I was a few minutes late, and Mark graciously had not started the clocks yet. Mark was in a nice mood, as always, before the game. I was in a more somber mood because I realized I could be paired against Expert Paul A. (my most frequent round 2 opponent), or a Master from Denver, as they switched their round 2 games from Tuesday to Thursday, in order to encourage cross-participation. As it was, we didn’t get any players from Denver, but the Hermans and Master Bloomer showed up, since there was no longer any reason for them to drive up to Denver tonight. We also got a veteran Class A player that I’d never heard of to play, Pete did, so I’m hoping he shows up on some type of regular basis.
Me and Mark have played thirty some games over the past 8 years, and I’m currently at +1. Mark is like a sounding-board for my play, I sort of know where my chess is at after facing him. Mark plays Expert-level chess on most nights, when he is in form, but lately he lost 50 rating points at Club Chess!! because lots of quick rounds against lower-rated kids, probably isn’t his cup of tea, playing-wise, and I can hardly blame him as he’s even a few years older than myself, and he’s a hard-working gentleman.
At one point in the opening, I made a move, pressed my clock, and Mark kept examining his flash-cards from work for about 12 minutes (I think he was sorting them). Often, Mark will talk in the lobby for half an hour in between waiting for me to make my moves, he talks work or something besides chess. He never got into real time-trouble during the game, down to 58 seconds but it was lost by then. After the game, he said thanks for the game, that I played well, and I suggested some moves, but he was eager to get back to talking to Earle about work (they work together now).
I realize that my level of chess has gotten better lately, and that some don’t take the occurence quite as seriously as I do, it’s as if my level of seriousness suffices for the both of us. I think it’s also because I have played so many players, so many times, for so many years, pretty much at the same level, that no one would bat an eye if I played a great game. I think this was one of my best games, but it had that feeling of clock-work, so it didn’t stand out as much.
I was thinking during the game of how nearly all of our games together were mad time-scrambles. This one had that feeling a little bit, but was very controlled compared to many previous encounters.
6.Bg5 I considered 6.g4, the Keres Attack, but we had played this last time and I figured he might have something ready, besides I do like to mix it up a little to keep my play from going stale. 6.Be3 seemed a bit like a bridge-to-nowhere, strategy-wise, and f4 looks like a cheesy Grand Prix sort of attack (thinking of Yermolinsky’s opinion of such moves. hehe).
The first nine moves, felt like theory, it was move ten where I was really on my own. I spent a lot of time looking at 10.Bxb5+, because that sort of idea (played by Bronstein) is a line, pretty much equal actually, but it’s in some position after say 9…Nbd7 instead of 9…Be7, it seemed. I realized that I have this tendency to get locked-in to my opportunities, rather than what’s actually going on on the board, so I determined to look for something else besides just this sort of nutty idea.
So then I spotted this 10.BxNf6, which is actually theory, and this line overall scores very well for White. My idea was to double his f-pawns, possibly play f5 and try to create a hole on d5 for my knight, even though I could see that his …b4 was coming first, and hadn’t resolved yet how to handle this.
I was pleasantly surprised to see 10…Bxf6, but also figured that he must have seen quite deeply into this line before deciding on it.
I knew when I played 11.e5, that …Bb7 would be the most likely response, and that even after 12.Qg3, he could gobble up my e5 pawn, and I had calculated the intermezzo of taking on d6, some, as well, but I actually played this move, like the previous move, on intuition. I’d normally say that allowing a …Bb7 reply like this is bad for White, but I didn’t care about losing a pawn with his king in the center, so many undeveloped queen-side pieces, including some penetration, and opening up of the center.
I had calculated that 11…Bb7 seemed losing well before he played it. After the game, I suggested (as well as castling before playing …b5) that 11…dxe5 might have given him better chances. For example, if after 11…dxe5, I decide to reply 12.QxRa8, then dxNd4, 13.Rxd4 say Bb7, 14.Qa7 Nc6 and the queen would appear to be trapped here, although it’s not necessary to play 13.Rxd4 as there is 13.Nxb5 (and even in the previous line it would be the move), which not only attacks the knight but lets my queen escape along the a-file, or back to f3 or e4 along that diagonal. Anway, the point I am trying to make is that it’s not so clear that 12.QxRa8 wouldn’t be a mistake, and I could see that 12.fxe5 allows …Bg5+, so the correct move, just looking at this position here, would seem to indicate 12.Ndxb5. So, 11…dxe5, 12.Ndxb5, so the queen and Ra8 are still hanging for the moment, and I still have Nd6+, supported by the rook, that is how I am thinking about this position – could be right, could be wrong, I’m just sayin’.
Like I say, I played 10.BxNf6 partly on intuition, so when I took, exchanged pieces there, I was thinking that if he recaptured on f6 with the bishop, that one of these sacs on b5 might work, that’s the point, I hadn’t calculated all this out, it just felt right, and it didn’t appear to be just some obvious blunder in any event.
16.Bb5+ I had correct analyzed here that 16.exBf6 was a little better, and Houdini confirms that, but I wanted to play this line just because it felt more principled to develop my bishop, and hopefully rook.
16….Kc8. This is the best move. The other line I focused on is 16….Nc6, 17.RxBd1 RxNa8, 18.Rxd6+ Ke7, 19.RxNc6
17…Bg4 I was happy to see this, as the bishop is now blocking the g-file from his rook. 17…Bh5 was better.
20…Rxg7 If 20…Be2, 21.Nxd6 wins a pawn.
23.Bd3 Houdini says 23.f5 now is more accurate, but I was up two pawns and hadn’t decided on this idea yet; I had to watch the clock a bit from here out as well.
26.f6 In the game, I wasn’t sure, as I realized my pieces were going to be out of play compared to his after capturing on a7. I considered 26.Nd5+ Kfd8, 27.Nf6 Bf4, 28.Rf1 but only now do I notice this bishop has nowhere to go, as 28…Bg2, 29.Rg1 is game-over. I must be missing something here, but I noticed Houdini did confirm that 26.Nd5+ was slightly better.
29.Bd3 Mostly just a solid wait-and-see move.
41.a6 I also noticed that 41.Re2+ looked winning.
45.Re8 I realized this was a mistake right after I played it, as it would probably have shortened the game by a few moves if I had played 45.Re7 Ba8, 46.Rxf, as now there are two White pawns that can quickly promote.
48.Kb2 I felt that Black could resign here, but it never hurts to play on.
Sometimes, as White, you have to play one of these full-blooded Open Sicilians just to keep your opponent honest.
[Event “Tuesday Night Swiss”]
[White “Brian Rountree”]
[Black “Mark McGough”]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Bg5 a6 7. f4 Be7 8. Qf3
Qc7 9. O-O-O b5 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. e5 Bb7 12. Ndxb5 axb5 13. Nxb5 Bxf3 14.
Nxc7+ Kd7 15. Nxa8 Bxd1 16. Bb5+ Kc8 17. exf6 Bg4 18. fxg7 Rg8 19. Nb6+ Kc7
20. Nc4 Rxg7 21. Ne3 Bh5 22. g4 Bg6 23. Bd3 Nc6 24. f5 exf5 25. gxf5 Bh5 26.
f6 Rg5 27. Bxh7 Bf3 28. Rf1 Ne5 29. Bd3 Rh5 30. Rf2 Rh6 31. Nc4 Nxd3+ 32. cxd3
Bd5 33. Kd2 Rh3 34. b3 Kc6 35. Ne3 Be6 36. Nc2 Kc5 37. b4+ Kd5 38. a4 Ke5 39.
a5 Bf5 40. d4+ Ke4 41. a6 Rd3+ 42. Kc1 Bc8 43. a7 Bb7 44. Re2+ Kf5 45. Re8
Kxf6 46. a8=Q Bxa8 47. Rxa8 Kg5 48. Kb2 f5 49. b5 f4 50. b6 Rh3 51. b7 1-0