County Match (Open) 2018-19: Sussex – Essex

At the end of October, I played in my first County match of the season, against Essex at their familiar venue in Wanstead. Unfortuntately, neither the team nor I were successful, as I lost my individual game and the team the match. I played an undistinguished game on board 4, where I fell into an inferior position fairly early on and was unable to extract myself.

I give the game below with some notes.

Sands, David – Mansson, James C, County Match (Open) Essex – Sussex 2018.10.27

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 O-O 5. Nge2 d5 6. a3 Bd6!?

This is an interesting alternative to the more common 6…Be7. Black looks to put his
bishop on a more active square, reasoning that 7 c5 is not especially good for
White.

7. Ng3 c5 8. dxc5 Bxc5 9. b4 Bd6

  • 9… Be7 is more common, keeping d5 covered directly.

10. Bb2 a5 11. b5 b6?!

This weakens the Black position.

  • 11… Nbd7! is an interesting pawn sacrifice. 12. cxd5 Nc5! 13. Be2 (13.
    dxe6 Bxe6 with compensation) 13… exd5=

12. cxd5 exd5 13. Be2 Be6 14. O-O Ra7

  • 14… Nbd7 at once was more flexible, as the rook may not need to go to a7.

15. Na4 Nbd7 16. Nh5?!

This exchange should help Black.

  • 16. Rc1 contesting the c-file and eying c6, gives White a solid advantage.

16… Nxh5 17. Bxh5 Qh4?!

This kingside demonstration is tempting, but does not achieve much and
indeed leave Black’s queenside underdefended.

  • 17… Nc5 releaves the pressure on b6, e.g. 18. Nxc5 Bxc5 and both side’s weaknesses should cancel each other out.

18. g3 Qh3?!

The queen ends up out of play here.

  • 18… Qe7 was better although White is doing well after 19. Bf3 with pressure on
    d5 and b6.

19. Bf3 Ne5 20. Bg2 Qh6 21. Bd4 Ng4 22. h3 Nf6

  • 22… Ne5 23. Nxb6 is no better.

23. Nxb6 Rb7 24. Na4

  • 24. Nc4! exploiting the pin on the d-pawn, leaves White completely on top.

24… Rxb5 25. Nc3 Rbb8 26. Bxf6

  • 26. e4! is very strong, as Black cannot capture on e4, e.g. 26… dxe4? 27. Bxf6 or 26… Nxe4? 27. Nxe4 dxe4 28. Be3, winning for White in both cases.

26… gxf6?!

  • 26… Qxf6 was better, with some compensation after 27. Nxd5 Qe5 {in the form of the bishop pair.

27. Nxd5 Be5?!

  • 27… Rfd8 was better.

28. Ra2!

This is very strong. Now all Black’s pressure evapourates.

28… f5?!

Black was afraid of f4, but this just obstructs the bishop on e6.

  • 28… Kg7 was better.

29. Rd2 Kh8 30. Qa4 Bxd5

The opposite-coloured bishops do not help Black here; indeed, they are an asset fot the attacking side. However, there is no longer a sensible suggestion for Black.

31. Rxd5 Qg7 32. Qd7 Rg8 33. Qxf5 f6 34. Rd7 Qh6 35. g4 Rg5 36. Qe6 Rgg8 37. Rfd1 Rge8 38. Re7 Rf8?!

  • 38… Rxe7 was necessary, although White remains on top after 39. Qxe7

39. Be4 Qxh3 40. Rxh7+ Qxh7 41. Bxh7 Kxh7 42. Rd7+ Kh6 43. Qf5 1-0

Black has no defence against mate and so resigned.

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