Battles on Both Sides of the Board
The following game was played in the Garden State Chess League match between Summit and Kenilworth on Thursday, January 7, 2010 at the Kenilworth Chess Club. Steve Stoyko adopts an interesting approach as Black against Simon Thomson's Tarrasch French, closing up the center and setting up a classic struggle on opposite sides of the board. Though the pawn structure gives White great potential for a kingside attack, Stoyko strikes first with a queenside attack, eventually sacrificing a piece in order to create dangerous passed pawns in that region. Thomson battles back with a dangerous kingside attack (despite the exchange of Queens) and should have been able to force a draw by perpetual check (though he may have been looking for mate). But time pressure mistakes gave Black the point. I told Steve I thought it was a fascinating game from start to finish and he agreed, saying that practically every move was "a study in choices," with fascinating possibilities for both players at every turn. In such a situation, it was inevitable that the clock should decide the game.
Simon Thomson - FM Steve Stoyko [C05]
Garden State Chess League/Kenilworth, NJ USA 2010
A thematic Knight reshuffling. The Ng1 will go to e2 and both Knights will defend the critical dark squares, especially d4.
"In order to determine White's pawn structure" notes Viktor Moskalenko in The Flexible French. Of course, 7... Qb6 is also good as Moskalenko discusses.
An older move in this position, which clears the way for queenside development and and an attack on that wing.
The battle-lines are clearly drawn: Black will play on the queenside while White attacks on the kingside (even if his own King must castle there.) Stoyko refuses to waste time with moves on the kingside to try to slow White down, as is often done. One interesting game where Black tried to play on both sides at once continued:
10... h5 (trying to slow up White's attack with g4 and f5) 11.
The exchange of queens reduces the danger of White's kingside attack, but White still manages to conjure up dangerous threats in that sector.
The only good move but very strong. White now gets a dangerous passed pawn.
Stoyko is prepared to sac a piece for White's d-pawn, so long as he gains a strong passer on the queenside in exchange.
The Knight cannot really hold the b-pawn, but White cannot passively defend it in any case:
Black's connected passed pawns offer at least sufficient compensation for the piece. White must now continue his attack on the kingside, which should gain him a draw.
Creating luft for his own King while threatening to hem in Black's King with h5. White's kingside attack appears to force a draw. Thomson's mistake seems to have been in trying for more. Not as good is 32. Kg1 b5 (32... Rb2 33. Rd1 b5) 33. Rf8+ Kh7 34. Ra8 Rd3
Though forces are much reduced, the complications of the position are incredible and very difficult to calculate in time pressure. Stoyko moved quickly here and turned a forced draw into a win.
No better is 32... b5!? 33. h5! Nc3 (33... b4?? 34. Kh2!! Nc3 35. Rf8+ Kh7 36. Nf4!! g5 37. hxg6+ Kg7 38. Rf7+ Kg8 39. Ne6 a2 40. Rf8#) 34. Bxh6! (34. Rf8+ Kh7 35. Ra8 Na4 36. Nf8+ Kg8 37. Ng6+ Kf7) 34... gxh6 (34... Rb1 35. Rxb1 Nxb1 36. Bc1 b4 37. Nc5) 35. Rf8+ Kh7 36. Rf7+ Kg8 37. Rf8+= with a draw by perpetual check.
An error in time pressure. Black can win by force by marching his King out of the danger zone, where White tactics can force a draw or even mate if he is not careful:
b) 36... b5?! 37. Be5 Rb1? (37... Rf2 38. Ra7 Kg6 39. Nxg7 h5 (39... Na4?? 40. h5+ Kh7 41. Ne6+ Kg8 42. Rg7+ Kh8 43. Rf7+ Kg8 44. Rxf2 and forces mate) 40. Ra6+ Kh7 41. Ra7 and White appears to force a draw, e.g.: 41... Na4 42. Nf5+ Kg6 43. Ne7+ Kf7 44. Nf5+ Ke8 45. Ng7+ Kd8 46. Ne6+ Ke8 47. Ng7+ etc.) 38. Ra7 Re1 39. Nf8+ Kg8 40. Ng6 Rxe5 41. dxe5 Na4 42. e6 a1=Q 43. Ra8+ Kh7 44. h5
In time pressure, both players missed the possibility of attacking the Knight at c6 with Bd2, gaining two pieces for Rook and pawn, when White should be able to draw. Best, though, seems to bring the Knight to a better square by a series of checks before playing Bd2, thus: 37. Nf8+!? (this seems more precise than the immediate Bd2) 37... Kg8 38. Ng6+ Kf7 39. Ne5+ Ke6 40. Bd2 a1=Q 41. Rxa1 Rxa1 42. Bxc3 Ra3 43. Bb4 Ra4 44. Bc3 (44. Bf8? Rxd4) 44... Ra3=
A fascinating game, which allowed Kenilworth to draw the match with Summit.
Game in PGNCopyright © 2010 by Michael Goeller