Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Comfortable Stonewall

It's always nice to end a tournament with a win (and it makes it easier to resist the next opportunity to play). My opponent was another Norwegian. Actually I think he participated in the very first tournament I played outside my club, more than 30 years ago. He is considerably lower rated than me, so a win wouldn't improve my tournament result much - but a loss or even a draw would cost me dearly.

Haveland - Sv.Johnsen
Thailand Open 2009 (9)
1.d4 f5
I was quite happy when my opponent played 1.d4 as now the position is quite unbalanced already.
2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 d5
The Stonewall. I considered a more flexible system, possibly increasing my winning chances but I know there are lots of winning potential even in rather stale looking Stonewall positions.
5.c4 c6 6.cxd5?!
This is not that bad a move but it's harmless in the extreme.
6...exd5 7.0–0 Bd6 8.Nc3 0–0 9.Rb1

White plans a minority attack with b4-b5. Two other moves with similar aims are 9.a3 and 9.Qc2.
9...Ne4 10.e3
White sensibly decides to stop ...f4 but weakens his light squares somewhat. There are not many games with this position played at an international level. In the following game at least Black is 2400+: 10.Nxe4 fxe4 11.Bg5 Qe8 12.Nd2 h6 13.Be3 Nd7 14.b4 Nf6 15.Qb3 Bf5 16.b5 Qh5 =+ Weng Tianlun-Wang Yue, Suzhou 2001.
10...Nd7 11.Qc2 Qe7 12.Nd2
This appears to be the first new move in the game. Hamrakulova-Ambrosi, Wch Girls U18 Chalkidiki 2003 was drawn after 12.a3 Nb6 13.Ne1 Be6 14.Nd3 Bf7 15.b4 Nc4 16.Re1 Ng5 17.Qd1 Rae8 18.Rf1 Qf6 19.Nc5 Qe7 20.Nd3 Qf6 21.Nc5 Qe7 22.Nd3 Qf6 23.Nc5.
12...Ndf6 13.Ndxe4 fxe4 14.Bd2 Bg4
I briefly considered 14...b6 but wasn't sure how well I would stand even if my opponent overlooked my threat, e.g. 15.f3 Ba6 16.fxe4 Bxf1 17.Rxf1 dxe4 18.Nxe4 and White may even be better.
15.f3 exf3 16.Bxf3 Rae8 17.Rbe1 Bh3 18.Bg2 Qd7 (D)
I have completed my development but was not sure how to go ahead. Fortunately my opponent now forces the play, saving me some difficult desicions.
As my opponent pointed out, 19.a3 would have been a very useful preparation for this central break - at least after my most natural replies, 19...a5 and 19...Re7 - simply because there then will be no pawn to pick up on a2.
19...Bxg2 20.Kxg2 dxe4 21.Nxe4 Nxe4 22.Rxf8+ Bxf8 23.Rxe4 Qd5 24.Kf3 (D)
This position arises more or less by force as a consequence of White's 19th move.
I looked carefully for a permanent bind/zugzwang but didn't see anything really convincing so I grabbed the pawn. When checking with Rybka it produced this line: 24...g5! 25.g4 (25.a3 g4+) 25...Bd6 26.h3 Kg7 27.a3 a5 28.a4 h6 29.Be1 b6 30.Ke3 Bf4+ 31.Kf3 Kg6 which looks quite promising (Rybka says '-+ -1.61'.) but it refuses to tell me how I actually convert it to a full point.
25.Qxe4 Qxa2 26.Bc3 Qf7+
Simpler and stronger is 26...Qd5 27.Ke3 Qxe4+ 28.Kxe4 Kf7 29.d5 c5.
27.Ke3 Bd6 28.Qg4 Kf8 29.Kd3 Qg6+
I assumed this must be a win despite my doubled pawns and White's active king.
30.Qxg6 hxg6 31.d5 c5 32.Kc4 a6 33.Ba5 b5+ 34.Kd3
Kf7 35.b3 (D)

35...Kf6 36.Ke4 Ke7 37.Bc3 Kf7 38.Ba5 Kf8 39.Kf3 Be7
Finally my two pieces have found positions from which I can make progress.
40.Bb6 Ke8 41.h3 Kd7 42.Ke4 Kd6 43.Ba5 Bf6 44.g4 g5?
This stupid advance creates a weakness and prolongs the game with at least 10 moves.
45.Be1 Be5 46.Bd2 Bf6 47.Be1 g6 48.Bg3+ Kd7 49.Kd3

49.Bf2 c4 50.bxc4 bxc4 51.Bb6 Kd6 doesn't make much difference.
49...a5 50.Be1 Bd8 51.Bc3 Kd6 52.Ke4 c4 53.bxc4 bxc4 54.Bb2 Kc5
54...Bb6 is equally good as 55.Ba3+ Bc5 56.Bxc5+ Kxc5 57.Ke5 c3 58.d6 c2 59.d7 c1Q 60.d8Q Qe3+ 61.Kf6 Qd4+ is winning.
55.Ba3+ Kb5 56.Kd4
56.d6 Ka4 57.Bc1 Kb3 58.Kd5 c3 doesn't change anything.
56...Bf6+ 57.Ke4 Ka4 58.Bc1 Kb3 59.d6 a4 60.Kd5 c3 61.Be3 c2 62.Ke6 Bd8 63.Kd7 Ba5 64.Bxg5 a3 0–1


Thomas Johansson said...

Hi, quite a nice blog you got here!

However, the reason I'm commenting is that I'm wondering if your Stonewall book will also have a chapter on Aljechins variation? As a Leningrader that variation has always looked more appealing to me than setting up the wall immediately. Though I'll probably get the book even if it doesn't cover 6...Ne4. :)


Sverre Johnsen said...

Thanks Thomas,

No, our Stonewall book will not cover Alekhine's 6...Ne4. But I am collecting material on that move and Bellin's 6...c6 and the nameless 6...Qe8 (and some other moves except 6...d6 and 6...d5) which at some point may develop into a book manuscript.