photo: Betsy Dynako
[Update, 10/31: This game has won the USCL Game of the Week! Congratulations, Jan!]
IM John Bartholomew vs. IM Jan van de Mortel
U.S. Chess League / Internet Chess Club
October 26, 2009
annotations by Jan van de Mortel
1.e4 A slight surprise as Bartholomew had only opened with d4 or Nf3 lately.
1...c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Kb1 Qc7 12.h4 Rfc8 13.h5 By now I figured my opponent had seen my game with Albert Chow from a few years back.
13...Qa5 14.hxg6 hxg6 15.a3 Rab8 16.Bd3 b5 17.Qg5 This line is supposed to be trouble for Black (White scores about 75% in my database.)
17...Rc5?! 18.Bxc5 dxc5 [18...b4? is very tempting and a variation I looked at a decade ago with the USCL Commissioner Greg Shahade. We concluded it was unsound in the line 16.Bd3, and a bit more playable in the line 16.g4. We also tried the game continuation and what I vaguely remember is that it is unplayble in the line 16.g4 (as Nd7 will be under attack by the rook), and a bit more playable in the line 16.Bd3. 19.Be3 (19.axb4? Rxb4 20.Be3 Qa3 is what Black wants, for example 21.Kc1 Rxb2 22.Kd2 Qxc3+ 23.Ke2 (23.Kxc3 Nxe4# ) 23...Bc4^ ) 19...Bf5 (19...Qxg5 20.Bxg5 bxc3 21.b3 is insufficient compensation for Black.) 20.Nb5! Chow refutes the rook-sacrifice over the board. 20...bxa3 21.exf5 axb2 (21...Ne4 22.fxe4 Qb4 23.Bc1 axb2 24.Be3 Qa5 25.c3+- ) 22.c3+- although I somehow managed to win this game on time (Chow-Van de Mortel, Chicago 2005)]
19.Qxc5 Nd7 20.Qb4 [20.Qxe7 b4 21.axb4 Rxb4 22.Qe8+ Nf8 and Black's attack is overwhelming]
20...Qc7 21.Nd5 taking the pawn on b5 is risky, but might very well be OK for White too.
21...Bxd5 22.exd5 Nc5 23.Rhe1? [23.d6!? This pawn-sac brings both the d- and e-file in play for the White rooks. 23...exd6 24.Rh4 (24.Rhe1!? a5 25.Qh4 Kf8 ) 24...a5 25.Qd2 Qe7 26.Rg4 Qf6 27.Qc1 b4 28.axb4 axb4 29.Bc4+/- Swinkels-Citak, Gibraltar 2007; Perhaps the best is 23.Rh4! a5 (23...Bf6 24.Rdh1) 24.Qf4 and Black might have to trade queens into a bad endgame to avoid getting trampled, for example 24...Be5 25.Qh6 Bg7 26.Qh7+ Kf8 27.Bxg6! fxg6 28.d6! exd6 29.Rf4++- ]
23...a5 24.Qh4 Bf6 25.Qh6?! [25.d6! Qxd6 26.Qh6 Bg7 (26...Qc7 27.Bxg6 fxg6 28.Qxg6+ Kf8 29.Rd5! and Black is under attack, as 29...b4 30.Qh6+ Kg8 (30...Kf7 31.Qh5+ Kf8 32.Rxc5 ) 31.Rh1 bxa3 leads to checkmate 32.Rg5+ Kf7 33.Qg6+ Ke6 34.Qf5+ Kf7 35.Rh7+ Kf8 36.Rh8+ Kf7 37.Rg7+ Kxg7 38.Qh7# ) 27.Qg5 Na4 28.c3 Bxc3 29.Bc2 Qf6 30.Qxf6 Bxf6 31.Bxa4 bxa4 32.Re2+/- and White is clearly better due to the weakness of the a-pawns.]
25...Qd6! Black is finally OK!
26.Bxg6! Since my own attack is ready to launch, White has to go for it. [26.Rh1 Qe5 27.c3 b4 28.f4 bxc3 29.fxe5 Rxb2+ 30.Kc1 Nb3# ]
26...fxg6 27.Qxg6+ Kf8 [27...Bg7 28.Qxd6 exd6 29.b3! b4 30.a4 is a safe way to play when White's queenside is under control, though Black should be able to withstand the passed pawns.]
28.Rh1 Qe5 [28...Bg7 29.Qf5+ Qf6 30.Qxf6+ Bxf6 31.d6 is bad news for Black as the White rooks will get very active.]
29.c3 b4 [29...Na4? 30.Rh7 Bg7 31.d6! exd6 (31...e6 32.f4 ) 32.Rxg7 Qxg7 33.Qxd6+ ]
30.axb4? Under time pressure White goes for an 'automatic' in-between trade, missing Black's reply. [on 30.Rde1 I was planning 30...Qxd5 (Very tempting, but not sufficient is 30...bxc3? 31.Rxe5 Rxb2+ 32.Kc1 Nb3+ 33.Kd1 c2+ (Black does not have time for 33...Bxe5 34.Qf5+! Kg8 35.Qc8+ Kf7 (35...Kg7 36.Qh8+ Kf7 37.Rh7+ Kg6 38.Qg8+ Kf5 39.Rh5+ Kf6 40.Rh6+ Kf5 41.Qg4# ) 36.Rh7+ Bg7 37.Rxg7+ Kxg7 38.Qxc3+ and White wins) 34.Qxc2 Rxc2 35.Kxc2 Nd4+ 36.Kd3 Bxe5 37.Rb1 and White is winning due to the weak a-pawn.; Even more tempting, and maybe playable is 30...bxa3!? 31.Rxe5 Rxb2+ 32.Kc1 Nb3+ 33.Kd1 a2 (33...Rd2+ first is also possible 34.Ke1 a2 35.Qh6+ (35.Rh8+ Bxh8 36.Rf5+ Bf6 37.Rxf6+ exf6 38.Qxf6+ Kg8= ) 35...Ke8 36.Rxe7+ Kxe7 37.Qe3+ Kf8 (37...Kd8 38.Qb6+ Kc8 39.Qc6+ Kb8 40.Qe8+ Kc7 41.Rh7+ and White checkmates) 38.Qh6+ Ke7= ) 34.Qh6+ Ke8 35.Rxe7+ Kxe7 36.Re1+ Kf7 37.Qh5+ Kg7 38.Qg4+ Kf8 39.Qc8+ Kg7 40.Qd7+ Kg6 41.Qe8+ Kg7 and somehow White has nothing better than perpetual check! 42.Re7+ Bxe7 43.Qxe7+ Kg8= ) 31.Qh6+ Kf7 32.Qh7+ Ke8!? (32...Kf8 33.Qh6+= ) 33.Rd1 Qf7 (33...Qb3 34.Qh5+ Kf8= ) 34.Qxf7+ Kxf7 35.axb4 axb4 36.c4 and Black might be a hair better.; White's best way to safety is 30.Rh7 Bg7 31.d6! (31.Rh5? bxc3! 32.Rf5+ (32.Rxe5 Rxb2+ 33.Ka1 Nb3# ) 32...Bf6 33.Rxf6+ (33.b4 c2+ 34.Kxc2 Qb2# ) 33...exf6-+ ) 31...bxc3 (31...exd6 32.Rxg7 Qxg7 33.Qxd6++- ) 32.dxe7+ Qxe7 33.Qf5+ Kg8 34.Rxg7+! Qxg7 35.Qd5+ Qf7 36.Qg5+ Qg7 37.Qd5+= ]
30...Rxb4! Threatening Rxb2 with checkmate.
31.Rd4 [Nothing else helps, for example 31.Rc1 Na4 32.Ka1 Qe2 33.Rc2 Nxc3! 34.Qh6+ Ke8 35.Qg6+ Kd7 36.Qf5+ Kd8 37.b3 Qe3 and it's all over.]
31...Rxd4 32.cxd4 Qxd4 33.Qc2 Qxd5 34.Rd1 Qb7 35.Rd2 Qb4?! Even though I saw the best reply, I took a little gamble as White was struggling to stay alive on the clock as well. [objectively better is 35...Ne6 36.Qg6 a4]
36.Re2? [White could have put up a lot of resistance with 36.Rd8+ Kg7 37.Qf2 Be5 (37...Ne6 38.Qg3+ Ng5 39.Rb8 and White's pieces are coordinating nicely) 38.Qe2 Qf4 39.Rd5 Bd6 and the pressure on pawn b2 is gone.]
36...Na4! 37.Qc8+ Kg7 38.Qg4+ Qxg4 39.fxg4 Kg6! [39...Nxb2 40.g5 ]
40.Rf2 Nxb2 41.Rf5 a4 42.Ra5 Bd4 with the plan e7-e5 to cut off the rook from the fifth rank.
43.Ra6+ Kg5 44.Re6 Bf6 45.Re4 Nd1 46.Kc2 Nc3 47.Rc4 a3 48.Rc5+ [48.Kb3 a2 49.Kb2 e5! ]
48...Kxg4 49.Ra5 a2 50.Kb2 Kg3 51.Ra8 Kxg2 52.Ra5 White is hoping for stalemate or a chance to test my KBN vs K skills.
52...Kf2 53.Ra8 Ke2 54.Ra5 Kd3 55.Ra8 Bd4 56.Re8 e5 57.Rxe5 Bxe5 58.Ka1 Bd6 59.Kb2 Ne2 60.Kxa2 Kc2 61.Ka1 Bf8 The Dragon bishop returns home! 0-1
Go here to see the game and annotations in PGN.]
Oh, yes, and please leave some comments below. Thanks.