Examination of a Game 1

"The unexamined life is not worth living" - Socrates "The unexamined game is not worth playing" - Dr.Dave

Warming up 1

Play through this game and see what you think. I have omitted the final moves, which are left as an exercise for the reader.

[Event "Exeter Chess Club Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2011.11.01"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Waley, Jonathan"]
[Black "Southall, Chris"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A40"]
[PlyCount "59"]
1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 b6 3.Nf3 Bb7 4.e4 c5 5.g3 Nc6 6.Bg2 d6 7.0-0 Nf6 8.d4 cxd4
9.Nxd4 Ne5 10.b3 Be7 11.Ba3 a6 12.h3 g5 13.f4 gxf4 14.gxf4 Ng6 15.f5 Nh4
16.fxe6 Nxg2 17.exf7+ Kxf7 18.Qh5+ Kg8 19.Qg5+ Kf7 20.Nf5 h5 21.Nh6+
Rxh6 22.Qxh6 Nh4 23.Qxh5+ Ke6 24.Qxh4 Qg8+ 25.Kh2 Qg7 26.Nd5 Rh8 {...}
1-0

Warming up 2 - examples

A critical decision, which affected the whole course of the rest of the game, was 12...g5.

To help us understand this move, let us look at some other positions where Black throws in ...g5, and see what we think.

Here are the other examples:

#2

[Event "Carlsbad"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1923.??.??"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Alekhine, Alexander"]
[Black "Maroczy, Geza"]
[Result "1-0"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r1b2rk1/pp1nq2p/2p1p3/3p1pp1/2PP4/2QBPN2/PP3PPP/2R2RK1 w - g6 0 13"]
[PlyCount "0"]
[EventDate "1923.??.??"]
 1-0

#3

[Event "London Chess Classic FIDE Open"]
[Site "London ENG"]
[Date "2010.12.13"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Rendle, T."]
[Black "Rudd, J."]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2400"]
[BlackElo "2253"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r1bqk2r/pp1nbp1p/2n1p3/2ppP1p1/3P4/2PB1N2/PP1N1PPP/R1BQ1RK1 w kq g6 0 9"]
[PlyCount "0"]
[EventDate "2010.12.08"]
 0-1

#4

[Event "Torbay"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2010.11.21"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Regis, D."]
[Black "Sully, D."]
[Result "0-1"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "1qr3rk/1bbn1p1p/pp1ppn2/6p1/2PNP3/1PN1BPP1/P2R1Q1P/3R1BK1 w - g6 0 21"]
[PlyCount "0"]
 0-1

#5

[Event "Exeter vs. Tiverton (Peter Rooke)"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2009.01.10"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Regis, D."]
[Black "Annetts, I."]
[Result "1-0"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "1r1qk2r/4bp2/p1npbn1p/1pp1p1p1/2P1P2N/1PNPB1PP/P2Q1PB1/R3K2R w KQk g6 0 13"]
[PlyCount "0"]
 1-0

#6

[Event "downing vs. caius, Cambridge U"]
[Site "downing vs. caius, Cambridge "]
[Date "1981.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Dodd, N."]
[Black "Regis, David"]
[Result "0-1"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "2kr3r/pbpnq3/1p1pp2p/5pp1/2PP1B2/P1PBP2P/3Q1PP1/R4RK1 w - g6 0 16"]
[PlyCount "0"]
 0-1

#7

[Event "East Devon Jamboree"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2010.01.17"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Annetts, Ivor"]
[Black "Regis, D."]
[Result "0-1"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r2qkbnr/pp1b3p/2n1pp2/3pP1p1/3P1B2/P4N2/1P3PPP/RN1QKB1R w KQkq g6 0 9"]
[PlyCount "0"]
 0-1

#8

[Event "Exeter Club Ch'p"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1999.04.13"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Regis, D."]
[Black "Roderick, A."]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "1912"]
[BlackElo "1856"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "2kr1b1r/pbpnq2p/1pnppp2/6p1/2PPP3/2N1BN2/PPB1QPPP/R4RK1 w - g6 0 12"]
[PlyCount "0"]
 1-0

Warming up 3 - comments

I think if you had to put them in some sort of order of merit, they might go:

Best - 6 4 3 2 8 5 7 - Worst

#7 is a rank blunder (1...g5?? 2.Nxg5). "Why did you play it, then?" I guess I thought that it was a quiet, stodgy position, and so I didn't have to look out for my opponent's tactics. I am here to inform you, ladies and gentlemen, there is no such position...

6 and 4 very thematic tries (!), nibbling away on the long diagonal with hope of using some pawn 'levers' to open lines, thanks to White's earlier pawn moves. 4 in fact reproduces the famous plan from Fischer-Andersson, 1970. [Examples 4 and 6 also arose from this same line of the English opening as our game.]

#2 is a poor move: there is no reason why Black should be entitled to attack White's solid and well-developed position with the Queen's-side still asleep. White immediately blew up the centre, and won with... a King's-side attack!

#5 looks simply weakening to me; the Knight gratefully hops into f5, and after an exchange (or even a pawn sacrifice) on f5, White will own the 32 light squares.

#8 is a try for some play in a poor position; Black's set-up is not inspiring, but if left alone White is going to take apart the Queen's-side with d4-d5 and/or c4-c5 (options White doesn't have in #6). [This also arose from the same line of the English.]

#3 is a French Defence, and a good example of a modern chess opening variation; the tension in the centre has spread to the wings. With a closed centre, Black's King is safe enough for now, and ...g5 is both a simple threat to win a pawn (which can be simply dealt with) and also a bid for King's-side concessions, which is not so easily rebuffed. I think the verdict on this move is currently += and so !? at best (even ?!), but a while ago it was !? and ~, and it might become ~, = or even =+ if someone comes up with a good idea for Black.

And finally:

The game with comments:

[Event "Exeter Chess Club Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2011.11.01"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Waley, Jonathan"]
[Black "Southall, Chris"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A40"]
[PlyCount "59"]
1. c4 e6 2. Nc3 b6 3. Nf3 (3. e4 Bb7 4. Nge2 Ne7 (4... d5 $5)) (3. d4) 3... Bb7
4. e4 4... c5 {In fine British style, the two sides are negotiating
indirectly at some social distance.} (4... Ne7 $5) (4... Bb4 $1 {
is the main line, which I've played for both sides over the years.}) 5. g3 Nc6
6. Bg2 d6 7. O-O Nf6 8. d4 cxd4 9. Nxd4 {Now we can describe the position as
the Hedgehog System against the English Opening, although it could equally be
described as a form of Maroczy Bind against the Sicilian Defence.} 9... Ne5 10.
b3 (10. f4 $1 10... Nxc4 $4 (10... Ned7) 11. Qa4+) (10. h3 10... Nfd7 $1 11. b3
Nc5 12. f4) 10... Be7 11. Ba3 (11. f4) 11... a6 12. h3 12... g5 {If you haven't
yet, see what you think of the other examples of ...g5 above.    As a result
of discussing the other examples, we probably have the ideas  we need to
assess this move in the game. We see it's not a random mad  idea, it's
actually a thematic idea which has been tried in analogous  positions. In this
exact position, Black doesn't look ideally placed to  create King's-side
chances, and neither is the Black King very safe, but  it is a way of asking
White some hard questions. Looking at the exact  position and some exact moves,
I think White can create at least as many  threats against the Black King, as
White suffers in return, and that was  White's judgement in the game.  } 13. f4
$1 {Crucial.} 13... gxf4 14. gxf4 {
Who benefits from the open lines?  Typically, the better-developed side.} 14...
Ng6 (14... Ned7) 15. f5 $1 15... Nh4 $2 {
Objectively, this is a mistake, but White is asked some hard questions.} (15...
Nf8 {this retreat was not what Black had in mind when kicking off with ...g5,
even if it is objectively best.}) 16. fxe6 Nxg2 17. exf7+ 17... Kxf7 {
Here's a critical moment. Books are always on about critical moments and  how
important it is to recognise them. This game has several, all of  which I
think are fairly easy to recognise; the challenge for White is  merely finding
the right move when they arise...} ({
In other positions, you can use the pawn as a shield by} 17... Kf8 {but} 18.
Ne6+ $1) 18. Qh5+ $5 {Because of the open g-file and the possibility of a pin,
White's  intermezzo with the Queen is a piece sacrifice - maybe temporary,
 possibly permanent!} (18. Kxg2 $1 {is the solid way to seek a win.}) 18... Kg8
19. Qg5+ Kf7 20. Nf5 $1 20... h5 $2 {Another critical moment.} (20... Bf8 $1 {
hangs on, but it's tough}) 21. Nh6+ (21. Nd5 $1 {In the end it's How Good Is
Your Analysis, and  if it's as good as Fritz, you will see that Nd5 is right
here, as in  several lines Black is forced to swap on d5, when the pawn
recapture  takes away the e6 square from Black's King.  But that's pretty
tough to see,   and White's choice is a fair try.  }) 21... Rxh6 22. Qxh6 22...
Nh4 $2 {A blunder, dropping the Knight.} (22... Qg8 $1 {A critical moment for
Black.  There are many dangers, but the priority  is getting some pieces over
to the King's-side, for defence and  eventually attack.}) 23. Qxh5+ Ke6 (23...
Ng6 24. Qh7+ $1 {picks up the piece anyway.  This may be what Black missed.})
24. Qxh4 Qg8+ 25. Kh2 Qg7 (25... Nxe4 $5) 26. Nd5 $1 26... Rh8 {This is the
last critical moment. Black might be forgiven for thinking  that the sun has
finally shone on his position; there are several pieces pointing at the
King's-side, and some direct threats against the  White royalty, while White's
Queen's-side pieces seem irrelevant.   } 27. Rxf6+ $1 {cuts the Gordian knot.}
({It's not hard to realise that White will suffer some indignities after} 27.
Qf4 27... Ng4+ 28. Kg3 Ne3+ 29. Kf3 29... Rf8 $1 {
even though White is still ahead after} (29... Nxf1 $2 30. Qf5#) 30. Kxe3 Rxf4
31. Nxf4+ Kd7 32. Rad1) 27... Bxf6 (27... Kd7 $5 {fails to} 28. Rf7 $1) 28.
Qxf6+ $1 28... Qxf6 29. Nxf6 Kxf6 30. Bb2+ {A fine finish to an exciting game.}
1-0

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1205