A refined anti-London system for club players (YouTube)

In the last year we have published several articles on an anti-London system based on an early queenside development by black. In our latest YouTube episode we look at how this has been evolving given most London system club players refusal to play 3.c4 and an adherence to the “classic” London structure. One things for sure, it ain’t going to be a draw!

 

An anti-London system for club players (16 minutes)

Leave us comments, suggestions and refutations below!  Until next time…


mecircle

Jon Fisher

Jon is the Editor of The Bristol Chess Times and Publicity and Recruitment Officer for The Bristol & District Chess League. He plays for Horfield Chess Club and has been known to play 1. b3 on occasion.

Reviewing my opening repertoire: “Is the Scandinavian holding me back?”

Its June and chess is in lazy season. The cut and thrust of the league has finished and we have to rely on weekend congresses and one-day rapid plays to see us through the long sunny months of Summer.  Traditionally I take this opportunity to review my chess with a full 360 degree review.  Following in the advice of the excellent book Chess for Tigers by Simon Webb, every few years I review my opening repertoire to see if I am falling down anywhere. Whilst on holiday this week I started by poking around some of my opening statistics with some interesting findings.

Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 22.02.47
Despite the surprise of many friends, this actually is a sound opening for black! (Photo courtesy of Chris Lamming)

At the start of last season I set myself the goal of reaching a personal best of 160 ECF / 1900 ELO.  The grades don’t come out until July in England but I suspect I have come dangerously close but not close enough.  My current estimates put me at around 158 ECF / 1885 ELO. Close but no cigar!  Whilst I appreciate there are bound to be multiple areas of my game to improve (for example, spotting one move mate threats which cost me two games this year), lets break down where those pesky few points could be being dropped in my openings.

White

This analysis is relatively straight forward as I only play the one opening with white…

Nimzo-Larsen Attack

27 games / 54% / 158 ECF or 1885 ELO average opponent

Everyone knows I enjoy a good 1. b3.  Lets face it I’m not going to change this up until it starts doing me a serious disservice.  Over the last two seasons I have scored a respectable 54% with it against strong opposition in the top two divisions of the Bristol & District Chess League.  A score of 54% seems to be about average with what a player with the white pieces should be scoring but it did lead me to question if I could be doing better with white by switching to something more conventional?

That may be the case but I think its fair to say I’m not under performing with white and seeing as a really enjoy these types of games why fix what isn’t broken?

Black

I’ve broken down this analysis into two groups – 1.e4 and 1.d4.  Only a small handful of games started with anything else and many of those that did, transposed back into mainline e4 or d4 openings anyway (I’m looking at you 1. nf3 players…).  I have not included the “other” openings category as they are two small and varied in number.

Scandinavian Defence- 1.e4

17 games / 41% / 151 ECF or 1833 ELO average opponent

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 20.07.29
The numbers suggest I may have already gone wrong in this position

“I’m really enjoying and playing well with the Scandinavian”

“It really suits my style of play and the 2.nf6 lines give me plenty of room to play for a win”

Um. Well yes.  Thats what psychology can do to you!  I have been confidently trotting out the 2. nf6 Scandinavian for almost two seasons now believing that its treating me well.  The fact of the matter is I have barely scraped in with a performance of 41%.  To make matters even worse it turns out I’ve only won 3 of those 17 games (18%. Ouch!).  So why do I so passionately defend and even recommend this opening to friends and club mates?

Well it turns out that I draw with it a lot.  8 times out of 17 to be exact. For a player desperately questing to both improve their grade and perform in the top local leagues, draws with the black pieces against strong opposition go a long way to cementing a perception of an opening.

I did actually double check the figures but the numbers don’t lie.  My record with the Scandinavian reads:

  • Played: 17
  • Won: 3
  • Drawn: 8
  • Lost: 6

In addition, the average grade of my opponents is 151, slightly worse than my current predicted grade.  Although the sample of 17 games is relatively small, my predicted grade would seem to indicate I should be scoring atleast 50% with the Scandinavian against this level of opposition.

I checked the numbers in the database and black is scoring 46% at pro levels.  Overall my numbers would seem to suggest I am underperforming with the Scandinavian and this important defence to the kings pawn may need to be looked at over the summer.

Queens Gambit Declined and assorted 1. d4 defences

11 games / 59% / 146 ECF or 1795 ELO average opponent

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 20.08.38
Blissfully unaware of how well I’ve been playing these positions

“I’ve always hated facing the queens pawn”.  

“Never do well against it.  Can’t stand it when they shove the d pawn forward, urggg”

Again my bias and psychology has been playing to the fore when the numbers actually tell a different story.  In stark contrast to my performance against 1.e4 I have actually been scoring remarkably well against the 1.d4 openings.

A cracking 59% with the black pieces which actually rises to 71% (7 games) when you factor in I changed the way I play against 1. d4 at the start of this season.  Again I double checked the numbers and was stunned to see that I have been comfortably handling the d-pawn all season long.  So solid has my performance been that it made me wonder if it had not been a contributory factor to my victory at the recent Frome congress.  At the time I had bemoaned getting three blacks over the weekend but actually my worst result came in a drawn Scandinavian whilst two cracking victories against 1.d4 had brought home the metaphorical bacon!

As a ringing endorsement for those people who recommend not losing too much sleep over opening study, I have been generally playing “good instinctive moves” against 1.d4, pretty much because I assumed I have a terrible record against it.  Freed from the burdens of opening theory I have also hit upon playing in a way that befits my personal style.  I should definitely review my 1.d4 games further to see what it is about those pawn structures and style that appeals to my play.

My average opponent strength in these d4 games is the lowest out of all the openings (approximately 10 ECF or 75 ELO) but the scores I am achieving reflect this, indicating my d4 openings are yielding what one would expect.

Perhaps the most pressing concern is how can I have such a large swing in performance between my responses to e4 and d4? Since my transition to the “Care-free Defence” (editors note – patent pending) there is a stark difference of 30% in performance!

Conclusion: “Is the Scandinavian holding me back?

So there we have it.

Twelve months on from when I set myself the goal of achieving 160 ECF / 1900 ELO I believe (July ratings pending) I have fallen short by a handful of rating points.  If you had stopped me in the local club and asked me where I thought it was going wrong, prior to this I would not have stated the Scandinavian Defence as a potential problem.

Perhaps 41% is not the worst ever score with black against 1.e4 but its clear that I am able to perform well with black as highlighted by my 1.d4 performances.  I think the thing that bothers me is the win column.  An 18% return of victories just isn’t good enough in my opinion (especially when one of those was against a much weaker opponent).  I’ve been painting a false picture about my performance with the Scandinavian due to holding multiple strong players to a draw with it.  In hindsight, there are very few games where I have been pushing my opponents for the full point.

In addition, my analysis of opponent strength seems to indicate that my White and d4 defences are scoring as expected if not better against my opposition.  However, my results with the Scandinavian are a good 10% below where you would expect them to be over a large number of games.

The Scandinavian is very popular at club level and has an excellent reputation.  To be clear, I’m not saying its a bad opening. But the important question to ask is is it right for me?  As I strive to creep ever closer to competing against the top players in the local leagues is it the right kind of opening to give me wining chances?  Perhaps an alternative defence to the kings pawn might have netted me those scarce few points I needed to hit my  personal goal?

Overall, a very useful exercise that yields some interesting questions.  I thoroughly recommend all amateur cub players perform this kind of analysis atleast once every two years as I have done.  Its amazing the stories we like to tell ourselves and how we can be actively missing out on areas of improvement we didn’t realise existed.


mecircle

Jon Fisher

Jon is the Editor of The Bristol Chess Times and Publicity and Recruitment Officer for The Bristol & District Chess League. He plays for Horfield Chess Club and has been known to play 1. b3 on occasion.

Seeking asymmetry in an anti-London system

The London System has a reputation for being solid and unexciting.  It can be a very frustrating system to play against as black because white can just adopt a series of system like moves and they will achieve a playable game, in a familiar position. Regular readers will know that I have tried to find ways to combat the London via the move order 2…Bf5 and then using principles from Chigorin’s defence. But what happens if white just decides to continue with their normal set up?  Lets take a look.

I suppose you could say that this article is the third entry in my exploration of fighting the London system using principles from Chigorin’s defence.  For those readers not familiar, my original anti-london article is here, whilst an addendum to the Nc3 lines can be found here.

In these prior articles, my approach to the London had been based on 2…Bf5 and 3. c4.  The move c4 has been recommended by numerous authors in the London system against 2…Bf5 and it was the d4, c4 pawn formation that originally inspired my thinking around an early Nc6 and e5 i.e. Chigorin’s defence.

However, there is an obvious draw back.

Despite 3. c4 being the objectively best response, white is not obliged to play it! Instead, the white player can simply continue to adopt the “classic” London set up as shown below.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 22.19.48

The “Classic” London System setup where the first 6 or so moves can be bashed out and help the Black player with any problems they might have sleeping.

As anyone who has ever faced the London will testify, it is this setup that gives the system its reputation. Rock solid with opportunities to launch kingside attacks if Black ever threatens to exchange off the f4 bishop by exchanging on g3 and opening the h file. If my proposed approach to combating the London with 2…Bf5 was going to work then I would need to find a line that created an asymmetrical structure and a presented a playable plan for Black.

Avoiding symmetry by copying whites moves?

So lets begin.  Obviously when searching for an asymmetrical position the best thing to do is mirror several of whites moves in the early opening (sigh – I know but trust me there really is little else to do that doesn’t give white an edge). The opening line is as follows 1. d4 d5 2. Bf4 Bf5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. e3 e6 5. Bd3

Its the move 5.Bd3 that irritated me for so long in this position as it just results in swopping off of pieces and leading to symmetrical pawn structures. That was until I noticed the remarkable statistics in my database for the move 5…Ne7. Played in 13 games it scores a lowly 38% for white with a computer evaluation of +0.28.  Surely a move worth exploring further.

There are two moves here for white, either 6. 0-0 or 6. c3 (continuing with the usual London setup).  Lets look at 6. c3 first.

Line #1 6. c3

If white continues to follow the London system by rote then black can unbalance the position with a plan built around an f6, g5 spike, hitting the bishop before castling queenside.

Black clears the way for queenside castling and also has the nice option of a kingside pawn storm with h5 coming.  Not something white is typically used to in the London system.

Admittedly, white could play 8.h4 here to prevent 8…g5 but that leads to 8…Bd6 when the usual white plan of falling back to g3 and then opening the h-file after the exchange on g3 is not available.  The best move then is 9. Bxd6 Qxd6 10. Nd2 and black again castles long.

If white plays to deny the g5 spike then Black can exchange the black bishops and has a choice of recapturing with the c pawn, f5 knight or even queen (as shown) and castling long.  

Lets be clear.  As was often the case in my previous articles on the London, I do not claim a refutation to white in this position.  Rather I like the asymmetrical nature of the position and the ability of this setup to run counter to many of the usual plans that white tries to adopt.  In the final position of this line, the computer evaluation is -0.29 to Black.  Equality.

Line #2 6. 0-0

We have seen that if white tries to stick rigidly to the usual London structure then we can achieve an asymmetrical position and nice attacking chances on the kingside with f6 and g5.  Now lets see if that approach works after whites other most logical move, 6. 0-0.

Again in this line we use the f6, g5 threat to create an asymmetrical position and begin a kingside attack. Objectively the computer evaluation is +0.57 to white but I like Blacks options.  In the two variations explored above we see how in both lines black’s plan remains the same – Castle long and Kingside attack.

Conclusion

It took me a while but I am greatly encouraged by this line for black in our 2…Bf5 anti-London system. Whilst objectively c4 is a good response by white (indeed we see it reappear in the 6. 0-0 lines), our approach of Ne7, f6 and g5 give us a wide of options and a clear plan to reach an interesting and asymmetrical position should the white player insist on sticking to their “classic” London structure.

Most of all, I like the fact that this approach results in whites key attacking plan of exchanging on g3 to open the h file before launching a kingside attack being unavailable.

The London system is not going away anytime soon in amateur circles.  I hope that this article (and my earlier ones) have helped inspire you to tackle this solid white system in a new way straight from move 2.  Do let us know at the Bristol Chess Times if you trial our approach and if you have anymore thoughts on the “theory”.

Good Luck!


mecircle

Jon Fisher

Jon is the Editor of The Bristol Chess Times and Publicity and Recruitment Officer for The Bristol & District Chess League. He plays for Horfield Chess Club and has been known to play 1. b3 on occasion.

 

An Anti-London System based on Chigorin’s Defence: Part 2

A few weeks a go I published an article highlighting the idea of fighting the London System using principles derived from Chigorin’s Defence.  Given the prevalence of the London system in amateur circles and its reputation for being stodgy, I wanted to try to showcase a line that was more tactical and open in nature. The article proved very popular and promoted a lot of conversation, particularly around the 4. Nc3 lines.  Today we revisit this line to update our analysis and build upon this blossoming approach to fighting the London.

First of all, if you haven’t read my first article on this anti-London system then I strongly recommend that you do as it introduces the wider system and the four major lines of 4. Nf3, 4. e3, 4. cxd or 4.Nc3 and their respective merits. The rest of this article will not make much sense otherwise…

It was the 4. Nc3 lines that caused the most conversation online. IM Frendzas from Greece rightly questioned and then found a much superior line in the Nc3 variation that I had overlooked in the first article.  Lets take a look.

1.d4 d5 2. Bf4 Bf5 3. c4 Nc6 4. Nc3 e5?! 5. cxd5 Nb4

AL1

IM Frendzas puts our initial choice of 5…Nb4 in jeopardy

Previously I had suggested 6. e4 for white with a messy position but IM Frendzas found a nice alternative leading to a clear advantage for white, 6. Bxe5!

AL2a

“Go ahead, I don’t care about the c2 square!”

At first it seems astonishing that white can play this and voluntarily leave his king in the centre but as we will see, whites king is more than safe and ends up running to the queenside.

6…Nc2+ 7. Kd2 Nxa1 8. e4!

AL3

Black has won a rook and forced whites king to the centre yet unbelievably is in an inferior position

As IM Frendzas points out:

  • white has two pawns and a massive centre for the rook;
  • The knight on a1 is ultimately doomed;
  • The white king can run to the queenside (probably being the one to gobble the a1 knight)
  • Black is sorely lacking good squares to develop his pieces too.

Having debated the merits of the above position (the computer agrees too, giving an evaluation of between +0.7 and +0.9 for white) its hard to find much pleasure in the position for Black, no matter how great it initially looks.  The initial recommendation of 5…Nb4 doesn’t seem to be holding up  in the Nc3 lines so we need to find an alternative if our anti-London system is to survive past its infancy.

Line #4a – 4. Nc3 e5 5. cxd5

Having looked extensively at 5…Nb4 its too good for white.  Our subsequent discussions and analysis shows that the best line for black in this variation is likely to involve accepting weak pawns with the interesting move 5…exf4

AL4

Black accepts weak pawns to remove whites annoying black squared bishop

This leads to the almost forced line of 6. dxc6 bxc6 7. Qd2 Bd6 8. g3!

AL5

Black retains the bishop pair and has a clear plan of development

The position is unusual (something we wanted to achieve in our anti-London philosophy) and whites black squared bishop is no more.  The computer evaluation of this position gives us +0.3 so it would seem to give a playable position for black.

Conclusion

So our anti-London Chigorin system is still alive and kicking albeit with a necessary re-evaluation of the tricky Nc3 lines.  My thanks to everyone who has commented and contributed thus far but especially to IM Frendzas for his insight and analysis. So what is next?

Well despite almost all theory and top masters agreeing that after 2…Nf5 whites best response is 3.c4, I have still received a lot of comments from London players wanting to stick to their system with c3, e3 and the traditional London structure.  It seems that a third article may be required to look at blacks options in the event of the player of the white pieces proving particularly reticent to push the c pawn two squares.


mecircle

Jon Fisher

Jon is the Editor of The Bristol Chess Times and Publicity and Recruitment Officer for The Bristol & District Chess League. He plays for Horfield Chess Club and has been known to play 1. b3 on occasion.

An Anti-London System based on Chigorin’s Defence

The amateur chess world has been flooded recently with the London System, thanks in no small part I expect to GM Simon Wiliam’s excellent three part series on this opening (his three videos on “learn the London System have amassed 180,000 views on YouTube). If like me you are tired of facing this frustrating system as Black, then today I want to share an approach I have been working on based on principles taken from another of GM Simon William’s opening choices, the Chigorin Defence.

The approach I am advocating in this article is based upon the “copycat” sideline (as nicknamed by GM Williams) where Black initially mirrors White with 2…Bf5.

AL1

GM Simon William’s advocates that in this sideline of the London, Whites best response is to play 3. c4 with plans to play a quick Qb3 hitting b7.  Indeed, 2..Bf5 is the one move where GM William’s is advocating playing c4 (rather than c3).

So basically after 2…Bf5 White is left with two choices:

  1. Continue with the usual London System setup with c3, e3 and Bd3 leading to (in my opinion) a one way ticket to a boring line where Blacks moves are easy and Whites core plan is neutralised;
  2. Transpose into a Queens Gambit style position with 3. c4.

It was this “admission” to abandon the traditional London setup and enter a Queens Gambit type position that inspired me to try a response based on Chigorin’s Defence.

Chigorin Principles

The move order I am advocating involves transposing into a type of Chigorin defence with 3..Nc6 quickly followed by a later e5 break.

AL2

White is faced with four choices of which three score highly in practice for white, hmm.

From ChessBase, White scores the following:

  • Line #1 – nf3 – 77 games with a score of 67% and a computer eval of +0.20;
  • Line #2 – e3 – 49 games with a score of 71% (bare with me readers!) and a computer eval of +0.24;
  • Line #3 – cxd – 0 games (?!) with a computer eval of 0.00;
  • Line #4 – nc3 – 11 games with a score of 54% and a computer eval of +0.08;

Lets look at the main lines.

Line #1 – 4.Nf3

4…e5

AL3

Chigorin would be proud (if not slightly unsound…)

Played twice on Chessbase with a win and a draw for Black!

5. Nxe5 Nb4 6. Na3 f6?! 7. Nf3 dxc

AL4

Not exactly the nice closed systemic approach that most London players are hoping for out of the opening.

8. e3 Nd5 9. Bg3 Bb4+ 10. Nd2 c3!

AL5

The style of game and position is open and dynamic.  In the amateur chess world where the London is so pandemic at the moment, I would certainly like my chances of scoring well from here.

Line #2 – 4. e3

Again we stick to our Chigorin Principles with 4…e5

AL6

Played five times on ChessBase with a score of 60% for White:

5. dxe dxc

6. Nc3 (not 6.Bxc4 when the following equalises: 6…Qxd1 7. Kxd1 Rd8 + 8. Nd2 Be4 9. f3?! Bb4 fxe4 Rxd2+ =) 6… Bd3 7. Bxd3 cxd3 8. Nf3 Qd7 9. 0-0 Ne7

AL7

White has a pawn, and although not exactly the type of game that most London players want I’m not convinced by this line for Black. A better alternative to 5…dxc we can also look at 5… d4!

AL8

Whites best response here is 6. Nf3 followed by:

6…dxe 7. QxQ+ Rxd8 8. Bxe3 f6?! 9. exf Nxf6

AL9

A nice open board where Blacks loss of a pawn is compensated by open lines and great development.  The computer gives an evaluation 0.00 in this position.

Line #3 – cxd

Unbelievably no-one seems to have played this line.  The key seems to be the removal of the b1 knight before it gets chance to jump to c3.  As below:

4. cxd Qxd 5. Nf3 (protecting d4) Bxb1 6. Rxb1 e5!

AL10

This line appears to be the strongest so far for Black, breaking up the centre and resulting in very unlike London formations.

7. Nxe5 and the game can continue in a relatively equal position.

The mistake 7.dxe leads to advantage Black with the following two lines: 7. dxe Bb4+ 8. Bd2 Qxa2 OR the very nice line 7.dxe Qe4! 8. Qc1 Nb4 9. Ng5 Nd3+ 10. Kd1 Nxf2+ 11. Ke1 Nd3+ 12. Kd1 Qxf4 with a clear advantage to black (see below)

AL11

7. dxe appears to be a mistake as demonstrated with the resulting position above.

Line #4 – 4.Nc3

The lowest scoring line for White but it seems a sensible plan.  Lets strike again with e5 and see what happens:

4…e5 5. cxd Nb4 6. e4?! 

AL12

White is provoked into a very un-London like e4 leading to a messy position

6…exf5 7.exf4 Nxd5 8. Qb3 Bb4 9. Bc4 Nf6

AL13

In this line both sides get a game as they say with active piece development.  But at risk of sounding like a broken record, how many London System players envisage this kind of position at the start of the match?

Conclusion

Obviously there is a greater level of depth required to this analysis in all these lines. For the sake of this article I have ventured only a handful of the most obvious positions. At the time of writing I have only tried this approach in online chess with modest / good results.  However, I am excited by its potential and the reason for this is threefold:

  • In the world of amateur chess where the London System has become so prevalent, psychology and clock time play a huge part in leading to mistakes.  By forcing confrontation in the centre of the board with an early Nc6 and e5, Black is ultimately saying to white “I will not play on your terms“.  I would predict this approach to the London will leave the amateur white player atleast feeling uncomfortable, if not worse on the clock as well.
  • From move two you are forcing the player of the white pieces to make a choice.  Either accept that their conventional setup of c3, e3 and Bd3 will be immediately contested in a dry boring, drawish opening line OR go into a range of tactical lines involving high-levels of early calculation.  This choice is not one that I would predict most players of the London System are thrilled about, particularly in amateur club circles.
  • I admit that their might be some queries around theoretical soundness but even the initial analysis shown in this article indicates that white is at best only half a pawn ahead in the best lines.  Personally a cost I am prepared to pay in order to gain the psychological and time advantages mentioned above.

When you put the above three points together, you can see that here we have a potentially interesting line against the London System with strong practical chances. Just like the real Chigorin Defence, another advantage is that many of Blacks moves are thematic in nature such as nc6, e5, Nb4 and Bb4.

I hope you have enjoyed this line and if you have any thoughts, or better still, venture this line in one of your games then please let me know. I would love to develop the theory on this Anti-London System further!


mecircle

Jon Fisher

Jon is the Editor of The Bristol Chess Times and Publicity and Recruitment Officer for The Bristol & District Chess League. He plays for Horfield Chess Club and has been known to play 1. b3 on occasion.

Beating the London System from two pieces down

Today on the Bristol Chess Times we welcome new columnist Mike Fielding from North Bristol Chess Club.  A club well in the ascendancy who are rapidly growing and striving for Division 1 status, North Bristol have been combative all season.  

The London seems to be everywhere in amateur chess at the moment so here is a recent game from the recent North Bristol B vs. Hanham B clash where Black launches a lovely attack against this tough opening system.

[Event “North Bristol B Vs Hanham B”]
[Site “Ratepayers Arms, Filton.”]
[Date “2018.01.25”]
[White “Kevin Marshall”]
[Black “Michael Fielding”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A80”]

1. d4 f5

The Dutch isn’t something I usually play so I thought i’d trot it out to try to catch my opponent out.

2. Bf4

The infamous London System. Buckle up.

2… Nf6 3. e3 b6 4. Nf3 Bb7

In the Dutch it’s usually good to fianchetto the queen’s bishop if white doesn’t fianchetto the kingside bishop.

5. c3 e6 6. Be2 Be7 7. h3 O-O 8. Nbd2 Nd5

mf1

Probably not the best move but I though I can either kick his bishop back to a worse square or win the bishop pair.

9. Bh2 Na6 10. Qc2 Nf6 11. O-O-O c5 12. Rhg1 cxd4 13. exd4 Ne4 !?

mf2

13… Nb4 is a good try but I couldn’t really see where the knight was going. My main aim was now to hit hard and fast.

14. Rdf1 (14. Bxa6 Bxa6 15. Nxe4 fxe4 16. Qxe4 )

This line would give up a pawn but the bishops become a bit better and I’ve got a simple plan to pawn storm the queenside. Although I’m a pawn down I’ve always thought the 2-2-2 pawn formation is favourable.

14… Rc8 15. Kd1 ?

The king is definitely asking for trouble coming back into the centre !

15. ..Nc7

I think I copped out a bit with this move. I always worry about missing tactics so I thought just reroute my knight back in and try to open up. Nb4 is better I’m sure.

16. Bd3 Nd5 !

Let the fun begin. Things soon start to open up with the king still in the centre.

17. Nxe4 fxe4 18. Bxe4 Nxc3+ 19. bxc3 Bxe4 20. Qxe4 Rxc3

mf3

This is the line I calculated. White’s king is stuck in the centre with the rest of his pieces stuck awkwardly in the corner. Now I just need to pile in.

21. Qb1 Ba3 22. Kd2 Qc8 23. Ng5 (23. Rc1 Bxc1+ 24. Rxc1 Rxc1 25. Qxc1 Qa6)

mf4

I though that white would give the exchange back to free his pieces. Even after the mass trade off I can’t help but feel I’d pick one of his loose pawns up.

23… g6 (23… Rf5 The better move. 24. Ne4 Rc4 25. Qd3 Bb4+ )

24. Ne4 Rc4 25. Kd3 ?

Stepping out the frying pan and into the fire.

…Qa6 26. Ke3 d5 27. Nd6 Rc3+ 28. Kd2 Rc6

mf5

28… Bb4 This moves to a forced checkmate. I applaud any human that would have found that over the board and had the bottle to play it! 29. Kd1 Rd3+ 30. Kc1 Bd2+ 31. Kc2 Rc8+ 32. Nxc8 Qc4+ 33. Kd1 Bb4+ 34. Ke2 Rb3+ 35. Kd1 Rxb1#

29. Qb5 Bb4+ !

mf6

Trading queens just ends up in a losing endgame for me. Sacrificing the second piece allows me to infiltrate and keep the advantage.

30. Qxb4 {Forced.} 30… Qxa2+ 31. Ke3 Rc2

Now the rook has infiltrated white has nowhere to go. Although I’m two pieces down they’re doing nothing. I can start to rearrange my pieces and cause more problems.

32. Qe1 {White cracks.}

32. Kd3 Rb2 Was the only try but white’s completely tied down. With perfect play white can probably wriggle out of it but with less than 20 minutes on the clock it’s easier said than done.

32… Qb3+ 0-1

mf7

Play through full game

So what can we learn from this game? Sometimes you’ve got to speculate to accumulate and quality over quantity. I know that computer evaluations should never be blindly followed but after the sacrifice on move 20 the silicone based overlords always had black as having an advantage, even when I was two pieces down the evaluation never went positive. Although my moves may not have been computer accurate it’s much harder to defend than attack and eventually that told..


Michael Fielding (1)

Mike Fielding

Mike can be found throwing the kitchen sink for North Bristol or hustling some backpackers in a remote youth hostel; trying to help turn North Bristol into a Division 1 side. Ex-Weymouth. UK NATO Chess Team 2015. MOD Chess Champion 2017.