After two games at the normal time control (80 minutes + 10 second increment), the knockout final went to a faster time limit (25 minutes + 5 second increment). As before, it was sudden death, but another game wound be at this same time limit; should the final go to a fifth game or beyond, the time limit for all subsequent game would be even faster (10 minutes + 5 second increment).
We had to toss again for colours and I had Black. I managed to neutralise my opponent’s unusual line in the opening, and later I had winning chances, but failed to take them. Both players ran very short of time and were happy to bail out with a draw. The final therefore went to a fourth game.
I give the game below with some notes.
Forster, Michael C – Mansson, James C, Horsham Club Knockout Final (2nd replay) 2018.06.26
1. c4 e5 2. g3 c6
I decided on a quite different approach from the first game of the final, to dodge a possible improvement by my opponent.
2… Nf6 3. Bg2 h6!? was the line I chose there. The idea was to wait for Nc3 so I could play …Bb4, e.g. 4. Nc3 Bb4 when 5. Nd5 can be met simply by 5… Nxd5
3. d4 e4 4. Bg2 d5 5. Nc3 Nf6 6. Bg5 Nbd7 7. cxd5 cxd5 8. Qa4!?
This unusual move looks awkward for Black, but he finds a good reply.
8… Qb6! 9. O-O-O Qb4 10. f3 Qxa4 11. Nxa4 h6 12. Bf4 Be7 13. Nc3 exf3 14. Nxf3 O-O
Black has a comfortable position in the queenless middlegame.
15. Ne5 Nb6 16. Rhf1 Be6 17. Kb1 Rac8 18. Rc1 a6 19. Ka1 Nc4 20. Nb1 b5
This weakens White’s position, as will soon become clear.
21. Nxc4 was better.
21… Nxe5 22. dxe5 Ne4 23. Rxc8?
White decided to swap both rooks, but this helps Black as he can then play …Bc5-g1.
23… Rxc8 24. Rc1 Rxc1 25. Bxc1 Bc5 26. Bb2 Bg4?
26… Bg1 would have won both the White g- and h-pawns, giving Black a decisive advantage.
27. Bf3 1/2-1/2
Here White offered a draw which Black accepted, as he was short of time and underestimated his position.
27… Be6 would leave Black on top because of the threat of …Bg1.