The 4NCL continued in Northampton on 14th-15th January 2017. Fortified by 2 lovely meals courtesy of our generous captain Roger Emerson, I managed to produce a nice attacking finish on the Sunday morning. Presumably I’d need 4 great meals to play well both days! The attack had some unusual points and my investigations prompted the engine to display some of its magic too! The game is available in playable form at http://cloudserver.chessbase.com/MTIyMTYx/replay.html
Sadler,Matthew D – Tan,Justin
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0–0 5.Bd3 c5 6.Nf3 d5 7.0–0 cxd4 8.exd4 dxc4 9.Bxc4 b6 10.Re1 Bb7 11.Bd3 Nbd7 12.a3 Bxc3 13.bxc3 Qc7 14.c4 Rfe8 15.Ne5 Nxe5 16.Rxe5 Qc6 17.Qf1 Nd7 18.Re3 Qd6 19.Bb2 Nf8 20.Rae1 Red8 21.Qe2 Qf4
I spent about 20 minutes on my move. Partly calculating variations and partly wondering whether I should play practically instead. Black’s last move signals his intention to break up White’s strong centre and bishop pair by sacrificing the exchange on d4. I spotted quickly that the desirable 22.Rg3 would set an evil trap by meeting 22…Rxd4 with 23.Qe3 winning on the spot.
I was seriously tempted to break off the calculation of variations and keep the (time) pressure on Black by playing 22.Rg3 quickly.
Which would have been the best choice? There’s probably no correct answer. During the game I cut through the decision by reminding myself of the truth that to be a strong player, you need to be able to both take practical decisions and to calculate. The only way you prove that you can, is to do during a game. There was an opportunity to calculate here, so why not take it?
22.Rg3 Ng6 is necessary (22…Rxd4 23.Qe3 was what I suspected he had missed!) 23.Rg4 Qh6 We looked at this together after the game and it wasn’t easy to exploit the queen’s crazy position.
22…exd5 23.Be5 Qh6
23…Qh4 24.Rh3 Qe7 25.Bxh7+ Nxh7 26.Qh5
24…Qc6 was played in the game. Let’s take a look at the main alternative first:
a) 25…h6 26.Rg3;
b) 25...dxc4 26.Bxh7+ Nxh7 27.Qxh7+;
c) 25…g6 26.Qh6 f6 27.Bxg6
c1) 27…Nxg6 28.Qxh7+ Kf8 29.Qxg6;
c2) 27…fxe5 28.Bxh7+ Kf7 (28…Kh8 29.Bg6+) 29.Rf3+ Ke7 30.Qg7+ was my win. There are even better!;
c3) 27…hxg6 28.Bc3 was my win
And now the toughest defence!
d1) 26.Qg4 Bc8
d2) 26.Qd1 Qc6
forced now as …Qe6 can be met by Bxg7
While analysing on my pocket set on the train, I got intrigued by this possibility. I was surprised how dangerous it was, and that was even before the engine pointed out an extra resource…
d21) 27…Ng6 28.Qh5 h6 29.Bxg7 dxc4 30.Be4 Qxe4 (30…Nf4 31.Bxc6 Nxh5 32.Bxb7) 31.Rxe4 Bxe4 32.Bxh6 wins;
d22) 27…f6 28.Rh6
My favourite move! 28.Rg3 g6 29.cxd5 Rxd5 30.Bb2 is Komodo’s favourite line with a dangerous initiative for the pawn
28…Kh8 29.Rxh7+ Nxh7 30.Qh5
28…dxc4 29.Bxc4+ Kh8 30.Rxf6
I thought this was just winning, but Komodo has other ideas. 29.Rxf6 Rxe5 (29…Qxf6 30.Bxf6 Rxe1+ 31.Bf1 Ng6 32.Bc3 is a bit better for White according to Komodo) 30.Rxf8+ Rxf8 31.Rxe5 Black looks like he’ll manage to equalise somewhere
29…g6 30.Bxg6 hxg6 31.Rxg6+ Nxg6 32.Qxg6+ Kf8 33.Qh6+
33.Bd6+ Qxd6 34.Qh6+ is just a draw by repetition
33…Ke7 34.Qg7+ Kd8 35.Bxf6+ Kc8 36.Rxe8+ Qxe8 37.Be5 Qd8 38.Qg4+ Qd7 39.Qg8+ Qd8 40.Qg4+ is another draw according to Komodo
28.Qf4 Analysing in the train, I thought that this move was impossible but…
b31) 28…dxc4 29.Rf3
I’d missed this very strong move (29.Be4 Qxe4)
29…Qe6 30.Bxc4 Bd5 31.Qh6
wins for White. Beautiful!
b32) 28…Rd7 29.cxd5
29.Qh6 f6 is fine for Black. In comparison to the game, Black already has …Rd7 to defend the second rank
Very calm. Thanks to the rook’s presence on d7, Black no longer has …Nd7 while the Black queen has been deflected from c6: Qf6 is coming!
30…Re8 31.Qf6 Rxe5 32.Rxe5 is much better for White
b33) 28…Nd7 29.Qh6
b34) 28…Re8 29.cxd5 Qxd5 30.Bf1
Very calm again. I thought that with …Nd7 coming, the bishop on e5 was too vulnerable to give White time for this, but Komodo finds another amazing idea
I thought that Black was on top but…
31.Rxh7 Nxe5 32.Qh6
Wow! Didn’t realise this was possible!
32…Nf3+ 33.gxf3 Qd4 34.Rd1
was the nice variation pointed out by reader Carsten Hansen with the point that 34…Qf6 loses to 35.Rd6 Re6 36.Rxe6 fxe6 37.Rxb7.
31.Rf3 Qd7 32.Rfe3 Rae8 33.Bf6 Bc6 34.Qh6 Rxf6 35.Rxe8 Qxe8 36.Rxe8 Bxe8
is Komodo’s #1 line when White is better
d3) 26.Qxh6 is the most practical way to get a substantial advantage. Black has to be a machine to emerge close to alive!
26…gxh6 27.Rg3+ Ng6 28.f4
This looked pretty ropey for Black, but the engine amazed me as usual with his defensive tight-rope walking skills!
c1) 28…Kf8 29.Bc3 dxc4 30.Bxc4 Rac8 31.Bb3 Bd5 32.f5 Bxb3 33.fxg6 Bc2
I’d missed this of course!
34.gxh7 Bxh7 35.Bb4+
is much better for White;
c2) 28…f5 29.Bxf5 Kf7 30.Bxg6+ hxg6 31.f5
appealed to me a lot
31…dxc4 32.Rxg6 Bd5 33.Rxh6 Re8 34.g4
c3) 28…dxc4 29.Bxc4 Rac8 30.Bb3
30.Bd3 Kf8 31.Bf6 Rd6 32.Rxg6 looked strong to me too, but I’d reckoned without 32…hxg6 33.Be7+ Kg8 34.Bxd6 Rd8 winning back one of the bishops
31.f5 Bxb3 32.fxg6 Rd1 33.Rxd1 Bxd1 34.gxh7+ Kxh7 35.Rg7+ Kh8 36.Rxf7+ Kg8 37.Rg7+ Kf8 38.Rxa7 Rc6
is Komodo’s certainly not over yet line!
Back to the game now with 24…Qc6
This was very welcome! It gave me an opportunity to demonstrate the nicest part of my calculation. I’d seen virtually to the end. 25…Qh6 is the same as 24…Qe6 25.Qh5 Qh6.
26.Qh6 f6 27.Bxg6
This was the move that cost me a few minutes. Mentally, I just needed to take a step back to find the win.
28.Bf4 is even cleaner. I don’t need to cover e1 against 24…Qc6! 28…Kf7 29.Qh8 g5 30.Rh7+ Nxh7 31.Qxh7+ Kf8 32.Re7
28…Kf7 29.Qh8 dxc4 30.Rh7+ Nxh7 31.Qxh7+ Kf8 32.Bb4+ Rd6 33.f3 Qd5 34.Re7 was my win: pleased I saw correctly there were no checks
27…Nxg6 28.Qxh7+ Kf8 29.Qxg6
27…fxe5 28.Bxh7+ Kf7 29.Rf3+
28.cxd5 Qxd5 29.Bxh7+
29…Nxh7 30.Rg3+ Kf7 (30…Kh8 31.Bxf6+) 31.Qxh7+
32.Bb8+ Kd7 33.Qxf8 was even better according to Komodo. I saw it (it was actually the line I’d chosen when calculating 22.d5) but once I got to the position, I preferred to win the queen easily in a forced manner
32…Kd7 33.Rg7+ Rxg7 34.Qxg7+ Kc6 35.Qc7+ Kb5 36.Re5