1996: Endgame battle

Game Hewson,BWR (Tiverton) - Lane,PCR, 1996

Endgame battle

Brian was our esteemed President and Captain of the first team from the early 1980s until 1996, when he retired to take up membership of Tiverton Club (which was nearer his home). And so it came to pass that Peter found himself facing his former captain with the Black pieces... — DR

French Defence, Rubinstein Variation

1. d4 e6 2. e4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Qd5 An on-the-spot decision to avoid any preparation of my opponent! 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Qg4

Black has some problems here. After the game I decided that Black could get a good position by

[6...Ne7 7. Qxg7 Rg8 8. Qe5 [8. Qxh7? Rxg2!] 8...Nc6 9. Qxd5 Nxd5 10. Bd2 Nxd4 11. O-O-O Nxc3]

But at the time I decided Black must play:

6...Kf8 7. Nf3

[7. Bd2 would force 7...Bxc3 8. Bxc3 and a superior position for White. ]

7...Nf6 8. Qf4 Qe4+ 9. Qxe4 Nxe4 10. Bd2 Nxc3 11. Bxc3 Bxc3+ 12. bxc3 b6

+-----------------+
|rhb+.i.4|
|0.0.+p0p|
|.0.+p+.+|
|+.+.+.+.|
|.+.).+.+|
|+.).+N+.|
|P+P+.)P)|
|$.+.IB+R|
+-----------------+

13. Ne5 Nd7

Black has prospects of attacking the d4-c3-c2 cluster, for example, after ...c5: dxc5 leaves doubled Pawns, but if ...cxd4:cxd4 Black can use his Rooks on the c-file, jumping over to a2 as appropriate.  White's attempt to gain play against f7 leaves e5 as a further weakness. 

14. f4 Nxe5 15. fxe5 Ke7

[15...Bb7 restraining White's Bishop was possible, but I wanted the option of Ba6 if White should play c4. ]

16. Bc4 Bb7 17. O-O c5 18. Rf2 Be4 19. Raf1 Rhf8

Black begins his counterplay.  ...Bg6 was not playable, due to g4-h4- h5 making it a target.  The Bishop's role is an aggressive one.  Black's threat is ...Rac8...cxd4 and if Bb3/b5 the Bishop is lost or locked out of the game, hence White's next. 

20. dxc5 Rac8 21. Rf4 Bxc2 22. cxb6 axb6

+-----------------+
|.+r+.4.+|
|+.+.ip0p|
|.0.+p+.+|
|+.+.).+.|
|.+B+.$.+|
|+.).+.+.|
|P+b+.+P)|
|+.+.+RI.|
+-----------------+

23. Rc1

[23. R1f2 Bg6 24. Rb2 Rc5 25. Rxb6 Rxe5 26. Rb7+ Kd6 is similar to the game, though White looks more active. Black's Pawns are safe, and his King active, which makes the a- and c-Pawns vulnerable. ]

23...Bg6 24. Bf1 Rc5 25. Rb4 Rxe5

Probably a mistake, 25:...Rb8 was strong, if:

26. c4 [26. Rb5 Rxb5 27. Bxb5 Rd8 and ...Rd2 harasses the Pawns] 26...Rxe5 27. c5 Rc8 28. Rxb6 Rexc5 29. Rxc5 Rxc5 and ...Rc5-c1-a1 is winning for Black. 

26. Rxb6 Ra8 27. Rb7+ Kf6 28. Bc4 Rc5 29. Bb3 Rac8 30. c4 R8c7 31. Rxc7 Rxc7

+-----------------+
|.+.+.+.+|
|+.4.+p0p|
|.+.+pib+|
|+.+.+.+.|
|.+P+.+.+|
|+B+.+.+.|
|P+.+.+P)|
|+.$.+.I.|
+-----------------+

32. Re1 Ke7

White should now play his Rook to d1, and centralise his King.  Instead he allows the enemy King into his Queen-side, which is fatal. 

33. Kf2 Kd6 34. Rd1+ Kc5 35. Ke3 f6 36. Rd8 e5 37. Rd5+ Kb4 38. Kd2 Be8 39. Kc2 Bc6 40. Rd2 Be4+

Fortunately missing: 40...Bb5 "winning a Pawn": 41. a3+ Kxa3 42. Kc3 and 'mate!

41. Kb2 Bc6 42. g3 e4 43. Rf2 Rd7 44. a3+ Kc5 45. Re2 f5 46. Kc2 g5

+-----------------+
|.+.+.+.+|
|+.+r+.+p|
|.+b+.+.+|
|+.i.+p0.|
|.+P+p+.+|
|)B+.+.).|
|.+K+R+.)|
|+.+.+.+.|
+-----------------+

47. Rf2 Rf7

Black is now clearly winning, but there was no easy way for White to stop the Pawns. 

48. Kc3 f4 49. gxf4 gxf4 50. Bc2 e3 51. Re2 Bf3 52. Re1 Bh5 53. Bd3 Re7 54. Rb1 e2 55. Kd2 f3 56. Ke1 Kd4 57. c5 Ke3 58. Bxe2 f2+ 59. Kf1 Bxe2+ 60. Kg2 Rg7+ 61. Kh3 f1=Q+ 62. Rxf1 Bxf1+ 63. Kh4 Kf4 64. c6 Rc7 1-0

[Notes by Peter Lane]

Chess Quotes

"After black's reply to 1.e4 with 1..e5 leaves him always trying to get into the game"
— Howard STAUNTON
"After white's reply to 1.e4 e5 with 2.f4 the game is in its last throes"