Whilst in England for Mother’s Day last weekend, I spent a couple of hours browsing through my old scorebooks again. A lot of memories there, some of which I thought might be interesting to share. As always, playable versions of these games are available at http://cloudserver.chessbase.com/MTIyMTYx/replay.html.
We’ll start off with the very first tournament game I ever played, one of the strongest junior events of the time: the North London Junior Under 8’s.
Sadler,Matthew D – Sloman,H
North London Junior U-8, 17.04.1982
My first tournament game on 17–4–1982 (aged 7 years, 11 months and 2 days!) on the last board (Board 90)
1.c3 d5 2.d4 Nc6 3.Bf4
Amazing that the first opening you think up yourself without knowing any theory is the London System!
3…Bf5 4.h3 Nf6 5.Nf3 e6 6.e3 Bd6 7.Bxd6 cxd6 8.Bb5 0–0 9.0–0 Rc8 10.Ba4 e5 11.dxe5 dxe5 12.Nfd2
Both missing the win of a pawn with Bxc6
12…Bd3 13.Re1 Bxb1 14.Rxb1 e4 15.f3 exf3 16.Qxf3 Re8 17.Red1 h6 18.Nc4
I’m sure I was very proud of this move, exploiting the pin of the pawn on d5!
18…Re4 19.Bxc6 Rxc6 20.Nd2 Rce6
Until here, Black has played rather better than me, but this just gives away an exchange
21.Nxe4 Nxe4 22.c4 Ng5 23.Qxd5 Qxd5 24.cxd5 Rxe3 25.d6 Re8 26.d7 Rd8 27.Rbc1 Ne6 28.Rc8 Rf8 29.Rxf8+ Kxf8 30.d8Q+ Nxd8 31.Rxd8+ Ke7 32.Ra8 f5 33.Rxa7 g5 34.Rxb7+
and I’d won my first ever tournament game. The next game however was the first of many tough lessons in life. I lost in 9 moves to Quentin(?) Rist – one of the best English juniors at the time – on the Black side of a Sicilian. And not for the first time, bitter tears were shed!
The first adult tournament of my career came a few months later at the Charlton Minor. It started inauspiciously with a little tactical lesson…
Sadler,Matthew D – Ramsay
Charlton Minor, 16.07.1982
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bg5
For some reason, I’d graduated from the London System to the Veresov in the 3 months since my last tournament!
3…Bf5 4.Nf3 Ne4 5.Qd3 Ng3
Oops… and yet…. Bizarrely enough, the power of modern engines indicate that 5.Qd3 was in fact a very subtle trap!
6.Qb5+ Bd7 7.Qxd5 Nxh1 8.Ne5 e6 9.Qxb7 is winning for White. Aged 8, I was less creative!
However, I proceeded to beat my opponent rated BCF 107 (ELO 1500), picking up pawns on a regular basis until the moment he blundered his queen!
At some stage after this, I started working together with Steve Giddins and my opening repertory got a little stronger. With White I mostly played gambits such as the Morra (1.e4 c5 2.d4) and the Danish Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 dxc4 4.Bc4). With Black against 1.d4, Steve showed me the Von Hennig Schara Gambit which brought me this win.
Bakshi,Hasan – Sadler,Matthew D
BCF U–12, 19.03.1983
This game was played in the London U–12 and was my first published game! I was aged 8 of the game, and I was incredibly proud of the game, as it was played against the top seed, rated BCF 144 (about 1900 ELO)
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4 5.Qxd4 Nc6 6.Qd1 exd5 7.Qxd5 Bd7 8.Nf3 Nf6 9.Qd1 Bc5 10.Bg5 h6
10…Qb6 would recover the gambit pawn immediately with the double attack on b2 and f2.
11.Bh4 g5 12.Bg3 Bb4
I had a weakness for moving the bishop to b4 in this line. Not sure why…
13.Qc2 Nd5 14.e4 Qe7 15.Be2 Nxc3 16.bxc3 Qc5 17.Rc1 Ba5 18.0–0 0–0–0 19.Nd4 h5 20.Nb3 Qe7
It’s not too impressive so far! Simply
21.Nxa5 Nxa5 22.Rcd1 would secure a spot for the dark -squared bishop. White starts to panic however.
21.f3 h4 22.Bf2 Bc7 23.g3 hxg3 24.Bxg3 Bxg3 25.hxg3 Rh3
26.Kf2 Qe5 27.Rg1 f5 28.Rg2 Rf8 29.Ke1 Rxg3 30.Rxg3 Qxg3+ 31.Kd2 Rd8 32.Nd4 Be6 33.exf5 Qf4+ 34.Ke1 Bd5
I’m not exactly finishing accurately, but the moves are logical: Black is opening lines and inching his pieces closer to White’s exposed king
35.Qd2 Qg3+ 36.Kd1 Kb8
37.Nxc6+ bxc6 38.Qb2+
38.c4 Qg1+ 39.Kc2 Be4+ 40.Kc3 Qb6 41.Qb2 was equal according to Komodo
Once again however, there were tough lessons to be learnt in the very same tournament…
Sadler,Matthew D – White,Russell
BCF U–12, 20.03.1983
The following game from the same tournament is etched into my memory. After a promising start of 2/2, I lost 3 in a row including this game in which triumph and disaster succeeded each other at lightning speed!
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.c3 dxc3 5.Bc4 Be7 6.Qd5
Winning! Well not quite, Black has a most undeserved resource…
6…Nh6 7.Bxh6 Rf8
A blunder. 7…0–0 8.Bxg7 Kxg7 9.Nxc3 is known, with a more pleasant position for White
Played much too quickly. 8.Bxg7 wins immediately.
8…Nb4 9.Qd1 c2
I’d missed this. To my horror, I saw that I wasn’t winning a piece: I was simply remaining a pawn down! My position is still very good of course, but it put me off so much, I played poorly and lost a long game!
A slightly older player I found very difficult to deal with was the super-fast moving tactical talent Demetrios Agnos who later became a GM representing Greece (unsimplifying his name in the process to Dimitri Anagnostopoulos… glad I never had to spell that on a scoresheet!) Here are a couple of examples:
Demetrios,Agnos – Sadler,Matthew D
Lloyds Bank U–14, 24.09.1983
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4 5.Qa4+ Bd7 6.Qxd4 exd5 7.Qxd5 Nc6 8.Nf3 Nf6 9.Qd1 Bb4
That move again! 9…Bc5 is better if you’re planning to castle queenside!
10.e3 Qe7 11.Be2 0–0–0 12.0–0 g5 13.Nd4
I remember thinking that my kingside attack looked very slow here!
13…Rdg8 14.a3 Bxc3 15.bxc3 h5 16.Qb3 Nxd4 17.cxd4 g4 18.Bb2 h4 19.d5 Rh7 20.Qc3+
Oops. Demetrios was always on the lookout for these sorts of incidental tactics.
20…Kb8 21.Qxf6 Qxf6 22.Bxf6 Ka8 23.Rab1 and I lost quickly
The following game a few years later was also impressive!
Sadler,Matthew D – Demetrios,Agnos
City Quick Play, 13.12.1987
Both players had 4/4 so this a crucial game for the top spot. I lost twice within a couple of months in this situation against Demetrios!
Demetrios had confused me by playing a Modern Benoni while leaving his king in the centre! I’d played quite well until here, but under approaching time pressure (Demetrios always played very fast) things started to go wrong…
22.Bxc8 Rxc8 23.Rf5 was obvious and good 23…Be5 24.Rh5 deals nicely with Black’s kingside pressure
22…Be5 23.g3 Bxg3 24.hxg3 Qxg3+ 25.Bg2 Nh4
26.Rf2 Bg4 27.Qd2
27.Bf4 was much better
27…Nf3+ 28.Rxf3 Bxf3 29.Bf4 Qg4 30.Rf1 Rg8 31.Rf2 Kd7 32.Kf1 Bxg2+ 33.Rxg2 Qf3+ 34.Rf2 Qh1+ 35.Ke2 b4 36.Na4
36.Qd1 screams the engine with sneaky counterplay via a4 if Black doesn’t exchange queens!
36…Qxe4+ and I lost in the time scramble
I can still remember my bitter disappointment! He was too fast, too good!
Late in my twelfth year, I started studying opening theory seriously and one of my favourite areas of study was the 4 Pawns Attack (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4) and in particular the (over)sharp continuation 5…0-0 6.Nf3 c5 7.d5 e6 8.Be2 exd5 9.e5. My pride and joy – I still have a mental picture of the sheets of paper I filled with my analysis! – was the line 9…Ne4 10.cxd5 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Nd7 and now 12.0-0 dxe5 13.f5! I played 2 games with it and won both! Here’s the nicest one:
Sadler,Matthew D – Sands,David
Upminster Open, 25.05.1987
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4 0–0 6.Nf3 c5 7.d5 e6 8.Be2 exd5 9.e5 Ne4 10.cxd5 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Nd7 12.0–0 dxe5 13.f5
24 games after 12…dxe5, but 13.f5 is still a novelty in Megabase! You saw it here first!
13…gxf5 14.Bg5 was the idea… Mmm…
14…gxf5 15.Rxf5 Nf6 was the move that annoyed me greatly at first when analysing at home, but 16.Re5 was my huge discovery. Komodo gives me just a slight disadvantage!
15.fxg6 hxg6 16.Bf4 Nf6 17.d6
All preparation which isn’t bad for a 12–year old working at home on his own without an engine!
17…Bd7 18.Qb3 Bd4+
18…Bxa1 19.Rxa1 Qb6 was best, but still a little fraught after 20.Qg3
19.Kh1 Bc6 20.Rad1 Qa5
A blunder. 20…Qd7 was most sensible stopping the queen coming to h3 though White has serious play now
21.Qh3 Qc3 22.Qh6
Rounding off this period just up to my 13th year, the following game also left a deep impression on me. I felt I’d played in a nice, controlled manner against an experienced 2300 opponent (I was still rated about 2100 at the time) and I was very happy with the endgame twist!
Sadler,Matthew D – Benjamin,John C
Peterborough Software Club Champ, 03.05.1987
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 Nbd7 4.e4 e5 5.d5 a5 6.Nf3 g6 7.Be2 Bg7 8.0–0 0–0 9.Be3 Ne8 10.Ne1 f5 11.exf5 gxf5 12.f4 Qe7 13.Nd3 exf4 14.Bxf4 Nb6 15.Nf2 Be5 16.Qd2 Ng7 17.Rae1 Bd7 18.Bd3 Rae8 19.c5 Bxf4 20.Qxf4 Qxe1 21.Rxe1 Rxe1+ 22.Bf1 Nc8 23.c6 bxc6 24.dxc6 Be8 25.Qd2 Re7 26.Bc4+ Bf7 27.Nd5 Bxd5 28.Bxd5+ Kh8 29.Nd3 Nb6 30.Nf4 Nxd5 31.Nxd5 Ref7 32.Nf4
Played to keep the Black knight on g7 and pawn on f5 under wraps, but probably too cautious. 32.Qxa5 was better.
32…a4 33.Qa5 Re7 34.g3 Rb8 35.Nd3 Rf8 36.Qxa4 Ne6 37.Qc4 f4 38.gxf4 d5 39.Qxd5 Rg7+ 40.Kf2 Nxf4 41.Nxf4 Rxf4+ 42.Ke3 Rf8 43.Qe5 Rd8 44.a4
I still remember the thrill I got once I cottoned on to the idea I played in the game!
44…Kg8 45.Qe6+ Rf7 46.a5 Rd6
The engines don’t spot this beforehand, but move quickly to +4 once it’s played.
The pawns are unstoppable!
48…Ra7 49.b5 Kf7 50.b6 Rxa5 51.b7 Rb5 52.c7 Rxb7 53.c8Q Re7+ 54.Kf4 Kg7 55.Qg4+ Kf8