Friday, September 12, 2014

A simple pin: National Inter-School Teams 2014

So for some reason, yesterday's team line-ups made me play 5 Black games in a row (Jaren had 5 Whites, while Delvin also had 5 Blacks!). But it was the last game that was most memorable for me: Not only was it the first time I had beaten a Rafflesian in a tournament, it was also (very likely) the last game I would ever play for this school.

The game was mostly equal throughout; it was only a tactical blunder made by my opponent that allowed me to score the full point.

Opponent vs Checkerboard 5
54 National Inter-School Team Chess Championships 2014 

1. b4 e6
2. b5 Be7
3. Bb2 Nf6
4. e3 O-O
5. c4 d6
6. Nf3 Nbd7
7. d4 c6
8. Be2 cxb5
9. cxb5 b6
10. O-O Bb7
11. Nc3 Rc8

The motif of the middlegame revolves around the open c-file

12. Rc1 Ne4 (D)

Position after 12... Ne4

13. Nxe4

White could try 13. Qa4 Nxc3 14. Rxc3 Rxc3 15. Bxc3 Qb8 16. Rc1 taking control of the file.

13... Bxe4
14. a4 Nf6
15. Bd3 Bxd3
16. Qxd3 Qd7
17. e4 Rc7
18. Rxc7 Qxc7
19. Rc1 Qd7
20. h3 Rc8

Re-occupying the file. An alternative variation here that I looked at was 20... d5!? 21. Ne5! Qb7 22. exd5 Nxd5 23. Qe4 Bd6 24. Rc6 Rd8 (D)

Position after 24... Rd8

Would I have been able to exploit White's isolated d-pawn? Possible but not easy: White's pieces are clearly more active, and he has seized control of the open file. After 25. Bc1 h6 my opponent can bring his bishop back into the game. While I would say it is still playable for Black if he manages to simplify the position, I certainly won't want to play as Black over here.

21. Rxc8+ Qxc8
22. d5 exd5

After 22... e5 White can play 23. Ne1, eyeing the outpost on c6 (Nc2-Nb4-Nc6) where he can exert lots of pressure on Black's queenside.

23. exd5 Qc5 (D)

Position after 23... Qc5

Occupation of the c-file has paid off with an outpost for Her Majesty.

24. Ng5

The alternative variation by Fritz was 24. Bxf6 Bxf6 25. Qe4 g6

24... Qxd5
25. Qe3 Bd8

25... Qd1+ looks more active, but after 26. Kh2 Nd5 27. Qe4 g6 28. Qc4 Bf8 (28... Bxg5?? Qc8+ with mate on next move!) 29. Bd4 Black is in danger of losing a piece and getting mated at the same time.

26. Bxf6 gxf6

Of course not 26... Bxf6?? 27. Qe8#

27. Nf3 Bc7
28. g3 Qc5
29. Qe8+ Kg7
30. Qc8 d5 (D)

Position after 30... d5

31. Qb7??

This is the blunder that cost White the game; by removing the pin on the Black Queen, it allowed me to unearth a tactical blow. The best move for White here would have been 31. Nh4 d4 (Not 31... Bxg3? 32. Nf5+ losing a piece) 32. Nf5+ Kg6. Here I am a pawn up with a passer on the e-file, but the exposed position on my kingside with a pair of isolated doubled pawns negates that advantage. After 33. Nxd4 Qxd4 34. Qg8+ I would have to accept a draw by repetition.

Now, look at the following diagram and see whether you can see the best move for Black. It shouldn't be that difficult...

Find the best move for Black
31... Bxg3!

Exploiting a simple pin on the f-pawn opens up an attack on White's king.

32. Kh1 Qxf2
33. Qxd5

The only defence against immediate mate.

33... Qf1+
34. Ng1 Bf2
35. Qg2+ Qxg2+
36. Kxg2 Bxg1
37. Kxg1 Kg6 (D)

Position after 37... Kg6

And with my two extra pawns it did not take me long to convert my advantage into a win.

And thus, after 6 years of fighting under the banner of NUS High, I got to end my high school chess career on a high note. Sayonara, my fellow Black Knights!

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