2011 Kenilworth Chess Club Championship
By Michael Goeller
I have been looking forward to getting back into playing chess, since I feel a new attitude toward over the board competition. Usually I find the most relaxing time I spend with the game is at home, alone, sitting in front of the board, or with a book, or (more often these days) in front of the computer doing analysis. Competition makes me nervous, and I don't like the time pressure and all of the other little factors that can turn chess more into a physical struggle than a form of mental exercise and pleasurable relaxation. But lately I seem to have found a way to relax at the board and not worry about the result. The fact that this year's Kenilworth Chess Club Championship is unrated certainly helps. And the fact that the players are all very friendly makes for a nice atmosphere. I have played Dr. Geoff McAuliffe before -- drawing him in the first championship I played back in 2005 and winning in a Summer Tournament game back in 2008. He's a wonderful fellow and has even helped me get some paying work teaching writing at the Medical School, where he is on the faculty. I also like that he is an e-pawn player, which is where I feel most at home as Black these days.
Geoffrey McAuliffe (1700) - Michael Goeller (2043) [C50]
21st Kenilworth CC Championship/Kenilworth, NJ USA (1) 2011
I was amused to see that John Moldovan (The Chess Cornoner) awarded this move a dubious "?!" mark in his annotations. Of course, I have written on this line and think it is fully viable, despite what traditional theory might think. Last time Geoff and I played, I tried 3...Bc5 4.c3 Bb6!? headed for a closed position (with Qe7 and d6 to follow) but ended up playing it open with a quick d5 when he did not follow up with the aggressive d4. It's interesting that I had the same sort of choice in this game and chose the more restrained path of d6. A sign of maturity, perhaps?
Black could break in the center with 9... Na5!? 10. Bc2 d5 11. Ne3= (11. Ng3) but I was looking for a more positional game; alternately, 9... a5 10. a4 might be slightly better than the game continuation, as it discourages White from castling queenside and strengthens a possible Nd8-e6-c5.
Still possible was 10... a5!? White should at least consider queenside castling and pushing some pawns on the kingside.
Avoiding the exchange and over-protecting e4. But better was probably 14. Qe3 Nh7 15. h3 Bd7 16. Ne2 Bb5 17. c4 Nxe2+ 18. Qxe2 Bc6 19. d5 Bd7 followed by f5 and we have a standard King's Indian type position with only slightly better chances for Black.
In this position (see diagram above), I sensed that Black has some chance at a clear advantage and I decided to take some time on the clock. I think I found the right idea.
This move took a long time for me to find because it is so anti-thematic. But it is the best move in the position, enabling Black to pressure the d-pawn with the Bishop at g7 once it is exposed by moving the Nf6.
Black wins at least a pawn, e.g.: 16. Bd1 Bxd1 17. Qxd1 Bxd4 etc. The only way to save the pawn would expose Black to more danger: 16. d5? Nxg3 17. hxg3 (17. fxg3 Bd4+ 18. Kh1 Nd3 traps the queen!) 17... Ne2+ 18. Kh2 Qe5 and the threat of Qh5# will cost White dearly.
This was actually a sort of blunder during the game, since I overlooked that he can now snatch the g-pawn. But it turns out that Black retains complete control of the game despite handing back the pawn. Black did have better, however, with a different light-square break:
This move is very difficult to meet.
and White resigned, since he has the choice between losing a Rook or a Bishop. I took a lot of time on the clock, but I managed to play a very solid game and practically the best move at every turn. I take note of my irrational reluctance to exchange Queens by 17...Qg5 (which I did consider) and my error with 23... h5, which was played in some time pressure as just "the natural move." Next round, I have to avoid getting in time pressure. But I made no errors that would have cost the win, and that's what's most important.
Game in PGNCopyright © 2011 by Michael Goeller