New Zealand Chess Magazine, October 2018

Readers' Showcase, by Philip Hair

I've analysed my game against David Notley in the Oceania Zonal Championship from last year. The game, which was drawn, was awarded a special prize by Murray Chandler for the Best Fighting Game. Both kings were in danger; throughout the game both players continually avoided simplification, even when that would have been the advisable option.

Hair, Philip - Notley, David Oceania Zonal 2017

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6 6.Be3 Rb8 7.Qd2 b5 8.h4 h5 9.f4 Bd7 10.Nf3 Nd4

Moves are clickable

11.Nh2 White wants to drive the d4 knight away without exchanging pieces.  11...Nh6 12.O-O Qc8 13.Nd1 Bh3 14.c3 Bxg2 15.Kxg2 Nc6 16.Nf2 Qd7 17.Nf3 Ng4 18.Nxg4 Qxg4 Fritz thinks (18...hxg4 is slightly better, when White will play  19.Ng1 intending Ne2. ) 19.f5!?


This could be risky, but is a thematic Closed Sicilian-type move. Fritz prefers the central break 19.d4.  19...gxf5 20.Nh2 It's rare to see a White knight on h2 even once in a game, let alone twice.  20...Qg6 21.Rxf5?! (21.exf5 was better, e.g.  21...Qf6 22.Bg5 Qe5 23.f6 Qd5+ 24.Kg1 exf6 25.Bxf6 Bxf6 26.Rxf6 Rg8 27.Qg2 Qxg2+ 28.Kxg2 Ke7 29.Raf1 Rbf8 30.R6f5 Rh8 31.Nf3 when White may have a slight edge. ) 21...f6 (21...e6 looks better for Black after  22.Rg5 Qh7 or 22.Rf2 Ne5. ) 22.Kh1 Ne5 (22...e6 is also good ) 23.Qe2 The tactical (23.Bf4 is risky, e.g.  23...e6 24.Bxe5 exf5 25.Bxd6 Rd8 26.exf5 Qxf5 27.Qe3+ Kf7 28.Qe7+ Kg6 29.Bxc5 Rhe8 30.Qxa7 Rd7 with advantage to Black. ) 23...e6 24.Rff1 (24.Rf2 may be slightly better. ) 24...c4!


Undermining White's centre. Fritz considers that Black has a definite advantage here.  25.Bxa7 cxd3 26.Qg2 Rc8 (26...Rd8 immediately may be better, as Black later plays this anyway. ) 27.Bd4 Rg8 28.Rad1 Rd8 29.Rfe1 Fritz prefers (29.Bxe5 dxe5 30.Qf3 d2 31.Rf2 Bh6 32.Qxf6 Qxe4+ 33.Rf3 Qg6 34.Qxe5 Rd5 when the position is unclear and possibly about equal, although the d2 pawn is a problem for White. ) 29...Bh6 30.Be3 Bf8?! (30...Bxe3 31.Rxe3 Rd7 is in Black's favour; White can't play Nf3 because the g-pawn is then en prise. White has to sit tight and defend, e.g.  32.b3 Rc7 33.Qd2 ) 31.Bf4 Be7 32.Nf3 Ra8 33.a3 Ra4 34.Nd4 Kd7?! This leads to an advantage for White. According to Fritz, (34...Qg4 is at least equal for Black, e.g.  35.Qf1 Ra5 36.Nb3 Ra7 37.Bxe5 fxe5 38.Rxd3 Rf8 39.Qe2 Qh3+ 40.Kg1 Bd8 41.Re3 Rg8 42.Qh2 Qxh4 43.Qxh4 Bxh4 44.Kh2 ) 35.Nxb5 Qg4 (35...Ra5 was better:  36.a4 Rxa4 37.Bxe5 fxe5 38.Rxd3 Qg4 39.Red1 Ra6 but the advantage is still with White. ) 36.Bxe5 fxe5 37.Rxd3 Bxh4 Fritz prefers (37...Rb8 38.b3 Ra6 39.c4 Bxh4 40.Qe2 Be7 41.Qxg4 hxg4 42.a4 but this still greatly favours White. ) 38.Rxd6+? White gives away his advantage. Much stronger was (38.Nxd6! Ke7 39.Rf1 Bf6 40.Qf2 Rg6 41.Kh2 Kf8 42.Rf3 Qg5 43.Rxf6+ Rxf6 44.Qxf6+ Qxf6 45.Rxf6+ Ke7 46.Rf2 Kxd6 47.Re2 and White is two pawns up in the endgame and Black's pawns are weak. ) 38...Ke7 Fritz suggests (38...Kc8 as a safer destination for the king, with the further analysis  39.Re3 Bxg3 40.Qxg3 Qxg3 41.Rxg3 Rxg3 42.Rxe6 Rg5 43.b3 Ra5 44.c4 Kd7 45.Rd6+ Ke7 46.Rd5 Ra8 47.c5 Rag8 ) 39.Red1 Another possibility is (39.Rb6 e.g.  39...Bxg3 40.Rb7+ Ke8 41.Rb8+ Ke7 42.Rxg8 Qxg8 43.Qg1 Qg5 44.Qc5+ Kf7 45.Nd6+ Kg6 46.Re2 Qg4 47.Qe3 but this could be promising for Black after  47...h4 ) 39...Bxg3


Black misses the surprising resource (39...Rd4! when White's best option is  40.R1xd4 with the further likely play  40...exd4 41.Rxd4 e5 42.Rd3 Bxg3 43.Nd6 Qh4+ 44.Kg1 Bh2+ 45.Kf1 Qf4+ 46.Qf2 Rg1+ 47.Ke2 Qg4+ 48.Qf3 Rg2+ 49.Ke1 Bg3+ 50.Kf1 Rf2+ 51.Qxf2 Bxf2 52.Kxf2 Qf4+ 53.Ke2 Qh2+ 54.Kd1 Qxb2 55.c4 and the endgame is difficult to assess but may favour Black. ) 40.Rd7+ Kf6 41.Rf1+ Bf4 42.Qxg4 hxg4 43.Nd6 Rh8+ 44.Kg1 Rh3 (44...g3 may be better. ) 45.Ne8+ Kg5 46.Rg7+ Kh6 (46...Kh4 is drawn with best play:  47.Nf6 Be3+ 48.Kg2 Rg3+ 49.Kh2 Rh3+ 50.Kg2 ) 47.Rxg4 Rxe4


48.Nf6 (48.Rg8 is stronger:  48...Rd3 49.Nf6 Re2 50.Rg2 Rxg2+ 51.Kxg2 Kg6 52.Ne4 Kf5 53.Re1 with the better endgame for White. ) 48...Re2 49.Ng8+ White decides to force a draw by repetition of position, because the Black forces are gathering around his king.  49...Kh7 50.Nf6+ Kh6 51.Ng8+ 1/2-1/2