(2) Moldovan,John (1824) - Mann,Ted (1493) [A56]
20th Kenilworth CC Championship Kenilworth, NJ (3), 28.01.2010
[Moldovan & Deep Rybka 3]

G/85 + :05 delay A56 Benoni Defense

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5
[A surprise. I knew Ted had tried this before but expected either 2...c6 3.Nc3 d5 & a Slav, which we have discussed several times; or 2...g6 /\ a K's Indian, which we've also debated on multiple occasions (twice, via different orders).]

Playing a lower-rated & needing a victory to keep my title-hopes alive, I respond aggressively... [But... 3.e3 /\ prosaically transposing into one of our early games (Springfield 03/14/1999) & the Panov Caro-Kann, with 3...cxd4 4.exd4 d5 5.Nc3 g6 6.Nf3 Bg7 7.cxd5 , was a good alternative. In case you are wondering, play there continued 7...Nxd5 8.Bb5+ Nc6 9.Qa4 Ndb4?? 10.Qxb4+- a5 11.Qc5 1-0.; 3.Nf3 which I used to beat NM MarkKernighan in last year's championship, was another attractive option.]

[For 3...g6 see Kernighan-Mann : Fish Memorial 2009.]

4.Nc3 Nbd7
Quite a rare move. According to ChessBase online, it has only been played in 15 of 1300+ games.

5.e4 Ne5?!

This gives White too much space. [>=5...g6 which would likely join the K's Indian; or 5...e5 + ...Be7 & a Czech Benoni.]

6.f4 Ng6N
[This is a big improvement over the previouly seen 6...Bg4??+- which has been foolishly essayed 3x. 1 of the games was in a 2001 simul by World Champion (at the time) Vladimir Kramnik.]

7.Nf3 Bg4 8.Bd3!?
[8.Be2 /\Bxf3 9.Bxf3 Nh4? 10.e5 , when White is just-about winning, was simpler.]

[8...Nh4 9.0-0 Nxf3+ (9...Bxf3 10.gxf3 Nd7 11.e5 dxe5 12.Qe1 Ng6 13.Bxg6 hxg6 14.fxe5 ; & 9...Nd7 10.Qe1! Nxf3+[] 11.gxf3 Bh3 12.Rf2 e5 13.Re2 are in the same boat) 10.gxf3 Bh3 11.Re1 e5 12.dxe6 fxe6 13.e5 is no real improvement.]

[9.dxe6 fxe6 10.h3 Bxf3 11.Qxf3 would have broken the pin, gained the B pair & solidified a clear plus.]

9...Nh4 10.Qa4+ Nd7[]
Otherwise, Black loses material.

11.Nxh4 Qxh4+ 12.g3 Qh5

[>=12...Qd8 13.h3 Bh5+/= ]

13.h3! a6
This seems off-topic (Moves like 14.Nb5 are Mann's style, not mine) but it's hard to say what was best. [Rybka, given a reasonable 5 minutes, claims that 13...g6 is equal. However, within 2 minutes of looking at the aforementioned ...g6, it decides 14.Qc2! (threat : 15.Qh2 +-) 14...Bf3 15.Rh2+/- is +/-!]

14.Be3! 0-0-0??
[14...Bf3[] 15.Rh2 g6 16.Qc2 gxf5 17.exf5 e4 18.Nxe4 0-0-0+/- was right.]

Missed win #1. [15.Kf2 Bf3 16.g4 would have trapped the poor pastor.]

15...Bf3 16.Rh2 Nf6?
[16...g6 17.fxg6 hxg6 18.Rf2 f5 would have rescued the marooned minister & equalized.]

Now it's a goner.

17...g5 18.fxg6 hxg6 19.Raf1 Qxh3?
[19...Bg2 20.Rxg2 Qxh3 21.Rgg1 Ng4 was a better try.]

20.Rxf3 Ng4 21.Bg5??

Missed win #2. [Why the hell didn't I play 21.Bg1 Bh6+ 22.Kc2? ]

This gives me yet another golden opportunity & the 3rd time is the charm. [21...Bh6 22.Bxh6 Qxh6+ 23.Kc2 Ne3+ 24.Kb1 Nxf1 25.Bxf1 f5= would have won an Exchange & put Black back in business.]

22.Rxf7+- Rxf7
This allows mate in 2... [...But 22...Rd8 , for example, would've succumbed to 23.Rxb7!! Kxb7 24.Rf7+ Be7 25.Rxe7+ Kb6 26.Qc6+ Ka5 27.Qc7+ Kb4 28.Qb6# ]

23.Qe8+ Kc7
&, while I was in the act of playing 24.Qd8, my foe resigned. Time left - Moldovan 42:25, Mann 59:39 Estimated time used - Moldovan 44:35, Mann 27:16 Longest think by White - 7 minutes for 17.Rf2! Longest think by Black - 4 minutes for 20...Ng4 1-0