British Championships – best game contenders!

As promised, here is a shortlist of interesting games from the Championships. This list isn’t anything like comprehensive, I didn’t see all the games and don’t mean to offend anyone who isn’t here and who felt they played a fantastic game; I probably just didn’t see it! This is just a personal snippet of the hundreds of games played. To see my comments you might have to click on the three horizontal lines to show the move panel and then the speech bubble next to it.

First up, as painful as it is, I’m offering Short-Jones where Nigel reached a perfect English and outplayed me ruthlessly.

###pgn###[Event “British Championships”] [Date “2011.08.01”] [Round “7”] [White “Short, N.”] [Black “Jones, G.”] [Result “1-0”] [ECO “A37”] [WhiteElo “2687”] [BlackElo “2606”] [Annotator “GJ”] [PlyCount “111”] 1. c4 {Nigel continues the opening battle started in South Africa at the Commonwealth!} c5 2. g3 Nc6 3. Bg2 g6 4. Nc3 Bg7 5. Nf3 e5 {And I chose a different setup. Amusingly we now reach a position similar to that of our previous game but with colours reversed. You can check out the older game in an earlier update.} 6. d3 Nge7 7. Bg5 {An interesting idea and slightly annoying to face. In such a closed position the knights trump the bishops, and so White’s plan is to trade off his dark squared bishop and he will then have greater control of the light squares, in particular the important d5 and e4 squares. Therefore my next is mandatory but then my king isn’t entirely comfortable.} f6 8. Bd2 d6 9. O-O Be6 {Trying to use the fact that my pawn is already on f6 so there will be no annoying Ng5 ideas.} 10. a3 Qd7 11. Rb1 O-O ( {Apparently we’d been following theory up to here. The Rybka software’s opening book recommends} 11… Rc8 12. b4 b6 {which I considered but felt White to be a little better with more space. However this was a lesser evil.}) 12. b4 cxb4 {This is probably a mistake.} (12… b6 {would keep greater control of the centre but play down the long diagonal is rather awkward. I misevaluated the upcoming positions, hoping my activity in the centre would be enough to keep rough equality.}) 13. axb4 d5 14. b5 Nd8 15. Na4 $1 {This is much stronger than taking on d5 which would give my pieces more space.} Bf7 { I tried playing in the same manner as I was planning against 15.cxd5 but the pressure soon becomes unbearable.} ({Grabbign the pawn with} 15… dxc4 {was essential but I wasn’t very happy about giving away my light squared bishop when my position starts to creak.} 16. Nc5 Qe8 (16… Qc7 17. Nxe6 Nxe6 18. Rc1 {would win back the pawn when that g2 bishop would give White a very nice position.}) 17. Bb4 {and White has very strong pressure. This looks really unpleasant for me as I’m so passive and have such big holes in my position (e6 and d6 in particular). Nigel’s plan following 7.Bg5 has worked perfectly.}) 16. Bb4 $1 {Eeek! Somehow I was still hoping he’d take on d5.} Re8 17. Nd2 b6 $2 { After this careless move ‘I’m doomed, doomed.’ (in Private Frazer’s immortal words).} 18. Bxe7 $1 Rxe7 19. Nc3 {Now there’s no way of holding the d5 pawn. White has complete control of the open diagonal and I felt Nigel would convert easily if I sat back passively so tried to complicate matters.} e4 $5 20. Nxd5 Bxd5 21. cxd5 exd3 22. d6 $1 dxe2 23. Qb3+ Nf7 24. dxe7 exf1=Q+ 25. Nxf1 Re8 26. Bc6 Qxe7 27. Bxe8 Qxe8 28. Ra1 {The smoke has cleared and White is left with an extra exchange for a pawn with much more activity while the a7 pawn is dropping off.} Qd7 29. Rd1 Qe8 30. Rc1 Qd7 31. Ne3 f5 32. Nd5 Be5 33. Rc7 Qxc7 {My last chance was to try and create a fortress with bishop and knight against queen but unfortunately I have too many weaknesses.} 34. Nxc7 Bxc7 35. Qa2 Bd6 36. Qxa7 Bc5 37. Qd7 Kg7 38. Qe6 Bd4 39. Kg2 Bc5 40. f3 h5 41. h3 Bd4 42. Qc4 Bc5 43. Qc3+ Kh7 44. Qf6 Nd6 45. Kf1 Ne8 46. Qf7+ Ng7 47. Ke2 Bd4 48. Kd3 Bf2 49. g4 fxg4 50. fxg4 Bc5 51. Ke4 Bg1 52. Ke5 Be3 53. Qd7 Kh6 54. Kf6 Bg5+ 55. Kf7 hxg4 56. hxg4 1-0%%%pgn%%%
To feel better about myself, I’ve also chosen one of my victories. I’ve decided that my game against David Howell was my favourite, not just because I managed to win fairly comfortably, but David is such a strong player and the result was important for the overall tournament standings.

###pgn###[Event “British Championships”] [Date “2011.08.02”] [Round “8”] [White “Jones, G.”] [Black “Howell, D.”] [Result “1-0”] [ECO “C54”] [WhiteElo “2606”] [BlackElo “2625”] [Annotator “GJ”] [PlyCount “79”] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Bc4 {Loyal readers will know that I used this opening to defeat Gupta in the final round of the Commonwealth Championships to pick up the title!} Bc5 ({Instead Abhijeet chose} 4… Nf6) 5. c3 Nf6 6. e5 (6. cxd4 {is the alternative but has a fairly drawish reputation. Many games have finished} Bb4+ 7. Bd2 Bxd2+ 8. Nbxd2 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Qb3 Na5 11. Qa4+ Nc6 12. Qb3 Na5 {with a draw.}) 6… d5 7. Bb5 Ne4 8. cxd4 Bb6 ( 8… Bb4+ {is the alternative.}) 9. Nc3 O-O {This is an interesting position. Black’s bishop on b6 looks rather offside but White has to be careful to keep d4 safely guarded. In an ideal world White will exchange on c6 followed by playing against that backward c6 pawn but he has to be careful that that doesn’t give away too many light squares, (in particular the a6-f1 diagonal) while …c6-c5 ideas would also be worrisome.} 10. Be3 {Before the game I’d spent an hour or so on this position looking at Black’s different plans. David had played pretty quickly up to this point but here sunk into a trademark think. 40 minutes later he finally came up with the unusual} Ne7 {Not allowing White to capture on c6 and supporting the f5 square but now don’t have to worry about my d4 pawn.} (10… Bg4 {getting rid of a defender and thus putting more pressure on d4 is the most common}) ({while some top players have also tried} 10… f5 {obliging White to exchange his e5 pawn with} 11. exf6 Nxf6 {with a roughly balanced position.}) 11. Bd3 {As my bishop wasn’t doing anything on b5 anymore it makes sense to drop it back.} Bf5 12. O-O ({I briefly considered the radical} 12. g4 $6 {but} Bxg4 $1 13. Nxe4 dxe4 14. Bxe4 Ba5+ {leaves White’s king in more danger than Black’s.}) 12… Nxc3 {I was going to put more pressure on e4 to force this exchange anyway.} 13. bxc3 Rc8 { David gets ready to hit at my centre with …c7-c5. If he gets enough time to exchange on d4 followed by exchanging bishops and bringing his knight round to c6 and b4 then I’ll be tied down to the defence of d4 again. Black also has ideas of …f7-f6 so I have to act fast.} 14. Nh4 $1 Bxd3 15. Qxd3 c5 { Entirely consistent with his previous play but now the weakness of d6 is very awkward to deal with.} 16. Bg5 $1 {I think he might have under-estimated this move, instead concentrating on f2-f4 ideas. Now I threaten Nh4-f5 and so Black is forced to lose further time.} Qd7 ({David would have preferred to throw in an exchange of pawns first as that would avoid the game but after} 16… cxd4 17. Nf5 $1 {is very strong, for example:} Rxc3 18. Qe2 Bc5 19. Qg4 {and my attack is extremely powerful. Black is forced to play} h5 {to cut out mates on g7 but} 20. Qxh5 Qc7 21. Nxg7 $1 {is really horrible.}) 17. Bxe7 Qxe7 18. Nf5 { My knight is obviously a much better minor piece than that bishop which is rather sidelined on b6.} Qd7 19. Qf3 {Putting pressure on d5 but more importantly threatening Qg4 when Black wouldn’t be able to cope against the double threat of Qxg7 mate and Nh6 discovered check picking up the queen,} Qe6 $6 {This is probably the decisive error.} (19… g6 {was necessary.}) 20. c4 $1 {Exploiting the loose nature of Black’s position, in particular Ne7+ ideas forking king and rook.} g6 ({During the game I calculated} 20… dxc4 21. d5 Qxe5 22. Rae1 Qf6 23. Ne7+ Kh8 24. Qxf6 gxf6 25. Nxc8 Rxc8 26. Re7 {which is of course fantastic for White}) (20… cxd4 21. cxd5 Qxe5 22. Rfe1 Qf6 23. Ne7+ {isn’t much different.}) 21. Nh6+ {This is the right way to go with the knight} (21. Nd6 {would have allowed David a strong exchange sacrifice with} dxc4 $1 22. Nxc8 Rxc8 23. dxc5 Rxc5 {when Black’s bishop has been opened up and the c pawn means Black is definitely not worse.}) 21… Kg7 22. cxd5 Qd7 (22… Qe7 { was his last chance but Black’s position is horrible, i.e.} 23. Qf4 cxd4 24. Ng4 Qh4 25. g3 Qh5 26. d6 {and the monster d pawn and Black’s weak king promise White a decisive advantage.}) 23. Ng4 Qf5 {Exchanging queens but leaving Black in a hideous endgame. David was starting to be in bad time trouble at this point but I now had a long think to decide on the cleanest finish.} 24. Qxf5 gxf5 25. Ne3 Kg6 26. Nc4 $1 {Temporarily giving back a pawn but Black’s ragged pawn structure means White is winning the rook and pawn endgame.} cxd4 27. Nxb6 axb6 28. Rfd1 f4 29. Rxd4 Kf5 30. Re1 Rfe8 31. g3 $1 { This was the move I had seen back on move 24. The e5 pawn cannot be taken due to Rf4+ ideas and so I have an extra supported passed pawn. David fought on but his position is hopeless.} fxg3 32. hxg3 Rc5 33. g4+ Kg5 34. d6 {Passed pawns should be pushed!} h5 35. e6 $1 fxe6 36. Rxe6 {Black’s rook has to stay on the back rank to stop the d pawn and so this isn’t really a sacrifice.} Rd8 37. d7 {The simplest method. I give up the d pawn to get an easy technically winning position.} Rc7 38. Re5+ Kg6 39. Rd6+ Kg7 40. Rg5+ 1-0%%%pgn%%%

Finally I enjoyed watching the following game of my flatmate, Tom Rendle. With a tricky opening he caught out Simon, the gingergm, and didn’t allow him a chance to show his famed attacking skills. Tom has kindly annotated the game for this site.

###pgn###[Event “British Championship”] [Site “?”] [Date “2011.08.03”] [Round “9”] [White “Rendle, Thomas”] [Black “Williams, Simon”] [Result “1-0”] [ECO “C84”] [WhiteElo “2386”] [BlackElo “2528”] [Annotator “Thomas Rendle”] [PlyCount “55”] [EventDate “2011.??.??”] 1. e4 e5 {An early surprise. Simon is usually either a French or Sicilian player but here he decides to sidestep my preparation with 1…e5. The obvious drawback is that it’s impossible to prepare for everything and I have more experience than him in this type of position.} 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d4 $5 {I decided to play this although it’s not been in my repertoire (apart from the odd blitz game) for almost a decade. It’s an old line that used to be popular 20 or 30 years ago but has fallen out of fashion, and I felt that Simon would probably be unfamiliar with it.} exd4 7. e5 Ne4 8. Nxd4 Nxd4 (8… O-O {was played in a game between a young Mickey Adams and Mark Hebden. It was one of the games that first piqued my interest in the line, although I’m sure Mark has since found an improvement for Black.} 9. Nf5 d5 10. Bxc6 bxc6 11. Nxe7+ Qxe7 12. Re1 Re8 13. f3 Nd6 14. Bf4 Nf5 15. Qd2 Rb8 16. b3 Rb4 17. c3 Rb6 18. Qf2 c5 19. Nd2 Bb7 20. Nf1 d4 21. Ng3 Nh4 22. Ne4 Bxe4 23. Rxe4 Ng6 24. Bd2 Re6 25. f4 Qd7 26. cxd4 f5 27. d5 fxe4 28. dxe6 Qxe6 29. Qxc5 Rd8 30. Be3 Rd3 31. Re1 Kh8 32. Rf1 Qe7 33. e6 Kg8 34. f5 Qxc5 35. Bxc5 Ne5 36. f6 gxf6 37. e7 Kf7 38. Rxf6+ Kxf6 39. e8=Q {1-0 Adams,M (2495)-Hebden,M (2455)/ London 1989/EXT 1997}) 9. Qxd4 Nc5 10. Nc3 O-O ({one of the problems for Black in this line is that it can become difficult to develop the Queenside in a satisfactory manner. For example if Black chooses to grab the Bishop pair with } 10… Nxa4 11. Qxa4 O-O {then} 12. Bf4 {is awkward because} d6 13. exd6 Bxd6 14. Rad1 {gives Black series problems in the centre}) 11. Nd5 (11. Rd1 $5 {is also worth considering here}) 11… Re8 (11… d6 {is safer but Black can hardly hope to play for a win after} 12. Nxe7+ Qxe7 13. exd6 Qxd6 (13… cxd6 14. Bb3 {is very comfortable for White}) 14. Qxd6 cxd6 15. Bb3 {although after} Nxb3 {the game is heading for a draw}) 12. Bg5 $5 (12. c3 {keeps a small edge after} Nxa4 13. Qxa4 d6 14. Nxe7+ Qxe7 15. exd6 cxd6 16. Bf4 {but I decided to take some risks in order to give myself some more winning chances}) 12… Bxg5 13. Qxc5 c6 $6 ({critical must be the exchange sac after} 13… Rxe5 $1 14. f4 Be7 15. Qd4 Rxd5 (15… Re6 16. f5 {looks like very dangerous compensation for a pawn, especially as Black is still no nearer to developing his Queenside}) 16. Qxd5 c6 17. Qd2 d5 18. c3 {and Black has a very solid centre and a pawn in return for the exchange}) 14. f4 {I spent a long time over this move, mainly because I have a risk free way of playing instead of this. However, once I saw the idea on moves 17&18 I decided that I wasn’t risking too much playing this way after all.} (14. Nb6 {is a safe way to a slight edge} Be7 15. Qe3 Rb8 16. Rad1 $14 {as Black is still rather tied up here, although White’s advantage isn’t so large after} Bf8 $1 {preparing …d5}) 14… cxd5 15. fxg5 Rxe5 (15… Qxg5 $2 16. Qxd5 {would be almost game over after} Re6 17. Rae1 $1 {for example} ( 17. Qf3 {is also very strong, but with Black so badly placed there’s no need to rush}) 17… Rb8 18. Qc5 Qd8 19. Bb3 {and Black is forced to part with an exchange rather than allow} Re7 $2 20. Qd6 Ra8 21. Rxf7 $1 Rxf7 22. Bxf7+ Kxf7 23. e6+ Kg8 24. e7 {It’s all rather horrible for Black!}) 16. Qd6 $1 {the key move. I knew Simon could be a very dangerous player if he’s given a chance so my priority was to stop him getting active. The Queen on d6 further delays the activation of Black’s Queenside and in the meantime I can place my pieces on their ideal squares.} Qxg5 (16… Rxg5 $6 17. Bb3 {and it’s tough for Black to find a plan. The best hope is probably} Qf8 18. Qc7 $16) 17. Rae1 Re6 18. Bb3 $1 {Black’s weak back-rank makes the Queen immune and so Black is forced to waste more time creating an escape square for the King} h6 19. Qc5 d6 {finally Simon manages to play this move. If Black is given time to develop the Bishop and Rook then the worst will be over for him so it’s important for me to keep creating threats at this stage} 20. Qc7 Rxe1 (20… Qh5 $5 {may have been a better defensive try although White much better after} 21. c3 $1 {preparing to bring the Bishop to either d1 or c2 in some lines}) 21. Qxf7+ Kh7 22. Rxe1 Qd2 $2 {I could see Simon wasn’t enjoying his passive position so it wasn’t much of a surprise to see him play an avtive move now he has a chance, however the Queen alone isn’t a threat and it turns out to be the decisive mistake.} (22… Bf5 23. Qxd5 $16 {Is a position that only White can win as Black has weaknesses at both d6 and b7, however I feel that will accurate defence Black should be able to hold here.}) 23. Re8 $1 {now Black’s Queenside has been paralysed it’s all over} Qd1+ (23… Qd4+ 24. Qf2 Qxb2 25. h3 $1 $18 {and Black is running out of sensible moves}) 24. Qf1 Qd2 25. Qd3+ {this isn’t the quickest (or most accurate) way to win, but for me there was something aesthetic about swapping off Black’s only active piece.} (25. Rxc8 {is a faster win after} Rxc8 26. Qf5+ g6 27. Qd7+ ({of course not} 27. Qxc8 $4 Qe1#) 27… Kg8 28. Qxc8+ {and the Rook falls with check}) (25. c3 $1 {is also very strong as Black is in real danger of being mated after a check on the b1-h7 diagonal}) 25… Qxd3 26. cxd3 Kg6 27. Bxd5 Kf6 28. a4 $1 {underlining the fact that Black has no moves here. The exchange can be won at my leisure and so Simon decided it was time to resign.} (28. Be6 $6 Bxe6 29. Rxa8 Bxa2 {is still winning for White but it would be careless to allow Black even the smallest of drawing chances.}) 1-0%%%pgn%%%

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