Two more games for your perusal – one of John’s wilder efforts from Kilkenny, and Dylan’s Armstrong match against Sam Collins IM.
We’ll start with Dylan’s game against Sam – Dylan was being sacrificed to give Tim a better chance of taking something against weaker opposition on board 2 – a mere FM, as opposed to an IM. The board 1 game isn’t the most lively, but it’s worth documenting as black makes only one real mistake – and that 27 moves in and in time trouble – so overall, it was quite a respectable outing given the massive 700 point rating gap!
Sam Collins (2459) v Dylan Boland (1759); Armstrong Cup; 03/12/15
Notes by Dylan Boland
1. e4 c5 2. c3
I knew at this point that he had done a good bit of work on the c3 Sicilian and that it would unwise to go theoretical.
2. … d6
A sub variation.
3. d4 Nf6
Bringing the knight out, forcing white to somehow defend the pawn. Many players think I don’t know anything about the opening and so take on c5
because after 4. dc NxP 5. Qa4+ wins a piece. However after 4. dc, Black plays Nc6, developing a second piece and now he is threatening to take on e4 and c5
4. Bd3 Nc6
5. d5 is possible here but after Ne5 white must think carefully about 6. f4. Overextending can backfire quickly especially when your king is in the centre.
5. Nf3 cd 6. cd e5
If this pawn is taken then black will easily equalise; both bishops have natural squares of development and the pawn structure is symmetrical.
7. d5 Ne7
Gaining queenside space for white, but black will have a kingside dark square dominance if pieces stay on the board.
8. Bg5 Ng6 9. Bb5+ Bd7 10. Qa4 Be7 11. BxN BxB 12. 0-0 a6 13. BxB+ QxB 14. QxQ+ KxQ (D)
I have made it to an endgame against an IM! In this position white is about 0.4 of a pawn better, which means on a practical basis it’s equal as it requires immense precision to make the advantage concrete.
Playing on the queenside where he is superior. I thought for a while here and realised the only plan black has is to put a rook on f8, retreat the bishop on f6 and play play f5, undermining the e4, d5 pawn chain.
15. … Bd8
Also defending the key and weak b6 square.
16. Na3 Rf8 17. Nc4
Playing perhaps for a5 and Nb6+.
17. … h6
Restricting the f3 knight.
18. a5 f5 19. Nfd2
I knew it would also be wrong to play f4 as it reduces the activity of black’s rook and robs the knight of a square. The computer says it’s equal here; white will be left with an isolated d pawn, but will have superior minor pieces.
19. … fe 20. NxP Bc7
Connecting the rooks and defending the pawn
21. Rfd1 Nh4 22. g3 Nf5 23. Ra3
Going for Rb3
23. … g5
Clamping down on f4 so after my knight goes to d4, it will be stable.
24. Kg2 Nd4
A good centralised knight, but one piece doesn’t win a game. If I can get g4 in I will be ok. The computer thinks it’s about equal.
25. f3 Rae8
Bringing the last piece into the game. It’s still about equal here but I was under time pressure here and begin to go wrong.
26. Rh1 Rf7 27. h4 Rg8?
Taking is best for black.
28. hg hg (D)
Isolating black’s pawn. I only had about a minute left here and went down pretty quickly after another ten more moves or so. 1-0
Vincent Bissett (1641) v John Healy (1848); Kilkenny Major round 1; 27/11/15
Notes by John Healy
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 a6 3. a4 e6 4. c3 d5 5. e5 d4 6. Bd3?!
It’s been an eccentric opening, but I think this move is a mistake, effectively entombing the entire queenside. But how to take advantage of White’s not having that piece available?
6. … g5!? 7. h4?
The computer likes 7. h3
7… g4 8. Ng5 Qd5
Stronger is 8… Nc6
9. QxP QxP+
I can’t afford to be greedy, or White’s pieces click and his extra development gives him a big attack – 9… dxc3?? 10. Qf4!!
10. Qe2 Qxe2+ 11. Kxe2 Nf6 12. Na3 Bd7 (D)
I guess White wanted to target the d4 pawn, but the knight is much better placed after 13. Nc4 when it helps control e5 and targets key weaknesses in Black’s position on b6 and d6. The threat of … b5 will never happen as it takes several moves to prepare and White has a5 if necessary.
13… Nc6 14. b3 Nd5
Targeting c3 and f4 simultaneously.
15. cd Nf4+ 16. Ke3 NxB 17. KxN cd 18. Bb2
The pawn is verboten. 18. Nxd4?? Nxd4 19. Kxd4 Bg7+
18… e5 19. Rae1 Be7 20. Ne4 O-O 21. Ba3? (D)
White has offered to exchange bishops. Is this a good idea? How would you continue?
21. … f5!
The bishops can look after themselves. White has lost control of the centre, and is already in deep trouble.
22. Nc5 e4+ 23. Kc4 (D)
White’s King goes over the top. How would you continue? (Mind you, the alternative was pretty grim too after 23. Ke2 Bxc5 24. Bxc5 d3+)
Shh! I’m huntin’ wabbit. In fact, I’ve missed that Black can quickly win a piece quite simply with 23… Be8 24. Nxd4 (otherwise Bf7 is mate) Bf7+, when one of the knights will die on e6, or the Bishop will die on a3.
24. Kd5 Be8 25. Ne6 Bxa3
Better is 25… b4! 26. Nxf8 Bxf8 27. Bxb4 – the point is that White cannot save his Bishop, as he is rapidly checkmated after 27. Bb2 Rd8+ 28. Ke6 Bg6 29. Kf6 Be7+ 30. Ke6 Rd6# – 27… Rd8+ 28. Ke6 Bd7+ 29. Kd5 Nxb4+ 30. Nxb4 Bxb4. Fritz gives this as worse than -3. Black threatens moves like …Bxa4+ and …Bxd2, and will soon win.
26. Nxa3 Rf6 27. Rc1
27. g4! breaks up the pawn chain emprisoning White’s king.
27… Kf7 28. Ng5+
Fritz suggests a double pawn sacrifice to activate Black’s knights – really dynamic play from the computer. 28. Nf4 Rd8+ 29. Kc5 bxa4 30. Nc4 axb3 31. Rb1 Rb8 32. Nd6+ Kf8 33. Nd5 Re6 (D)
28… Ke7 29. ab (D)
Black now has forced checkmate. Can you find it? (Instead 29. RxN BxR+ saves the King in the short run, but White is still in big trouble because of his exposed King and uncoordinated pieces as much as the exchange he’s just given up.)
29… Rd6+ 30. Kc5 Ne5 31. ba
31. Rh3 a5! and White cannot stop …Rc8#
31… Nd3+ 32. Kc4 Rc8# 0-1 (D)
What are the lessons of this game?
(1) The opening is about rapid development, control of the centre and king safety. White achieved none of these.
(2) If the king is drawn out from cover, it is often vulnerable even without queens on the board.
(3) Try to involve all your pieces in the attack.