The Heidenfeld – outrated on seven of eight boards – scrambled to the narrowest of defeats against Malahide on Wednesday, but the promotion race then took another twist when Inchicore A could only score the narrowest of victories against relegation-doomed Phibsboro.
We started on Wednesday 1-0 down; Mariusz moved his game to the Monday in Malahide and reached this position as white. How to win?
1. Re8+! QxR 2. Qd6# is the lovely conclusion. 1. Bd4 is also crushing. Unfortunately, Mariusz had less than 60 seconds left – and no increments – and so played 1. Qf4?? and lost on time a few moves later.
On the Wednesday, only Ciarán R outrated his opponent – most of the gaps were small enough, but there was 70-100 points in a couple. We’ve been here before this season of course – when beating Celbridge and Rathmines A most notably – but surely we couldn’t keep pulling out those kind of results? A single off day and a big defeat and promotion hopes could be over.
It started great though. Ross got to a position something like this after move 6 –
His opponent, rather stunned that he’d screwed up this early, pondered this for an age before finally admitting the problem with 6. … Nh6 7. BxN 0-0 8. Be3. Just the start we needed to settle nerves!
But when Ross managed to miss an obvious queen/rook skewer ten moves or so later, to be left two knights for rook up, things were starting to slip across the boards. The two Ciaráns took draws, but Brendan Cooney was facing a nasty attack and had to give up a piece. Mihailo seemed to have a nice position, but then missed a tactic which simultaneously threatened PxN and a bishop king-rook fork. He ended up losing an exchange for a pawn, but his position was horrible and he lost soon after. Michael Hanley’s opponent first offered an exchange sac, and then a draw – only the latter was accepted, and we were 4½-1½ down.
Ross finally got his knights untangled and on outposts, and then got to this position –
Here, he played 1. Qxc6 QxQ 2. Rd1+ Ke2 3. Rb1 Kd2 4. RxP Nb4 5. Ke6 (I think) Kc1, and black’s rook was trapped, and he resigned. But actually, in the original position, 1. NxP! is much stronger. The queen can’t be taken because of 1. … RxQ?? 2. NxR+ forking king and queen. (Actually, because of this, white can ignore the threat to his queen entirely). So white has gotten another piece nicely into the attack.
So we were 4½-2½ down, and for the third match in a row, I was the last to finish, needing to pull something out of the bag to rescue what had at one stage been looking like a disaster. For the seventh game in a row, I had black – I need to have a word with my captain! – and the game was quite interesting, particularly once Fritz shone a light on some of the ideas I’d missed at the time. So here we go –
Paul Reilly (1658) v Kevin Burke (1581); Heidenfeld Trophy; 06/03/2015
Malahide gained a bit of a reputation for weird openings when we played on the last day of last season – Brendan lost after his opponent played 1. a3, while there were two Latvian Gambits as well (one was ours, in fairness) and an Owen’s Defence, which isn’t as wacky, but is still far from common. So we should maybe have expected something a bit unusual on Wednesday as well.
1. … d5 2. Bg2 c6
Fritz, being Fritz, says you can just grab the pawn here – 2. … BxP 3. c4 Nf6. It also likes the strange 2. … d4. But the text is maybe safer; more human. Fritz doesn’t like it as much.
3. h3 e5 4. c4 h5 5. cd cd 6. Qb3 d4!? (D)
This involved rather more calculation than I’d have liked this early into the game! 7. BxP is met by Qc7, when the threat of mate on c1 means I can win the bishop on b7. 7. Qb5+ is met by Nd7, blocking the check and protecting the e5 pawn; 8. BxP still fails to Qc7. The text move means my d-pawn isn’t hanging any more, and it stops white’s knight from coming to the natural c3 square. Meanwhile, I can block the diagonal with Nc6 next move.
7. g5 Nc6 8. h4
A lot of pawn moves from black! Granted, I’ve made more, but Fritz gives me a clear plus here.
8. … Qc7
Covering b7 and allowing me develop my queenside. I’m not altogether sure where my king’s going to go yet. But then, white is probably thinking the same thing.
I’d planned on meeting this with 12. … Nb6, but then I saw 13. Qc2, pinning and winning the knight on c6. But I’d allowed myself a plan B, which I played instead. Fritz now gives me +2.
Around here, I had to nip out to Stillorgan and get a bit of dinner, having rushed out of work to get to the game vaguely on time. I’m not entirely sure if that’s allowed, but I’d checked with my opponent anyway! Fortified by a bar of chocolate and some torn chicken, I returned to the board.
12. … Qa5 13. QxQ NxQ 14. Nf3 Nf4 15. Bf1 Bd5! 16. Rg1 0-0-0?!
As so often happens, just as I thought I was being smart, I wasn’t really. I could just play normally with 16. … Bd6, protecting the pawn. I figured this indirectly protected it, as 17. NxP Re8 is nasty to meet. Except it’s not.
17. NxP Rd8 18. d3! (D)
I’d missed this move, attacking my own knight, which has nowhere to go without saving white’s knight.
18. … BxN??
Fritz says this changes the game from +1 to me to +1 for white; we’ll see why shortly. It wants me to take on e2, which I was also considering.
Had white instead played 21. Rd1!, he’d have had the initiative. Crucially, 22. … BxP now comes with a tempo on the rook. With the rook on d1 instead, white could now play 23. g6! and white has the attack. If 23. … fg 24. RxP brings the rook deep into black’s position; g7 is weak and my king is very exposed. And if 23. … f6 24. Nf7+ BxN (forced – 24. … Ke7 25. Bd6#) 25. PxB Rf8 26. RxP is horrible. So by tucking one rook away, all white’s other pieces come into the attack!
23. Rc1 Re7 24. e3?! Nb3 25. Rd1?
Fritz actually says white should give up the exchange here, with compensation. 25. Kg2! NxR 26. RxR. One threat is just 27. ed, and if 27. … BxP 28. Rc8# White’s pieces can’t easily even be challenged – 26. … Be6?? loses the exchange straight back after both 27. BxB RxB 28. NxP+, or 27. BxB PxB 28. Ng6.
After the text, white is losing material and I’m back in control – except for one move much later on, which we’ll unfortunately have to get to!
25. … de 26. NxP+?
26. d4! minimised the damage after 26. d4! f6 27. ef gf 28. BxP PxN 29. de+. The difference compared to the text is just that white has opened both the d and g file for his rooks. Grabbing a second pawn for the piece, though, is death – 29. … Kc7 30. BxP?? Nd2+ 31. Kg2 Bd5+ and black’s pieces are swarming around white’s king and will win ruinous material.
26. … RxP 27. BxP Bd4?
An immediate error. I wanted to swap off material now that I’m a piece up – but this loses material and lets white back into the game. Instead, 27. … Rhf8 gangs up on the f2 pawn and keeps the pressure on. If 28. BxP Nd5 blocks the dark-squared bishop’s route back to f2. The problem is white can play 28. Be6! There might follow 28. … Re7 29. BxB RxB (29. … NxB? 30. BxB and I’m a pawn down, with knight for bishop on an open board, and +1 says Fritz. So let’s call that unclear!) 30. Bxg7 and white’s kingside pawns could be dangerous.
We both missed that, and I’m back being much better.
28. BxB? NxB 29. Ra1 Be6 30. BxB NxB 31. RxP Kc7 32. Ke2 Nd4+ 33. Ke3 (D) NxP?
Here, I missed a glorious sequence. See if you can find it! (Hint – you probably won’t)
I was in two minds about taking the pawn in the first place – the b5 pawn actually gives my king a nice hidey hole to hide on. But Fritz says if I play 33. … Kb6! now, white’s best is to give up the exchange with 34. RxP+ KxR 35. KxN. White’s rook actually has nowhere good to go.
On a8, a7, a6, and a5 the rook just hangs. On a3 and a1, Nc2+ picks up the rook, and the fork also means Rga1 is out.
So that leaves a4 and a2. 34. Ra4 is met by Re8+. If 35. KxN Rf4+ picks up the rook. And if 35. Kd2 Nf3+ wins the other rook.
So what about 34. Ra2? 34. … Nf3!! is the amazing winning move – the threats of NxR and Re8# can’t both be met. Black’s knight (aided by white’s pawns) has woven a mating net around the white king in the middle of the board!
I didn’t spot any of that, and just took the pawn. I blame time pressure. 🙂
34. Rc1+ Kb8 35. Ra4 Nd6 36. Rf4 Nf5 37. Kd2
Not 37. Kf3?? Nd4+ 38. Ke3 RxR 39. KxR Ne2+ and 40. … NxR. But white has other options, and the knight was maybe better placed on d6.
37. … Rhf8 38. d4 g6 39. Kd3 Re7 40. Rc5 Re6 41. Re5 Rd6 42. d5 Rd8 43. Kc4 Ka7 44. Re6 b5+?
The last few moves have been annoying – it should be easier to make progress when a piece up! I should just swap rooks here; the knight stops the pawn going anywhere, and I can round it up at will. Instead, with everyone else watching – Ross had won a short time earlier – I uncorked a bit of a blunder.
I spent half my remaining six minutes on this move, and completely missed the really obvious continuation 46. RxN RxR? (compounding the problem; after 46. … RxP+, I might hold the endgame) 47. Ra4+ until just after I’d moved. My opponent then spent half his remaining four minutes on his reply. All around the board, Benildus hearts were presumably in mouths as a vital promotion point hung in the balance – though maybe not Ciarán M’s, as he wants to try win the Heidenfeld next season instead of coming second this year. Then my opponent played…
…and I’m back winning, in the lines I’d seen when playing Nd4+ in the first place.
47. … RxP 48. Kc6 RxP
This is the key move. The rest is trivial.
49. Kd5 Rh1 50. f4 h4 51. f5 h3 52. fg Rd1+ 53. Ke5
White can’t even play 53. Kc6 to try force his pawn home as then I queen with check.
53. … h2 54. g7 Rd8 55. e7 Rg8 56. Kf6 h1=Q 57. e8=Q Qf3+ 58. Kg6 RxQ 0-1
3½-4½ is a good result though, again considering we were out-rated on seven boards. And 24 hours later, Inchicore A could only pick up 4½ points against Phibsboro, which leaves the table like this –
Thursday week is key so – Inchicore A v St Benildus. We can now afford to lose 5½-2½ and still be in second place going into the final day, where we play Inchicore B, Inchicore A play Rathmines B and Celbridge play Malahide. Anything else would be a bonus!