Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Rook Gone Astray

My 6th game in Pattaya was another London System:

Sv.Johnsen - W.Chengjia
BCC Thailand Open (6)

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4

My opponent (a young Chineese girl) was rated a little above 2000 and I had no idea what to expect. Anyway I saw little reason to deviate from the opening with which I have the most experience.

2...e6 3.e3 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nd2 d5 6.Ngf3 cxd4 7.exd4 Bd6 8.Bg3

An old game in this line went 8.Bxd6 Qxd6 9.Bb5 0–0 10.0–0 Bd7 11.Re1 Qf4 12.Bxc6 Bxc6 13.Ne5 Nd7 14.Ndf3 and White probably was a little better in Blackburne-Chigorin, Berlin 1897.


Opening the h-file before White has castled is risky, e.g. 8...Bxg3 9.hxg3 Qd6 10.Bd3 Bd7 11.Qe2 Ng4 12.0–0–0 h6 13.Rh4 Nf6 14.Ne5 gave White a clear advantage in Knezevic-Asmundsson, Grindavik 1984.

9.Bd3 e5?!

This looks wrong. Black frees her position but accepts an isolated queen’s pawn while exchanging a few pieces in the process. An interesting an relatively recent game continued 9...Re8 10.Ne5 Qc7 11.f4 Rf8 12.0–0 Ne8 13.Bh4 f5 14.Rf3 Bxe5 15.fxe5 Qb6 16.Bf2 Qxb2 17.Rh3 g6 18.Nf3 Rf7 19.Rb1 Qxa2 20.Qc1 Rg7 21.Bh4 Qa5 22.Bf6 Rf7 23.Ng5 and White had compensation for his pawns in Gonzales-Halay, Manila 2007.

10.dxe5 Re8 11.0–0 Nxe5 12.Nxe5 Bxe5 13.Bxe5 Rxe5 14.Nf3 Rh5?! (D)

This move confirmed what I had started to suspect: My opponent probably had little classical chess education and was mainly relying on her calculating skills.

15.Re1 Qd6 16.Bf1 Bg4 17.h3 Bxf3 18.Qxf3

Except for the strangely placed black rook, this is a fairly typical IQP position. White must be a little better.

18...h6 19.Rad1 g6 20.Rd4

I was about to play 20.Qe3 when I noticed 20...Ng4!?. It’s not at all clear that 21.Qg3 Qxg3 22.fxg3 improves Black’s chances. But the resulting position looks a little strange and this might favour the better calculator, which I suspected wasn’t me.

20...Rf5 21.Qd3 Rf4

It seemed my opponent only now had noticed that her d-pawn might be in trouble.

22.g3 Rxd4 23.Qxd4 b6 24.Bg2 Rd8 25.Rd1 Re8 26.c4

The pawn has been doomed for some moves already.

26...Re2 27.cxd5 Nd7 28.Rc1 Qe5!

This is quite a good try to keep the game going.

29.Qxe5 Nxe5 30.Rc7 (D)


A better try would have been 30...Re1+ 31.Kh2 Re2 when e.g. 32.d6 Rd2 33.Re7 f6 34.Rxa7 still isn’t clearly winning.


This wins by force.

31...Nd3 32.d6 Nc5 33.d7 Nxd7 34.Rxd7 Rxa2 35.Bd5 Ra1+ 36.Kf2 a5 37.Bxf7+ Kg7 38.Rb7 Kf8

Black might have saved herself the last dozen of moves. It’s hard to imagine how White can go wrong.

39.Bxg6 Ra2+ 40.Kf3 Rb2 41.f5 Rb3+ 42.Kf4 Rb1 43.Ke5 Rc1 44.Rxb6 a4 45.Rb8+ Kg7 46.Rb7+ Kf8 47.f6 Re1+ 48.Be4 a3 49.Ra7 Re3 50.Kf4 Rc3 51.Bd5 1–0

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