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

Horsham 1 got off to a bad start in this year’s Mid-Sussex League, with a decisive defeat away to Hastings 1. I have put a match report up here. In my game I lost against John Sugden. His early sacrifice of the exchange for a pawn gave him a promising position, which gradually went downhill for me as I struggled to find a good way to generate play. Although we did not agree a result on the night, home analysis soon convinced me that my position after move 42 was hopeless, and so I resigned.

I give the game below in full.

Sugden, John N – Mansson, James C, Mid-Sussex League (Division 1) Hastings 1 – Horsham 1 2017.10.26

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. d4 Bg4 10. Be3 exd4 11. cxd4 d5 12. e5 Ne4 13. Nbd2!?

When faced with this over the board, I assumed that it was a blunder, but in fact it is a
reasonable exchange sacrifice that has been tried a few times.

13…Nxd2 14. Qxd2 Bxf3 15. gxf3 Bb4 16. Qc2 Bxe1 17. Qxc6 Bb4

17… Ba5 might be better, so the bishop can go to b6 where it has a more comfortable square, e.g. 18. Bxd5 Rb8 19. Be4 Bb6 However, White still has promising play after 20. f4.

18.Bxd5 Rb8 19. Bb3 Rb6 20. Qe4 Rg6+ 21. Kh1

21. Kf1 seemed better to me at the time as White has to worry about potential mating threats with the king on h1. However, the move played seems fine if White is careful.

21… Kh8?!

Here Black was struggling to find a plan. It was probably best to attempt to
move the queen to h3 via c8 or d7. The move played was intended to allow the
advance of the f-pawn, but that is not a good idea, so it is at best a waster
of time.

22. f4 Qh4 23. Qf3 f5?!

Black hoped that by holding back the advance of the White f-pawn, he would be able to generate some play on the kingside. However, this does not happen, while the permanent
disadvantage of the move, giving White a protected passed pawn, remains.

24.d5 Qe7?!

Black creates problems for himself by this unfortunate alignment of his pieces, as White’s next move shows. If Black wanted to move the queen back, d8 was a better square.

24… Rh6 25. Qg3 seemed very good for White at the time and still does.

25. Rc1

White intends 26 a3, when 26…Ba5 27 Bc5 wins back the exchange at least, although keeping the bishop to support the advance of White’s pawns may be even better.

25…Qd8 26. a3 Be7 27. Bd2 Qb8?

After this Black is completely lost.

27… b4 had to be tried, although White has a clear advantage.

28. Ba5 Rc8 29. Bc2 Rf8 30. Bd3

Now Black cannot defend both c7 and f5.

30…b4 31. axb4 Bxb4 32. Bxc7 Qb7 33. Be2 Bd2 34. Rc2 Bxf4!?

Black tries to mix things up, but this does not work as White defends calmly.

35. Qxf4 Qxd5+ 36. Qf3 Qa2 37. Rd2 Qb1+ 38. Rd1 Qxb2 39. Bd6 Re8 40. Bxa6 Qb6 41. Bf1 Rg5 42. Bg2 h6 1-0

The players had now reached the time control and end of the playing session. White is clearly winning so Black resigned. White will put his queen on c6 and Black cannot prevent the advance of the e-pawn.

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