Chess Life, Agosto 2017

CARO KHAN DEFENSE

White: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo (1436)

Black: Matthew Manley (1525)

Missouri Open Championship, Sunday December 11th 2016,

Saint Louis Chess Club, Missouri.

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3

Inaccurate. This early move of King’s Knight only favors the development of Black’s Bishop to g4. It is better 5. Be3.

5. … cd 6. cd Bf5

Second best. 6. … Bg4 is preferable.

7. Qb3 Rb8

The development of Black’s Queen to d7 seems more natural here.

8. Nc3 e6 9. Be2 Nge7 10. Bg5

White’s reluctance to position his Queen’s Bishop on e3 soon will turn it into a “piece of driftwood” for a long stretch of moves. GM Yasser Seraiwan was critical of my choice, insisting that 10. Be3, reinforcing the d4-Pawn, was the right square for this Bishop.

10. … h6 11. Bh4?

Misplacing the Bishop. Again, best was 11. Be3.

11. … a6

Black hesitates too much about launching the initiative right away on the King’s side. With 11. … g5 12 Bg3 Bg7, Black pieces stand well on the board.

12. 0-0 Qc7

Certainly 12. … g5 13. Bg3 g4 could lead to complications of the kind 14. Nh4 Nd4 15. Qa4+ Nec6 16. Nf5 Nf5 17. Qg4 h5, with sharp play.

13. Qd1 Ng6 14. Bg3

White’s Bishop has been finally forced to a passive position where it is ineffective. It’s the price of White’s arbitrary playing this opening.

14. … Be7 15. Rc1 Qd8

Probably motivated by a concern about the imminent advance of White Pawn to h4 and then h5, rather than with the presence of White’s Rook in the open c file.

16. Bd3 Bd3

Black could have decided to finally pin my King’s Knight with 16. … Bg4.

17. Qd3 0-0 18. Ne2 Nb4

A untimely maneuver. It was better to play the Queen to b6 first.

19. Qb1 Qd7 20. a3 Nc6 21. Rc3

Too slow and lacking an effective plan, beyond doubling the rooks. A superior option was 21. h4 h5 22. Nf4, bringing White’s pieces into life.

21. … Rfc8 22. Rfc1 Na5 23. b4?

Anything but this pawn weakening, giving away a very strong outpost for Black’s Knight. Both 23. Nd2 or 23. h4 were better by far.

23. … Nc4 24. R1c2 b5

This good move could have waited. Instead, 24. … a5 at once puts pressure on White’s Queen side.

25. Qc1 Rc6

At this point 25. … a5 is stronger. And then White would be very uncomfortable after 26. Rb3 Qa7 27. Nc3 a4 28. Rb1 Bg5, when Black is for choice.

26. h4

At last!

26. … Qd8

Better was 26. … h5.

27. h5 Nh4 28. Qf4?!

White insists on keeping his septic Bishop bored on g3. Surprisingly enough, this very Bishop is about to become the protagonist of White’s resurrection in the King’s side.

28. … Nf3+ 29. Rf3 Qe8

29. … Qf8 was more precise.

30. Qc1

White should have rather played 30. Rcc3 in order to keep pressure on the King’s side, while avoiding Black’s potential strike of Ne5.

30. … Rbc8 31. Rfc3 f5?

A serious misunderstanding of the position. Still 31. … a5 was the best choice.

32. Bf4

Tempting the Black Queen to…

32. … Qh5

…accept White’s Pawn sacrifice.

33. Rh3 Qf7 34. Bh6!

This is the same Bishop that was ostracized until a couple of moves ago! Black most likely was not expecting a second sacrifice. He reacted without exploiting the best resources of the sudden new scenario.

34. … Bf8

Black’s tactical strike of 34. … Ne5! was now a must, in order to stop White’s pressure. A likely continuation could be 35. Rc6 Rc6 36. Qf4 Ng6 37. Qb8+ Qf8 38. Qg3, when White has some compensation for the lost Pawn. (Confession: during the game I missed this tactic but, luckily for me, my opponent missed it too.)

35. Qg5 R6c7?

It was Black’s last opportunity to counterplay with 35. … Ne5, followed by 36. Rxc6 Nxc6 37. Qg3 Be7 38. Bg5 Bxg5 39. Qxg5 Qf6 40. Qh5, once again with some compensation for my lost Pawn.

36. Nf4 Be7?

This can only makes matters worse for Black.

37. Qg7+

Taking advantage of Black’s now unprotected Pawn on e6.

37. … Qg7 38. Bg7 Rc6

Too passive for the storm that is approaching. I expected Black to capture at once with the King: 38. … Kg7 39. Ne6+ Kg8 40. Nc7 Rc7. 41. Rf3, with advantage for White.

39. Rcc3!

A prosaic line was 39. Ng6 Bd8 40. Bf6, rescuing my Bishop and continuing the initiative. However, I chose the text because I was attracted to the idea of launching my rooks into a mating attack.

39. … Kg7

Accepting White’s Bishop at this point is suicidal for the Black King. The correct move was 39. … Bg5!, after which I intended the wild variant 40. Ne6+ Re6 41. Rh8+ Kg7 42. Rc8, where I quite fancy my chances.

40. Rcg3+ Kf7 41. Rh7+ Ke8 42. Rg8+ Kd7 43. Rgg7

Nearly ten moves later, I have achieved the ideal position I had hoped with the Bishop sacrifice on h6. We were both now in time trouble.

43. … Re8 44. Ng6! Na3 

The alternative for Black was 44. … Nd2 45. Nxe7 Rc1+ 46. Kh2 Kd8 47. Ng8 Nf1+ 48. Kh3 and then Nf6, which will secure White’s victory anyway. The option 44. … Kd8 can be met with 45. Nd7 Rc7 46. Nf5! Rg7 47. Ng7.

45. Ne7

Black’s position is already hopeless.

45. … Re7

If 45. … Rc1+, then 46. Kh2 Kd8 47. Ng8 Kc8 48. Ra7 Kb8 49. Rhb7+ Kc8 50. Ne7+, where Black is forced to give the exchange anyway.

46. Re7+ Kd8 47. Reg7

Black resigns. Checkmate cannot be stopped.