Thursday, February 15, 2007


In the 1990s FM Gary Basanta was one of the dominant players in British Columbia chess, winning the Provincial title five times outright. The outcome of the 1992 championship was settled in a dramatic encounter with eventual runner-up Mayo Fuentebella, which I am today presenting in full. The Black pieces against a dangerous rival, a must-win situation... it doesn't get more interesting than this!

M. Fuentebella – G. Basanta
British Columbia Championship
New Westminster 1992
English Opening A28

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.e4 Bc5 5.h3
It is better to "prevent" ...Ng4 with the forcing manoeuvre 5.Nxe5 Nxe5 6.d4 Bb4 7.dxe5 Nxe4 8.Qd4, leading to a position that is somewhat better for White. With his next move Black secures his position on the queenside and in the centre and has no further opening difficulties.
5...a5 6.d3 h6 7.Be2 d6 8.0-0 0-0 9.Be3 Bxe3
Black might consider 9...Re8 since 10.Bxc5 dxc5 is of no real help to White.
10.fxe3 Ne7 11.d4 Ng6 12.Qd2 Re8 13.Bd3 c6 14.Bc2 Bd7 15.a4
Preventing a future ...b5, although it is not clear that this was anything to worry about. The drawback is of course the weakening of the square b4.
15...Qc7 16.Rac1 Rad8 17.Rf2 Bc8 18.Bb1 Qb8 19.Ne1 Nf8!
Black's manoeuvres are straight out of Aron Nimzowitsch's classic book My System.
20.Bd3 Ne6 (first diagram)
White should try to keep his central pawn position intact with 21.Nf3. The advance of the d-pawn signals the end of White's queenside ambitions and the beginning of a new phase in the struggle.
21...Nc5 22.Bc2 Qc7 23.b3 Rf8
A prophylactic move anticipating the doubling of White's rooks on the f-file.
24.Nf3 Nh7 25.Rcf1 Qb6 26.Rb1 g6 27.Ne1 Ng5 28.h4?!
Another pawn advance and another weakening of White's position. Better was 28.Nf3 Nxf3+ 29.Rxf3 when Black still has the edge but it is not as easy for him to make progress.
28...Nh7 29.Nd3 Na6!? 30.Rbf1
Perhaps White should try to stir up some queenside action with 30.Na2!?
30...Qc7 31.Rf3 Qe7 32.Qf2?!
The best defence was 32.g3 Bh3 33.Rb1 g5 34.Qh2 Bg4 35.Rf2.
32...Bg4 33.Rg3 Qxh4 (second diagram)
Black has won the ill-fated h-pawn and now has a large advantage. White's only compensation is pressure down the f-file, but that will not be enough to stop his opponent making progress.
34.Bd1 h5 35.Bf3 Kh8
Or 35...Ng5 36.Bxg4 hxg4 37.Qf6 Nb4! ( 37...Qxg3? 38.Qxg5+-) 38.Nxb4 axb4 39.Ne2 Qh5 and White has nothing better than 40.Nf4 exf4 41.Rxf4 Nh7 42.Qe7 Qe5 43.Qxe5 dxe5 44.Rfxg4 Nf6 45.Rh4 Kg7 and Black wins.
36.Bxg4 hxg4 37.Ne2
If 37.Rf3 then 37...Qg5.
37...Nb4 38.Nxb4 axb4 39.dxc6 bxc6 40.Qe1 c5 41.Kf2 Qf6+ 42.Kg1 Qg5 43.Nc1 Nf6 44.Rxf6 Qxf6
White has been forced to give up the exchange, leaving Black with only a technical task.
45.Rxg4 Kg7 46.Nd3 Rh8 47.Nf2 Rh4 48.Rg3 Kf8 49.Qd1 Qe6 50.Qf3 Ke7 51.Qd1 Rdh8 52.Qd3 Kd7 53.Kf1 Kc7 54.Ke2 Rf8 55.Rf3 f5 56.Qd1 Kb6 57.Qb1
If 57.a5+ Kxa5 58.Qa1+ Kb6 59.Qa4 Qe8.
57...Ka5 58.Qd1 Rf7 59.Qd2 Rd7 60.Qd3 Rf7 61.Qd2 Rd7 62.Qd1 f4 63.g3 fxg3 64.Rxg3 Rg7 65.Qg1 Rh5 66.Rf3 g5 67.Rf8 Rg8 68.Rf5 Rh4 69.Rxg5 Rhh8 70.Rg7 Kb6
Also possible was 70...Qf7 71.Rg3 Rxg3 72.Qxg3 Rf8 73.Qg2 Qh5+ 74.Kd2 Qf3 75.Qxf3 Rxf3 76.Ng4 Kb6 77.Nh6 Rf2+ 78.Kc1 Kc7 79.Ng4 Rf1+ 80.Kd2 Rb1 81.Kc2 Rg1 82.Nh6 Rg2+ 83.Kb1 Rg6 84.Nf5 Rg4 and wins.
71.a5+ Ka6 72.Qg5 Rxg7 73.Qxg7 Rc8 74.Nd3 (third diagram)
Black can win quickly with 74...Rg8!; for example, 75.Qh7 Qg4+ 76.Kd2 Qg2+ 77.Kd1 Qf3+ 78.Kc2 Rg2+.
75.Qh6 Qc6 76.Qg6 Kxa5 77.Nb2 Ka6 78.Na4 Rh8 79.Qg7 Rh4 80.Qg6 Rh2+ 81.Kd3 Ra2 82.Qg4 Ra3 83.Qd1
More stubborn is 83.Kc2 but Black wins after 83...Rxa4 84.bxa4 Qxa4+ 85.Kb2 Qa3+ 86.Kb1 Qd3+ 87.Ka1 Ka5 ( 87...Qxc4? 88.Qc8+ Ka5 89.Qd8+ Kb5 90.Qd7+ Ka5 91.Qc7+ Ka4 92.Qa7+ Kb3 93.Qa2+ Kc3 94.Qc2+ Kxc2 stalemate!) 88.Qg2 b3 89.Kb2 Kb4 90.Qf2 Qc3+ 91.Kb1 Qxc4 (definitely not 91...Kxc4? 92.Qf7+ Kd3 93.Qf1+ Kxe3 94.Qf2+ Kxe4 95.Qf4+ Kd5 96.Qe4+ Ke6 97.Qg6+ and draws by repetition) 92.Qd2+ Qc3 93.Qe2 c4 etc.
White resigned
Footnote: I spoke to Gary Basanta last summer and encouraged him to make a return to chess, which he has largely abandoned in favour of poker. He gave a positive reply but did not commit himself to a timeline...

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Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada
National master (Canada) since 1984. B.C. Champion 1977 and 1984. Runner-up 1991 and 2002. B.C. Open Champion 1972 and 1982. B.C. U/14 Champion 1964-65-66. Mikhail Botvinnik once wrote that publishing your analytical work forces you to be accurate because it exposes you to criticism. Hence this blog.