Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Another game for the ages

OK, not really. My opponent, the celebrated NN, played the "Clarendon Court Defense," 1.d4 c5 2.d5 f5!?, so named by its originator, the British GM Jonathan Levitt, who lived in a building by that name. I responded with the Staunton Gambit-like 3.e4!? fxe4 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.g4, vaguely recalling the game Seirawan-Mamedyarov, World Team Championship 2011. Here, IM Gary Lane recommends 5...g6!?, when Matros-Ehlvest, Stockholm 1998 continued 6.g5 Nh5 7.Nxe4 d6 8.Ng3 Nxg3 9.hxg3 Nd7 10.Nh3 Qb6 11.f4 Qb4+ 12.Kf2 (12.c3?? 12...Qe4+) 12...Qd4+ 13.Be3? Qxb2 14.a4 Bg7 15.Rb1 Qa2 16.Ng1 Nb6 and Black won shortly. Much weaker is 5...d6?, when Feingold-R. Benjamin, Missouri Invitational 2011 concluded 6.g5 Bg4 7.Bb5+! Kf7 (7...Nbd7? 8.Be2! Bxe2 9.Qxe2 and Black cannot move his hanging knight on account of Qh5+ and mate next) 8.Be2! Bxe2 9.Qxe2 Ne8 10.g6+ hxg6 11.Nxe4 Nc7 12.Ng5+ Kg8 13.Ne6 Nxe6 14.Qxe6+ Kh7 15.Qh3+ Kg8 16.Qe6+ Kh7 17.Nf3 Qd7 18.Ng5+ Kh6 19.Qe4 Kh5 20.Ne6 1-0.

NN, like Mamedyarov, played the natural 5...h6. Here, Seirawan played 6.h3 and won in just 29 moves; in Asensio Linan (2276)-Hernandez Funes (2144), Barbera del Valles 2007, White played the amazing 6.Nxe4?! Nxe4 7.Bd3 and won after 7...Qb6 8.Nf3 Ng5 9.Ne5 d6 10.Nc4 Qc7 11.h4 Nf7 12.Bg6 e6 13.Qe2 Qc7 14.Rh3 b5 15.Rf3 Kd8 16.Rxf7, but surely 7...Qa5+ improves? Instead, I responded 6.Bg2, and now 6...Qb6 was played in Conquest (2540)-Becerra Rivero (2530) Cienfuegos 1996, which continued 7. Nge2 d6 8.h3 g5 9.Nxe4 Nxe4 10.Bxe4 Qb4+ 11.Nc3 Bg7 12.Bd2 Qxb2 13.Rb1 Qa3 14.Rb3 Qa6 15.Nb5 Kd8 16.Qe2 b6 17.O-O Nd7 18.a4 Ne5 19.a5 bxa5 20.Ra3 a4 21.c4 Rb8 22.Rb1 Bd7 23.Bc2 Qc8 24.Ba5+ Ke8 25.Rf1 Rf8 26.Bg6+! and White won. Our game continued instead 6...d6 7.Nxe4 Nbd7 (7...Nxg4) 8.Qe2 (threatening 9.Nxd6#) Nxe4 9.Bxe4 Ne5 10.Nf3, and now my opponent fell for 10...Bxg4? My 11.Nxe5! won material in light of 11...Bxe2? 12.Bg6#, a cousin of Légal's Mate. Black struggled on with 11...Qa5+, but resigned after six more moves.

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