REWARDING PERSISTENCE - GOING THE DISTANCE "Whenever I lose I get tougher.... my resolve is stronger and I keep thinking that 'I'll do it next time' " - Godfrey (c. 2002) This was the third round of the prestigious President's Invitational tournament and after a very tough day on the job I had to face the elder Matthews whom I had never beaten in several previous encounters (all of which I was winning before blundering and "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory"). Before starting my clock at 6:06 pm on a cool Wednesday evening, post-Independence day, my opponent jokingly (??) said that he was going to avenge his loss in the previous round by defeating me. I had the White pieces. En garde !
1. e4 c5 The Sicilian defence, a favourite of the jovial Sidley.
2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 Diagram #
5. Nc3 Bd7 6. Bd3 Also strong was 6.Bc4 or 6.Be2.
6... e6 7. Be3 White is already much better.
7... Nf6 8. Qe2 8. O-O Nc6 9. g4
8... Nc6 9. g4?! Diagram # A very double-edged move, a la Keres, which shows White's combative disposition. Of course, developing moves were safer and arguably more in the spirit of the position, especially so early in the game.
A more solid continuation was: 9. f4 e5 10. Nxc6 bxc6 11. O-O Ng4=
9... Ne5? This capture seems to refute White's apparently premature pawn push on his last move. 9... Nxd4! 10. Bxd4 e5 The point, uncovering an attack on the g4 pawn from the Bishop on d7. The Bishop is en prise and has to retreat thus leaving White no time to protect the pawn. 11. Be3 Bxg4 12. f3 Be6 and White has lost a pawn for no compensation.
10. g5!? 10. h3 b5 11. a3 d5 12. exd5 Nxd3+ 13. Qxd3 Nxd5 14. Nxd5 exd5 15. O-O-O b4 16. Rhe1 Be6 17. axb4 Bxb4 18. Nc6 Qd6 19. Nxb4 Qxb4 20. Qd4 Qxd4 21. Bxd4 O-O 22. f4 Diagram # and White has the better position.
10... Nfg4! 11. Bd2!? I was not ready to give up both Bishops so early in the game. The fact that this was a possibility so early in the game suggests that White's opening was dubious.
11. O-O-O! Nxe3 12. Qxe3 Ng4 13. Qd2 Qb6 14. h3 Ne5 15. Bf1=
11... Nxd3+ 12. Qxd3 Be7 12... Qb6!
13. f4! Best. I had used only 12 minutes.
13. O-O-O?? Nxf2 wins material.
13... e5! Played after two minutes' thought....Black has basically equalised.
14. Nf3!? 14. Nf5 Bxf5 15. exf5 exf4 16. Qe4 Ne5 17. h4 Rc8 18. Rf1=
14... exf4! 15. Bxf4 Qb6! Diagram # Played after going into the "think-tank" for 15 minutes.
16. Nd4? This was a mistake. Apart from blocking the a7-g1 diagonal ( and thus preventing the opposing Queen from having access to the f2 square) I thought the text was good in that if Black took the "poisoned" pawn with 16....Qxb2 then 17.Nb3 could be problematic for him as the Queen might be trapped if Black doesn't play carefully. The Following analysis by Fritz 7 shows that the text was dubious as Black has the strong riposte 16...Ne5 ! after which Black is clearly better.
Best for White, a la Fritz, was: 16. Qd4! Qxd4 ( Black could be audacious and play: 16... Qxb2 but after 17. Rb1 Qa3 18. Qxg7 Rf8 19. O-O! Qc5+ 20. Qd4 f5 21. Qxc5 dxc5 22. e5 Diagram # It is White who is much better.)
17. Nxd4 Rc8 18. Rd1 Ne5 19. Nd5 Ng6 20. Be3
16... O-O? Sidley failed to find the refutation after thinking for five minutes.
16... Ne5! 17. Bxe5 dxe5 18. Nd5 (18. Nb3 Bxg5 Black wins a pawn and has a very good position. 19. Nd5 Bh4+ 20. Kd1 Qh6 21. Nc7+ Kf8 22. c3 Making space for the "travelling" monarch.( If White tries to grab material with: 22. Nxa8?? Diagram # 22... Bg4+ is crushing.)
18... Qa5+ 19. Qc3 Qxc3+ 20. bxc3 (20. Nxc3?? exd4 wins.)
20... Rc8 21. Nf3 Rc4 22. Nd2 Rc6
17. Nd5! The most active continuation.
17... Qd8 Best.
18. h3 Played after 7 minutes.
An interesting option was: 18. O-O! Bxg5 19. Bxd6 Re8 20. Qf3 Kh8 21. c4 Bh6 22. c5 Qg5 23. Kh1 Ne5 24. Qg2 Qh5 25. Nf5
18... Ne5! Best. White has only a slightly better position. At 7:13 pm , an hour and 7 minutes after the game started I chose to keep the Strong Bishop and played:
19. Qg3! 19. Qe3
19... f6 Diagram # 19....Ng6, attacking the strong Bishop, deserved attention. 19....Bc6 was also a strong move for Black, putting the question to the rock-solid Knight on the comfortable d5 outpost.
20. O-O-O! Played after ruminating on the position for eleven minutes, including a visit to the restroom where my face had a useful encounter with some water, refreshing me in the process. The text is also Fritz's preferred continuation. I pondered a couple of useful alternatives:
20... Rf7 21. Nf5 Good was: 21. h4 Bg4 22. Bxe5 dxe5 23. Qxg4 exd4 24. g6 hxg6 25. Rxd4 Bc5 26. Rd3
Also solid was the following line: 21. Bxe5 fxe5 22. g6 hxg6 23. Nf3 Rc8 24. Kb1 Be6
21... Bxf5 Diagram #
22. Nxe7+ The following was better for White: 22. exf5 fxg5 23. Bxe5 dxe5 24. Qxe5 Qf8 25. Rhe1 Bd6 26. Qe6
22... Qxe7 The liquidation has eased the pressure on Black.
23. exf5 23. gxf6? Qxf6 24. exf5 Qxf5
23... Rc8? 23... fxg5! Best for Black. 24. Bxg5 Qc7 25. f6 h6 26. Bxh6 Rxf6= and Black has solved all his problems.
24. g6! Diagram #
24... Rff8? 24... hxg6 25. fxg6 Rff8 26. Qb3+ Kh8 27. Rh2
25. gxh7+! Kh8 Capturing the pawn deserved attention.
25... Kxh7 26. Rhg1 Rc7 27. Qh4+ Kg8 28. Rg2 Qd7 29. Qg3 Qxf5 30. Rxd6 Diagram # And although better, White's advantage is not as pronounced as actually occurred in the game.
26. h4! Qc7 Threatening mate on c2.
26... Qd7 27. Rhg1 Rf7 28. Rg2 Qxf5 29. Rxd6 Rc4 30. Bxe5 fxe5 31. h5 Qf4+=
27. Rh2 The strongest way to parry the threat.
27... Rfd8?! 27... Qd7
28. h5! Rd7 Diagram #
29. h6! The courageous foot soldier continues his relentless march into enemy territory.
The following line shows that 29.Rg2 provides Black with insoluble problems. 29. Rg2! Qc4 (29... Qc5 30. h6 Rcc7 31. Kb1 b5 32. Bxe5 Seemingly strongest. 32... Qxe5 33. Qf3! Qe8 34. Rg6 Qd8 35. Qd5 Re7 36. Rh1 Rc5 37. Qe4 Rcc7 38. hxg7+ Rxg7 39. Rxf6 Rc8 40. Re6 Diagram #(Also strong was: 40. Rg6 Rxg6 41. fxg6 Qf6 42. Rg1 Rf8 Threatening mate in a couple of moves on f1. 43. Qd3 Kg7 44. Qh3 Qe7 45. Qc3+ Qf6 46. Qc7+ Kh6 47. Rh1+ Kxg6 48. Rg1+ Kh6 49. h8=Q+ Rxh8 50. Qd7! Diagram # 50... Qg6 Giving up the queen seems to be best. Black is lost. 51. Rh1+ Kg5 52. Qe7+ Kg4 53. Rg1+ Kf4 54. Rf1+ Kg3 55. Qe1+ Kh3 56. Qc3+ Kh4 57. Qxh8+ Kg5 58. Rg1+ Kf5 59. Qf8+ and mate will follow soon.)
30. Kb1 Qf7 31. h6 gxh6 32. Bxh6 a5 33. Rh1 Ng6 Giving up the Knight is the best defensive resource.(33... Rcc7?? Diagram # 34. Qg8+ Qxg8 35. hxg8=Q#)
(33... 33... Re8?? 34. Qg8+!! Rxg8 35. hxg8=Q+ Qxg8 36. Bg7# is pretty.)
34. fxg6 Qg7 so too the Queen !! Black is totally lost. 35. Bxg7+
29... Rf7 Diagram #
30. hxg7+ Strongest still was: 30. Rg2! Re8 31. Rxd6!! Trying to divert the queen from the seventh rank. 31... b5 ( If Black blunders and takes the offering: 31... Qxd6?? then 32. hxg7+ Kxh7 33. g8=Q+ Rxg8 34. Qxg8#)
32. Bxe5! fxe5 33. Qg6 Qe7 34. f6 Qxf6 35. Rxf6 Ree7 36. hxg7+ Rxg7 37. Rf8+ Rg8 38. Rxg8#
30... Rxg7 Diagram #
31. Qb3! The best move...played after thinking for eleven minutes. I hadusedseventy-two minutes for 31 moves and had 18 minutes to make 9 moves to hurdle the first time control successfully.
White had to be careful as the Knight had an internecine fork in hand in several variations: 31. Qh4? Nf3!
31. Qe1?? Nf3
31. Qf2?? Ng4
31. Qe3?? Ng4
I also thought of 31.Qh3 when White's advantage is preserved but I preferred the text as, inter alia, it hits g8, buttresses c2 and in general gives the regal lady a panoramic view of the board. 31. Qh3 Ng4 32. Bxd6 Qc4 33. b3 Qe4= Diagram # and Black's problems seem to have dissipated in Houdini-like fashion as his pieces have come to life. It should be noted that I went to great pains to prevent Black "freeing" himself/his pieces and the pressure gradually told.
31... Re8 Matthews had used 83 minutes and had only seven minutes to make 9 moves to reach the first time control. I doubted that he would make it as he continued to sigh heavily, repeatedly adjusted his spectacles and looked at the clock anxiously. While he was thinking, I was concentrating very hard trying to find moves which would make him consume as much time as possible.
31... Qc4 was, arguendo, the best way to struggle on. 32. Qxc4 Nxc4 33. b3 Ne5 34. Rxd6 Rxh7 35. Bxe5 fxe5 36. Re2 Kg8 37. Rxe5 Diagram # I actually worked out a line during the game which would have resulted in an almost identical position as this. 37... Rh1+ 38. Rd1 Rxd1+ 39. Kxd1 Kf7 40. Re6 Rc6 41. Rxc6 bxc6 42. Kd2 Kf6 43. Kc3 Kxf5 44. Kc4 Ke6 45. Kc5 Kd7 46. Kb6 a5 47. Kxa5 and wins.
32. Qd5 Diagram # Played after thinking for eight minutes. I was also on the periphery of time trouble.
32. Rh6! Qf7 33. Qxf7 Nxf7 34. Rxf6 Rxh7 35. Bxd6 Re2 36. Bb4 Rhh2 37. Bc3 Rxc2+ 38. Kb1 Rxc3 39. bxc3 and wins.
32... Rg4 4 minutes left.
33. Rf1 4 minutes for me.
33. Rg2! Rc8 (33... Rxg2 34. Qxg2 Rc8 35. Rg1 Qf7 36. Bh6 Qxh7 37. Bg7+ Kg8 38. Qxb7 Re8 39. Bxf6+ Diagram # and mate follows in a few moves.)
33... Qd7 This move cost Sidley a further 3 minutes off his clock. He now had only one minute for his remaining seven moves. I must confess that while he was cogitating on his 33rd move I watched his clock ticking away with "schadenfreude".
34. Rd2 Three minutes left for me !
Very strong was: 34. Bxe5 Rxe5 35. Qd3 Rg5 36. c3
34... Qxf5 Played quickly and with some degree of angst.
35. Rdf2?! A mistake in time trouble....the pressure was "seeping" across the board.
35. Rd4 preserved White's advantage.
35... Qd7? Played frantically. Black, in desperate time trouble, missed the best move:
35... Rc8! Diagram # Further attacking the c2 square and "swinging" the game. 36. Bxe5 Rxc2+ 37. Rxc2 Qxf1+ 38. Kd2 (38. Qd1 Qxd1+ 39. Kxd1 Rg1+ 40. Ke2 fxe5 41. Kf2 Rh1 42. Ke3 Kxh7 and Black has a winning position.)
38... Qf2+ 39. Kd3 Qf5+ 40. Kc3 Qxe5+ 41. Qxe5 dxe5 and the connected passed pawns, and ultra-active Rook, will prove too strong.
36. Bxe5! Diagram #
36... fxe5?? Necessary was: 36... Rxe5 37. Qd1 f5 38. Kb1 Rh4
Obviously not: 36... dxe5 because of: 37. Qxd7
37. Rf8+ Black now loses material by force.
37... Rxf8 38. Rxf8+ Kxh7 39. Rf7+ Rg7 40. Rxd7 Diagram # and a weary-looking Sidley Matthews Jnr. resigned just as his flag was falling. My last 6 moves (and Black's last 7) were played immediately. I had , therefore, achieved victory over this very seasoned campaigner for the first time and was on 2/3 in the tournament and in joint second position. The next few matches will be very interesting indeed. LESSONS FROM THE GAME 1. Adhere to the hallowed rules and/or principles. 2. Development is still key. If I may paraphrase a statement attributed to the legendary Morphy "Assist your pieces and they will reciprocate". One could also say that an attack should not be started prematurely, that is before ensuring that all the pieces are in their best positions. 3. Use the time allotted carefully...never rush unduly, whether attacking or defending. 4. One should practise puzzles and combinations as this will help one to finish off games with efficiency. 5. No one is unbeatable. 6. Along with studying the game, determination and perseverance are assets. IAN G. WILKINSON, St. Andrew, Jamaica, WI (7th August, 2002)