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

Last Saturday, Sussex scored a big win over Middlesex by 10-5 with one game still disputed. I played my part with a 20 move win as White against Simon Spivack. After missing a chance to head for unclear complications, my opponent allowed me to prevent him from castling to safety and to build up a strong attack. Following a further error, I was able to crash through and force an early resignation.

I give the game below with some notes.

Mansson, James C – Spivack, Simon SY, County Match (Open) Sussex – Middlesex, Hassocks 2018.03.24

1. e4 e6 2. d4 c5

This is an unusual move order. Possibly Black’s aim was to reach an Open Sicilian while avoiding some Anti-Sicilian lines?

3. Nf3

White decided to allow the transposition into lines he was happy to play

  • 3. d5 is the obvious way to exploit Black’s move order, but I was not sure about the resulting positions.
  • 3. c3 transposes to the 2 c3 Sicilian.

3… cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. Be3 a6 7. Qf3 Nf6 8. Be2!?

White wants to cover g4 and h5 with this move, but Black has a tactical response available that exploits the artificial arrangement of White’s pieces.

  • 8. O-O-O is more natural.

8… Nxd4

Black fails to take his chance.

  • 8…Ba3!? forces White to play the artificial 9. Nd1 Bd6 and Black’s chances look reasonable as White’s smooth development is impeded. Note that 9. bxa3?? Ne5 wins for Black.

9. Bxd4 e5

Positionally this would be justified if White had to retreat the bishop, but White has a good response.

10. Qg3!

Black is forced to play …d6, blocking in his bishop. Also, because of the pressure on g7, Black has problems developing his bishop on f8. Note that the bishop on e2 prevents Black from playing …Nh5 to dislodge the queen.

  • 10. Be3 Bb4 is fine for Black.

10… d6 11. Be3 h6 12. O-O Be6 13. f4

White looks to open the position with the Black king unable to castle to safety on the kingside.

13… Rc8

Black decides to look for counterplay down the c-file.

  • 13… exf4 14. Bxf4 both puts pressure on d6 and prepares e5.
  • 13… Bc4? loses after 14. fxe5 dxe5 (14… Bxe2 15. exf6) 15. Bxc4 Qxc4 16. Rxf6 gxf6 17. Nd5

14. Rad1 Qa5

With this move Black is perhaps hoping to play the exchange sacrifice …Rxc3.

  • 14… Bc4? loses after 15. fxe5 dxe5 (15… Bxe2 16. exf6) 16. Bxc4 Qxc4 17. Nd5

15. fxe5!

This is the start of a sequence by White that opens up the Black king.

15… dxe5?

  • 15… Qxe5 is best but after 16. Bf4 Qc5+ 17. Kh1 White threatens both Bxd6 and e5, with a strong attack.
  • 15… Rxc3? loses after 16. exf6 Rxe3 (16… gxf6 17. bxc3) 17. Qxe3

16. Nd5! Rxc2

  • 16… Bxd5 17. exd5 wins
  • 16… Nxd5 17. exd5 wins

17. Rxf6! gxf6

  • 17… Rxe2 18. Rxe6+! fxe6 19. Qg6+ wins
  • 17… Bxd5 18. Rxd5 wins

18. Nxf6+ Ke7 19. Nd5+ Ke8

  • 19… Bxd5 20. Qxe5+ wins

20. Qxe5 1-0

Black had a think here, then decided to resign as there is no sensible way to continue.

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