The Chess Coroner vs. The Kenilworthian

John Moldovan - Michael Goeller [A28]

KCC Summer Tournament/Kenilworth, NJ USA (1), June 7, 2007

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. e3 Nf6 4. Nf3 Bb4

4... e4 5. Ng5 Qe7 6. Qc2 (6. f3!?)


5. Qc2 O-O 6. Bd3!?

A rather old-fashioned approach to the position, playing like a Paulsen Sicilian Reversed.

6. Nd5!? Nxd5 (6... d6 7. Ng5!?) 7. cxd5 Ne7 8. Nxe5 Nxd5=


6... Bxc3 7. bxc3?!

We are always told to "capture toward the center," but this is one of those many exceptions.


White retains the edge, though Black has good play, after 7. dxc3! d6 (7... d5 8. cxd5 Qxd5 9. e4 Qd6 10. Bg5) 8. O-O!?

(a) 8. Nd2!? appears to be Szabo's attempt to improve on Korchnoi's idea, maneuvering the Knight to control d5, but Black eventually is able to force through the ...d5 break anyway due to White's loss of time: 8... h6 9. e4 Nd7 10. Nf1 Nc5 11. Ne3 a5 12. O-O Ne7 13. Bd2 Be6 14. Rae1 c6 15. b3 a4 16. b4 Nxd3 17. Qxd3 d5 (17... Ng6!?) 18. cxd5 cxd5 19. exd5 Nxd5 20. Qc2 Qc7 21. Nxd5 Bxd5 22. Re3 Rfe8 23. Rg3 Re6 24. a3 Qc6 25. Re1 1/2-1/2 Szabo,L-Ree,H/Amsterdam 1972.


(b) 8. h3 a5 9. O-O h6 10. e4 Nh5 11. c5 dxc5! 12. Bb5 Qf6 13. Bxc6 bxc6! The tripled pawns hold a lot of squares and are hard to exploit. 14. Nh2 Rd8 15. Be3 Qg6 16. Kh1 Nf6 (16... Nf4!?) 17. f3 Nh5 18. Bf2 Nf4 19. Bxc5 Ba6 20. Rfd1 Be2 21. Rg1 Bc4 22. Be3 Ne2 23. Rge1 Bd3 24. Qd2 Bc4 25. Qc2 Bd3 26. Qb3 Rab8 27. Qa3 Ng3+ 28. Kg1 Ne2+ 29. Rxe2 Bxe2 30. b3 Rd3 31. Qc5 Rb5 32. Qa7 Rxc3 33. Re1 Rc2 34. Bf2 Qd6 35. Ng4 Rxa2 36. Ne3 g6 37. Ng4 h5 38. Qa8+ Kg7 39. Nh6 Qf8 40. Qxc6 Kxh6 41. Rxe2 Rxe2 42. Qxb5 Rb2 43. Be3+ Kh7 44. Qc4 Qe7 45. Kh2 Qe6 46. Qxc7 Rxb3 47. Bg5 Rb2 48. Kg3 Qa2 0-1 Azmaiparashvili,Z-Sutovsky,E/Moscow RUS 2002.

8... Qe7 9. Nd2 a5 10. Re1 g6 11. e4 Nh5 12. Nf1 Nf4 13. Ne3 Qg5 14. f3 Ne7 15. Bf1 h5?! Too ambitious... 16. g3 h4 17. Ng4 hxg3 18. hxg3 Bxg4 19. gxf4 Qh4 20. Qf2! Qxf2+ 21. Kxf2 Bh5!? 22. fxe5 (22. c5!) 22... dxe5 23. Bh6 Rfe8 1/2-1/2 Kortschnoj,V-Szabo,L/Amsterdam 1972 (48)


7... Re8

The alternative is to play a more closed game, trying to exploit the doubled pawns in typical Nimzovich fashion, as was well illustrated in the following game: 7... d6 8. O-O Qe7 9. Ng5 h6 10. Ne4 Kh8 11. Nxf6 Qxf6 12. Be4 Qe7 13. d3 f5 14. Bd5 Nd8 15. Ba3 c6 16. Bf3 Ne6 17. d4 e4 18. Be2 c5! The standard restraining move in these positions. 19. Rae1 Ng5 20. Bc1 Be6 21. f4 exf3 22. gxf3 f4!? 23. exf4 Nh3+! 24. Kh1 Bf5 25. Qd2 Qh4 26. Bd1 Rae8 27. Ba4 Rxe1 28. Qxe1 Qxe1 29. Rxe1 Nf2+ 30. Kg2 Nd3 31. Rd1 Nxc1 32. Rxc1 Bd3 33. dxc5 dxc5 34. Rd1 Bxc4 White appears lost, but the wily Shamkovich discovers some wonderful resources in the position. 35. Rd7 Rxf4 (35... Rf7!? 36. Rd8+ Kh7 37. Bc2+ g6 38. Rd6=) 36. Rxb7 Bd5 (36... Bxa2 37. Rxa7 Bd5 38. Bd1=) 37. Rb8+! Kh7 38. Bc2+ g6 39. Be4 1/2-1/2 Shamkovich,L-Hase,J/La Valetta 1980.


8. Bf5?

This move makes little sense, though I suppose White would like to exchange light squared bishops. But he cannot afford such indulgences and now falls behind in development. Instead, 8. Ng5 h6 9. Ne4 is almost equal.


8... d5!?

Allowing White to liquidate his doubled pawns, but Black gains a big lead in development.

Stronger might be 8... e4! 9. Nd4 Re5 10. Bh3 d6 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Bxc8 Qxc8


9. Bxc8 Rxc8 10. cxd5 Qxd5 11. O-O e4 12. Nd4 Nxd4

It might be best to avoid exchanges by 12... Ne5! 13. f3 (13. f4 Nd3) 13... c5 14. fxe4 Nxe4


13. cxd4 c5!

Putting the Rook at c8 to good use.


14. dxc5

14. Qa4 cxd4 15. Qxa7 d3


14... Rxc5

Black has an incredible lead in development--basically three or four full tempi. But with so little force on the board, can he do anything decisive with it?


15. Qb3

How should Black exploit his advantage?


I spent over 10 minutes here trying to find something clear on the kingside even if it meant sacrificing the b-pawn. There were two promising ideas, targetting either h2 or g2. But in both cases, White seemed to have sufficient defensive resources and Black's "attack" actually spends all of his positional advantage leaving at best an equal game (likely ending in perpetual check). It was very hard not to play one of these ideas on the grounds that "he might not find the best defense," but I thought I'd do the "mature" thing and hold onto the b-pawn and try to gain a more technical victory on the queenside. My real mistake, though, was in not completely surrendering my kingside ambitions and simply exchanging Queens. If I had asked myself, "What would Capa do?" I'm sure I would have quickly played 15...Qxb3! and gotten on with the business of actually winning this game.


15... Qd7

Not bad, but played more out of a failure to commit than anything else. I was still fantasizing about a kingside attack with ...Rg5 and ...Qg4 while retaining the positional advantages of restraint and the queenside majority. Objectively speaking, it may even be among the best options. But if I had wanted to try to win a technical battle, I should have simply exchanged Queens and got on with it. I told John after the game that I wasted a lot of time "fantasizing about kingside attacks," which is a pretty accurate story of my failure in this game.

a) I spent the most time on 15... Qh5? with the idea of targetting g2 with ....Rg5 etc. White has to defend accurately, but I think he succeeds: 16. Qxb7! (the universal defensive move 16. h3 fails here to 16... Rg5 17. Kh1 Rg6! 18. Bb2 Qg5 19. Rg1 Ng4! 20. Raf1 Qh4) 16... Ng4! (16... Rg5? 17. f4! exf3 18. Qxf3) 17. h3 Rg5!! This all looked a little speculative, and I knew John would find( I did not consider simply 17... Nf6!? but White is probably fine here too even after the "show me!" pawn-grab 18. Qxa7 Rg5 19. Kh1 Qg6 (19... Rg6 20. Bb2 Qg5 21. Rg1 Ng4 22. Raf1 Qh4 23. Qd7 Rd8 24. Qf5 Rxd2 25. Bc3) 20. Bb2! Rxg2 21. Bxf6 gxf6 22. Rg1!) 18. f4!! -- and when I saw this move, I got a real sinking feeling because it reminded me of an idea John found in a previous game of ours that stopped my kingside initiative cold, so I started to see this kingside attack as the "two-piece attack" (Stoyko's phrase) to which I am so prone.( If I indulged in "hope chess," I might expect 18. hxg4?? Qxg4 19. g3 Rh5!! and White has no hope.) 18... Rg6 (18... exf3? 19. hxg4!!) 19. Bb2! (19. hxg4? Qxg4 20. Kf2! (20. Rf2? Qd1+ 21. Kh2 Rh6+ 22. Kg3 Qh5) 20... Qxg2+ 21. Ke1 Qg3+ 22. Kd1 Qg4+ 23. Ke1 (23. Kc2 Rc8+) 23... Qh4+ 24. Kd1 Qh5+ 25. Ke1 Rg2 26. Qa6 Qh4+ 27. Kd1 Qg4+ 28. Ke1 Rd8!) (19. Qd7?? Nf6) (19. f5!? Rg5 20. Bb2 (20. Qc6 Nf6 21. Bb2 Qxh3 22. Rf2) 20... Nf6 21. Bxf6 gxf6 22. Qc6) 19... Nh6 20. Qd7! Rge6 21. Rac1 and Black has gone from winning to lost.


b) 15... Qd6?! was also interesting, but simply 16. h3!? and White is better off than he is after ...Qd7. But White should think twice about other moves, which allow a dangerous attack:

(b1) 16. Qxb7? Ng4 17. g3 Rh5 18. h4 Rxh4


(b2) 16. Ba3! is the principled response, securing equality after 16... Ng4 17. g3 (17. f4?? exf3) 17... Qh6 18. h4 and now 18... Rf5! seemed like the only try, though it is risky because White grabs the b-pawn and Black's attack seems to yield only a draw against best defense.(18... Rc7 19. d3) 19. Qxb7 Ne5 20. Kh1 (20. Qxe4?? Nf3+) (20. Rfc1 Nf3+ 21. Kg2 Nxh4+ 22. Kf1) 20... Nf3 21. Qd7! Rfe5 22. Rfc1 Nxh4 23. gxh4 (23. Rc8 Nf3+ 24. Kg2 Qh2+ 25. Kf1 Qh1+ 26. Ke2 Nd4+ 27. exd4 Qf3+ 28. Ke1 Qh1+ 29. Ke2 Qf3+=) 23... Qxh4+ 24. Kg1 Rg5+ (24... Rd8 25. Rc8!) 25. Kf1 Qh1+ 26. Ke2 Qf3+ 27. Kf1= and Black has nothing better than perpetual.

c) 15... Qxb3! 16. axb3 a6 would have been Capablanca's preference, after which Black is in control with a queenside majority and better structure. Play might go 17. Bb2! Nd5 ( maybe 17... Rc2 18. Bc3 Nd7 19. f3 Nc5) 18. Rfc1 Rec8 19. f3 Rxc1+ 20. Rxc1 Rxc1+ 21. Bxc1 f5! and the Knight is better than the Bishop. The only thing that prevented me from playing this way was that I thought I deserved more from the position--which is always a rather dangerous story to tell oneself.


d) 15... Qc6 lets White eliminate one weakness with 16. d4!? (16. Bb2 is objectively better) 16... Rc3 17. Qd1 Rc8 18. Bd2 Rc2 19. Rc1 with drawing chances, though the ending of Bishop vs. Knight should again favor Black.

16. h3

Creating some luft while squelching Black's remaining kingside fantasies.


16... Rd5

This seemed the best "restraining" move. Not 16... Rg5 17. f4!


17. Bb2! Rxd2?!

This impetuous pawn grab, however, practically throws away the win since the resulting kingside weakness will give White something to play for in the heavy piece ending that follows. Black needs to have more restraint. Better is 17... Rd3 18. Bc3 Nd5


18. Bxf6! gxf6 19. Rab1 b6 20. Rfd1 Rd8?!

a) 20... Rd3!? 21. Rxd3 Qxd3


b) I had actually intended 20... Re5? was what I had intended, only now seeing 21. Rxd2 Qxd2 22. Rd1 Qe2 23. Rd7!


c) 20... Rc8 might be best, trying to grab the 7th. 21. Rxd2 Qxd2


21. Rxd2 Qxd2 22. Qb2!?

Seeking a difficult Rook ending. Objectively better may be 22. Qa4!


22... Qxb2 23. Rxb2 Rd1+?!

After this "patzer check," the win seems to slip away. Now White's king gets to the critical squares on the kingside and Black will have to take too many risks to win. Best was 23... Kg7 24. Kf1 (24. Kh2 Kg6 25. Kg3 (25. f3 Kf5) 25... Kf5) 24... f5 25. Ke2 Kf6


24. Kh2 Kg7

Not 24... f5 25. Kg3 Kg7 26. Kf4 Kf6 27. g4 fxg4 28. hxg4 Rg1 29. Rc2 Rg2 and I did not see how Black makes any progress here - it seems practically a mutual zugzwang.


25. Kg3 Kg6

and I offered a draw, which was gladly accepted. I don't think Black can make progress easily due to the problem of his kingside pawns. I was also too short of time to have real chances of winning a technical ending.


Game in PGN