Last Tuesday I played my game against Anthony Higgs in the club championship. I was Black and managed to obtain a decent position against my opponent’s unorthodox opening. After some complications, we ended up in an endgame which turned gradually in my favour. However, I failed to make the most of my chances and the game ended up as a draw.
I give the game below in full.
Higgs, Anthony RJ – Mansson, James C, Horsham Club Championship (Rook) 2017.11.14
1. Nc3 Nf6 2. g3!?
This is rather unusual. White normally pushes the e-pawn or d-pawn.
2. e4 e5 transposes to the Vienna.
2. d4 d5 transposes to the Veresov.
Black offers a transposition into a quiet line of the Vienna.
2… d5 was worth considering, as Nc3 and g3 are not that great a combination.
White accepts the transposition.
3…d5 4. exd5 Nxd5 5. Bg2 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bc5 7. Qe2?!
This is not a good square for the queen. White should develop the knight.
7…O-O 8. d3 Re8 9. Nf3 Nc6 10. O-O h6 11. Be3 Bb6 12.Bxb6 axb6 13. Rfe1 Bf5 14. Nd2 Qd7
Black has a comfortable position out of the opening. It is a bit like the Steinitz Defence to the Ruy Lopez with colours reversed.
15. Nc4 b5!?
This is a double-edged decision. Black gains time and also the useful possibility of …b4, but also weakens the c5 square. After the game, both players expressed doubt about the wisdom of the move, although perhaps it is perfectly fine.
16. Nd2 Bh3
16… Be6 is worth considering, so the bishop on g2 can be opposed easily if necessary,
eliminating the pressure on the long diagonal. 17. Ne4 b6 and White does not
seem to have a way to exploit the loose knight on c6.
17. Bh1 f5!?
This is also rather loosening.
17… Be6 was again worth considering for the same reasons as before.
18. Nb3 Qd6 19. Qe3 b4 20. Qc5
20. Nc5 b6 ! 21. Nb3 (21.Nb7 Qd7 and the knight is trapped.) 21… bxc3 is clearly better for Black.
20… bxc3 21. Qxc3
21. Bxc6 bxc6 does not help White.
21… Qb4 22. Qc5 Qxc5 23. Nxc5 Nd4
Black deals with the pressure on b7 by tactical means.
24. Rac1 e4 25. c3 exd3!! 26. Nxd3! (26. cxd4? d2 wins, e.g. 27. Rxe8+? Rxe8 28. Rd1 Re1+
29. Rxe1 dxe1=Q#) 26… Ne2+ 27. Rxe2 Rxe2 28. Nf4 Rd2 29. Nxh3 c6 30. Bg2
Raxa2 is fine for Black.
24… Ra3 !? 25. Rac1 c6 (intending …Nf3+) 26. Kh1 Bg4 27. Kg2 Bf3+ 28. Kf1 Rxa2 29. c3 Nc2 30. Ba6! (intending Bc4+} Rxa6 31. Rxc2 Ra3=
25. Rec1 Nxa1 26. Bxa8 Rxa8 27. Rxa1 Ra5 28. Nb3 Rd5 29. Rd1
Perhaps this is too passive.
29. a4 Rxd3 30. Nc5 Rd5 31. Rc1 gives White counterplay for the pawn.
29… c5 30. Rd2 f4 31. f3 Bf5 32. g4?!
This starts to create problems for White as f3 is now weak.
32. a4 Bxd3 33. Nxc5 Rxc5 34. Rxd3 fxg3 35. hxg3 Ra5 36. Ra3 with counterplay.
32… Bg6 33. Rc2?!
White decides to force things but Black has more chances surely with both rooks and minor pieces on the board.
33…Rxd3 34. Rxc5 Re3 35. Kf2 Bb1 36. Nd2 Bd3 37. Nc4 Re2+ 38. Kg1 Rc2 39. Rc8+ Kh7 40. Nd6 Rxa2 41. Nf7?
This is the wrong order of moves if White wants to discomfort the Black king.
41. h4!? intending h5, Nf7 and Rh8# was interesting.
41… e4! 42. fxe4
42. Rh8+ Kg6 43. Ne5+ Kg5 44. Nxd3 exd3 45. Rd8 Ra1+ 46. Kf2 Kh4 47. Rd5 Ra2+ 48. Kg1 g6 49. Rxd3 Kh3 wins.
42… Bxe4 43. Nd6 Bd5 44. Rc5 Ba8 45. Rc8 Bf3 46. h3 Rg2+ 47. Kf1 Rh2?!
47… Rd2! and White cannot meet all the threats.
48. Rc7 ! Kg6 49. Nf5 Rxh3 50. Rxg7+ Kf6 51. Rg8 gives better drawing chances.
48… g5! avoids any White attacks on the pawn while it is on g7, while the h3 pawn will fall, e.g. 49. Rc7+ Kg6 50.Rg7+ Kf6 51. Rh7 Rxh3 52. Rxh6+ Rxh6 53. Nxh6 Be4 and the White knight either has to allow itself to be exchanged on f5, losing a pawn, or simply to
49. Rc7 Bg2+?
This throws away Black’s winning chances.
49…Rb7 was necessary, e.g. 50. Rc4 g5 holds the pawn.
50. Kg1 Bxh3
50… Rb7 51. Rxg7+ ! Rxg7 52. Nxg7 Bxh3 53. Nh5=
51. Rxg7+ Kh8 52. Rg6 Rg2+
52…h5 53. Rh6+ Kg8 54. Rxh5 Rb3=
53. Kh1 Rxg4 1/2-1/2
Black offered a draw here, which White was happy to accept. He only had a minute left plus increment, while the position is clearly drawn.
53… Rxg4 54. Rxh6+ Kg8 55. Rxh3 Rg5 is a draw as even if Black loses the pawn, Rook and Knight against Rook is a draw.