Friday, July 9, 2010

Mousetrap Musings (part 1): A "Minor" affair

I've played many games over a beer or five at my local neighborhood pub, the Mousetrap.This blog, "Mousetrap Musings" will be various games from those denizen encounters.

In this game I play one of my regulars whom I've had dozens of games with. This particular game is our seventh game in an ongoing open match. At the time of this game our score stood at 5-1 in my favor.

White: Sherman Minor (unr)
Black: D. Thomas Moniz (1520)

Mousetrap Bar & Grill
Indianapolis, IN
(no time controls)

Opening: B20 Sicilian Najdorf

1.e4 c5 2.Bc4 e6 3.Nf3 d6 4.d4cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Bg5!? A surprise and not a common continuation in this line. More common here is 6.Nc3. My opponent seeks to use tactics to defend the e-pawn but this is suspect. 

6...Be7= Firebird suggests 6...h6 here and now7.Bxf6 (7.Bh4?! g5! 8.Bg3 Nxe4 winning the e-pawn with advantage.) 7...Qxf6= as Black's best continuation but the text is OK too. 

7.Nc3 a6 8.Qe2 O-O Interesting is 8...Nxe4!? 9.Nxe4 (another try is 9.Bxe7 Nxc3 10.Bxd8 Nxe2 11.Bb6 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5 13.Bd3 Bb7 with a material advantage for Black but White may have real compensation in the bishop pair.) 9...Bxg5 10.Nxe6! fxe6 11.Qh5+ g6 12.Qxg5 d5 13.Qxd8+ Kxd8 14.Ng5 dxc4 15.Nf7+ Ke7 16.Nxh8 Nc6 17.Nxg6+ hxg6 with about equal chances but Whites game looks easier. (see diagram)

*after 17...hxg6 in the variation above.

9.h4!? Minor true to form wastes no time in spearheading his attack but this is too reckless. Better and more sensible are 9.Bd3; 9.O-O-O; or 9.Rd1. Black is already equal if not better here. 

9...b5 10.Bd3 Bb7 11.g4?!

after 11.g4?!

Whites attack is very ambitious indeed! At first glance it would seem Black's kingside will soon be under siege from a wall of enemy pawns but this is only an illusion. Cool heads will prevail and it is Black's counter-thrust that will be felt. 

11...Qb6?! Attacking the undefended Knight but this is easily parried with tempo. Instead 11...b4! keeps a good advantage for Black. i.e. 12.Nd1 Nbd7 13.f3 Qb6 14.Nb3 a5, etc. 

12.Qe3 Better was 12.Be3 with a discovered attack on the Black Queen. White also frees the g5 square for the pawn to attack. 

12...Nxg4 I was a little concerned here about taking this pawn and opening up a line on my King but ultimately felt I could defend. 

13.Qf4 Bxg5 14.Qxg4? Capturing the Bishop was paramount. i.e. 14.hxg5 Ne5 (The other capture, 14...Qxd4?! runs into a plethora of complications after 15.Qxg4 b4 (15...Nd7 16.Rxh7! Kxh7 17.e5+ Qxd3 18.cxd3 Nxe5 looks a little better for White) 16.O-O-O!! (16.Nd1 Nd7 is a little better for Black) 16...g6! (16...bxc3? 17.e5 Qxg4 18.Bxh7+ is a forced perpetual check) 17.Ne2 looks equal. Now Black retains an excellent defender for his kingside and all but squashes White's counterplay. I must admit from the position below after 14.Qxg4 it's not easy to see concretely Black's huge advantage but according to Firebird it's there.

after 14.Qxg4?

14...Bf6 Worse is 14...Qxd4?! 15.hxg5 b4 16.O-O-O!! Qxf2 (16...bxc3 17.e5 Qxg4 18.Bxh7+ with a perpetual) 17.Rd2 Qd4 18.e5 and White slips away with a perpetual. 

15.Nf3 Nd7 16.Qg2 White has plans of castling queenside and so drops back to protect the f-pawn but this is too slow. Better was 16.Rg1 with pressure on the Black King but this even this is going nowhere with proper play by Black. 

16...Rac8 17.h5

after 17.h5

17...h6 I actually did consider 17...Rxc3! 18.bxc3 Bxc3+ 19.Ke2 Bxa1 (Fritz finds 19...f5! 20Ng5 (20.exf5? Ne5 21.Rab1 Bxf3+ 22.Qxf3 Nxf3 23.Kxf3 Qd4 with a crushing attack!) 20...Bxa1 21.Rxa1 fxe4 22.Bxe4 Bxe4 23.Nxe4 and Black is two pawns up with the better pawn structure) ...but first wanted to stop the h-pawn from advancing further as I thought 20.h6 would give White strong counterplay. This is silly because Black always has 20...Bc3 or ...Bf6. 

18.Ne2?! But what else does White have? 18.Nd2 runs into ...d5 threatening to open up the long diagonal with devastating effect. So it seems White is without any useful moves. 

18...Bxb2 19.Rb1 Qa5+ 20.Kf1 Bf6 21.Rh3 Probably with the idea of loading up on the g-file against my King but this will be way too slow. 

21...d5 22.exd5 Bxd5 The Black bishop-pair is completely dominating.

after 22...Bxd5

23.Nc3? A simple blunder in a almost hopeless situation. On 23.Qg3 Black simply plays ...Qxa2 24.Re1 Nc5 and White is helpless. 

23...Rxc3 24.Qg3 Qc7 Black has an easier win after 24...Nc5 or ...Qxa2 but I felt my advantage was big enough to win with the Queens off and didn't want to worry about White swindling his way into any checkmating attacks. 

25.Qg4 White knows he is far behind and wisely opts to keep the Queens on to at least give him a shot at a lethal counterstroke should I falter. 

25...Ne5 26.Nxe5 Qxe5 27.Rg3 Bc4 28.Bxc4 Rxc4 29.Qd1 Rd8 30.Qg4?? Another simple oversight but there was really nothing else anyway. Now the end comes quick. 

30...Rxg4 31.Rxg4 Bg5 32.Re1 Qd5 33.Rg1 Qxa2 Instead 33...Qc4+ is mate in 9 which of course Firebird finds. 

34.Ke2 Qxc2+ 35.Kf3 Rd2 36.Rg2 Qf5+ 37.Kg3 Qf4+ 38.Kh3 Qh4#

final position

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