Na4 Qd6 17. Bd4 Ne4

I rejected 17…Bb8 because I was worried about Nb6, but I could have played it to force a
weakness, then returned the bishop to a7. This would seem to be an improvement
on the game.

17… Bb8:

  • 18. f4 Ba7
  • 18. g3 Bh3 19. Re1 Ba7

18.Bxa7 Rxa7 19. Qd4 Rae7 20. Nc5 Qg6 21. Nd3 c5?

Black decided to force matters, but this move is flawed.

22. Qb2?

White should have captured on c5 or d5, but he unwisely decided to play it safe, as now Black’s position becomes threatening.

  • 22. Nxc5! Bh3 23. Bf3 Ng5 24. Qd1!
  • 22. Qxd5! Rd7 (22… Bb7 23. Qh5) 23. Qc4 Nd2 24. Qxc5 Nxf1 25. Qxc8 Rdd8 26. Qc2
    Nxe3 27. fxe3 Rxe3 28. Nf2

22… Qd6 23. Qa3 Re6

Black should have taken the opportunity to push his d-pawn, when White would have problems.

23… d4! 24. Nxc5 dxe3 25. fxe3 Nd2 24. Nf4

24. Nxc5 Rh6:

  • 25. h3?? Bxh3 wins
  • 25. f4? Qe7 wins
  • 25. g3 Bh3 is unclear

24… Rh6?

This is tempting, but it seems White has a good response.

24… R6e7 is better.

25. Rfd1?

White again shied away from a risky-looking solution that actually seems to be best.

25.f3! Nd2 (25… g5 26. fxe4 gxf4 27. Qxc5) 26. Rfd1 g5 (26… Qe5 27. Qxc5) 27. Rxd2 gxf4 28. e4 gives White a big advantage.

25… d4!

Now this is very strong. Black threatens 26…Nxf2 27 Kxf2 dxe3+ when White cannot hold the knight on f4.

26.f3 Nf2!

This move is strong even without the pawn on f2 to capture!

27. Rd2?

White’s relatively best continuation was to take the knight, although even
then Black was on top.

27. Kxf2 dxe3+:

  • 28. Kg3? Rg6+ 29. Kh4 Qxf4+ 30. Kh5 (30. g4 Qxh2#) 30… Qxh2#
  • 28. Kg1 Qxf4 is clearly better for Black.

27… Qe5?

Black missed a win here, instead choosing a temping move with a flaw. He only realised the problem with the move after playing it.

27… Rxh2!!:

  • 28. Kxh2 Qh6+
  • 28. Kxf2 dxe3+
  • 28. Rxd4 Qh6
  • 28. Qxc5 Qxc5 29. Rxc5 Rh1+ 30. Kxf2 dxe3+

28. Nd3?

Fortunately White missed that he could capture on c5.

28. Qxc5! Qxe3 29. Qxd4 Nh3+ 30. Kf1! (30. Kh1 Nf2+ 31. Kg1 Nh3+ repeats)

  • 30… Qxf4? 31. Rxc8! is what I assume White did not see.
  • 30… Qxd4 31. Rxd4 Nxf4 32. Rxf4 Rxh2 33. Rc7 is clearly better for White.

28… Nxd3

Now Black cleans up easily.

29. Rxd3 Qxh2+ 30. Kf2 dxe3+ 31. Rxe3 Qh4+ 32. Kf1 Rxe3 33. Qxc5 Qh1+ 34. Kf2 Rxe2+! 35. Kxe2 Qxg2+ 36. Kd3 Qxf3+ 0-1

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