1997: Theme and variations

Game Hill,D - Lane,PCR, Exeter Club Championship (6), 1997

Theme and variations

This was my best game of the season. It was a thematic game for the Black side in the Tarrasch system. White's premature Queen-side play was met by direct central action (16...e5!) leading to a King's-side demolition. The attack builds out of the co-ordination of Black's pieces, using the open f-file and new-found freedom of his (bad) Bishop (Bh3-g4), hounding the defenceless White King. — PCRL

French Defence, Tarrasch Variation with 3…Nf6

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Bd3 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ne2 Qb6 8. Nf3 cxd4 9. cxd4 f6 10. exf6 Nxf6 11. O-O Bd6 12. Nc3 O-O


13. a3

Played after a long think. White decides to move away from established lines. (I was slightly surprised Dan hadn't prepared something here. He said he didn't want to play the main line, 13.Bg5, which I had encountered the month before.)

13... Bd7 14. b4?!

Too early! This kind of Queen-side play is only possible after White has secured the centre, e.g.

[14. Be3 Be8 15. Ng5 Ne7 16. Kh1 Bc7 17. b4 Nf5]

14... Kh8 15. Na4 Qc7 16. Bb2

[16. Be3 e5 is still strong for Black. If]

[16. b5 Ne7 17. Bb2 Ne4 18. Rc1 Qa5 and White has many weaknesses.]

16... e5!

Black always gains at least equality with this move.

17. dxe5 Nxe5 18. Nxe5 Bxe5 19. Bxe5 Qxe5 20. Nc5?

The decisive mistake. Strange to say, but

[20. Ra2 covering f2 was perhaps best. when 20... Ng4 21. g3 Qh5 22. h4 the Nf3 and Bb2 22... Qf7 with Ne5-f3 etc is promising]

Looking at the position, we see that Black has won the fight for the e5 square, and exchanged off White's best pieces. The remaining White pieces are uncoordinated, and, in particular, his King looks naked.

20... Ng4

After 45 minutes thought! I felt White should be punished for abandoning the centre and King's-side, and indeed Black's attack now seems to win from here.

21. g3


21... Nxf2! 22. Rxf2

White could have tried:

[22. Nxd7 Qd4 23. Rxf2 Rxf2 24. Kh1 Qe3! as far as I saw: if 25. Nc5 [

25. Bc2 Qh6 26. h4 Qe6 27. Kg1 Qe3

] [

25. Bb1 Re8

] 25... b6 26. Nb3 [

26. Qh5 Qf3

+] 26... Raf8 27. Rc1 [

27. Bf1 Rxf1

+ with a won ending] 27... Rxh2+! 28. Kxh2 Rf2+ 29. Kh3 Qh6+ 30. Kg4 Qe6+ 31. Kh4 Rh2+ 32. Kg5 h6+ 'mate. . . By deflecting the White Knight, Black has time to construct a mating attack involving a further sacrifice. Note that none of White's pieces can help stave off the remaining Black Queen and Rook.]

22... Rxf2 23. Kxf2

[23. Nxd7 Qe3 24. Kh1 Rd2! which I also saw]

23... Bh3!


This 'quiet' move cost most of my 45 minutes. The Bishop covers the holes in the King's-side, and threatens two big checks. Neither alternative promises much:

[23... Qb2+ 24. Qe2 Qxa1 25. Nxd7]

[23... Rf8+ 24. Kg2]

24. Be2

[24. Kg1 then 24... Rf8 anyway]

[24. Ra2, to cover the second rank, is toughest. The trick again is for Black to upset the White Knight, and threaten both 'mate and to pick up material. In this line, though, immediate checkmate can be prevented by White:

e.g. 24... Rf8+ 25. Kg1 Qe3+ 26. Kh1 b6

[27. Na4 , then 32. ... Qd1+xa4] or if

[27. Nb7 Qe7 28. Ba6 Qe4+ 29. Kg1 Qe3+ 30. Kh1 Rf2 31. Rxf2 Qxf2 32. Qxd5

[32. Bf1 Bg4]

32... Qe1+ 33. Bf1 Qxf1#] This leaves:

27. Nb3!? I thought this might be a save, but 27... Rf2 28. Rxf2 Qxf2 29. Be4! Bg4! 30. Qg1 Bf3+ 31. Bxf3 Qxf3+ 32. Qg2 Qxb3 and Black wins the ending!]

24... Rf8+ 25. Kg1

Also losing are:

[25. Ke1 Qe3 and]

[25. Bf3 Bg4 (I calculated these and as far as 26. ... Qf2 before playing 20. ... Ng4.)]

25... Qe3+ 26. Kh1 Rf2 27. Qxd5 Qxe2 28. Rg1 Bg4! 0-1

[Notes by Peter Lane]

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