Friday, 29 July 2011

Member Games - Bill Metcalfe

Bill Metcalfe v 120

Bill started player chess as an adult which is not easier.  After losing many games at the club he started improving quickly and is now a dangerous player to face.  Bill is one of the pillars of the club organising congresses and captaining multiple teams.  In this game he was playing a higher graded opponent at the Middlesbrough congress.

Play through the game below with notes, or scroll to the bottom to play through the game using GameKnot's ichess viewer.

1.e4 c5, 2.N3 g6 "If Black is to ensure he reaches a 'pure' Dragon set-up, he must meet 2.Nf3 with d6."  Writes Edward Dearing in Play the Sicilian Dragon.
We have already seen a Dragon game in the Jonathan Sams game.  Black usually continues with Nc6, 0-0 and Bd7, but if allowed Black will play d5! which is his main break or freeing move.  Dearing's issue with move order tricks is that White can choose from different systems and perhaps catch Black out.  Perhaps the strongest non-pure set-up system is the Maroczy bind where White moves his c-pawn to c4 with an iron grip on d5, which really makes that d5 break by Black difficult to play.
Move order tricks are common at Grandmaster level (trying to gain an advantage through theory) and weekend tournament players (trying to avoid theory or problem lines).

The pure Dragon set-up

After all that though John Shaw notes 2....g6 "This is a perfectly acceptable move order to reach either variety of Dragon", in his section of Experts vs the Sicilian.  When John refers to 'either' he is talking about either the pure system or accelerated Dragons (where Bg7 is played earlier than the pure lines).  The accelerated line has many die hard fans, the theory is piling up and is a main system in its own right.  The accelerated line has one big advantage if Black gets to play that d5 break in one move, as he will have saved a crucial tempo over the pure line.
Back to the game
3.d4 cxd4
John Shaw recommends this move as best, probably transposing.
4.Nxd4 Bill thinks Qxd4 is the most testing move, he has probably faced that over the board and found it difficulty.  John Shaw thinks "Black is OK" after 4...Nf6, I personally wouldn't want my queen so exposed early in the game.
4... Bg7, 5.Nc3 This is probably the main line, but I would prefer 5.c4 Nc6, 6.Nc2!? This is recommended by Peter Heine Nielsen in the Accelerated Dragon Section of Experts vs the Sicilian.  Peter is an experienced Accelerated Dragon player, the idea of the Experts vs book is that players discuss the lines they find the most difficult to play against.
5...Nc6, 6.Be3 a6 - This is a risky move as it weakens b6 where a White piece may land and cause major disruption to Black's position.  Instead 6...Nf6, 7.f3 takes us back to the pure dragon.

7.Bc4 e6 another weakening move, this time its d6 and f6 which are weaker, note how all Black's weak squares are dark squares.  Can White exploit these weaknesses?  I would play d6, Nf6 and 0-0 as soon as possible if I were playing this position.   8.Qd2 Nf6, 9.f3 A common move in the pure dragon lines, as it stops Ng4 hitting the important dark squared bishop, but f3 also acts as a springboard for a king side pawn storm with h4, h5 and a possible g4.
9...Qc7, 10.Bb3 Its wise to remove the unprotected bishop from the c-file, as there are well known tricks with Nxd5 discovering an attack on the bishop, they wouldn't necessarily work in this position, but safety first.  10...b5 Black gains space on the queen side.  In many lines White castles long while Black goes short and pawns are launched at the opposing king.  Proper toe to toe John Wayne style!
In this game a game of who will castle fist chicken has developed.
11.0-0-0 Its White. Chicken! Ne5
White has castled in to Black's advancing pawns which could be dangerous.  But Black is lagging behind in development and could get caught with his king in the centre.  This is a dangerous time for Black.  If he can complete his development quickly he will be ok, otherwise White might be able to build a strong attack.

David LeMoir in his book Essential Chess Sacrifices discusses various standard chess sacrifices.  His first chapter is "A Knight Clears the Queenside: Nxb5 in the Sicilian", in that he writes "In the Sicilian Defence, Black often plays ...a6 and ...b5.  White often gives up a piece to clear the mini pawn-chain, the piece that recaptures on b5 (after axb5) wins a tempo in some way.  When its a knight its often a queen on c7"  All the ingredients are there, does it work?
12.Ndxb5 axb5, 13.Nxb5 Qc6, 14.Nd6 Kf8 - With an unclear position, but I would imagine Black can survive the pressure and enjoy his extra material.
Back to the game...
12.g4 White's pawns will now charge up the board, this is a standard plan in such positions.  White wants to break open Black's king's position.  The only problem with that plan is that Black's king is still in the centre!  Black could try h5 here, hoping to block the advancing pawns.
12...Nc4 Hitting both queen and bishop.  Bill notes that this move is a mistake as White has a trick with
(13.Nexb5 axb5, 14Nxb5 Qc6 (..Nxd2 15.Nxc2+ winning the exchange) 15.Bxc4 See below
note that Qxc4 fails to 16.Nd6+ winning the queen.  White would then be two full pawns up.  I think that is quite a tough combo to see over the board, I didn't see it (I used some silicon muscle).  But in these positions we should always be on the lookout for "Essential" thematic sacrifices.

As noted above White has a really good move with knight takes b5, but missing that does not incur the question mark.  White needs his dark square bishop to attack the weak dark squares and dislodge the dragon bishop.  In analogous positions in the pure dragon Bxc4 is played and a Black rook recaptures with pressure on the c-file.
13...Nxe3!  Winning a prize asset.  With just one poor choice White has gone from a very promising game to a difficult one.  Chess is a cruel game.
14.Qxe3 b4!  Black rolls forward.  Where does White move his knight to?  Na4 (knights on the rim are dim), Nb1(back where it started or 15.Ne2?? 
Even though Black is not fully developed it is he who drives the play pushing White around.  White's last was a serious mistake, as his other knight on d4 now has no flight squares.  It is strange to note that although White got all his pieces developed quickly somehow they landed on the wrong squares for the position.
15...e5 Of course Black plays to win a piece.
16.Bd5 White has to decide whether to play on or not a piece down.  Most tournament players have an iron will and will fight until the last chance of holding a draw has been erased, for me I think that is right.  Black hasn't developed fully yet and his pawns are a bit scruffy, perhaps White can build an attack when the piece might not matter.  One thing is for certain Black can not switch off, even though Bill will be starting to chalk the point mentally onto his score sheet.
16...exd4! 17.Nxd4 Rb8 (I think Nxd5 is much better)
18.Bb3 0-0, 19.e5 Re8
Black is playing well.  He has just pinned the e-pawn, so White can't take his knight.  With Bb7 begging to be played Black looks to be winning easily here.
20.f4? White desperately tries to drum up counter play, but another pawn lost makes a save all but impossible.
20... Nxg4, 21.Qf3 My tactical skewer alarm just went off.  "Whah!  Whah!  Whah!"  The a8-h1 diagonal is now so dangerous for White
21...Nh6 22.Rhg1 saving the exchange.
22...Bd7, 23.Qf2 Be4 Black finds a neat way to slow the pawns down and provide extra support for his king.
24.h4  a5, 25.h5 Rec8, 26.hxg6 hxg6 27.f5 White knows he is losing so is throwing everything he has at Black's king.  But Black stays calm with  27...Nxf5, 28.Rg6 Qe5

Black has cleverly positioned his pieces so that they both attack and defend, next he will interrupt White's lines of attack and then exchange down to an easily won ending.
29.Rdg1 d5! cuts out the bishop on b3.
30.R6g5? Qxd4, 31.Rxg7 Qxg7, 32.Rxg7 Nxg7 Black has exchanged off quite a few pieces and is now winning by miles.
33.Qd4 Ne6, 34, Qe5 Nc5, 35. Bxd5

And finally the coup-de-grace Nd3 winning the queen with a fork made possible by the pin on the f-pawn, nice!!

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