Memories Of Mike: The Lion
It's that time of the year again, when we look back at my dear departed friend, Mike Closs.
Sean Marsh vs. Mike Closs
Cleveland County Championship, Round 6
Surprise! This was the first time I'd played 1 e4 against Mike since our very first game, back in 1982, when we played for our respective school teams - Warsett and Westfields.
1 ...d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nbd7
Counter-surprise! I had been expecting 3 ...g6 - the Pirc Defence. 3 ...Nbd7 is one of the branches of The Lion. I had spent my time preparing the other variation for Black, starting with 3 ...e5. I knew little about the main lines after 3 ...Nbd7 and Mike admitted he was having trouble remembering them too.
4. f4 e5 5. Nf3 exd4 6. Qxd4
6 ...c6 is the best move here.
7. e5! dxe5 8. fxe5 Bc5 9. Qh4
White is doing well here. 9 Qa4 may be even better, because it would avoid a trade of queens.
9 ...Qe7 10. Bf4 Ng4!?
10 ...Bb4 was a safer alternative, winning some central squares for the Knight on f6, but Mish always preferred to drum up tactical chances rather than play positionally.
After 11 Qxg4, Nxe5 lights the tactical touchpaper and gives Black the better game. We were both using up lots of time on the clock already and the game was very tense.
11 ...Bxe7 12. Nd5?!
An inaccuracy. White has the advantage and 12 h3 Nh6 13 0-0-0 would have preserved more of it. I probably missed that Black would gain an important tempo with a subsequent ...c6.
12 ...Bd8 13. h3 c6! 14. Nc3 Nh6 15. O-O-O Nc5 16. g4 Ba5 17. Be3 Bb6 18. Kb1 O-O 19. Bc4
19 ... Na4! 20. Nxa4 Bxe3 21. Rhe1 Bf4 22. Nc5 b5 23. Bb3
23 Bd3! is also good. It wouldn't be a target for Black's queenside pawns and it would have the option of going to e4 to apply strong pressure along the h1-a8 diagonal. At the time I thought the pressure on f7 would be more important, but when it came to the crunch I chose the wrong path.
23 ...Bg3 24. Rf1 a5 25. a3 Re8 26. Ng5 Ra7
27. Nxf7 Nxf7 28. Ne4 Be6! Equality at last! The most likely continuation here is 28 Bxe6 Rxe6 29 Nxg3 Rxe5, so we agreed to a draw at this point. 1/2-1/2
Memories of the Mighty Mish Part 1
Memories of Mike Part 2
One Year On
Memories of Mike: 1 e4 c5
More Memories of Mike
Memorial Tournament Reports
1st Mike Closs Memorial Tournament
2nd Mike Closs Memorial Tournament
3rd Mike Closs Memorial Tournament
4th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament
The 5th Memorial Tournament will take place later this year.