Two of the more interesting Benildus games from Bunratty last weekend.
First up is my second round game – partly because I’ve lost the scoresheet and wanted to get the game down before I forgot it, and partly because it’s an interesting game in which I completely mis-evaluated the pressure I was under.
Kevin Burke (1620) v Calum Leitch (1782); Bunratty Challengers round 2; 21/02/15
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. ed cd 4. ce dc
Not a reply I’d been expecting, but apparently this is a sideline where black gains a couple of tempi rather than loses one by bringing white’s bishop to c4 in one go.
5. BxP Qc7 6. Bb3 Bg4 (D)
I wasn’t keen on 7. Qc2 QxQ 8. BxQ as with the isolated pawn, I want to keep attacking chances, not swap off my best attacking piece so early (Fritz agrees). I wasn’t keen on 7. Ne2 BxN 8. KxB (not 8. QxB QxB+ of course), and I thought both 7. Nf3 BxN 8. PxB and 7. f3 left my king a bit too exposed at this early stage. I didn’t really consider 7. QxB QxB+, though Fritz says it’s only level after 8. Qd1 QxP 9. Nd2 QxP; I’m two pawns down, but 10. Nc3 completes my development with tempo, so white has only a queen moved, and I can castle next move.
All that just left 7. Qd2, which is what I played, though it blocks in my dark-squared bishop. Fritz says 7. f3 is best – I can castle first, put my king on h1 if needs be and then try push the d-pawn.
7. Qd2?! Nf6 8. Nc3
Covering e4 and protecting my bishop on c1.
8. … e6 9. d5
A bit soon maybe; it’s not clear if white’s king is safe. At the time, I figured black’s king would also be a bit open, but Fritz says black can get an attack in first and keep my king stuck in the centre. I kind of knew this, but I also wanted to try wrestle back some sense of the initiative – I’m supposed to be playing white, but it’s black who’s been pushing me around already!
9. … Bb4!? 10. de 0-0?
I was expecting 10. … fe or 10. … BxP 11. BxB PxB when black’s isolated pawn should become a target. The text move is a bit much from black, says Fritz.
Still on the defensive; I was anxious to stop 12. … Ne4. But Fritz says 12. Ne2 defends the c3 weakness and prepares to castle. And if 12. … BxN 13. KxB! is apparently quite ok – the f-pawn covers the e8 square, which is a big plus for me. But over the board, it’s hard to consider moves like Kxe2 when there’s so many pieces remaining!
12. … Bf5??
This is surprisingly bad, and throws away any compensation black had for the two pawns.
13. QxB BxN+ 14. Kf1 Bb4 15. Bf4 Qb6 16. Be3?!
I wanted to avoid 16. … Bc5, with pressure on f2. Fritz says development is more important – 16. Nf3 Bc5 17. g3, and all my pieces are in the game. Then I can look at ideas like Rd1 -> d6 and sacs on f6 maybe. That said, the text is still better – Fritz gives +3.2 here
16. … Qa6+ 17. Ne2 Nc6 18. a3!?
A couple of moves later, I regretted not playing 18. a4 here, with the idea of Qb5, getting the queens off the board. But Fritz says black can survive with 18. … Nd8 19. Qb5 QxQ 20. PxQ Nxf7, and my extra pawn is doubled and isolated. 18. a3 Nd8 isn’t as good after 19. Rc1 and there’s ideas of Bc4, Rc7 and more.
18. … Rad8 19. Rb1 Ba5 20. Qe6?
I still thought I was in trouble here due to the poor coordination of my pieces. The idea of the text is to prevent 20. … Ne4 – removing my bishop pair – by the continuation 21. QxQ PxQ 22. BxN, when 22. … RxN isn’t on because the knight on e2 isn’t pinned any more. But I missed that this gives white’s queen a new square to go to.
20. … Qd3 21. Ra1?
Now black’s actually a smidgeon better.
21. … Nd4??
And now white’s back to +2. 21. … Nd5 was the move. 22. Ba2?? is out as the bishop is actually protecting against mate on d1 – so 22. … Nf4 threatens mate starting with 23. … Qd1+ and also hits white’s queen. So more or less forced is 22. Ba4 NxB 23. QxN QxQ 24. PxQ RxP+ 25. Kg1 Bb6 when my rook stuck on h1 means I’m just worse, and my e-pawn is hanging as well.
From +2 to -4. I wanted to prevent 23. … Re4 of course. The rather unlikely best move here is 23. Bc2!, and 24. b4 can follow as black’s attack gets repelled. From white’s point of view, piece activity is a recurring theme – how to get them into the game, be that by simple development or unpinning them.
But 23. f3 has a tactical rebuff – what is it?
23. … Ne4??
It’s not this, anyway. 23. … Rf4! is the move. The threat is RxP+, which pretty much wins instantly. So for example, if 24. h4 RxP+! 25. PxR QxP+ 26. Kg1 Bb6+ 27. Kh2 Ng4+ and white must give up his queen for a piece, and probably still gets mates. White’s best try is 24. Bc4, hoping for 24. … RxP+?? 25. Kg1 Bb6+ 26. QxB! PxQ 27. BxQ. Black can of course just take the bishop – but with the rook, not the queen, otherwise 24. … QxB?? 25. Qd6! threatens mate and hits both rooks. Black has to give up a rook – 25. … RxP+ 26. PxR QxP, when white is an exchange up, but black has plenty of compensation.
One final, careless, blunder. 24. Qe7 carries the same subtle threat of mate, but doesn’t leave my queen hanging. I played this in desperation, reckoning I was lost anyway – which I wasn’t; the position is still level enough. Underestimating my position to the end!
24. … Nd2+ 25. Kf2 Rd8 26. Nc1 Bb6+ 27. Kg3 Qg6+ 0-1
I’m still two pawns up, and still have the pawn on f7, when I resign. Had my queen been on e7, not e8, I’d have had a vital extra tempo to fit in Ba2 and be grand.
Ross won the Majors on 5/5 including a travelling bye; here’s the game which attracted most attention (aside from the opposite coloured bishop endgame finale)
Jim McAree (1365) v Ross Beatty (1471); Bunratty Major round 3; 21/02/15
1. d4 e6 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cd ed 5. Bg5 Be7 6. e3 Bf5!?
There’s a gambit coming. I’ve no idea if this is any good; way outside my opening repertoire. Fritz says white should swap on f6 before nabbing the d5 pawn. The pawn white grabs is a bit dangerous.
It’s hard to know whether to give this a !? or a ?? Fritz gives ??, but it isn’t 1300. The sac isn’t sound, but it’s fun! Though maybe not something to risk again. 🙂 Black’s king is a problem, as is the hanging d5 pawn.
14. KxB Ng4+? 15. Kg3??
Black actually has nothing after 15. Kg1 – 15. … Qh4 is mate in four, for example. For white. Fritz slightly prefers 14. … Qd6+ as black’s follow-up.
15. … h5!?
Saccing a whole rook. Fritz is starting to take interest again!
White must have thought the point was a formality from here. But Fritz gives this as level – despite that black is a rook and piece down!
17. … h4+ 18. Kh3
The only move – the other squares lead to mate.
18. … Qg5 19. Nf5 Nxe3+! 20. Kh2 QxN+ 21. Kg2 Ng4 22. Rfd1??
The knight wants the d1 square to guard f2. Now black’s attack wins through. It should be noted black had four minutes left after move 19.
22. … Qh2+
22. … h3 is crushing, using the h-pawn to lever open white’s position and feast on the kingly goodness inside. The text is still winning though.
23. Kf1 Qh1+??
Back to only slightly better for black. Again, h3 was called for.
24. Ke2 QxP 25. Kd2??
25. Rdf1 was essential, when black can continue the attack with 25. … Rh6.
25. … QxP+??
25. … NxP is better, hitting the rook and threatening nasty discovered checks. The text actually brings the game back to being level. And then there’s no more of the game recorded other than to note white hung a queen four moves later and resigned.