A New "Best Game"
Over a year ago, I asked NM Mark Kernighan to contribute a "best game" to our website, which he did rather reluctantly, admitting that all of his games seem to have flaws. I think Mark plays chess less for aesthetic pleasure than the joy of the struggle and often seems reluctant to have his games end (which may be why so many of them continue well into the endgame and down to the last minutes on the clock). So even his better games can be overly long and difficult to follow. The current game, however, is a different story. Though Mark does make an inaccuracy in the opening, the rest of the game is flawless. And along the way he manages to find some very difficult moves. This is a gem, and I'm sure he'll agree that it is his new "best game."
James West (2200) - Mark Kernighan (2200) [B88]
Hamilton Chess Club Quads/Groveville, NJ USA (3) 2006
Positions like those in this game often come about via a Najdorf move order: 5... a6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Bb3 Be7 8.
7... Na6! with the same plan of 8..Nc5 is much better, since it avoids the dangerous sacrifice at e6. The fact that the Knight has the a6 square available is one advantage of avoiding an early ...a6 as in the Najdorf.
White misses the opportunity to immediately alter the character of the game with 8. Bxe6! fxe6 9. Nxe6 Qa5 10. Nxg7+ Kf7 11. Nf5 when White has at least sufficient compensation for the piece. Likely he rejected this possibility because the Bishop had just retreated to b3 and so the sacrifice would involve loss of time.
With the idea , as in the game, of ...e5 followed by ...Nxb3 when White must recapture away from the center with cxb3 if the Rook at a1 is unguarded.
O-O10. Be3 a5!? is an interesting idea: 11. O-O-O(11. a4 e5!) 11... a4 12. Bc4 a3 13. b3 Nfxe4!? 14. Nxe4 Nxe4 15. Qxe4 d5 16. Bxd5?! (16. Qf3! dxc4 (16... Qa5? 17. Bd3! Qc3 18. Nb5 Qb2+ 19. Kd2) 17. Nxe6 Qa5 (17... Bxe6!?) 18. Bd2 Qb6 19. Nxf8 cxb3 (19... Bxf8 20. Bc3) 20. Qxb3 Qxb3 21. axb3! (21. cxb3?! Bg4!) ) 16... exd5 17. Qd3 Bf6 18. Kb1 Re8 19. Rhe1 Bg4 20. Rc1 Re4 21. h3 Qe7 22. hxg4 Bxd4 23. Bd2 Bf2 24. Rh1 h6 25. Rcd1 Rc8 26. Rh5 Rd4 27. Qf3 Qe4 0-1 Adla,D-Suba,M/Badalona 1993 (27)
Better was 11. Ndb5 a6 (11... Nxb3 12. axb3! Qxa1 13. Nc7+ Kf8 14. Nxa8 or 11...
and suddenly Black has a killer pawn duo in the center, while White's majorities are completely disabled. Though material is equal, White is strategically lost.
Black is positionally winning.
Denying White any counterplay on the kingside with g4.
Black's king is perfectly safe here despite the ...h5 advance, though White finds some ingenious counterplay later on the kingside.
21... d4 is playable if complicated: 22. Rc4 Rac8! 23. Rcxd4 Qxd4 24. Qe1! (trapping Black's Queen in the center of the board) 24... Qxd1 25. Qxd1 Rfd8 26. Qe1 Ng4! 27. Kg1 Rc2! 28. h3 Rdd2 29. hxg4 Rxg2+ 30. Kf1 Rh2 31. Kg1 Rcg2+ 32. Kf1 h4!and White must give up the Queen with a lost ending.
The most forcing line, and the one preferred by computers. But Black can play more simply to retain a winning advantage due to the passed pawn duo in any number of ways.
An ingenious move that requires very precise play by Black due to the threat of f6! with a winning attack--and the fact that Black cannot play 28...Kf8? due to 29.Rh8+ of course--a tactic made possible by Black's earlier ...h5 advance.
and White resigned since 32.Kg3 Qe1+ 33.Kg4 Qxh4+ 34.Kxh4 gxf6 nets a Rook for Black.
Game in PGN