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

Horsham 1 scored a narrow win against Lewes 1 in the Mid-Sussex League last Tuesday. I was Black against Barry Maufe, in a rematch of our earlier MSL Knockout game in December. I emerged clearly worse from a rather unorthodox opening, but was fortunate that my opponent eventually miscalculated, allowing me to win substantial amounts of material; my opponent very soon resigned.

I give the game below in full.

Maufe, Barry – Mansson, James C, Mid-Sussex League (Division 1) Lewes 1 – Horsham 1,  Horsham 2018.01.16

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 d5 5. a3

5. cxd5 is the other main move.

5… Bxc3+ 6. bxc3!?

This is rather unusual and not entirely consistent with 4 Qc2.

6. Qxc3 is more usual, preserving White’s pawn structure.

6…c5 7. Nf3 Qa5 8. Nd2 cxd4 9. cxd4 Nc6 10. e3 O-O

Black decided to castle before striking with …e5.

  • 10… e5
  • 10… dxc4 11. Bxc4 e5

11. Rb1 dxc4

Black could also strike with …e5 at once.

  • 11… e5

12. Bxc4 e5 13. d5

  • 13.Rb5 Qc7 14. d5 Na5 15. d6 Qd8 16. Bd3 Be6 17. O-O Rc8 18. Qb1 Nc6=

13…Ne7?!

Up to this point, Black’s play was reasonable but this seem inaccurate.

13… Nxd5! was best. I rejected this because I though White had Rb5 in
response, but in fact that does not work. 14. O-O (14. Rb5?! Qc3! is what I missed.) 14… Qd8= Black’s activity balances the bishop pair.

14. e4?!

This allows a tactical below.

14. Rb5! first was the way to go, e.g. 14…Qc7 15. e4. White has an advantage because of his protected passed pawn and bishop pair.

14… Qd8?

Black misses his chance.

14… Nxe4! exploits the unfortunate alignment of White queen and rook on b1. 15. Qxe4 (
15. Rb5?! Qc3) 15… Bf5 16. Qxe5 Bxb1 17. O-O (17. Qxe7?? Rfe8) 17… Ng6 18. Qd4 Bf5.

15. O-O

White has an advantage because of his protected passed pawn and bishop pair. Black tries to generate some play on the kingside, but White deals with it for the moment.

15…Ng6 16. Re1 Nh5 17. g3 Nf6 18. Nf1 h6 19. Ne3 Nh7 20. Nf5 Ng5 21. Rb3 Qf6 22. f3

White protects against …Nxe4 and …Bxf5, but this was not necessary.

22. h4! Nxe4 23.Nxh6+ gxh6 24. Qxe4 leaves Black in big trouble.

22…b5!?

Black finds a way to mix things up, exploiting the weakness on f3.

23. Bxb5

  • 23. Rxb5?? Nxf3

23… Bxf5 24. exf5 Ne7 25. Bxg5?

25. Bb2 followed by Bxe5 in due course is naturally very good for White.

25… hxg5

Now Black’s position is definitely playable.

26. Qe4 Nxf5 27. Bd3 g6 28. Qxe5??

This turns a roughly balanced position into a completely lost one.

28…Qxe5 29. Rxe5 Nd4

White had missed the double attack on b3 and f3.

30. Bc4 Rac8!

This is even better than grabbing the exchange at once.

30… Nxb3 31. Bxb3 would give White more scope to cause problems, as the extra pawn on d5 protected by the bishop might be an issue.

31. Re4 Rxc4 32. Kf2 Rc2+ 33. Ke3 Nxb3 0-1

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