Horsham Club Championship 2017-18: Bennet-Stevens – Mansson

Last Tuesday I played my club championship game against Lucy Bennet-Stevens, one of the club’s most promising junior players. I managed to score a win in a tense game. Apart from my adjourned game against Alex Taylor, this was my last game in the championship this year; however, other players, including Lucy, have a few more games to play, so the championship is still undecided.

I give the game below with some notes.

Bennet-Stevens, Lucy – Mansson, James C, Horsham Club Championship (Rook) 2018.06.12

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 6. Re1

The equivalent system against the Berlin (3…Nf6 4 0-0 Nxe4 5 Re1) is actually quite
dangerous for Black, but here the continuation is quite innocuous. The reason
is that as the White bishop has been driven to a4, Black can reply with the
more active …Nc5. In contrast, Black has to play …Nd6 in the Berlin, which
interfers with his development; also there White has the option of Bd3 or Bf1.

6. d4 is best, leading to the traditional starting position of the line after 6… b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6

6… Nc5 7. Bxc6 dxc6 8. Nxe5 Be7 9. d4 Ne6 10. c3

10. Be3 followed by c4 is more active.

10… O-O 11. Be3 f6

Black gains counterplay by pushing his f-pawn one step at a time.

12. Nf3 f5 13. Ne5 f4 14. Bc1 Bd6 15. Nd2 c5 16. d5

16. dxc5 Nxc5=

16… Ng5 17. c4?

White really needed to complete her development. This move allows Black to quickly
develop his queenside and start a strong attack.

17. Ndc4 was more sensible. 17… Qf6 is probably about balanced.

17… Qf6 18. Nef3

18. Ndf3 b5 looks good for Black.

18… Bg4

Black now develops his pieces quick and dominates the e-file.

19. Qb3 Rae8 20. Rf1 Nxf3+ 21. Nxf3 Re2

As well as preparing to double rooks, this makes it hard for White to complete the development of her queenside.

22. Rd1

This prepares Bd2, but weakens f2. However, it is hard to suggest anything else.

22… Rfe8 23. Bd2 b5

With this move Black aims to deflect the White queen from covering the knight on f3; this would mean that following …Bxf3, White would be obliged to recapture with the pawn, weakening her kingside considerably. However, while the move played is good, it seems that Black has an even stronger tactical possibility.

23… R8e3! and now:

  • 24.Bxe3 fxe3 25. fxe3 (25. Qc3 Qh6 and White cannot meet the threat of …Bxf3
    and …Qxh2+.) 25… Rxg2+ $1 26. Kxg2 Qxf3+ 27. Kg1 Bxh2+ 28. Kxh2 Qf2+ 29.
    Kh1 Bf3#
  • 24. fxe3 fxe3 25. Qxe3 (25. Bxe3 Rxg2+ 26. Kxg2 Bxf3+ wins.) 25… Rxe3 26. Bxe3 Bxf3 27. gxf3 Qxf3 28. Bf2 Bxh2+ 29. Kxh2 Qxf2+ 30. Kh1 Qxb2 and Black’s extra pawns, along with the exposed White king, should be decisive.

24. cxb5 axb5 25. Qc3 Qg6 26. Kf1 b4 27. Qb3 Qe4

While this move is fine, there was a simpler alternative, threatening to win material at once.

27… Bf5! White now has no defence against …Bc2. For instance:

  • 28. Be3 fxe3 29. Kxe2 Qxg2 30. Rf1 Bg4 wins.
  • 28. Rac1 Bd3 forces White to give up the queen as he loses after 29. Kg1 Rxf2! 30. Kxf2 Re2+ 31. Kg1 Qxg2#

28. Rac1 Bxf3?

This leads to a preferable position for Black, but there were much stronger
possibilities.

28… Bh3! 29. gxh3 Re3! 30. Bxe3

  • 30. fxe3 Qxf3+ 31. Kg1 (31. Ke1 fxe3 is the same.) 31… fxe3 and White cannot meet all Black’s threats.

30… Qxf3 31. Re1

  • 31. Bd2?? Qh1#

31… Re5

White has no good defence against the threat of 32…Qxh3+ and then 33 Kg1 Rg5+ forcing
mate, or 33 Ke2 fxe3 34 fxe3 Qg2+ 35 Kd1/d3 Rxd5+ and White has to give up her
queen.

32. Rc2

This looks to play 36 Kc1 in the above line after 35 Kd1 Rxd5+.

32… g6

This is necessary to give the Black king an escape route, as shown by the
line after the immediate 32…fxe3.

  • 32… Qxh3+ 33. Ke2 fxe3 34. fxe3 Qg2+ 35. Kd1 Rxd5+ 36. Kc1 sees the White king escape.
  • 32… fxe3 33. Rxe3 Rxe3 34. Qxe3 Qd1+ 35. Kg2 Qxc2 36. Qe6+ forces a draw.

33. a3

White lacks a good move here.

  • 33. Rc4 Qxh3+ 34. Ke2 (34. Kg1 Rg5+ 35. Kh1 Qg2#) 34… fxe3
    35. fxe3 Qg2+ 36. Kd1 Rxd5+ wins.

33… fxe3 34. Rxe3 Rxe3 35. Qxe3 Qd1+ 36. Kg2 Qxc2

Now White cannot force perpetual check.

37. Qe8+ Kg7 38. Qd7+ Kh6

White has no more checks.

29. Qxf3 Qxf3 30. gxf3 g5 31. Kg2?

31.a3 was better. After 31… R2e5 32. axb4 cxb4 33. Be1 White’s position is passive
but appears defensible.

31… Ra8 32. Kf1?

White really needed to defend the a-pawn. The move played is bad as after Black’s reply, both a2 and d5 are hanging.

32. Ra1 was a better try although still bad after 32… c4 33. Kf1 Rae8 followed by …Bc5.

32… Re5 33. Be1 Rxa2 34. Rc2 Kf7 35. Rdd2 Kg6 36. b3 Rxc2 37. Rxc2 Rxd5

Black is now comfortably winning with his extra material and White’s remaining pawns all horribly weak. His only problem was that he was now very short of time.

38. Ke2 Kf5 39. Bd2 h5 40. h3 Re5+ 41. Kd1 Rd5 42. Kc1 Rd4 0-1

Here the players reached the time control. White resigned as she is two pawns down and will lose further material after a subsequent …Rd3.

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