The knockout final was finally decided in the fourth game. I was White and built up a strong attacking position. However, I allowed my opponent to create a blockade, when chances were balanced. Then, after mistakes on both side, I made an unsound sacrifice that backfired, and soon had to resign. My opponent therefore became knockout champion this year.
Congratulations to Mike on winning the competition. I imagine given the number of replays not only in this match, but also his semi-final, that this could be some sort of record for the number of games required to win the event!
I give the game below with some notes.
Mansson, James C – Forster, Michael C, Horsham Club Knockout Final (3rd replay) 2018.06.26
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Bg7 5. c4 Nc6 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Nc3 d6 8. Be2 O-O 9. f3 Nd7 10. Qd2 Nxd4 11. Bxd4 Bxd4
Normally the exchange of the dark squared bishops is good in Maroczy Bind position of this type, as White is weak on the dark squares. However, that assumes White has castled kingside (or will do so); if White castles queenside, then the weakness of the Black’s king position will most likely proved more significant.
12. Qxd4 Nc5 13. O-O-O Qa5 14. Kb1 Ne6 15. Qd2 Re8 16. h4
White starts to go along the wrong track. The way to attack is to push the f-pawn.
16. f4! is strong.
16… Bd7 17. g4?
This weakens the f4 square, creating the possibility that Black can impeded the White attack by playing the queen to e5.
17. f4! is strong.
17… Qe5! holds up the attack.
18. f4! is strong
Now Black is fine as White’s attack is held up.
19. Qd2 Qf4 20. Qe1 Rac8 21. Rg1 f6 22. b4?! b6 23. c5?! b5?
24. cxd6 exd6 25. Nxb5 was better.
24… Bxd5 25. exd5 Nd4 26. Rxd4?
This just does not work.
26. c6 has to be tried, although then 26… e6 is strong for Black.
26… Qxd4 27. Bxb5 Rb8!
This is simplest.
28. a4 a6 0-1
White loses the bishop or allows …Rxb4, in both cases with an easy win for Black, so he resigned.