ETCETERA / CHESS

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The Independent Culture
John Littlewood, 62, gives a young player a lesson in attack.

White: John Littlewood

Black: Miroslav Houska

North-West Eagles v Slough, 4 Nations League, Cheltenham 1994. Having been trounced in the previous round, I was desperate to make amends. Fortunately, my young opponent was even more eager to sweep me off the board.

1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 c6 4. f4 Qa5 5. Bd3 e5 6. Nf3 Bg4 7. Be3 Nxe4?

With only three men out, Black begins sharp tactics. 7 . . . d5 seems more difficult to refute.

8. Bxe4 f5

After 8 . . . d5 9. Bxd5] Black cannot interpose 9 . . . exd4 because of 10. Bxf7+ Kxf7 11. Bxd4, but not 11. Ng5+?? Qxg5] losing a piece.

9. Bxf5 Bxf5 10. fxe5 dxe5

Black would like to play 10 . . . Nd7 but 11. Nh4] is embarrassing. In fact, Black's knight remains on b8 for the rest of the game, which highlights the premature nature of his central action.

11. Nxe5 Bb4 12. 0-0 0-0 (see diagram)

After 12 . . . Bxc3 13. bxc3 Qxc3 14. Qf3 0-0 15. g4 White wins a piece. If in this line Black plays 14 . . . Be6 the sharpest line is 15. Nf7] Rg8 16. Ng5 Bd5 17. Qf4] Nd7 18. Bd2 Qxc2 19. Qc7 winning.

13. Rxf5]]

This move took me far longer to assess than I'm willing to admit. At Miroslav's age I would have played it without thinking] White gains time to bring out his rook and the light squares are now open to invasion.

13 . . . Rxf5 14. Qg4

Miroslav thought for over an hour here, but there is no defence. After 14 . . . Rxe5 White has 15. Qc8+] Bf8 (Kf7 loses to Rf1+) 16. dxe5 (not 16. Rf1? Nd7]) 16 . . . Qxe5 17. Re1] Qe7 18. Bf2 Qd7 19. Re8] Qxc8 20. Rxc8 followed by Bg3 winning a piece. The main line is 14 . . . Rf8 15. Qe6+ Kh8 16. Nf7+ Rxf7 17. Qxf7 Na6 18. Qxb7 Re8 19. Qxc6] when Rxe3 fails to a back-rank mate.

14 . . . g6 15. Rf1]

The sacrifice 15. Nxg6] is screaming out to be made and was my original intention. Indeed it wins, but the game move is surely the most precise and needed less calculation.

15 . . . Rxf1+ 16. Kxf1 Qd8

Alternatives are 16 . . . Na6 17. Qe6+ Kh8 18. Qf6+ Kg8 19. Qf7+ Kh8 20. Bh6 mating or 16 . . . Qc7 17. Bh6] Na6 (17 . . . Qe7 18. Qc8+ or 17 . . . Bf8 18. Qe6+ Kh8 19. Qf6+ Bg7 20. Nf7+ also win for White) 18. Qe6+ Kh8 19. Nf7+ Kg8 20. Nd8+ Kh8 21. Qe8+ followed by mate.

17. Qe6+ Kg7 18. Bh6+ resigns

Although my final knee-jerk reaction brought about instant resignation, it was not as good as the sober 18. Qf7+ Kh8 19. Bh6 Qg8 20. Qf6+ with mate next move.

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