Mid-Sussex League Division 1 2017-18: Horsham 1 – Haywards Heath 1

Horsham 1 bouncded back from the defeat against Hastings 1 with a 4.5-0.5 win over Haywards Heath 1. I won as White against Graham Ewans in a game where my opponent’s aggressive play in the opening ultimately left him with too many pawn weaknesses. I made a couple of innaccuracies which gave my opponent some chances to equalise, but my opponent missed his opportunities and I was able to establish a solid advantage. In time trouble, the accuracy of the play fell, but I ultimately prevailed.

I give the game below in full.

Mansson, James C – Ewens, Graham, Mid-Sussex League (Division 1) Horsham 1 – Haywards Heath 1 2017.11.09

1. e4 Nc6 2. Nf3 e5 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 d6 5. O-O g5!?

Objectively this is rather dubious, of course, but there is no apparent immediate refutation. Rather, White needs to aim to exploit his better structure in the long term.

6. Bxc6+ bxc6 7. d4 g4 8. Nfd2

White offers a pawn, reasoning that Black’s weaknesses will give him good value for the pawn.

8. Ne1 is simplest. White will simply develop, then hope to exploit Black’s weaknesses.

8… Bg7

Black decides to play it safe.

8… exd4 9. Nb3 c5 10. c3!? looks like a promising sacrifice, although it is not entirely clear.

9. Nb3 Qh4 10. f4?!

This allows Black counterplay if he plays accurately.

10. Nc3 leaves White with a comfortable advantage due to Black’s weaknesses.

10… gxf3 11.Qxf3 Nf6 12. dxe5

I was reluctant to play this because of 12…Ng4, but could not see any better. Fortunately my opponent did not consider the possibility!

12…dxe5?

12… Ng4! 13. Qxf7+ Kd8 14. Bf4 Rf8 15. Qxg7 Rxf4! and White is forced to take perpertual check, e.g. 16. Qg8+ Ke7 17. Qg7+ Ke8 18. Qg8+ Ke7 19. Qg7+ =

13. Nc3 O-O 14. g3?!

White was worried about either …Bg4 or …Ng4 but should have ignored those possibilities for the moment as he is well-placed to meet them.

14. Na5 leaves White with a considerable advantage due to his superior pawn structure. Black’s attacks are easily met. 14…Bg4 (14… Ng4 15. h3) 15. Qf2 Qxf2+ 16. Rxf2.

14… Qh3 15. Bg5 Ng4 16. Qg2

16. Qe2 was the other way to protect h2. The White queen is not
vulnerbale to a later …Bh3, but on the other hand the Black gets to stay on
h3.

16… Qh5 17. Bd2 a5?

This allows White to rearrange his kingside pawns in a favourable way.} (17… Nf6 {was necessary, intending …Bh3.

18.h3! Nf6 19. g4! Qg6 20. Nc5

White gradually improves his position, looking to move his pieces and pawns to their best squares.

20…Rd8

Black doesn’t seem to have a way of exploiting the weakness of the kingside pawns.

20… h5 21. g5 Nd7 22. N3a4 doesn’t help Black.

21. Be3 Ne8

Black intends …Nd6 then …Nb5 or …Nc4, but White’s next two moves prevent him from
reaching those squares.

22. a4! Nd6 23. b3! Rb8 24. Rad1 Bf8 25. Ne2 Be7 26. Ng3 Bg5 27. Bf2

27. Bxg5 Qxg5 28. Nh5 may be simplest. I didn’t like allowing 28…Qe3+ but then 29. Qf2 Qxf2+ 30. Rxf2 leaves Black without prospects.

27… Qh6 28. Nh5

White is completely on top now, but both players were starting to run short of time.

28…Kh8 29. Rd3 Bd7 30. Rf3

Simplest would be to attack e5 with the queen.

30. Qg3! f6 31. Be3! and White will break through on f6.

30… Be8 31. Nd3!?

I overlooked that e4 would be undefended after this move, but fortunately the sacrifice is good. However, moving the queen to g3 would again be simplest.

31. Qg3!

31… Nxe4 32. Nxe5?

This gives Black some chances.

32. h4 was winning. 32…Be7 (32… Bf4 33. Rxf4 exf4 34. Qxe4) 33. Be3 Qe6 34. Rf5 and e5
falls.

32… Rd2?

This loses.

  • 32… Nd2? 33. Rxf7 Nxf1 34. Qf3
  • 32… f6! was the best chance. 33. Nxf6 Bxf6 (33… Nxf6 34. h4 Bxh4 35.Bxh4 Qxh4 36. Rxf6) 34. Rxf6 Nxf6 35. g5

33. Rxf7! Be3??

This loses at once.

33… Nxf2 is a better try, but White has 34. Qf3!! which I had planned over the board. White threatens Rf8+, forcing mate. Now:

  • 34… Bxf7 35. Nxf7+ wins the queen.
  • 34… Nxh3+ 35. Qxh3 does not help Black.
  • 34…Kg8 35. Rg7+ wins the queen on account of 35…Kh8? 36. Qf8#

34. Qxe4 1-0

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