Irving Ellner Memorial

By Michael Goeller

In this second round game in the Irving Ellner Memorial tournament at the Kenilworth Chess Club, I played Michael O'Connor (1845 USCF), who has had a string of tournament successes of late. Michael's "Rapid Chess Improvement" appears mostly to have been based on his tactical sharpness and his willingness to enter into complicated situations. In the following game, I use the "threat" of simplifying the position to gain a strong advantage.

Michael O'Connor - Michael Goeller [C21]

KCC Irving Ellner Memorial/Kenilworth, NJ USA (2) 2012

1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. c3 Ne7

The Svenonius Defense, the chief idea of which is to support pawn to d5 while avoiding getting hit by White's pawn to e5, as would be the case with Nf6; here e5 can be met by Nf5 to assail the critical d4 square.


3... Qe7!? is another challenging defense that requires sharp opening preparation to meet.


4. Bc4

More common are:

a) 4. Nf3 d5 5. Qxd4 Nbc6 6. Bb5 Be6 7. exd5 Qxd5 8. Qxd5 Bxd5 9. Nbd2 O-O-O.


b) 4. cxd4 d5 5. e5 (5. Nc3!? dxe4 6. Bc4 Nf5 7. Nge2 might be White's best try for an interesting game) 5... Nf5 (also fine are 5... Nbc6 6. Nf3 Bg4= and 5... c5!?= Collijn) 6. Nc3 Be7 7. Nf3 O-O 8. Bd3 Nc6 9. Ne2 f6 Voigt - Hector, Hamburg 2000.


4... d5! 5. exd5 Nxd5

Collijn judges this position as equal.


6. Qxd4?!

Best was 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. O-O   Be7 8. Nxd4 Nxd4 9. Qxd4 Be6 10. Rd1 (10. Qxg7! Bf6 11. Qh6 Qe7 followed by O-O-O and Black has good play on the g-file, but White does have a pawn.) 10... c6 11. Bb3 (11. Qxg7is still better) 11... O-O 12. c4 Nf6 13. Qe5 Qb8 (13... Qb6) 14. Qxb8 Rfxb8 15. Nc3 Rd8 16. Be3 Rxd1+ 17. Rxd1 1/2-1/2 Horne,D-Hooper,D/Hastings 1953.


6... Be6 7. Nf3 Nc6 8. Qe4 Be7 9. O-O   Nf6!

Retreating moves are often overlooked.


10. Qe2 Bxc4 11. Qxc4 Qd5!


Probably the best move, but also very strong psychologically. If White exchanges Queens he will be faced with the harder side of a likely draw. But if he avoids the exchange, then Black will have centralized his Queen and will quickly castle queenside with a clear advantage. I suspected my opponent would choose to avoid the exchange of queens because of his "tactical, gambiteer style," so this move seemed especially strong.


12. Qe2?!

Necessary was 12. Qxd5 Nxd5 13. Nbd2! (13. Bg5 f6! or 13. a3 O-O-O 14. c4 Nb6 15. b3 Bf6 16. Ra2 Rd3) 13... O-O-O 14. Ne4 Rhe8 15. Neg5 Bxg5 16. Nxg5 (16. Bxg5 f6) 16... f6! 17. Nf3 g5 and Black definitely has at least a nagging edge due to his advantage in development and White's inability to develop his Bishop comfortably. But this would be a difficult position to win.


12... O-O-O 13. Bf4?! Rhe8

Black clearly has a strong edge in development, and White's loose bishop at f4 makes an interesting target.


14. Qc2 g5!?


I could not resist this move, though it is certainly too risky on close examination. In the end, however, it was another psychologically strong move. Who would want to open up the g-file on his own King? Certainly not a player who would prefer to be the one attacking...


There were two simpler options:

a) 14... Qe4 15. Qxe4 Nxe4 16. Nbd2 Nc5 xd3 with advantage.

b 14... Qh5 15. Nbd2 Nd5 16. Bg3 f5 17. h3 f4 18. Bh2 Kb8 19. Rfe1 g5.


15. Bg3?

It was absolutely necessary to take the pawn.

a) 15. Nxg5 Nh5 16. Nh3 (16. c4 Nd4!) 16... Nxf4 17. Nxf4 Qg5 18. g3 Bd6.

b) 15. Bxg5 Rg8 16. c4 Qc5 17. Bxf6 Bxf6 18. Nbd2 Qh5.


15... h5

Probably the better way to attack the Bishop was with 15... Ne4 16. Re1 f5!


16. c4 Qc5

Now I want to keep the queens on, even though 16... Qe4!? 17. Qxe4 Nxe4 is a winning ending for Black.


17. Ne5??

A miscalculation, overlooking Black's knight retreat. As I note above, those retreating moves are often tough to see. Better 17. Nbd2 Nb4! -- but Black's Knight is headed to d3 and there is h4 coming, so this is also very unhappy for White.


17... Nxe5 18. Qf5+ Ned7

White had obviously overlooked this simple retreat which wins at least a piece.


19. Qc2? h4 20. Bxc7 Kxc7 21. b4 Qd4

21... Qe5! 22. Nc3 Ng4


22. Nc3 Kb8!

Though two pieces up, Black can easily make a mistake: 22... Qxc4?? 23. Nb5+


23. c5 h3! 24. Rfd1 Qg4 25. f3

But at a certain point, White should probably give it up. If here 25. g3? Qf3


25... Qxb4 26. Rab1

White has no counterplay. If 26. c6 Qb6+ 27. Kh1 Qxc6


26... Qxc5+ 27. Kh1 Nb6

Stopping any tricks on the b-file.


28. Qb3? Qf2 29. Rg1 Rd2

Mate is unavoidable.



[Michael Goeller]

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Game in PGN

Copyright © 2012 by Michael Goeller