May 2009

Tue 19th: A tale of two diagonals

Tue 19th: A tale of two diagonals
Or "Black against Bill".

Last Stoke league game of the season, Cheddleton A away. For the fifth time in 13 months RR has black against Bill Armstrong - no whites against him in that time. No two of the five games were the same after 3 moves, so I guess I'm giving no opening secrets away if I give the complete score. Usually we end up transposing into nothing in particular!
1 d4 Nf6, 2 Nf3 e6, 3 e3 b6, 4 g3 Be7, 5 Bg2 Ba6
Bill Armstrong v RR after 5 ... Ba6
Are we out of your book yet? I confess that Bb7 is more me, and probably more sensible, but I decided to have a game with tension down adjacent white diagonals. I've got to worry about the long diagonal, whilst Bill can't simply play c4, Nc3 with a decent centre.
6 Nbd2 0-0
7 b3 Nd5 More direct play against the centre would be the standard plan
8 c4 Nb4
9 Nb1 Clearly the knight must move. Ne4 encourages d5. Does this matter?
9 ... d5 Playing d5 anyway
10 a3 N4c6
11 Nbd2 Na5
12 Rb1 dxc4
13 b4 Hmmm. My c7 pawn could be a problem. On the other hand Bill is yet to castle so can't gang up on it too easily.
Bill Armstrong v RR after 13 b4
13 ... c3
14 bxa6 cxd2+
15 Nxd2 c6
16 Qc2 Nd7 Refusing to believe that my c-pawn can safely be captured.
17 Bb2 Rc8
18 Qc3 Bf6 Unnecessary attempt to halt the d pawn advance. In fact with white still uncastled c5 opening things up looks saner. RR is guilty of being distracted by the attraction of a subsequent Nc5 and Nd3+, but hoping to be allowed to play them is a little greedy.
19 axb6 axb6
20 Ne4 End of my chances of playing Nc5
20 ... c5 Returning to a proper plan
21 Nxf6 Nxf6
22 Qd2 Nd7 It soon becomes apparent that RR cannot work out the best thing to do with his knight. cxd4, Bxd4 not attractive, whilst c4 not only relieves the tension in the centre but blocks 'my' diagonal.
23 f4 starting a 'slow castling' manoeuvre
23 ... Qe7
24 Kf2 Rfd8
25 Rhd1 Nf6
26 Kg1 Ne8 with vague ideas of visiting d6 and c4
27 Qe1 RR has been struggling with his knight, but Bill has had his own problems with his queen.
27 ... Bd3
28 Ra1 c4 A passed pawn!
29 Bf1 Bxf1
30 Qxf1 Nxd6
31 Qf3 f5
32 Bc3 Ne4 Fill that hole!
33 Bb4 Qd7
34 a4 c3
35 Qe2 Qd5
36 Ra3 Rc4
37 Be7 Rdc8 Obvious, yet going to a8, possibly via e8, could be even better.
38 Rb3 Rxa4
39 Rb5 Qb7 Guilty of a reflex action here (hit the bishop). Qa8 confirms control of the a file, whilst Ra2 would either have established a rook on the seventh or if met with Rc2 be folowed by Ra1+.
40 Bb4 Qa6
Bill Armstrong v RR final position
At this point Bill's flag fell, though his position is beginning to fall apart. Already a pawn down, and with my knight clearly superior to his bishop, he needs to answer the immediate threat of Rxb4. Hence we might see
41 Rc2 Ra1+, 42 Kg2 when Rb1 threatening Rb2 (even if white plays Ra2) is clearly good.

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