Friday, March 9, 2007

An Egotrip Down Memory Lane

I will not try to create an impression that I am a strong chess player. But among a huge number of tournament games there are a few I enjoy demonstrating. I hope you will bear with me.

While preparing a more substantial entry on the Norwegian variation in the Ruy Lopez, I came across some games by Bernd Stein, who specialized in his own special branch of this variation. This reminded me of a short and sweet game I won some 14 years ago. What made it extra special for me was the fact that I after this game had a score of 2/2 against two International Masters. Admittedly my opponent in this game at the time had more or less retired from tournament play, but my first round opponent was a fairly young and ambitious player. The rest of my tournament was far less spectacular, but I seem to remember that the hope of an IM-norm were still alive until round 8.

Sverre Johnsen (2215) - IM Bernd Stein (2360)
Gausdal International (2) 1993
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3
This, and the closely related 1...d5 2.Nc3, made up most of my white opening repertoire for the major part of a decade. They have some surprise value and in my opinion should be basically sound. I may take them up again if I can only find a couple of improvements in a couple of critical lines.
2...d5 3.Bg5 is the Veresov Opening. The text move hardly has a recognized name.
3.d5 is more popular.
I find it much harder to demonstrate any advantage against 3...Qa5.
4.e4 Nc6 5.f4 Qa5 6.Bd3 Bxc5 7.e5 Nd5 8.Bd2 Nxc3 9.Bxc3 Qb6 10.Nh3
I have come out of the opening with a quite clear advantage.
10...Nd4?! 11.Qg4 g6 12.0-0-0 h5?!
This weakens the kingside more than it protects it.
13.Qh4 Nb5 14.Qf6 Rf8 15.Bxb5! Qxb5?
15...Be7! was absolutely necessary in order to give Black's dark squares on the kingside some protection. After e.g. 16.Qg7 Qxb5 17.Ng5!? Bxg5 18.fxg5, the pawn on f7 is an obvious target, but it's not at all easy for White to infiltrate the dark squares.
16.Rd6! The rook obviously cannot be captured, so basically Black's dark-square defender is shut out from its defensive duties. Also Black's queen struggles to get back to d8 as both b6 and a5 are covered.
16...b6 17.Be1! 1-0
I find some kind of geometrical beauty in my two concluding moves. First Black's dark-squared bishop is locked out; then its white colleague enters the kingside via a quite rare backward manoeuvre.

What I today remember just as well as the actual moves of the game, is the gentlemanly way in which my opponent took his defeat. Rather that blaming his own poor form (which he could have done with obvious justification) he was full of praise for my play. Still appreciated!


Anonymous said...

What happens after 16...Bb6?

Sverre Johnsen said...

Thanks for a very relevant question which I should have addressed in the original entry!

16...Bb6! obviously is Black's best but I believe White's advantage is still winning after 17.Qg7, threatening Ng5. After e.g., 17...Bd8 18.Nf2 Be7 19.Ne4 I cannot see how Black can parry the threat of Nf6. After 19...b6 20.Nf6+ Bxf6 21.Qxf6 Black has no sensible way to stop Be1-h4.

Bernd said...

Hej Sverre,
I just discovered your nice homepage - thanks for the compliments!
Mange hilsener fra Hamburg!
Bernd Stein

Sverre Johnsen said...

Hei Bernd,

Hyggelig at du likte siden.

Your Norwegian is still excellent!

Greetings from Oslo!