Mid-Sussex League Division 1 2017-18: Horsham 1 – Brighton 1

The final match of Horsham 1’s league season has ended in a draw! My game was against Joe Everett and despite obtaining a winning position, I allowed him to set up a fortress and had to concede a draw. This was frustrating, not least because a win in this game would have allowed us to win the match.

I give the game below with some notes.

Mansson, James C – Everett, Joe, Mid-Sussex League (Division 1) Horsham 1 – Brighton 1, Horsham 2018.04.17

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O b5 6. Bb3 Bc5 7. a4 Rb8 8. c3 Bb6

Black usually waits until White plays d4 before retreating the bishop.However, this could transpose to normal lines in any case.

9. d4 Qe7?!

Black should play …d6 or …0-0, transposing to normal lines. His development becomes tangled after the move played and White’s reply.

10. d5!

This seems good here as the e7 square is no longer available for the knight, so Black must
move it to an inferior location.

10… Na5 11. Bc2 d6 12. h3 h6 13. Na3 g5 14. b4

This looks good but it may be stronger to capture on b5 first.

  • 14. axb5 axb5 15. b4

14… Nc4 15. Nxc4 bxc4 16. Nh2?!

White attempts to stop …g4, although it seems Black can play it anyway! White was probably better advised to allow …g4 and get on with exchanging the dangerous Black dark-squared bishop and targeting c4.

  • 16. Qe2 g4 17. hxg4 Bxg4 18. Bd1!? An interesting way to cover f3. 18…Nh5 19. a5 Ba7 20. Be3 Bxe3 21. Qxe3 gives White a big advantage.

16… Rg8?!

  • 16… g4! looks rather murky.

17. a5 Ba7 18. Ng4 Nxg4

  • 18… Bxg4 19. hxg4 is even worse and White then has the bishop pair.

19. hxg4 Qd7?

Black decided to mix things up as positionally things look dubious for him. However, this should not really work but rather make things easier for White.

  • 19… Rh8 was better, looking to push with …h5, but that should still be good for White.

20. Ba4 Rb5 21. Bxb5

This is not bad, but White does not have to play it at once.

  • 21. Qe2 Qxg4 22. Qxc4 is winning.

21… axb5

  • 21… Qxb5 22. Re1 followed by Be3.

22. Qf3

White misses the most incisive continuation.

  • 22. Be3 $1 Bxe3 23. fxe3 Qxg4 24. Qc2! It is better to keep the queens on now as this makes it easier to break through. 24… Ba6 25. Rf6 Rg6 26. Rxg6 fxg6 27. Qf2 Qxe4 28. Rf1 Qf5 29. Qxf5 gxf5 30. Rxf5 is clearly winning.

22… Qxg4 23. Qxg4 Bxg4

It is not so simple for White to break through in the endgame, and indeed in the game he fails to do so.

24. Re1 f5 25. Be3 Bxe3 26. Rxe3

Capturing with the pawn looks simpler.

  • 26. fxe3! f4 (26… fxe4 27. Rf1) 27. a6 Kd7 28. Ra5 c6 29. a7 Ra8 30. exf4 gxf4 31. g3 and I think White should win.

26… f4 27. Ree1 f3!?

  • 27… Kd8 28. a6! Kc8 29. Ra5! Bd7 30. g4!

28. Re3

White now starts to lose his way and has to acquiesce to a draw.

  • 28. a6! Ke7 29. Ra5! Bd7 30. g4! A clever move. Black wants to hold the pawn on b5, otherwise White will break through. However, he also needs to be able to hold the pawn on f3. The bishop is needed to cover b5 and so cannot capture on g4, but Black has no other means of covering f3; the Black g-pawn cannot now move to g3, while the rook is required to stop the White a-pawn. I think White should now be winning as Black cannot deal with all the threats.

28… fxg2 29. Kxg2 Kf7 30. Ree1 Ra8 31. Kg3 Bc8 32. Re3 Ba6 33. Ree1 Kg6 34. Rh1 Rh8 35. Rh2 Rf8 36. Rah1 Rh8 37. Rh5 Rh7 38. R1h2 Rh8 39. Rh1 1/2-1/2

White offered a draw here as he could see no way to break through.

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