Irving Ellner Memorial 2012, Round 4
By Michael Goeller
In Round 4 of the Irving Ellner Memorial at the Kenilworth Chess Club, I faced NM Mark Kernighan. I rather expected we would be discussing the Chigorin Defense, but I did not expect the 3.Bf4 line from him. Usually he plays 3.c4 against me. We both played a tight game until late, when Kernighan overestimated his edge and over-reached, giving me the chance to win, and I took it. One of my more solid performances.
Mark Kernighan (2200) - Michael Goeller (2050) [D02]
Kenilworth CC, Irving Ellner Memorial/Kenilworth, NJ USA (4) 2012
My special line, which I prefer over the more usual 3... Bg4.
This slightly passive Bishop placement gives Black at least equality. Better is 5. Bd3=.
Trying to make something of White's damaged pawns.
A typical opening error on my part, trying to get creative where simple development is best. This move is a little too slow and too full of fantasy. I mostly had the idea of sacrificing a pawn with g5, probably after O-O-O, and I justified it to myself because it also secures a place for my Bishop to retreat if attacked by Nh4. But best is to develop toward the center with 8... Nf6! 9. Nc3 Ne4 10. Qe3 (10. Nxe4? dxe4 11. Ne5 Qxd4) 10... Nxc3 11. Qxc3 (11. bxc3? Bxc2) 11... Qxf4!? 12. Ba6! (without this cool move, White would be in trouble) 12... Nd8 13. Bxb7 Nxb7 14. Qc6+ Ke7 15. Qxb7 Rhb8 16. Qc6 Qd6 17. Qc3 Rb6 and Black has at least a slight initiative due to his better development.
As Black can no longer castle queenside due to the pressure on f7, this makes the most sense. The position is about equal, but now the maneuvering begins.
White clearly has fantasies of g4-g5 to scare up a kingside attack.
Threatening b4, when Black gets in Ne4 for free.
This allows White a slight initiative. I had actually intended to play dxe5 but chickened out in the end from damaging my pawns because
after 15... dxe4! though Black suddenly has a great square for his Knight I did not think he had anything concrete to compensate for the structural damage, e.g.: 16. g3! (16. g4?! Bh7 17. g5 f6 18. gxf6 gxf6 19. Ng4 Nd5) 16... f6 17. Ng4 Bxg4 18. Bxg4 Nd5 However, due to the pressure at b4, it looks like this line allows Black time to fight off White's a4 play that he gets in the game. Meanwhile, the e4 pawn can always be defended by f5. For example: 19. f5 Ne7! 20. fxe6 f5 21. Be2 Qxe6
Here I offered a draw, as I had a time advantage but White clearly has the more comfortable position. The draw offer, however, may have precipitated his attack.
I think we both overlooked that Black can defend the pawn with 27... Qa7!
This premature attack probably lets Black off the hook. Better 29. Qe3! Kf7! (29... Re8?? 30. Rxe8+ Qxe8 31. f4) 30. Bf1 Re8 31. Qb6 (31. Rxe8 Qxe8 32. Qa7+ Qe7 33. Qxa6 Qxb4 34. Qa7+ Kg8 35. a6 d4 36. Kg1 Qd2=) 31... Qc8 32. Qa7+ Nd7 33. Rxe8 Kxe8 34. Qe3+ Kf8 35. Qe6.
33... Kg8! keeps the edge.
The remainder of the game was played in time pressure for both players and was reconstructed as best I could.
and Black won.
Game in PGN
Copyright © 2012 by Michael Goeller