Horsham Club Championship 2017-18: Mansson – Stimpson

My latest club championship game against Phil Stimpson was an unsatisfactory draw for both players. I was White and my opponent played an interesting gambit line against the Ruy Lopez. Neither player played entirely accurately on the way to a position where I had a Rook and Bishop against my opponent’s queen. A couple more inaccurate moves by me gave my opponent a very good position, but he then wrongly went for a repetition of the position. The game therefore ended as a draw.

I give the game below with some notes.

Mansson, James C – Stimpson, Philip M, Horsham Club Championship (Rook) 2018.04.24

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Na5 10. Bc2 d5!?

This is an interesting gambit line, in the spirit of the Marshall Attack.

11. d4

It is safest for White to decline the gambit in this way.

11… dxe4 12. Nxe5 Bb7 13. Be3 Bd6 14. Nd2 c5 15. Ng4!?

This move was played based on an oversight, which coloured my impression of it during and immediately after the game. It is perhaps not White’s best, it has to be said; however, it seems White’s real error was a couple of moves later.

  • 15. f4!? was an interesting alternative we considered after the game.

15…Nxg4 16. hxg4

  • 16. Qxg4? f5! was what I had overlooked.

16… Qh4 17. Nf1?!

This seems obvious, but I think White can capture on e4.

  • 17. Bxe4! and the check on h2 looks more threatening than it is. 17… Qh2+ 18. Kf1 Bxe4 (18… Qh1+? 19. Ke2 is very good for White.) 19. Nxe4 and White remains a pawn up although Black obviously has some compensation.

17… Rad8?!

This looks natural but White has a good response.

  • 17… f5?! was the move that I feared during the game, and indeed afterwards, but I don’t think this is justified. 18. gxf5 Rxf5 19. dxc5 Rh5?! looks dangerous, but I can sacrifice my queen as in the game. 20. Qxh5! Qxh5 21. cxd6 and White is doing fine.
  • 17… Nc4! looks best, exploiting the lack of cover for c4. Black has a strong initiative.

18. dxc5! Bxc5

  • 18… Bh2+ 19. Nxh2 Rxd1 20. Raxd1 is better than the game as White has the strong pawn on c5.

19. Bxc5?!

White insists on the queen sacrifice, but actually does not need to now.

  • 19. Qe2 looks strong.

19… Rxd1 20. Raxd1 Re8

  • 20… Rd8? 21. Bb6

21.Ne3 Nc4 22. Nxc4?!

This seems forced, but is not.

  • 22. Rd7 is better, with balanced chances.

22… bxc4

Now things start to turn in Black’s favour.

23. f3?

This is not a good idea, although Black has the initiative against the alternatives.

  • 23. Be3 Qxg4
  • 23. Ba4 Rd8 (23… Re6)

23… h5 24. Bf2 Qg5 25. Be3 Qh4

Black did not realise that moving his queen to b5 was strong and so agreed to the repetition.

  • 25… Qb5! and White cannot deal with all Black’s threats.

26. Bf2 Qg5 27. Be3 1/2-1/2

White offered a draw, which Black accepted.

This entry was posted in Club Championship, Games, Opening Analysis, Reports, The Ruy Lopez. Bookmark the permalink.

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