The Kernighan Experience

On Thursday night at the club I played NM Mark Kernighan in the Summer Tourney. Before we started, Ian Mangion (seated at the next board) joked that I should definitely play for a sac at f7, as he had done in a recent win over him. At that point, I decided I would definitely try the Cochrane Gambit if Mark went in for his usual Petroff. When Mark played the Caro-Kann, however, I said to Ian, "Oh well, no f7 sac." But the idea was definitely planted in my head and likely influenced my play in the game.

Michael Goeller - NM Mark Kernighan [B11]

KCC Summer Tourney/Kenilworth, NJ USA (5) 2011


 

1. e4 c6 2. Nc3 d6

After a long think, Kernighan avoids the Two Knights Variation: 2... d5 3. Nf3 Bg4 4. h3 Bxf3 5. Qxf3 is a typical continuation.

 

3. f4!? e6

Despite the loss of tempo, I think 3... d5!? is probably the correct move, when might follow: 4. Nf3 (4. d3!? dxe4 5. dxe4 Qxd1+ 6. Nxd1 Nf6 7. Nf2 g6 8. Nf3 Bg7 9. Bd3 O-O 10. h3 Nfd7 11. c3 Nc5= 1-0 Wahls,M (2570)-Chernin,A (2620)/Tastrup 1992 (40)) 4... Bg4 5. h3 Bxf3 6. Qxf3 e6 with an interesting Two Knights Caro-Kann where White's pawn is on f4: 7. d3 (7. f5!?) 7... Bb4 8. a3 Ba5 9. Bd2 Ne7 10. O-O-O O-O 11. g4 (11. d4!?) 11... Nd7 12. exd5?! Nxd5 13. Nxd5 exd5 14. d4 Re8 15. Bxa5 Qxa5 16. g5 b5 17. f5?! (17. Kb1) 17... b4 18. axb4 Qxb4 (18... Qa1+ 19. Kd2 Qxb2 20. Qc3=) 19. c3 Qa4 20. Qd3 Rab8 0-1 Reinderman,D-Gurevich,M/ Zwolle 1996 (61).

 

4. d4 Nf6

Black finally develops a piece, but better may be to first expand on the queenside with 4... b5!? 5. Nf3 b4 6. Na4 d5 7. e5 g6 8. Bd3 Ba6 9. Be3 Nh6 10. Qe2 Qa5 11. b3 Nf5 12. Bf2 h5 13. g3 Bb5 14. Nb2 1/2-1/2 Zyla, J (2305)-Dawidow,J (2375)/Krynica POL 1997.

 

5. Nf3 b6 6. e5 Nd5

The only other game I could find to get this far continued 6... Ng8?! 7. Bd3 d5 8. O-O  h5 9. Ne2 g6 10. b3 Nh6 11. Be3 a5 12. Bf2 Be7 13. c4 Na6 14. Rc1 Bd7 15. Nc3 Kf8 16. Qe1 Nc7 17. Bh4! Bxh4 18. Nxh4 Rg8 19. Nf3 Ne8 20. Ng5 Kg7 21. h3 f5 22. exf6+ Qxf6 23. Qe5 Rf8 24. Na4 Qxe5 25. fxe5 Rxf1+ 26. Rxf1 Rb8 27. c5 Nf5 (27... b5 28. Nb6 Bc8 29. Nxc8 Rxc8 30. Nxe6+) 28. Nxb6 Nc7? 29. Nxd7 Rb4 30. Bxf5 gxf5 31. Rd1 1-0 Leventic,I (2488)-Mrkonjic,N (2383)/Djakovo CRO 2006.

 

7. Ne4! Ba6 8. Bxa6

Going for rapid development and the better placed pieces. My original intention was to avoid the exchange of Bishops with 8. c4 Nc7 9. exd6 Bxd6 10. Bd3 which looks better now than it did at the board.

 

8... Nxa6 9. O-O   Ndc7

 










10. Nfg5!

You know where that Knight is headed! With Black's Knights sidelined on the queenside, White can sac both of his without feeling like he is down material.

10. exd6 Bxd6 11. Ne5 c5

 

10... d5 11. Ng3

I have to be a little patient:

a) I was already eyeing 11. Nxf7!? Kxf7 but it does not seem to work, e.g.: 12. Ng5+ Kg8 (12... Ke8 13. f5 exf5 14. Rxf5) 13. f5 h6! (13... Be7? 14. f6! gxf6 15. Nf7!! Kxf7 16. Qh5+ Kg8 17. Rf3 Ne8 18. Rg3+ Ng7 19. Bh6 Bf8 20. exf6 Qxf6 21. Rf1) 14. f6 gxf6 15. Nxe6 Nxe6 16. Qg4+ Ng7 17. exf6 Rh7 18. fxg7 Bxg7

b) 11. Qh5? g6 12. Nf6+? Qxf6

 

11... g6?!

I fully expected this move, but Black probably has better:

a) 11... h6 12. Qh5! (12. Nxf7 Kxf7 13. f5 Ke8!) 12... g6 13. Qh3 Bg7? (13... Qe7) 14. Nxf7!! Kxf7 15. f5 exf5 16. Nxf5 Kg8 (16... gxf5? 17. Qxf5+ Kg8 18. Qf7+ Kh7 19. Rf6) 17. Nxh6+ Bxh6 18. Bxh6

b) 11... Be7 12. Qh5 g6 13. Qh6 Bf8 14. Qh3

 

 

12. f5!! exf5 13. Nxf5 gxf5

 










14. Nxf7!!

After the game Ian congratulated me for finding a way to sac on f7! Also playable is 14. Rxf5!? Qd7 15. Rxf7 Be7 16. Rf2 (16. Qh5 O-O-O 17. Nxh7) 16... Rf8 (16... O-O-O 17. Nf7) 17. Qh5+ Kd8 18. Rxf8+ Bxf8 19. Nxh7 but then I would not get to sac at f7, of course. Kernighan rarely gets to castle when we play.

 

14... Kxf7 15. Rxf5+!

The natural looking 15. Qh5+ Kg8 16. Rxf5 Qe8 17. Qg4+ Bg7 18. Bh6 Qg6 does not work.

 

15... Ke8

The King has to go to the center now: 15... Kg8? 16. Qg4+ Bg7 17. Bh6 Qe7 (17... Ne6 18. Rf6) 18. Bxg7 Qxg7 19. Rg5

 

16. Bg5 Be7

16... Qb8? 17. Qh5+ Kd7 18. Qg4

 

17. Qh5+ Kd7

 










18. Rf7?!

Trying to conserve time, I followed my original intention and overlooked the simpler 18. Bxe7! Qe8 (18... Kxe7 19. Qf7#) (18... Qxe7 19. Rf7 is similar to the game but even stronger for White.) 19. Rf7 Kc8 20. Raf1 Kb7 21. Bd6 (21. R1f6!?) .

 

18... Re8 19. Qxh7

19. Raf1!? Kc8 20. Rxe7 Rxe7 21. Rf7 Rxf7 22. Bxd8

 

19... Ne6 20. Bh4 Nxd4

White defnitely has enough for the material investment, but at this point Black appears to have two routes to equality:

 

a) 20... Nf8! 21. Qg7 Ne6 22. Qh7= which I saw during the game and was fully prepared to accept as a draw.

 

b) 20... Nac7 21. Raf1 Rh8!! is a computer idea, of course: 22. Rxe7+ Kc8 23. Qg6! Rxh4 24. Rff7 Rxd4 25. Rxe6 Rd1+ 26. Kf2 Qh4+ 27. Ke2 Qe1+ 28. Kf3 Qe4+ 29. Qxe4 dxe4+ 30. Ke2 Nxe6 31. Kxd1

 

21. Raf1 Rc8?

21... Nc5 22. Bxe7 Rxe7 23. Rxe7+ Qxe7 24. Rf7 Re8 25. h4

 

22. Bxe7 Rxe7

 










23. Rxe7+?!

Fritz finds a stunner: 23. R1f6!! Rxf7 24. Qxf7+ Qe7 25. Rd6+ with an easy win.

 

23... Qxe7 24. Rf7 Re8 25. Qh3+

Mark thought better was 25. Rxe7+ Rxe7 26. Qd3! Nb5 27. Qf5+ (27. a4 Nbc7) 27... Re6 28. h4 and the Knights are completely out of play.

 

25... Ne6 26. Rxe7+ Rxe7 27. Qa3 Nec7

27... Nac5 28. Qxa7+ Nc7 29. Qxb6

 

28. Qd6+ Ke8 29. h4?!

I don't know how I overlooked 29. Qxc6+!

 

29... Re6 30. Qa3 Rxe5 31. Qc3

31. Qg3! is slightly better, heading for g8 instead of h8.

 

31... Re6 32. h5 Kf7 33. Qh8 Rf6? 34. h6 Ke6?

Both of us now had under 10 seconds on the clock, so the rest was a mess and is hard to reconstruct. Black can stymie the pawn with the surprising resource 34... Rg6! 35. h7 Rg7 and it is hard to see how the Queen can vacate the queening square without dropping the pawn. But perhaps there is a way to put Black into zugzwang and pick up a loose knight in exchange for the pawn.

 

35. Qg8+ Rf7 36. h7 Kf6 37. h8=Q+

 










and somehow, with less than five seconds left on my clock, I not only managed to miss a forced mate but also to flag! My opponent blamed it on the TD passing me a Queen, which distracted me for a few critical seconds. But I accept the loss. After all, as I told someone later: losing a won game on time after a long King chase is all part of "the Kernighan experience."

 

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[Michael Goeller]

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Copyright © 2011 by Michael Goeller