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March 2017
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Devon’s New County Champion.

Cornwall’s individual championship is decided at their annual congress each January, the current champion being James Hooker. Devon’s is done on a knockout basis throughout the season and this was the deciding game between the two finalists.  Notes condensed from those supplied by the winner.

White: J. K. Stephens (196). Black: T. J. Paulden (187).

Robatsch Defence  [B06]

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 a6 4.Nf3 d6 5.a4 b6 6.Bc4 e6 7.0–0 Ne7 8.Be3 Nd7 9.Qd2 h6 10.Rfe1 g5!? A double edged move – Black claims control over f4, but in the long run, his king may be exposed. 11.h3 Ng6 12.Ne2 Nf6 13.Ng3 White eyes the weak h5 square. If the Nf6 ever moved, this would be a great attacking square. 13…0–0 14.a5 b5 15.Bb3 Bb7 16.d5! White waits for the bishop to move to b7 before closing the long diagonal. If played whilst the bishop is still on c8, Black plays e5, and f5 will follow quickly. 16…c5 Solving a lot of Black’s opening problems. 17.dxc6 Bxc6 18.Bb6 Qb8 19.Rad1 White maintains a slight edge due to his greater king security and play on the d-file. 19…d5 20.exd5 White missed: 20.Nd4 Bb7 21.exd5 Bxd5 22.Ndf5! Bxb3 23.Nxg7 Kxg7 24.Qc3 The move I missed, threatening Nh5+ 24…Nf4 25.Ne4 e5 26.Nxf6 and White is close to winning. 20…Bxd5 21.Bxd5 Nxd5 22.Bd4 Ndf4 putting the other knight on f4 is perhaps better e.g. 22…Ngf4 23.Bxg7 Kxg7 24.Qd4+ Kh7 and although the Black king is exposed, it’s not easy for White to make progress, as the knights do a good job of controlling White’s pieces. 23.Bxg7 Kxg7 24.Qc3+ f6 This allows White to set up nasty threats on the 7th rank. 25.Rd7+ Rf7 26.Red1 Ra7! 27.Qc6 Ne5 28.Nxe5 Qxe5 29.Rd8? This looks to be winning for White, but Black has defensive resources. Better was 29.Rxf7+ Kxf7 30.Rd8 Re7 31.Qa8 Ng6 and all the key squares around Black’s king are covered, although White stands better due to his activity on the queenside. 29…Rfe7 30.Qc8 Kg6? The move to find was 30…h5!! and White has no mate! 31.Rg8+ Rg7?? After this, it is all over. Black could stay in the game with: 31…Kh7 32.Rh8+ Kg6 33.Rdd8 Ne2+ 34.Nxe2 Qxe2 35.Rdg8+ Rg7 36.Qe8+ Kf5 37.g4+ Kf4 and although White is slightly better, one wrong move could spell disaster. 32.Qe8+ The rest is more or less forced 32…Raf7 33.Rd7 Qe1+ 34.Kh2 Qxf2 Black sportingly lets White mate him 35.Qxf7+ Kh7 36.Qxg7# 1–0.

The Paignton Congress starts a fortnight tomorrow, so late entries need to be in a.s.a.p. Contact the Crickmores on 01752-768206 or e-mail: plymouthchess@btinternet.com.

In last week’s position, White had the queen sacrifice 1.Qh8+ forcing Bxh8 and then 2.Rh8 mate.

In this game from 1949, neither Tiverton’s A. R. B. Thomas (W) nor D. M. Horne have adhered to the unwritten rules of normal piece development, and both are liable to pay the price. In this case it was Black who got the break. How did he finish quickly?

Black to play and win

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