David Vest is a very popular player in the Atlanta area. He had spent some time in California, but has returned to the Atlanta area and has been a mainstay at local tournaments. Always respectful to me personally and quick to offer compliments to The Chess Drum, it was really a pleasure to play Mr. Vest. He told me before I punched the clock, "It's an honor to play you." It's really hard to want to beat someone who says this; however, this IS chess and it is a game for fighters!
1. e4 Nf6 I had never played Vest before the tournament, but I knew the day would come. I had heard so much about his brash style of play, so I was certainly on my toes. I had heard of his "Vest-o-Flex" Attack, but I didn't know what it was and wanted to avoid becoming another one of his victims.
2. Nc3 Against 2. e5 Vest plays 2... Ng8
2... e5 Mr. Vest probably isn't aware that up until recently, I had played the Vienna game for many years, so I felt comfortable here.
3. g3 I thought for about 11 minutes before choosing this system. This was the line I played for many years with good success. It's a slow system, but I must admit I did get quite a few kingside attacks in my games. I also considered 3. f4!? which is the system I adopted briefly after finding the text not suiting my attacking style. A crazy continuation is 3... d5 4. fxe5 Nxe4 5. d3!? (5. Nf3 Bg4 6. d3 Nxc3 7. bxc3)
5... Qh4+ 6. g3 Nxg3 7. Nf3 Qh5 8. Nxd5 Bg4 9. Bg2 Nxh1 10. Nxc7+ Kd8 11. Nxa8 Nc6
I briefly considered 3. d4?! trying to trick him into the Center Game but didn't like 3... Bb4!? (3... exd4 4. Qxd4 Nc6 5. Qe3 Bb4 6. Bd2 O-O 7. O-O-O is the main line Center Game.)
3... d5 4. exd5 Bc5!? Trying to mix it up. 4... Nxd5 5. Bg2 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bd6 is the main line.
5. Bg2 I thought a long time on this move looking at all types of sacrifices for black on f2, but ultimately deciding that he didn't have enough pieces for such ideas.
Mr. Vest is living up to his reputation. Gambiting a pawn here is not a bad idea since white would end up under considerable pressure.
6. Nge2 Most flexible position for the knight.
6. dxc6 Nxc6 7. Nge2 O-O 8. d3 Be6 9. O-O Qd7 and white's position doesn't suit my style.
6... cxd5 7. d4 exd4 8. Nxd4 Qe7+?! Interesting reply, but this move would come back to haunt Mr. Vest as his Queen and King stayed in the center much too long. The isolated d5-pawn is successfully blockaded and is also a target now.
8... Nc6 9. Be3 (Fritz 8: 9. Qe2+ Qe7 10. Ndb5 Nb4 11. Nc7+ Kd7 12. Qxe7+ Bxe7 13. Nxa8 Nxc2+ 0.00/10)
9... Nxd4 10. Bxd4 Qe7+ 11. Kf1 is interesting.
9. Be3 Bg4 10. Qd2? A natural-looking move but 10. Nxd5! is more alert. After 10... Nxd5 (10... Bxd1 11. Nxe7 is worse.)
11. Qxg4 Nxe3 12. Qc8+ Qd8 13. Qxd8+ Kxd8 14. fxe3 and white should have enough to win with the extra pawn and lead in development.
10... Nc6 11. O-O Rd8 12. h3! I played this to tempt Mr. Vest to make a mistake by moving his bishop to the wrong square.
12... Be6 12... Bh5?? 13. Rfe1! is a crushing move.
13. Rfe1 I have a comfortable formation with Nxe6 threats brewing.
13... Nxd4 14. Bxd4 O-O 15. Rad1 b6 I looked a long time at 15... Ne4 but 16. Bxe4! is a killer...(16. Nxe4 Bxd4 (16... dxe4?? 17. Bxc5)
17. Qxd4 dxe4 18. Qxe4)
16... Bxd4 17. Nxd5!
I offered a draw here. Actually, it was more of a strategic offer because I wanted him to believe that I given up the fight. I felt good about my position and thought he'd take the draw, but wasn't surprised that he didn't. After seeing him destroy IM Irina Krush at the Emory Castle tournament in May, I knew he was a fighter. Mr. Vest had never played me before and didn't know what my technique was like.
16... Bxd4 He replied, "Let's play on."
17. Rxd4 Qc5 18. Red1 I have blocked the isolani the whole game and with the fianchetto on g2 and black's saddled bishop on e6, I felt I had more options.
18... h6 19. Qd2 Rd7 20. Nxd5 I accepted the challenge.
20... Nxd5 21. Bxd5 Rfd8? Risky.
21... Bxd5 22. c4! (22. Rxd5 Rxd5 23. Qxd5 Qxc2 24. Rd2=)
22... Bc6 23. Rxd7 Bxd7 24. Qxd7 Qxc4 25. Qxa7 Qe2! is dead equal, but of course Mr. Vest had just spurned a draw offer.
22. c4 Briefly considered 22. b4?? but on 22... Qxd4! 23. Qxd4 Rxd5 I can resi gn. Believe me, Mr. Vest would've played this move so fast, I wouldn't had time to resign before he played the fatal blow!
22... b5 23. b3 bxc4 24. bxc4 Kf8 24... Bxh3 25. g4
Very strong move. There are all types of threats brewing now... first of which is simply Bxe6.
25... Bxd5 26. Rxd5 Rxd5 27. Rxd5 Rxd5 28. cxd5 Qxd5 He offered a draw, but of course, I had to play for a win now.
29. Qb8+ Ke7 30. Qxa7+ Kf6 31. a4 Since my Queen holds f2, I don't have to concern myself with his Queen creating perpetual checks.
31... g5 Desperation.
32. Qb6+! Kg7 33. a5 This pawn is now unstoppable.
33... h5 34. a6 h4 35. Qb7! Controlling the diagonal.
Fritz likes 35. gxh4 and I had considered it, but why take unnecessary chances?
35... Qd1+ 36. Kg2 g4 Trying to trick me into to making a mistake, but I have a resource involving a "cross-check." Mr. Vest got up and left the board so I could figure out a how to botch this game.
37. gxh4 37. hxg4 h3+ 38. Kh2 wins but is not as accurate.
37... Kh6 37... gxh3+ 38. Kxh3 Qf1+ 39. Qg2+!
38. Qc6+! This move holds the d6-square and forces the King to retreat.
38... Kg7 38... Kh5 39. a7 gxh3+ 40. Kh2!
39. a7 gxh3+ 40. Kxh3 Qd3+ 41. Kg2 Qd4 42. a8=Q Qg4+ 43. Kh1 Qxh4+ 44. Kg1