Thursday, 1 February 2007

Archive: UNCUT! 56

The Sean Marsh
Chess Column

*Column 56*
**February 2007* *

Dear Readers,

I was delighted to be invited to play in the Middlesbrough Christmas Quickplay event by organizer Ernie Lazenby. The format was six rounds of 10- minute chess. It’s not easy to adjust to a new time limit. Here one had to play a touch more sensibly than in 5-minute games whole still trying to play at a reasonably speedy pace.

Here are the basic details of what went on, supplied by Ernie himself…

‘6 Rounds played 10 minutes each on the clock.

1st place: Mike Closs 5½/6 (Drew with Sean) Mike was on very top form.

2nd place: Sean Marsh 5/6 (drew with Ernie & Mike) The draw with Ernie in the last round cost him 1st = (In fact I had been completely outplayed and was happy to scramble a draw!)

3rd place: Nathan Huntley 4½/6 (highest placed Middlesbrough player) (lost to Sean drew with David Smith)

4th= Ernie Lazenby, Chris Dale 4/6

6th= Tony Kiddle 3½/6 David Smith Ian Elcoate

9th= John Boyers 3/6 Richard Puttman Martin Walmsley

12th=- Ray Pallister 2½/6

13th= Ged Murphy 2/6 Hugo Polluk Peter McNally

16th = Bob Rowe 1/6 Bill Pritchard Geoff Garnett (Only played 2 rounds)

Winner of chess Quiz: Nathan Huntley with 5 /5 (who swotted up then?) (The clincher for Nathan was knowing or – guessing! Kramnik’s age, which the rest of us got wrong.)

Winner of ‘guess the players’ competition: John Boyers (Several got it right but John was drawn from the hat.)

Thanks to Mike Closs for taking his laptop and the two bishop mate competition (I failed miserably!) (Ian Elcoate won the book prize, kindly donated by Mike.) I think we will put this event on again next year because it was good fun and everyone entered into the right spirit.
Thanks to everyone who turned up to support a great fun evening.’

…And thank you too, Ernie, for a very memorable evening! I can’t figure out how you managed to organise such an event and play so well at the same time. There were lots of edible and drinkable prizes and most players ended up with something, even if it was just one or two of Santa’s special chocolate coins.

'The Mighty Mike Closs.Would you buy a second-handDanish Gambit from this man?'

The tournament in full swing

'Famous Game' competition.Well, go on then...who played this game?

The man himself - top organiser and player Ernie Lazenby

Nathan tries his luck with Two Bishops v King

The champ receives his prize from county champion David Smith

But wait...who was this, who paid his entry fee in chocolate gold coins and was unusually festive?

...perhaps we'll never know...!

Speaking of Mike Closs, I thought it would be a good idea to bring some of his forum annotations to a wider audience. Notes by players on their own games are particularly valuable and can be extremely instructive. Try it for yourself, dear readers – get annotating!

’I thought I would annotate my SME semi-final match games with David Wise and hope you will enjoy them. My only previous encounter in a match play environment was against Norman Stephenson in a play off for the County Championship over four games. I unfortunately lost that match 2½ : 1½ and sadly (for me anyway) that was my losing score in this event as well. David and Norman are both excellent players as you know and I, as with most people, have terrible records against them. I think that I have managed only two wins against Norman and three against David over the past 20 years. I can’t remember the exact amount of losses as I ran out of fingers !! I have always found it difficult to prepare against David as he never seems to consistently play the same opening variations against me.

This time I felt confident with White as I had a few tricks planned against his Sicilian and the Lopez. As usual neither came to fruition, especially in the final game when he ventured Alekhine’s Defence against me.

Game 1 – Elmwood Chess Club – 26/10/06

I decided that I would give myself a chance with black in this event and try the Sicilian defence. I had been crushed far too many times with Pirc/Modern setups against strong players and I thought it would be good to try out some new ideas that I had recently come across. Most of them were in the open variations and I was happy when David played Nf3 on move two.

Typically on move four I had to put my thinking head on as we were going on the non-stop roller coaster called the Morra Gambit (which was Tom Wise’s favourite line against the Sicilian if I am not mistaken). Anyway here’s the game.

David Wise – Mike Closs

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.c3 Here I had to decide whether to walk into some kind of preparation or play the boring 4 …d3. I had to consider whether he was aware that I only really knew one line in the main line and did he have something prepared. I decided in the end to take the pawn based on the assumption that after 4 …d3 then he would take and build up a Maroczy Bind giving him the type of position that is difficult to break down. 4…dxc3 5. Nxc3 Nc6 6.Bc4 Qc7 7. Qe2 Nf6
White now has to decide what to do. The main line is 8 0-0 but there are alternatives. The best one is 8. e5 which leads to sharp play where an unprepared player with the black pieces could easily become unstuck against a prepared opponent.

The ideas behind e5 are to misplace blacks knight on f6 and to create a weakness on d6. The pawn on e5 can then be bolstered by Bf4 leaving white to aim his rooks down the c and d files. The knight on c3 eyes up d6 after winning a tempo with Nb5. Black has various ways of sniping at the pawn on e5 and best not forget that he is a pawn up but I feel, at our level of play, that white has more than enough compensation. Play may go 8…Ng4 9.Bf4 and now a choice : 9…d5 10.exd6 Bxd6 11. Nb5 ! Bb4+ 12. Bd2 Qe7 (if 12…Qa5 then 13.Nd6 stirs things up and keeps black King in the centre.) The resulting position should give even chances due to white’s development. 9…f6 is the main branch, trying to prove that Bf4 was incorrect. This though allows white to play a typical move which fits in with the theme of the Morra namely 10.Nd5 ! Would you take the piece ?

Have you analysed this position to know that black can navigate the next few critical move ? I doubt if I would take up the offer as I would feel uncomfortable about the pin on the e file and the monster on f6. After 10…exd5 11.exf6+ Nce5 12.Nxe5 Nxe5 13.Qh5+ g6 14.f7+! then I prefer White but black still has some chances with the bishop pair. Black would have to make do with turning down the immediate offer with 10…Qa5+ 11.Bd2 Qd8 (Got to keep control of c7) 12.exf6 Nxf6 remaining the pawn up but with white having decent compensation again with the two bishops. With me not knowing any of the above at the time of the game then I am very pleased that the next move played was …

8. 0-0 Ng4!

The so-called Siberian Trap variation. It is well known but the theme is a nice one to remember. But it has worked at top level against an unsuspecting opponent. 9.h3? Nd4! 10.hxg4 Nxe2 + 11. Bxe2 a6 12. Rd1 b5 and Black won soon in the game Alekseev - Schipkov, Russia Burevestnik Championship, Krasnodar 1983. 9. g3 Nce5 (TN)
Nothing that sets the world alight but I am just aiming to swap pieces a.s.a.p. when hopefully my extra pawn will come to fruition. 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Bb3 a6 I decided to play this move to allow me a subsequent b5 with the idea of a following Bb7. It also has the advantage of stopping his knight harassing my Queen by Nb5. With hindsight I should b3 wanting to get my King to safety a.s.a.p.

Therefore I should develop a piece, my bishop to c5 which also stops the immediate f4. 12. Be3 Bringing another piece into the fray and aiming for the weak square on b6. Now I started worrying about Na4. I felt that my next move was forced. 12…b5 13.Rac1 Qb8 I was now feeling very uncomfortable as f4 followed sometime by f5 is coming. White has more than enough compensation for the pawn. 14. f4 Nc6 15.f5 Maybe a bit too soon? 15.e5 was interesting as it gives white’s knight the e4 square from where it will choose where to pounce in the coming moves.

15…Ne5 I was very pleased with this move. The knight cannot be kicked from this post by a pawn now (a theme which arises in a lot of Sicilian games) and I would be very happy to trade it for whites dark squared bishop. It also defends certain vulnerable squares, namely f7. 16. Bf4 Be7 Finally I am one move away from castling. I was feeling that I had got over the worst of it and looking forward to fully activating my pieces. I didn’t think that white had anything positive to stop me from achieving my goal. This assessment was based on a feel for the position and not via concrete variations. 17. Nd5 !

When a move like this is played against you by one of the best players in the county then immediately you feel deflated. I assumed that there would be ‘something’ there that would crush me. The piece has to be taken. There are too many threats beginning with fxe6 and Qh5 aiming for f7 and e5 to contemplate. 17…exd5 18. Rxc8+ Qxc8 19. Bxe5

Now I was feeling very happy with myself. An exchange and a pawn up and with myself to move. I also had approximately 25 minutes left to David’s ten. Then after a few minutes’ analysis it dawned on me that things weren’t quite as rosy as I had first envisaged. White threatens two pawns and may have nasty threats along the e file. If my g pawn drops then where does my King go? If 19 …Bf6 then 20 Bd6 is very strong. I eventually decided that Qc5+ followed by Bf6 would give me the best chances but I had used more than 15 minutes to reach this conclusion. I still was very unsure about the resulting position and so I played 19…Qc5+

and offered a draw which was immediately accepted. I believed that the resulting exchange on f6 would give me sufficient cover in the ensuing white attack. David, Norman, Sean and myself analysed the final position and we found that Black has to be very careful to stave off the White attack. Amazing considering the material situation. I would prefer to have the white pieces as both sides still had 16 moves to make in under 10 minutes. At least I would have White in game 2.
To be continued…’

Sean Marsh
1st February 2007

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