The Sean Marsh Chess Column
No 17Dear Reader....
As promised, here’s three games from Norman Stephenson’s latest success.He shared first at the Middlesbrough Open congress (with Jim Simpson and FIDE Master Richard Webb) with 4/5. Here are his three wins, with his own notes. Enjoy!
First, a text-book demolition of the King’s Indian Defence. Norman’s handling of this formerly obscure system has scared off many life-long devotees of the K.I.D. At times, he makes the system look like a forced win for White!
Stephenson,N - Widrascu,P
Middlesbrough Congress (2), 07.2002
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Bd3 This is a line that Tom Wise played against my King's Indian over 40 years ago...and thus converted me into a QGD player! 5...e5 6.d5 c6 7.Nge2 cxd5 8.cxd5 a6 9.0–00–0 10.h3 Nbd7 11.Be3 Nh5 Here it comes....the knee-jerk King's Indian reaction...but it isn't always apposite. 12.Qd2 f5 13.exf5 gxf5 14.f4 This blockading move, in the best Nimzovich tradition, is a complete answer to Black's aggressive pawn advance. 14...exf4 14 ... e4 was another type of game (one which I tried without success against Tom all those years ago), but Black's Knight-on-the- rim would have been a liability for its owner 15.Nxf4Nxf4 16.Bxf4 Ne5 17.Be2 b5 Some coaches in their books have recently taken to implying that a player should 'talk to his pieces' before making any move...I have been doing the same for years - but I also include in my coaching 'talking to your squares'...the 'c6' square might have a comment or two about this particular move, which gains nothing in a strategic sense but abandons that square to its fate 18.a4
18...b4 19.Na2 White has his eye on three (!) weak squares - at d4, c6 and e6...not to mention the poor pawn on f5. 19...Rb8 20.Kh1 Qa5 21.Nc1 Qb6 22.Nb3 Rb7 23.a5 Qa7 24.Nd4 Ng6 What else? 25.Nc6 Qa8 The tragi-comic situation of Black's Queen suggests some sort of tactical finish could be 'in the air' 26.Bxd6 Rff7 26 ... Re8 was forced but after27 Bxb4 and 28 Bc3 it is difficult to see any compensation for Black's missing pawns. 27.Nd8 Ne5 28.Bxe5 Bxe5 29.d6 Rg7 30.Bf3 Bf6 31.Nxb7 Bxb7 32.Bxb7 Qxb733.Rxf5 Bd4 34.Raf1 1–0
Winning with Black is never easy against strong players,
but Norman didn’thave the option of playing for the draw; he’d drawn in round one and taken a half-point bye in the third round - so two wins on the final day were absolutely essential to have a chance of taking one of the top spots.
Gregory,P - Stephenson,N
Middlesbrough Open (4), 07.2002
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e3 0–0 6.Nf3 h6 7.Bh4 b6 My own recollection is that I play Lasker's 7 ... Ne4 more often here, but Paul was sure that I would go in for Tartakover's System...and had this line prepared for some years! 8.Bxf6 Bxf6 9.cxd5 exd5 10.Qb3 Be6 11.Be2 I had been expecting 11 Rd1 to discourage Black from getting active in the centre. 11...c612.0–0 Qe7 13.a3
Again, talking to your squares would leave 'b3' wondering why it had been left vulnerable. 13...Rd8 14.Rfd1 c5 15.Rac1 c4 16.Qb5 Qb7 17.Qa4Bf5 Threatening to catch White's Queen 18.Ne5 a6 19.Rd2 b5 20.Qd1 Nc621.f4 Na5 Now the 'b3' square isn't talking back to White - it's yelling at him! 22.Bf3 Be4 Snatching at the exchange with 22 ... Nb3 would leave Black losing at least the same in return after 23 Nxd5...White is rather 'winging it' around here. 23.Bxe4 dxe4 Black had seen that he could ge this Knight to the 'd3' square by now 24.Rf2 Nb3 25.Rb1 Nc5 26.Ng4 I had missed the strength of this shot... 26...Be7 ...but, fortunately, 27 Nxh6 gxh6 28 Qg4 Kh8 29 dxc5 Bxc5 is also OK for Black. 27.f5 Nd3 28.Rf1 Bg5 Paul said later that he had missed this move completely but I wasn't sure if 28 ...b4 was perhaps stronger. 29.Qe2 a5 30.Nf2 Maybe White could have grabbed his chance to play 30 b3 30...Nxf2 31.Qxf2 b4 32.Ne2 Qe7 33.axb4 axb4 34.Rfc1 Rdc8 35.Nf4 Bxf4 36.Qxf4 Ra2 37.f6 Time-trouble was looming equally for both players but Black's game is much the easier to play. 37...Qxf6 38.Qxe4 c3 39.Rf1 Qe6 40.Qxe6 fxe6 41.bxc3 Rxc3 If now 42 Rf2 I had noticed the strong reply 42 ... b3! 42.Rxb4 Rcc2 'The absolute seventh' usually wins but draws at worst. 43.Rb8+ Kh7 44.Re1 Rxg2+ 45.Kh1 Rxh2+ 46.Kg1 Rhg2+ 47.Kh1 Rge2 48.Rxe2 Rxe2 49.Re8 Rxe3 50.d5 This does not quite work. 50...e551.Kg2 e4 52.d6 Rd3 0–1
So, to the last round, and given that the top two players had agreed a draw very quickly, the players knew that a win would give a share of first place
Stephenson,N - Ross,C
Middlesbrough Open (5), 07.2002
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0–0 5.Bd3 d6 Unusual. 6.Nge2(Note: Why do all books and databases insist on this superfluous ‘g’? The ‘c’ Knight is pinned and cannot go to e2!) e5 7.0–0 Bxc3
There is a real danger now that White will reach a 'standard position' with an extra tempo through not needing to have played a3. 8.Nxc3 Thus, 8 bxc3 would be a Samisch plus an extra move. 8...c5
Again, talking to the abandoned 'd5' square might have caused Black to reconsider this move. 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.b3 Nc6 11.a3 Bg4 They saythat a bad plan is better than no plan at all...I have never been convinced of this. 12.Qc2 Bh5 13.Bb2 Bg6 14.Rad1 Qc8 15.Nd5 The consequence of Black's 8th move. 15...Nd7 16.f4 Bxd3 17.Qxd3 Re8 18.Qf5 Nf8 19.Qh5 f6 20.f5 20fe was tempting if only because I could not help feeling at the time that Chris had missed that 20 ... Nxe5 lost to 21 Bxe5 (21 ... Rxe5 22 Qxe5 fxe5 23 Ne7 or21 ... fxe5 Qf7 Kh8 23 Ne7) but I could not see anything convincing against 20fe fe 21 Qf7 Kh8 22 Rf3 Ne6! 20...b6 21.Rf3 It might not be readily apparent that this is a very risky manoeuvre....if White cannot set Black serious problems on the Kingside, the off-side nature of this Rook could easily cost White the game. 21...Qb7 22.Rg3 Qf7 Seeing that 23 Qxf7 Kxf7 24 Nc7Rad8 is OK. 23.Qf3 Red8 24.h4 Ne7 25.e4 Nc6 26.Qe2 Kh8 27.h5 h6 28.Bc1 Rd629.Rg6
It should be mentioned that only by winning (or losing) this could either of us catch the two leading players...who had agreed a four-move draw hours earlier! 29...Nxg6 Now, or on the next move, Black had to throw in the ...Nd4 manoeuvre....but Chris was playing quite quickly now and giving the impression that he had seen his way past White's attack. 30.hxg6 Qd7 31.Qh5 After ..Nd4 now (or earlier) White had planned a second Rook-jump, Rd3/Rg3 Rh3 before sacrificing on 'h6' but now there is no need. 31...Kg8 32.Bxh6 gxh6