New Zealand Chess Bulletin, June 2019

Happy Days at the North Island Champs by Mike Steadman

Steadman, Michael VR - Croad, Nicolas E - North Island Chp 2019

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.g3 Not sure whether this is Nic's new main line, but he certainly thought for a while here and a6 is not the main move in this position.   6...a6 (6...Bb4 7.Bg2 O-O 8.O-O d6 9.Nde2 a6 10.h3 Bc5 I'm always happy if I can get g4 in :-).   11.g4 ) 7.Bg2 Bc5!?

Moves are clickable

Not the right move here because White can swap the Knight and either get a nice endgame or with e5 get a good squeeze.  (7...Qc7 8.O-O Be7 9.Re1 O-O 10.Nxc6 dxc6 11.e5 Rd8 12.Qf3 Nd5 13.h4 Nxc3 14.Qxc3 Bd7 White has a pleasant space advantage, with Bg5 the dark squared Bishop will go and then we can proceed to get into d6, so maybe the a6 move is just not good. ) 8.Nxc6 dxc6 9.Qxd8+ Kxd8 10.e5 Ng4 11.Ne4 Bb4+ (11...Bd4 This was the variation I was more concerned with as I can't keep the 2 Bishops, but still keep a slight edge due to the Black Bishop on c8 - one bad piece can make the difference. ) 12.c3 Be7 13.Bf4 f5!? Hard to sit still in a bad position, this just makes Black's job harder.  (13...h5 14.O-O-O+ Kc7 15.Rd2 Nh6 16.Bf3 h4 17.Rhd1 hxg3 18.fxg3 Nf5 White is definitely better but there are no obvious entry points, unlike the game continuation.  ) 14.exf6 Nxf6 15.O-O-O+ Ke8 16.Nd6+ Bxd6 17.Bxd6


This is almost winning. Two Bishops in an open position, no central squares for the Knight, 3 pawn islands to 2, undeveloped Black position - too many pluses in White's camp for Black to hold.   17...Kf7 18.Be5 Ke7 19.Rhe1 Rd8 20.Bd4 Kf7 21.Bxf6 Rxd1+ 22.Rxd1 gxf6 23.Rd8


I chose to swap the Knight to ensure I get this bind, Black has no way to unravel without losing a pawn or something.  23...Rb8 24.h4 Kg7 25.b3 Kf7 26.c4 f5 27.c5 e5? Again, hard to sit and do nothing, this is one pawn move too many and Black's position now collapses.   28.Bh3 Kf6 29.g4 f4 30.g5+ Kg6 31.Rxc8 Rxc8 32.Bxc8 Kh5 33.Bxb7 Kxh4 34.Bxc6 Nic had had enough, even I can win this one 1-0

Steadman, Michael VR - Ker, Anthony F - North Island Chp 2019

After the nice win over Nic I then get the kind colours and get Anthony in the afternoon round with White as well. I had seen he had jettisoned his Pirc (good call - must have been sick of Wastney just getting free points) and had taken up the Accelerated Dragon. I had looked at this before and was keen to see how deep he knew the new opening.  1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nf6 5.e5 Nc6 6.Qf4 Nd5 7.Qe4 Nc7 This is the right move, but have to be aggressive and sac a pawn to get attacking chances against White's space.   8.Bf4 Bg7 9.Nc3 O-O 10.O-O-O

Moves are clickable

10...b5 White has scored 3 wins from every 4 from this kind of position, you either play the way Anthony did or try ...  (10...Ne6 11.Be3 Qa5 12.Rd5 Qc7 13.h4 b6 14.h5 I would take White every day here, I think the b5 line offers more hope and is how Bob plays it as well.)  ) 11.h4 b4 12.Nd5 Nxd5 13.Qxd5 Qa5 I'm not sure swapping Queens helps Black here.  (13...e6 14.Qd6 Qb6 15.Rd2 h6 16.h5 Ba6 (16...g5? 17.Bxg5 hxg5 18.h6 Bh8 19.h7+ Kg7 20.Rh5 ) 17.Bxa6 Qxa6 18.Kb1 Qc4 Black is close to equalising. ) 14.h5 Qxd5 15.Rxd5 Rd8 16.hxg6 hxg6 17.Bb5 Bb7 18.Rhd1


18...d6? Anthony thought for a long time about this move. Like Nic he was getting squeezed. He thought he'd seen a way out, but he hadn't seen far enough.  (18...Nb8 19.R5d4 a5 20.Bxd7 Nxd7 21.Rxd7 Rxd7 22.Rxd7 Bxf3 23.gxf3 e6 Only White can win, but there are still hopes of grovelling for a draw.  ) 19.exd6 e5 20.Nxe5


20...Nxe5 21.Rxe5 Here is the problem, the Exchange sac is huge, the d6 pawn is a monster and the dark squared Bishop will offer mating motifs at every turn, Black is completely lost.  21...Bxe5 22.Bxe5 Bxg2 23.Bf6 Bf3 24.Rd4 a5 25.d7 g5 26.Bxg5 Kg7 27.Rf4 Bh5 28.Bf6+ Kg6 29.Bxd8 Rxd8 30.Re4 Now the King blocks the Bishop to e8, so White wins.  1-0

Smith, Robert W - Steadman, Michael VR - North Island Chp 2019

1.e4 c5 Bob was half a point behind and I wanted to win to guarantee first prize. We had tried everything going in the French, I decided to play like Carlsen and roll the Sicilian. I knew he would follow Caruana's line, very much in Bob's way of playing.   2.Nf3 This told me Bob was trying to win also, otherwise he would have snuffled with his closed Sicilian or King's Indian stuff.   2...Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 So I was sure I was out of any of Bob's prep now, I had never played this before, was still sure he would default to the Nd5 line...   6.Ndb5 d6 7.Nd5 Nxd5 8.exd5 Ne7 This was Carlsen's preferred retreat, he kind of just gets on with it and the Queenside has to look after itself at times - fits my style to perfection.   9.c4 Ng6 10.Qa4 This seems to be the hot move at the moment.   10...Bd7 11.Qb4 Qb8 12.a4 This was the surprise, was really unsure how to proceed here, I guess the rule is the Queenside just gets abandoned, I looked a long time at a5, but in the end just decided to carry on.  12...Be7 (12...a5 13.Qa3 Be7 14.Be2 O-O 15.g3 f5 16.h4 e4 17.h5 Ne5 18.h6 g6 19.Bf4 Bxb5 20.Bxe5 Be8 21.Bf4 Qd8 Pretty even kind of position ) ( The other option was to hit the Knight and then hit the Queen. Means White needs 2 moves to get to d4 when Black plays e4. 12...a6 13.Nc3 a5 14.Qb3 Be7 15.g3 f5 16.Be2 O-O 17.h4 e4 18.h5 Ne5 19.h6 g6 20.Be3 Again, pretty even position but in both these lines White does not have the Na4 and onto b6 option which really tied Black up ) 13.g3 f5 14.h4

Moves are clickable

14...h5!? Not sure this is the right plan, should have followed Carlsen's recipe and played e4 and dumped the Knight in, was worried long term of the dark squares with a Bishop on c3...   15.Be2 a6 16.Nc3 e4 17.a5 White is trending better now, the h5 pawn is not on a very good square and White is going to castle Queenside.   17...Ne5 18.Be3 O-O 19.Na4 Qe8 20.Nb6 Rd8 21.O-O-O I wasn't particularly liking my position, but Bob had spent some time and it would help in the long run.   21...Bf6 22.Rhe1 Qe7? Right idea, wrong square.  (22...Qg6 23.Kb1 Be8 24.c5 dxc5 25.Qxc5 Nd7 26.Nxd7 Rxd7 27.d6 Bf7 28.Rc1 Be6 White is better, but Black is still in the game and the clock would now be playing against Bob.  ) 23.Kb1 (23.Bxh5! Nd3+ 24.Rxd3 exd3 25.Bd2 This is what we missed, White is just winning as the Black Queen has no squares. So if Nd3 does not work, White is a cold pawn up and still has all the plusses...  ) 23...Be8 24.c5 Not to say that White is not doing really well here either.   24...Bb5


I just had to make the position murky and get Bob to think more. Bob likes a controlled position when all he needs to do is squeeze the point, I had to throw anything in to keep chances alive now.   25.Bxb5 axb5 26.cxd6 Qe8 27.d7 Qg6 Here is the position I saw when I played Bb5, doomed, but chances if White does not close out carefully and Bob was down to 10 minutes by this stage...   28.Bc5 Rf7 29.Qxb5 Nf3 30.Re3 f4 31.gxf4 Bxh4


Bob was down to 3 minutes now, the worst time to be completely winning IF he could find a few key moves.   32.Qe2!? Not the strongest move, I was beginning to see light now.  32...Rxf4 33.Ka2 Ne5 34.Rg3? Bob starts to crack - he's down to 30 seconds now, White was winning, but with pieces flying everywhere, it's too hard to find the right path.  (34.Rh3 Nxd7 (34...Bf6 35.Rxh5 Nxd7 36.Nxd7 Rxd7 37.Rdh1 Kf7 38.Rh8 Qg5 ) 35.Rxh4 Rxh4 36.Be7 Re8 37.Bxh4 ) 34...Qf7!? I looked at the Exchange, but felt Bob would need less time to play his moves, so decided to keep the pieces on and wait for the bigger mistake.  (34...Bxg3! 35.fxg3 Rf7 36.Rh1 Qg4 37.Qxg4 hxg4 38.Bd4 Nxd7 39.Re1 Re8 Black is just winning. ) 35.Rg2 Nxd7 36.Bd4 Bf6 37.Bxf6 Nxf6 White is still at 30 seconds and now his position is worse. The Knight that was huge on b6 is now out of play and doing nothing.   38.Qc4 Ng4 39.d6 Nxf2? I was playing slightly quickly to keep the heat on Bob, on the surface this looked good, finally a pawn up, but this move lets the plus slip.  (39...e3! 40.Qxf7+ Kxf7 41.Nd5 Rxf2 42.Nxe3 Rxg2 43.Nxg2 g5 These 2 passed pawns are huge and the d6 pawn is lost. ) 40.Rd4 (40.Rd5 Nd3 41.Rdg5 Qxc4+ 42.Nxc4 Rf7 43.Rg1 h4 44.Rh5 Rf4 45.Rh1 ) 40...Qxc4+ 41.Nxc4 h4 42.b4


Now the death throws, Bob has gained a few time increments, but the damage has been done and now he cannot bring himself to resign.   42...h3 43.Rh2 g5 44.Ne3 g4 45.Nxg4 Nxg4 46.Rxh3 Nf6 47.Kb3 Kf7 48.Kc4 Ke6 49.Kc5 Nd7+ 50.Kb5 Rf5+ 51.Kc4 Rc8+ 52.Kb3 Ke5 53.Rd1 Rf3+ 54.Rxf3 exf3 55.b5 Ke4 Bob resigns in disgust. The worst losses are the ones you know you were winning. 0-1