Saturday, 28 March 2020

Project 30: What Did I Miss? (2)

David Baillie - Sean Marsh
Yesterday I gave this position. White looks to be in trouble, but Dave found the superb move 34 Rf5!

Black to play
I had missed this completely. The rook attacks the queen and the knight. If the queen captures the rook it is no longer defending the rook on e8 and White would checkmate the black king with 35 Qxe8.

It is fortunate that I was able to check White's king with my queen, which solved one of the problems. 35 ...Qa1+ If White were to now hide the king away with 36 Kh2 then I could play 36 ...Nhf6, keeping the advantage, but Dave played 36 Rf1, attacking my queen again. The queen has to defend the rook on e8 again, to prevent checkmate, which meant I was forced to play 36 ...Qe5, after which the game was drawn by repetition of position (37 Rf5! Qa1+ 38 Rf1 etc). A brilliant tactical 'save' from Dave.

Incidentally, this was our first draw in a full-length game since we shared the point in our very first encounter, back in 1984 (although we did draw a blitz game in the 8th Mike Closs Memorial event).

We started a replay almost immediately, this time with 30 minutes on each clock. It was another uncompromising encounter.

SM - Dave Baillie
White to play
Black's bishop on d7 could be classed as 'bad' as it is locked in behind the pawns. However, it is holding some key white squares together. We were both angling for our ideal circumstances to trade. I was waiting for ...b7-b6, prompting the knight, when after Nxd7 Qxd7 Bb5! the pin on the black knight would be highly unpleasant. Meanwhile, Dave was waiting for me to block my bishop's diagonal before committing himself to ...b7-b6.

Sure enough, after 19 Ne1-d3 Dave immediately replied with 18 ...b6 and I matched his pace with 20 Nxd7. It was as if our thoughts were connected by a single dialogue on how this particular episode should be resolved.

After those moves, White obtained an edge, Dave played very actively and eventually held the endgame of Rook and Knight v Rook with excellent defensive technique. We then played a third game, with just five minutes on each clock, which was wild and could have gone either way before Dave eventually lost on time.

However, rewind a little, to this position.

White to play
Instead of going down the intended route with 20 Nxd7, I had the opportunity to play a much stronger move, which would have given me a significantly more substantial advantage than the one gained in the game. What did I miss?

The answer will be given tomorrow.

No comments: