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 UES-9701: Tournament table

Starting date: October 25, 1997.
Completed: March 4, 1998

Average rating: 2106  

Rob Gilles (2210)   1, ½ 1, ½ 1, ½ 4 ½
Hanon Russell (2107) 0, ½   1, ½ 1, 1 4
John Maurer (2109) 0, ½ 0, ½   1, 1 3
Ralph Marconi (1999) 0, ½ 0, 0 0, 0   ½



John Maurer - Rob Gilles
A36 - English, symmetrical variation
1. c4 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. Nc3 c5 5. e4 d6 6. Nge2 Nc6 7. O-O O-O 8. d3 Bd7 9. Be3 Ng4 10. Bc1 b6 11. f3 Nf6 12. Be3 Qc8 13. b3 Bh3 14. Qd2 Bxg2 15. Kxg2 a6 16. d4 cxd4 17. Nxd4 Ne5 18. Bg5 Qb7 19. Rad1 Rac8 20. Rfe1 Rfe8 21. a3 Nfd7 22. f4 Nc6 23. Nxc6 Rxc6 24. Nd5 Nc5 25. Qe3 Rcc8 26. Qf3 h6 27. Bh4 Kf8 28. Rd2 b5 29. cxb5 axb5 30. Re3 Ra8 31. b4 Nd7 32. Rc2 Rac8 33. Rxc8 Qxc8 34. Qd1 Qc6 35. Re2 Nb6 36. Nxb6 Qxb6 37. Qd5 Rc8 38. Rd2 f6 Drawn

John Maurer - Hanon Russell
B06 - Modern Defense

1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nf3 c6 4. c3 d5 5. exd5 cxd5 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. O-O Nf6 8. h3 O-O 9. Re1 Qc7 10. Bg5 e6 11. Nbd2 Nh5 12. Nb3 Nf4 13. Bb5 a6 14. Bxc6 bxc6 15. Qd2 Nh5 16. Bh6 Nf6 17. Bxg7 Kxg7 18. Nc5 Nd7 19. Nxd7 Bxd7 20. Ne5 Rab8 21. b3 Rb7 22. Qe3 h6 23. Ng4 Rh8 24. Qf3 Qd8 25. Qe2 a5 26. Ne5 Qc7 27. Qf3 Bc8 28. Nd3 Rd8 29. Nc5 Rb6 30. Re3 Qe7 31. Qf4 Qd6 32. Qh4 Rf8 33. Rae1 Qc7 34. Rf3 Qd8 35. Qf4 Qe7 36. Qe5+ Kh7 37. a3 Rg8 38. b4 axb4 39. axb4 Ba6 40. Rf6 Bc8 41. Ra1 Rd8 42. Rf3 Rf8 43. Ra8 Rd8 44. Qf4 Rf8 Drawn.

Rob Gilles - Hanon Russell
B06 - Modern defense
1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. c3 d5 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. Be2 c5 6. dxc5 Qxc5 7. Nf3 Nf6 8. O-O O-O 9. Be3 Qc7 10. Na3 Nc6 11. Nb5 Qb8 12. Qa4 a6 13. Nbd4 Bd7 14. Rad1 Qc7 15. Nxc6 Bxc6 16. Qf4 Qxf4 17. Bxf4 e6 18. Ne5 Be4 19. Rfe1 Rfd8 20. Nc4 Rxd1 21. Rxd1 Bc6 22. Nb6 Re8 23. c4 Bf8 24. Be3 Be7 25. f3 Rd8 Drawn.

Ralph Marconi - Hanon Russell
(Annotations by Ralph Marconi.)
B06 - Modern defense
This was my first encounter with Hanon Russell, attorney, chess author and webmaster of the ever increasing popular The Chess Cafe. It quickly became apparent that Hanon liked to move fast. I found myself unwittingly (transfixed would be more like it) caught up with trying to match his speed which proved disastrous for me as the results of these games testifies to. Simply moving on the average of two moves a day proved to be too fast. However, Hanon has accepted my challenge to a two-game match where I hope to vindicate myself. You can be sure I won’t be moving as quickly this time. Now to the games.
1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c6!?
The Gurgenidze system, a favorite line of Stephan Gerzadowicz’s. The basic plan for Black is following up with ...d5, achieving a blockade of the light squares after e5.
4. Bc4
The next time I get a chance to play this line I will try 4.f4!? This moves allows Black to achieve his objective of a blockade, but current theory seems to suggest that White enjoys the better game, e.g.: 4...d5!? 5.e5 h5 6.Be3 (6.Nf3) Nh6 7.Nh3 Bg4 8.h3! (considered the most testing move according to Ken Smith & John Hall) Bxf3 9.Qxf3 Nf5 10.Bf2 h4 11.Bd3 Nd7 12.0-0 Nf8 13.Ne2 e6 14.b3 Nd7 15.c4 Qe7 16.Rac1 Nb6 17.Rc2 Rh5 18.Kh2 Rd8 19.Rb1 f6 and White is better because of the two Bishops and more space and the weakness of Black’s h-pawn, W.Watson-Murshad, London 1989. I decided to play the text however, for three reasons: 1) it develops a piece to a strong and active square 2) it lessens the effectiveness of...d5 and 3) this was the move FIDE IM Danny Kopec chose to defeat Stephan Gerzadowicz in an informal CC game played from 1987-88. Readers interested in viewing this game should see Game 14 in Stephan’s book Journal of a Chessmaster, pages 55-59.
4. ... b5!?
A surprise, but in my opinion perfectly logical and perhaps better than the "normal" 4...d6 which Stephan played against Kopec in their encounter. It gains space on the queenside, while taking advantage of the Bishop sitting on c4.
5. Bb3
Keeping an eye on f7 and d5. If White were to play 5.Bd3 or 5.Be2, not only would it lose a tempo it would defeat the whole purpose of moving the Bishop to c4 in the first place.
5. ... a5!?
6. a4!?
Considered more challenging than 6.a3 e.g.: 6...d6 7.Qf3 e6! (7...Nf6? 8.e5!) 8.Bf4 Ba6 9.Rd1 Ne7 10.h4 h6 11.Nh3 Nc8 12.h5 g5 13.Bc1 Nd7 14.Qg3 b4 15.Na4 d5 16.e5 Ne7 17.f4 Nf5 18.Qf3 f6! 19.g4 Nxd4! 20.Rxd4 fxe5 21.Nxe5 22.Qe3 0-0 23.Kd1 Qd6 24.Nf2 Rf3 25.Qe1 Raf8 26.Be3 Rxf2! 0-1, Svidler-A.Ivanov, Gausdal 1991.
6. ... b4 7. Nce2 Nf6!?
A suggested improvement by GM David Norwood, attacking the e-pawn and preparing for castling. 7...d5?! was seen in Nunn-Wicker, London 1978 that continued: 8.e5 Bf5 9.Ng3 Qd7 10.c3 Na6 11.Nxf5 Qxf5 12.Bc2 Qd7 13.Nf3 and White is better, Smith & Hall. Now I’m on my own.
8. Ng3?!
There doesn’t seem to be much choice. If 8.Qd3 Ba6 is awkward; 8.f3!? would deprive the King knight of it’s natural square, however upon "sober" reflection the Knight can be maneuvered to f2 via h3, supporting a possible advance of the g-pawn. This needs testing; and 8.e5!? perhaps deserved more consideration. I think the Knight on g3 is a bit misplaced now.
8. ... O-O
For some reason I was expecting 8...Ba6, but the text makes sense.
9. N1e2
On 9.Nf3? I was afraid of 9...Ba6!, preventing White from castling for some time. Another possibility was 9.Bg5 with idea of Qd2.
9. ... Bb7 10. O-O d6 11. c4?!
Bad! Better were 11.c3!? or 11.f4!?
11. ... Nbd7 12. Bc2?
Probably the losing move, at least psychologically. 12.Rb1 or 12.f4 were better.
12. ... c5! 13. d5?
When it rains, it pours! Black has the initiative and is now better. Perhaps relatively best was 13.dxc5. 13.f3 is too passive.
13. ... Ba6!
Another good shot. I was hoping to play 14.b3, but that loses to 14...Nxe4! And 14.Bd3 is met by 14...Ne5, but this move was perhaps preferable to moving back to b3.
14. Bb3?! h5!
Taking advantage of the awkwardly placed Knight on g3.
15. f3?!
I was afraid of creating a target with 15.h4, but again I think this move was to be preferred to the text. The idea behind the text, though was to play the Knight to h1 and then redeploy it to f2, at the same time preventing the Black Knight access to g4.
15. ... h4 16. Nh1 h3!?
A move I never anticipated he’d make! Taking the proffered pawn would naturally ruin my pawn structure in front of my King. I rejected it because I had grand illusions of picking it off later on in the game.
17. g3 Ne5
Attacking not only c4, but also the weakened f3 pawn.
18. Qc2
Very sad to have to use the Queen to protect a pawn. This is not good for White.
18. ... Nfd7 19. Bf4?!
My mind is telling me I need to develop, and rejects the more aggressive 19.f4!?, but after 19...Ng4, the Knight occupies a very uncomfortable position, nevertheless I should have tried it.
19. ... e6!
Thematic in this kind of position.
20. Rad1
20.dxe6 would open the f-file after 20...fxe6 putting indirect pressure on f3.
20. ... exd5 21. Rxd5!?/?!

|r  q rk |
|   n pb |
|b  p  p |
|p pRn   |
|PpP PB  |
| B   PPp|
| PQ N  P|
|     RKN|
A critical decision. The idea is quite obvious - doubling on the d-file putting pressure on the backward d-pawn. However, Hanon neatly refuted this whole plan. On 21.exd5 I was afraid of 21...g5, but 22.Bxg5!? Qxg5 23.f4 seems unclear.
21. ... Qf6!
Strong! Eyeing the f3 and b2 pawns!
22. g4?!
Yes, I thought about 22.Kf2? with idea of Rfd1, but don’t you give it a second thought if you find yourself in a similar position. The idea behind the text has to do with that wayward pawn on h3. I still had designs on it.
22. ... Bb7!
More pressure on f3.
23. Rdd1 Nb6 24. Bxe5?!
Losing patience, something I’m not normally prone to do. However, since I’m playing nearly 5 times or more my "normal" speed in these games my nerves start to give up on me. Then again this exchange was perhaps inevitable eventually to relieve the pressure on c4.

24. ... dxe5!
Accurate! I was hoping for 24...Qxe5?! which would have given me some time to catch my breath. But now the weakness on f3 is even more emphasized. And look at all those weak dark squares around my King. Positionally White is perhaps lost at this point.
25. Nhg3 Rfd8 26. Kf2?
Totally missing that this loses a pawn by force! Well, not exactly; a nanosecond after I emailed off the move I realized it to my horror. Regardless, though, White is now in virtual zugzwang. The rest of the game needs no comment.
26. ... Rxd1 27. Rxd1 Bc8! 28. Qd3 Bxg4 29. Ng1 Bf8! 30. Ke1 Be6 31. Ke2 Be7 32. Qc2 Rd8 33. Rxd8+ Bxd8 34. Ba2 Qf4 35. b3 Bh4 36. Nf1? Qg5 0-1
I wasn’t in the mood to continue the torture and humiliation with 37.Ng3.

John Maurer - Ralph Marconi
B16 - Caro-Kann, Nimzowitch Variation

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ gxf6 6. c3 Bf5 7. Bc4 e6 8. Ne2 h5 9. Ng3 Bg6 10. Qe2 Nd7 11. f4 f5 12. d5 cxd5 13. Bxd5 Qb6 14. Bf3 h4 15. Nf1 a5? (Interesting is 15 ... h3?!) 16. Be3 Bc5 17. Rd1 Rd8 18. Qf2 Bxe3 19. Nxe3 Nf6 20. O-O Ne4 21. Rxd8+ Kxd8 22. Bxe4 fxe4 23. Rd1+ Ke7 24. Nd5+ 1-0

Hanon Russell - Ralph Marconi
(Annotations by Ralph Marconi.)
C00 - French defense
1. d4 e6 2. e4 d5
Transposing to my favorite French, which has been quite good to me in my nearly 24 years at CC. I even won an honorable mentioned by essaying a French, judged by legendary GM Arthur Bisguier in an APCT Game of the year Award contest a few years back. So you would think I would be ready. Well, not quite!
3. Be3!!?
This is Alapin’s Gambit line. ECO gives the line as inferior for White. I disagree. It turned out that this was a good strategy for Hanon to have played this move, since I lost to it in a USCF Expert Quad a few years ago. I was nevertheless, eager to try to improve upon that game, but at the same time a bit apprehensive. I was, however, prepared to play any other French line accept this one.
3. ... Nf6!?
Theory says taking the gambit pawn on e4 is supposed to be good for Black. My experience is that White gets more than enough compensation for the pawn as will be shown in the following examples: after 3...dxe4 4.f3 (The main line) [however 4.Nd2!? has perhaps been seen with about the same frequency, e.g.: 4...Nf6 {on 4...f5?! 5.f3 exf3?! (5...Nc6 6.Bb5 Nf6 -/+ (?) according to ECO, but instead of 6.Bb5?!, White can play 6.fxe4!? Nxd4 7.Ngf3 Nxf3 8.Qxf3 g6 9.0-0-0 Bg7 10.exf5 exf5 11.Bc4 Qf6 12.c3 Ne7 13.Rhe1 Qc6 14.Bg5 Bf8 15.Qxc6 bxc6 16.Bf6 1-0, Seidel-Hoffmann, corr. 1956.) 6.Ngxf3 Nf6 7.Bd3 c5? 8.0-0 cxd4 9.Nxd4 f4 10.Rxf4 e5 11.Bb5+ Kf7 12.Qh5+ g6 13.Bc4+ Kg7 14.Qh6+! 1-0, Keres-Vernacher, corr. 1934} 5.f3 (5.c3!?; 5.Ne2?!) 5..Nd5 and according to ECO Black has a clear advantage, but after 6.Qe2 f5 (6...Nc6; 6...exf3) 7.fxe4 Nxe3 8.Qxe3 Be7 9.Ngf3 0-0 10.exf5 exf5 11.Bc4+ Kh8 12.Ne5 Bg5 13.Qf2 c5 14.Ndf3 Bf6 15.0-0 Qc7? (15...Bxe5 was better) 16.Qg3 f4 17.Qxf4 Qe7 18.Ng5 1-0, Kampars-Warren, corr. 1965. The examples I have with 6...Nc6 and 6...exf3 were also loses for Black and I couldn’t find convincing enough improvements for Black in any of the games. After 5...exf3 we have: 6.Ngxf3 Be7 7.Bd3 b6!? (7...Nd5) 8.0-0 Bb7 9.Bg5 Nbd7 10.Qe1! 0-0 11.Qh5! g6?! 12.Rae1 c5 13.Ne5 14.dxe5 Nd5 15.Ne4 Bxg5 16.Nxg5 h5 17.g4! Ne7 18.gxh5 Qd4+ 19.Qxd4+ cxd4 20.hxg6 fxg6 21.Rxf8+ Rxf8 22.Nxe6 Re8 23.Nxd4 a6 24.Rf1 Kg7 25.Rf6 b5 26.Ne6+ Kh6 27.Nc7 Rd8 28.Nxa6 Bc6 29.Re6 1-0, Link-Marconi, USCF 1995 Expert Quad. Of course Black’s game was lost quite a few moves before the resignation.] Now back to 4.f3 exf3 (after 4...Nf6 the game may transpose to above with 5.Nd2) 5.Nxf3 Nf6 6.Nd3 Be7 7.0-0 b6 (7...Nbd7 8.Ne5 c5 9.c3 cxd4?! (better was 9...0-0) 10.cxd4 0-0 11.Nc3 Nb6 12.Rf3 Nbd5 13.Rh3 g6 14.Bh6 Re8 15.Qd2 a6 16.Rf1 Nb4 17.Bxg6!! fxg6 18.Bg7! Nc6 19.Nxc6 bxc6 20.Qh6 Nh5 21.Rxh5! 1-0, Diemer-Illig, corr. 1954/55) 8.Ne5 Bb7 9.Bb5 c6 10.Bd3 Nbd7 11.Nd2 0-0 and Black has a clear advantage according to ECO, but I’m not convinced.
4. f3
I would have been more than happy if White had played 4.e5.
4. ... c5!?
A counter gambit to try to throw Black off stride.
5. dxc5 Qc7 6. Nc3!
White comes up with an obvious improvement over 6.c3?! Bxc5 7.Bxc5 Qxc5 8.e5 Nfd7 9.f4 Qe3+! 10.Ne2 Nc5 0-1, Sawyer-Avalos, corr. 1989. The point of the text is to create an isolated d-pawn for Black.
6. ... Bxc5 7. Bxc5 Qxc5 8. exd5 Nxd5 9. Nxd5 exd5

|rnb k  r|
|pp   ppp|
|        |
|  qp    |
|        |
|     P  |
|PPP   PP|
10. Qe2+!!
This fine move has two objectives: (1) to force the trade of Queens and (2) to prepare for castling long. I was much more concerned with the coming Queen exchange.
10. ... Be6?!
This move allows White to obtain his intended objective with 10.Qe2+ and that is the exchange of Queens. The only moves to prevent this exchange were the highly unattractive 10...Kd8 & 10...Kf8. I therefore, reluctantly decided to go into an ending.
11. Qb5+ Nd7 12. Qxc5 Nxc5
On the surface Black appears to be doing Ok; he’s got a lead in development and is ready to move his King to e7 connecting rooks, etc. However as it turns out with the Queens off the board, White actually will enjoy the better ending. As Hanon rightfully pointed out to me if White wasn’t able to force the Queen exchange, then Black would be better!

13. Bb5+ Ke7 14. O-O-O a6?!
Not necessary. This just weakens my queenside pawn structure. Better was a 14....Rac8 or 14.Rhd8.
15. Bd3
White did not want to block the Knight from coming to e2, and was not concerned about having a Knight against my Bishop. Actually, in this kind of position the Knight is better than the Bishop is anyway.
15. ... Nxd3+ 16. Rxd3 Rac8 17. Ne2 Bf5 18. Rd2 Rhd8 19. Rhd1 Be6 20. Nc3 Rc5 21. Rd4 h6?! 22. Rb4 Rd7 23. a3 Rc6 24. Rbd4 Rc5 25. R1d2 f6?!

|        |
| p rk p |
|p   bp p|
|  rp    |
|   R    |
|P N  P  |
| PPR  PP|
|  K     |
I am creating too many weaknesses on the Kingside, but I couldn’t find a way to force the advance of the d-pawn to try to exchange it off and increase the mobility of my Bishop.
26. Ne2!
The Knight is headed for d4 where it will dominate the game.
26. ... Rc4 27. b3 Rxd4?!
I should have resisted this exchange. Maintaining as many heavy pieces as possible would have made it more difficult for White to have made any headway.
28. Nxd4! Kf7 29. Re2 Rd6 30. Kd2 Bd7 31. a4 a5?!
With idea of fixing the pawns on the same color as the Bishop, but this is a faulty plan. Now White has control over b5.
32. Re3 b6?
I was thinking of playing 32...Bc6!? offering to exchange White’s strong Knight for my Bishop and see if Hanon could win a Rooks and pawns ending. The text allows an uncontested access to c7.
33. Rc3!
Eyeing the 7th rank!

33. ... g6 34.Rc7 +- Ke8 35. Ra7 Bc8??
A serious mistake, but it’s difficult to find good moves now for Black.
36. Rg7 f5
Forced, since 36...g5 drops a pawn to 37.Rg6
37. Nb5 Rc6??
The final mistake which loses a piece. Necessary was 37...Rf6, but Black’s game is probably lost anyway.
38. Na7 Kf8!? 39. Rh7! Kg8 40. Re7 1-0
With the threats of 41.Re8+ and 41.Nxc6.

Rob Gilles - Ralph Marconi
C04 - French, Tarrasch variation
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nc6 4. Ngf3 Nf6 5. e5 Nd7 6. Nb3 a5 7. a4 b6 8. Bb5 Ncb8 9. Bg5 Be7 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 11. O-O Ba6 12. c3 c6 13. Bd3 Bxd3 14. Qxd3 O-O 15. Rac1 Na6 16. Rfe1 c5 17. Nbd2 c4 18. Qb1 Rac8 19. b3 cxb3 20. Qxb3 Rc6 21. Nb1 Rfc8 22. Na3 Nc7 23. Rc2 f6 24. exf6 gxf6 25. Re3 Qd6 26. Rce2 Re8 27. Nd2 Kh8 28. Rg3 e5 29. Nf1 Nf8 30. Rd2 Rd8 31. Nb5 Qe6 32. Ne3 Nxb5 33. axb5 Rcd6 34. Qd1 Ng6 35. Qh5 Rg8 36. dxe5 fxe5 37. h3 Nf4 38. Rxg8+ Kxg8 39. Qg5+ Kh8 40. Kf1 Qe8 41. g3 Qxb5+ 42. c4 dxc4 43. Qf5 c3+ 44. Kg1 1-0

Rob Gilles - John Maurer
(Annotations by Rob Gilles)
C06 - French Defense, Tarrasch variation
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2
When I have to defend myself against the French, I mostly choose to play the Tarrasch variation. It avoids the very complicated variations after 3 Nc3, but still steers towards a treasure trove of many very interesting lines. This game is another confirmation of the latter.
3 ... Nf6

This is the classical line in the Tarrasch variation. After 3 ... c5 we get in the territory of many battles in the 1970s, in particular those between Karpov and Korchnoi in their world championship matches come to mind.
4. e5

This choice is, in my opinion, the most interesting. After 4 Bd3 dxe4 (Or 4 ... c5 5 e5 Nfd7 we are back on track of the main line as followed in the game.) 5 Nxe4 Nd7 6 Nf3 Ngf6 and the position has converted to the Rubinstein defense.
4 ... Nfd7 5. Bd3

The main alternative is 5 f4 c5 6 c3 Nc6 7 Ndf3 and we enter a wide range of very interesting lines that are developed in many interesting correspondence games. The traditional line continues with 7 ... Qb6 (An alternative is 7 ... Qa5) 8 g3 cxd4 9 cxd4 Bb4+ 10 Kf2 with interesting complications.

|r b kb r|
|pp n   p|
|  n p p |
|   pP   |
|        |
|  NBBN  |
|Pq   PPP|
|R  QK  R|
5 ... c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ne2 Qb6 8. Nf3 cxd4 9. cxd4 f6 10. Nc3
When I play with Black, I always like to the position that arises after 10 exf6 Nxf6 11 O-O Bd6 12 Nc3 O-O 13 Re1 Bd7. I believe that black has excellent chances in the resulting position. A recent example of a successful venture by black is the game Pulkis - Matlak, 11th CC Olympiad, 1992/94, where it continued 14 a3 Kh8 15 Be3 Be8 16 Ng5 Bh5 17 Qb1 Nxd4 18 Na4? Bxh2+!! 19 Kxh2 Ng4+ 20 Kg1 Qd6 21 g3 Nf3+! 22 Nxf3 Rxf3 23 Qc2 Nxe3 and white resigned due to 24 Rxe3 Rxe3 25 fxe3 Qxg3+. I therefore decided to divert from this line and continue with the text.
10 ... fxe5 11. dxe5 g6

this is a novelty to me. After the game John wrote me that this was still in his books. I was only familiar with the devastating line 11 ... Ndxe5? 12 Nxe5 Nxe5 13 Qh5+ Nf7 14 Bb5+ Ke7 15 O-O g6 16 Qh4+ Kd6 17 Qf6 and white has a wonderful attack that should be devastating for black.
12. Be3 Qxb2

This seems the only viable option. I figured out that after 12 ... Qc7 black's position is too passive. White wins with 13 Nb5 Qb8 14 O-O Ndxe5 15 Nxe5 (A very interesting alternative here is 15 Bf4 Bg7 16 Nxe5 Nxe5 17 Re1 O-O 18 Bg3 a6 19 Nc3 and white has very nice compensation for his investment of a pawn.) Qxe5 16 Qa4 Qb8 17 Bd4 Rg8 18 Bc3 (An alternative here is 18 Bf6 a6 19 Qh4 h6 20 Nd4 Kf7 21 Nxc6 bxc6 22 Bc3 e5 and black is on top.) e5 19 Rfe1 and white has good prospects. (See analysis diagram 1 below.)

|rqb kbr |
|pp     p|
|  n   p |
| N pp   |
|Q       |
|  BB    |
|PP   PPP|
|R   R K |
Analysis diagram 1.
13. Nb5 Ndxe5?!
After the game John wrote me that he still had found 13 ... Bb4+ in his books, but had opted for the text instead. I analyzed in my ignorance that 13 ... Bb4+ 14 Kf1 Rb8 (To protect b7.) 15 Rb1 Qxa2 16 Ra1 Qb2 17 Bxa7?! (White can also decide to go for a draw immediately with 17 Rb1 and repetition. The move indicated is much more exciting.) Bc5 18 Be2 Nxa7 18 Rb1 Qa2 20 Ra1 Nxb5 (Or 20 ... Qb2 21 Rb1 etc and it is draw after all.) 21 Rxa2 Nc3 22 Qb3 Nxa2 23 Qxa2 O-O 24 Bb5 Rf4 with an exciting and very complicated battle ahead.
The text seems to be weakening black's position considerably: in principle the weak pawn at e6 can now in the future be exposed to the white heavy pieces, as happens in the game. At first glance, the text seems very natural though.
14. O-O Kd8

Indeed, the threat 15 Nc7+ had to be prevented. But suddenly the black king is trapped in the center and can be exposed to a fierce attack of the white pieces.
15. Rb1!

Now the black queen seems to be trapped. John now has to evacuate the knight from e5 and transfer his queen to g7, where she protects the black position.

15 ... Nxf3+ 16. Qxf3 Qg7 17. Rfc1
Both sides have executed their respective plans. It is clear that white has very good prospects in a direct attack on the black king through the c7-field for the pawn. As I wrote with black's 13th move, black seems to be lost: the white attack is unstoppable. At least, I did not find a way to save the black king from annihilation...
17 ... Rg8? 0-1

This move costs John the game, I think. But the black position is already very hard to defend as analysis below indicates. Black should be concerned about his own king instead of aiming his troops at the white king. I investigated two alternatives that try to defend the king in the center:

|r  k   r|
|pR b  qp|
|    pbp |
| N      |
|Q       |
|   B    |
|P    pPP|
| R   K  |
Analysis diagram 2.
  • 17 ... Bd7! (This move holds the game, I think, although it is not completely clear.) 18 Nxa7?! Ba3 (After 18 ... Nxa7 19 Rxb7 black seems to be in a desperate bind. For example, on 19 ... Nc8 follows 20 Bb5! and on 19 ... Bd6 white gets great prospects after 20 Bxa7.) 19 Nxc6+ bxc6 20 Re1 Qe7 21 Qg4 with a tense battle that continues. It seems that with 17 ... Bd7! John missed a good chance to fight.

  • 17 ... Be7? (This is a worse alternative. But white has to find an intriguing plan to expose the black king after all.) 18 Qd1!! (This switches the queen with devastating consequences to the queen side.) Bf6 19 Qa4 d4 20 Rxc6! (This is the point of the white attack. It is very interesting to see that black has absolutely no defense against the black onslaught along the c-file.)

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