Thursday, November 15, 2007

Seven Brutalities 4

Sitting down to the board to begin play, you never know when you are going to be involved in a so-called miniature game (of 25 moves or less). If your opponent is relatively weak there could be some advance clue, but when you're up against a strong player there's no way of foreseeing the result, much less the number of moves you will play. It's just a roll of the dice.

Reeve J - Scoones D
Labour Day Open 1975
Spanish Game C68
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0-0 Bd6 6.d4 exd4 7.Qxd4 f6 8.Nbd2 Be6 9.Nb3 b6 10.Be3 Ne7 11.Qd2 c5 12.Rad1 Ng6 13.Qe2 Qe7 14.c4 0-0 15.Nfd2 (diagram) 15...f5 16.exf5 Bxf5 17.Rfe1 Rae8 18.Nb1 Qh4 19.g3 Qh3 20.Qf1 Qh5 21.Nc3 Ne5 0-1

Jeff Reeve is a strong master who has won many impressive games on the White side of the Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation. Before our last-round matchup in the 1975 Labour Day Open in Vancouver I was fiddling with a pocket set, trying to find something that would keep me in the game for awhile. Of course it was always going to be a sideline, and on this occasion my eye fell on the rare move 5...Bd6. I was sure my opponent would continue with 6.d4, which I intended to meet with 6...exd4 (7...f6 returns to one of the main lines) 7.Qxd4 f6.

On d6 the bishop is often vulnerable to exchange with Nd2-c4. But in looking at the position after 8.Nbd2 it occurred to me that Black could play the useful developing move 8...Be6. If White carries on with 9.Nc4 then Black wins a pawn with a minor tactic: 9...Bxh2+! followed by 10...Qxd4 and 11...Bxc4.

White sidestepped this variation with 8.Nb3 but his knight was left in an offside position. After 13...0-0 Black had completed his development and was very comfortable.

After this White began to drift, which can be seen from the sequence 14.c4?! 0-0 15.Nfd2?!, which merely decentralises a key defender. Black struck immediately with 15...f5!, guaranteeing himself a clear advantage after 16.exf5 Bxf5.

In the sequel the key strategic factor is Black's unopposed light-squared bishop. After 18.Nb1? Qh4 19.g3, fatal weaknesses had appeared in White's kingside. The centralising move 21...Ne5 leads forcefully to the win of at least the exchange. White decided he had seen enough and called it a day.

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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.