1997: On the edge of victory

Game Homer,S - Pickering,A Exeter Club Championship, 1997

On the edge of victory

"In the deciding game, Peter Tart needs only a draw to win the competition, but it proves one hurdle too many against Andrew Pickering. Andy, then, is Manchester United, edging away with it at the end of the season.

"Andy's best game was possibly his Round 5 slugfest with Steve Homer." — MB

Caro-Kann, Advance Variation

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nc3 e6 5.g4!?

A signal of intent, certainly, but perhaps a little over-zealous.

5...Bg6 6.Nge2 Ne7 7.h4 h6 8.Be3 Nd7 9.h5 Bh7 10.f4 c5

+-----------------+
|r+.1kg.4|
|0p+nhp0b|
|.+.+p+.0|
|+.0p).+P|
|.+.).)P+|
|+.H.G.+.|
|P)P+N+.+|
|$.+QIB+R|
+-----------------+

An attacking race, then, with neither side looking to have a good place to castle.

11.Qd2 Nc6 12.0–0–0 c4 13.f5 Qa5 14.fxe6 fxe6 15.Nf4 Nb4

Now it hit the fan. Last chance to bottle it.

16.Nxe6 Bxc2 17.Nxd5 Qxa2

+-----------------+
|r+.+kg.4|
|0p+n+.0.|
|.+.+N+.0|
|+.+N).+P|
|.hp).+P+|
|+.+.G.+.|
|q)b!.+.+|
|+.IR+B+R|
+-----------------+

They did not chicken out! But Black's threats are more immediate.

18.Ndc7+ Kf7 19.Qf2+ Kg8 20.Bg2 Qb1+ 21.Kd2 Bxd1 22.Rxd1 Qd3+ 23.Ke1 Nc2+

White now has to give up his Queen.

24.Qxc2 Qxc2 25.Nf4 Bb4+ 26.Bd2 Bxd2+ 27.Rxd2 Qc1+ 28.Ke2 Nb6 29.e6 g5 30.hxg6 Kg7 31.d5 Raf8 32.Nh5+ Kxg6 33.e7

+-----------------+
|.+.+.4.4|
|0pH.).+.|
|.h.+.+k0|
|+.+P+.+N|
|.+p+.+P+|
|+.+.+.+.|
|.).$K+B+|
|+.1.+.+.|
+-----------------+

This looks dangerous, but Black now calmly deals with the problem, cool as the Fonz.

33...Rf2+ 34.Kxf2 Qxd2+ 35.Kg3 Qe3+ 36.Bf3 Qxe7 0–1

[Notes by Mark Blackmore]

Chess Quotes

Ask yourself the following question, “Of all the games I have lost recently, what percent were lost because of something I did not know, and what percent were lost due to something I already knew, but were not careful to look for?”

— Dan HEISMAN