Chess

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THE International Master Keith Arkell describes a last-round victory from the Midlands Championship.

White: Keith Arkell

Black: Andrew Ledger

Coming into the final round, Andrew Ledger led with 5 out of 5 and I was a point behind. In other circumstances, I might not have played my tenth move . . .

1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Nf3 Bg4 5. g3 Bxf3 6. exf3 e6 7. d5

After he had exchanged his white- squared bishop, I wanted to stop him putting his pawns on c6 and d5. Now if he plays e5, I will gain a lasting advantage with f4 sooner or later.

7 . . . exd5 8. cxd5 Ne7 9. Qb3 Qc8 10. h4]?

Objectively 10. Bb5+ was better.

10 . . . 0-0 11. Bh3 Nd7 12. Bg5 f5]

An annoyingly strong move since 13. Bxe7 Re8 is good for Black. Already my pieces felt a little misplaced.

13. h5

There is a Russian proverb which goes: 'Who says A must go on to say B'. The point is not so much opening the h-file, which White can do at any time, as freeing h4 for the queen in view of what is about to happen next.

13 . . . Nc5 14. Qc4 b5 15. Qh4

Neither 15. Nxb5 Bxb2 nor 15. Qxb5 Rb8 16. Qe2 Rxb2] looked very promising.

15 . . . b4 16. Bxe7 bxc3 17. hxg6 hxg6 18. Kf1

While I have been setting up my crude little attack on the h-file, he has been playing some good moves. Now I had to get my king out of the way before he played Qa6. Instead 18. Bxf8? would have left Black with a raging initiative after either Qxf8 or Kxf8.

18 . . . cxb2

Andrew now offered me a draw. In view of the tournament position, and the fact that he is a gentleman, I deduced that he liked his position.

19. Rb1

This threatens 20. Rxb2] Bxb2 21. Bxf5 with the threat of mate on h7.

19 . . . Re8?

19 . . . Rf7 would have been better than this, but I was most afraid of 19 . . . Qa6+ 20. Kg2 Qxa2] which must favour Black, even after my intended 21. g4]?

20. Bf6 Qd7 (see diagram) 21. Bxf5]

Allowing this, he must have overlooked the force of my 23rd move.

21 . . . gxf5 22. Qh7+ Kf8 23. Rh6]]

The natural 23. Bxg7+ Qxg7 24. Qxf5+ Kg8 25. Rh4 is met by Re5. Now the threat is 24. Bxg7+ Qxg7 25. Qxf5+ when the three replies, Ke7, Qf7 and Kg8 all lose the queen to Rh7, Rf6 and Rg6 respectively. Against 23 . . . Ne6, Re5 or Re7, White wins with 24. Rg6. For example, 23 . . . Re7 24. Rg6 Rf7 25. Bxg7+ Rxg7 26. Qh8+. Finally, 23 . . . Bxh6 is mated after 24. Qxh6+ Kg8 25. Qh8+ Kf7 26. Qg7. Black is defenceless.

23 . . . Qf7 24. Bxg7+ Qxg7 25. Qxf5+ Kg8 26. Rg6 Rab8 27. Rxg7+ Kxg7 28. Qc2 resigns.

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