Horsham Club Knockout 2017-18: Mansson – Roberts

I started the New Year with an interesting game against Dix Roberts in the club knockout. I tried a new line in the opening against my opponent’s Taimanov Sicilian, which led to an unclear position. I then let my position slip downhill and ended up facing a very strong attack. Fortunately, my opponent then miscalculated, allowing me to turn the tables, and win an exndgame with an extra piece against several pawns. I therefore reached the final of the competition.

I give the game below in full with some notes.

Mansson, James C – Roberts, David N, Horsham Club Knockout Semi-Final 2018.01.02

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. Be3 a6 7. Qf3! Nf6

7… Ba3? does not work because of 8. O-O-O Ne5 9. Qg3 Qxc3 10. bxa3 Qxa3+ 11. Kb1 Ng6 12. Nb3!

8. O-O-O b5?!

8… Be7 is the most common move here.

9. Nxc6

Pushing the e-pawn looks stronger than this. I considered it during the game but was not
sure about it, and so chose the move played.

9. e5! Ng8!?

This was the move I was not sure how to meet.

10. Nxc6 was the move I considered, when 10…Bb7 {looked reasonable
for Black to me. This seem true, e.g. 11. Bxb5 axb5 12. Nxb5 Qxc6 13. Qxc6
Bxc6 14. Nc7+ Kd8 15. Nxa8 Bxa8.

10. Ne4! would have been a good response.

  • 10… Bb7 11. Nd6+ Bxd6 12. exd6 Qc8 (12… Qxd6 13. Nxb5) 13. Qg3 is excellent for White.
  • 10… Nxe5 I don’t think Black has better than this, giving up the exchange for a pawn. 11. Nd6+ Bxd6 12. Qxa8

9…Qxc6 10. Bd3 Bb7

This position is rather murky. The bishop on d3 could be strong if Black castled kingside and White found a way to play e5, but the queen on f3 inhibits the possibility.

11. Bd4 Be7

11… b4!? 12.Bxf6 gxf6 13. Qxf6 Rg8 14. Ne2 Qc5

12. a3 d6 13. Rhe1 O-O 14. Qh3 e5!?

Positionally this is desirable as the bishop on d3 is shut out of play. Tactically there are some dangers, as shown by the game, but Black should be fine with due care.

15. Nd5!?

White probably has to go for this as otherwise he is positionally worse.

15…Bd8

  • 15… exd4?? 16. Nxe7+ wins.
  • 15…Nxd5?? 16. exd5 wins.
  • 15… Rfe8 is unclear.

16. Bb6!?

This is a neat tactic, but it doesn’t seem to help White much. However, the alternatives are not that clear either: 16. Bc3 Bc8 or 16. Be3 Bc8.

16…Qc8 17. Nxf6+

17. Qxc8 Rxc8 18. Bxd8 Rcxd8 (18… Nxd5 19. Ba5 leaves White with the two bishops.) 19. Nxf6+ gxf6 White has the better pawn structure, but his bishop is bad.

17… Bxf6 18. Qh5 g6 19. Qe2 Qe6 20. Kb1 d5

This shows the downside of playing the bishop to b6.

21. Bc5?!

White starts to go wrong.

21. Ba5 holds up Black’s queenside play.

21…Rfc8 22. b4?!

This badly weakens the White king’s position.

22. Bb4 a5 23. Bd2 b4 24. a4 at least blocks some lines.

22…d4

This position is now very difficult for White. Black has a simply way to attack on the queenside, by exchanging the bishop on c5, while it is more difficult for White to attack on
the kingside.

23. f4!?

White decides to mix things up, but Black is still doing well.

23…Be7 24. f5 Qd7 25. Bxe7 Qxe7 26. Rf1 Rc3 27. f6 Qf8 28. Kb2 a5 29.
Bxb5 axb4 30. a4 Rac8

Black has a decisive attack and could have broken through with b3 on the next few moves. However, his more cautous approach should still work.

31. Rd2 Re3 32. Qg4 Bxe4 33. Qd7 Bxc2??

Black makes an oversight, not seeing that the White king can escape to d1 on account of Black’s bank rank weakness.

33…Qc5 is obviously winning.

34. Rxc2 Rxc2+??

Black could have still bailed out with a draw if he had realised his mistake here. However, having captured once on c2, the follow up seems automatic, should Black not realise
the problem now.

34… Rec3 35. Rxc3 bxc3+ 36. Kc2 (36. Kb3 Qc5=) 36…Rb8=

35. Kxc2

White now wins as the queen check on c5 does not work, while White can force off the queens and win using the a-pawn.

35…b3+

35… Qc5+ 36. Kd1 Black has no more checks, while White threatens mate on the
back rank.

36. Kb2 Rc3 37. Qe8 Qxe8 38. Bxe8 Rc2+ 39. Kxb3 Rxg2 40. a5 e4 41. Bc6 Rg5 42. Kb4 e3 43. Be4 Re5 44. Bd3 Rh5 45. Rc1 h6 46. Rc2 Rd5 47. Rc8+ Kh7 48. Rc7 Rd6 49. Rxf7+ Kh8 50. a6 e2 51. Bxe2 d3 52. Bxd3 Rxd3 53. a7 Rd8 54.Rb7 1-0

Black has no defence to Rb8 and so resigned.

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