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Recent GM games (#17)

  Jon Speelman - David Howell;  
  175th Simpsons, 2003.  

GM J. Speelman (2589) - NM D. Howell (2323)
Simpsons 175th,  (Rd. # 5)
London, ENG30.08.2003

[A.J. Goldsby I]

  alaf2_r-gm17_medal.gif, 02 KB


Several places on the net - like London's Chess Center - consider this struggle to be an 
outstanding game.

Things look very calm, but suddenly White rips open the center with a beautiful exchange 
sacrifice. Black's game collapses very quickly. 

 (Note: Howell {is}/was only 12 when this was played!)  


"Speelman gave an impressive display of how a Grandmaster can outplay an inexperienced youngster as he controlled the position throughout his forty one victory over the twelve year old prodigy, David Howell."

"Speelman gradually built up a space advantage on the queenside while Howell was unable to find a plan and wasted lots of time trying to untangle his knight pair."

"The game ended with a flourish of sacrifices. Howell finally got his knights organized and played for control of the key d4 square but this equine occupation of the centre did not last long as a sacrifice of rook for knight blasted open the dark squares and set up kingside threats. A further rook sacrifice destroyed the black kingside altogether and forced mate." 

 - IM Malcolm Pein,  The London Chess Centre
   "Chess Express,"  # 54;  Sept. 09, 2003. 


1.Nf3 Nf6;  2.d4 g6;  {Diagram?} 
Obviously this move - which plans on developing the Black KB on the long diagonal - 
is a perfectly good and reasonable plan for Black.

     [  MCO gives the continuation of:  2...e6!?3.Bg5 c5!?; ('!')  {Diagram?}  
        Many opening books consider this move to be best  - and some even 
        give it an exclam. 

          (Also good is:  3...Be7)      

        4.e3 Be75.c3 b66.Bd3 cxd4!?;   7.exd4 Ba6;  
        8.Bxa6 Nxa69.Nbd2 0-0; "~"  {Diagram?}  
        Black has a somewhat disorganized game and his Knight is off-sides 
        on a6. MCO (Korn & de Firmian) consider this position to be equal, ("="); 
        but I think that White is just a little better. "+/="  (But several games at the 
        GM level have been quickly drawn from this position.)  

        GM G. Kamsky - GM R. Huebner;  Dortmund, GER;  1992. 

        [ See MCO-14;  page # 499, column # 5, and also note # (s.). ]  ]  


3.Bg5,  {Diagram?}  
Many English players ... like Adams, Speelman, and McShane, just to name 
a few ... use various forms of an early Bg5. (Trompowski/Torre/Veresov) 

It seems some players would be ready for this line, but Howell's play 
demonstrates that he hasn't found the answer to this opening!  

The main idea of this line/opening is a free and easy development for White, 
while avoiding a lot of theory and sharp lines. (Like the KID, the Benoni, the 
Gruenfeld, the Benko Gambit, the Nimzo-Indian, etc. White avoids all of these 
openings with the way he develops in this game.)

I have some experience in this line, as many of my opponents have chosen this 
line over the years. One of the most notable of these has been FM/IM Stephen 
Mohammed, we had several duels in this line, most of which he probably won. 

       [ Interesting is: 3.Nc3!? ]  


3...Bg7;  {Diagram?}  
One of the main lines.  

     [  Black can also play:  3...Ne44.Bh4 Bg75.e3 0-06.Nbd2 Nxd2;  
         7.Qxd2 d68.e4, "+/="  {Diagram?}  and White is better.  

        GM Einar Gausel (2490) - GM Simen Agdestein (2600);  
        FIDE Zonal TournamentReykjavik, Iceland;  1995]   


4.Nbd2,  {Diagram?}  
Just for grins and giggles, I did a search of CB's (on-line) database. 
(By an exact match of the current position on the chess-board.) 
Over 1800 master-level games!!!  

      [ Also played is: 4.e3!? ]  


4...0-0;  {Diagram?} 
Of course it is never wrong to castle, but Black could consider delaying this 
in favor of perhaps a more flexible development. 

     [ Black could also play: 4...d65.e4 0-06.Bd3 Nc6!?7.c3,  "+/="  {Diag?}  
       and White has a very small, but a fairly solid edge.  

       Andy Reeder - A.J. Goldsby IState Championship Tournament, (Rd. # 7) 
       Chickasaw, (North of Mobile)  AL; (Alabama; USA)  1997. 

       (I won a decisive victory ... in the key game in the last round on Board 
        Number One. This win brought me clear first in the Open Section of the 
        tournament - one of my best ever results.) ]  


5.c3 d6;  6.e3 Qe8!?;  {Diagram?}  
Black gets out of the pin and prepares a possible ...e5. 
(This is a fairly common idea in this opening.)

     [ The other main line here is:  6...Nbd7{Diagram?}   
        and Black has a fair game. ]  


Both sides continue to develop in a fairly normal fashion.  
7.Be2 e5;   8.0-0 Nbd7;  9.a4 h6!?;  {Diagram?}  
This is OK, but I am not sure if Black has any clear plan here.  

     [ Maybe Black should try:  9...e410.Ne1 h6; "~"  {Diagram?}  
        with a fair game. ]  


10.Bh4 Nh7!?;  11.e4 Bf6!?;  {Diagram?}  
This looks awkward.  

     [ Maybe the move  11...g5!?;  {Diagram?}  
        was worth a try. ]  


12.Bg3! Qe7;  13.Re1 h5;  14.h4 Re8!?;  {Diagram?}  
Black seems to have forgotten about his Queen-side. 

     [  Possibly worth investigating was: 14...a5!?{Diagram?} 
        to prevent White from gaining so much space on the Q-side.  ]  


15.a5 a6;  16.Nc4 Nhf8;  17.Qd2 Ne6;   18.Rad1 Bg7;  19.Bf1, "+/="  {See the Diag.}  
 White has a small - but solid edge - in this particular position.



  The position in this contest just after White plays 19.Bf1.  (alaf2_rgm17-pos1.jpg, 23 KB)




The only question is how does White improve his game ... and how does Black ever 
unravel his congested and undeveloped Queen-side?

     [ Also good for White was: 19.b4!?, "+/=" {Diagram?} 
        with probably a small edge for the first player here. ]  


19...f6!?;  (Probably -'?!')  {Diagram?}  
This looks bad, as it makes the Black KB just a tall pawn. 
 It also weakens some key King-side squares. 

     [ Maybe better was:  >/=  19...exd420.cxd4 Rb8!?{Diagram?} 
        with a congested - but perhaps a playable - game for Black here. ]  


Now White tries to slowly gain space and expand on the Queen-side. 
(And Black tries to organize his position.)
20.b4! Kh7;  21.Ne3 Bh6;  22.Qc2 Ndf8;  23.Nd5 Qg7;  24.dxe5 dxe5; 
25.c4!? Nd8;  26.Nd2 Nfe6;  27.Nb3 Nc6;  28.Qc3 Rd8;  29.b5 Ncd4;  
{See the diagram just below.} 



   Black just played ...Ncd4; and seems to have a reasonable position. How does White bust Black up?  (alaf2_rgm17-pos2.jpg, 22 KB)




Black has ignored his development on the Q-side, and weakened his King-side squares ... 
all to gain the d4-square for his Knights. It is natural and logical that White will now destroy 
Black's control of this key point ... and refute Black's whole strategy as a result. 

30.Nxd4! Nxd4;  31.Rxd4!! exd4;  32.Qxd4 Kh8;  {Diagram?}  
This looks to be nearly forced.  

     [ If  32...Bg4?;  then  33.Nxf6+,  {Diagram?}  
        with an advantage for White. ]  


33.Qb2!?,  {Diagram?}  
Interesting  ...  but did the GM miss a better move here?  

     [  It looks like White could play BxP/c7 with a nearly over-whelming game here:  
        >/=  33.Bxc7! Qxc7?!{Diagram?}  
        This looks like a mistake  ...  but what else could Black do? 

           (Or  33...Rf8; 34.e5, ''  {Diag?}, and White is clearly better.)     

        34.Qxf6+ Bg7{Diagram?}  
        Black does not have any really good moves at this point.  

           (</= 34...Qg7?;  35.Qxd8+, "+/-")     

        35.Nxc7 Bxf636.Nxa8,  ("+/-")  {Diagram?}  
        and White should eventually win, as he is three pawns ahead. ]  


33...axb5;  34.cxb5 Qf7!?;  {Diagram?}  
Hmmm ... maybe Black should have tried ...c6 instead. 
(Although I feel quite certain White is clearly better.)  

     [  Possibly   34...c6!?,  {Diagram?}  
         was playable here?  


        Of course not:  34...Rxa5?; ('??')  35.Bxc7 Rxd5;  
        36.exd5! Qxc737.Qxf6+ Qg7{Diagram?}  
        Otherwise Black loses his Queen. 

           (</= 37...Kh7??;  38.Re7+)     

        38.Qd8+! Kh739.Qxa5,  ("+/-")  {Diagram?}  
        with an easy win for White.  ]  


35.Ra1!?,  {Diagram?}  
This is nice ... safe ... and solid. 

But it appears once again that White had an even sharper move. 

     [ Even better was: >/=  35.Bxc7! Rd7;  {Diagram?}  
       This looks to be forced.  

          (</= 35...Rxd5?; 36.exd5 Qxc7?; 37.Qxf6+ Bg7;  
            38.Re8+ Kh7; 39.Re7, "+/-")  

       36.Nb6 Rxc737.Nxa8,  ("+/-")  {Diagram?}  
       and White is ahead a very solid two pawns ahead. ]   


35...Rxd5?!;  (Maybe - '?')  {Diagram?}  
Black tries to strike back ... but this is definitely not good and really 
'back-fires' on Black. 

     [ Black probably had to defend his f6-pawn, but after the moves: 
       35...Bg736.Nxc7, "+/="  ('')  {Diagram?}  
       White is surely better. ]   


36.exd5 Qxd5;  {Diagram?}  
Superficially, one might think Black was OK in this position. 

Now it looks like White makes a mistake ... and walks into a skewer, 
or x-ray attack. (With his next move.) 


  alaf2_rgm17_054diag2.gif, 04 KB



37.Qxf6+! Bg7;  {Diagram?}  
It is too late to try to find good moves for Black in this position. 

     [ After the continuation:  37...Kg838.Qxg6+ Bg7;  
        39.Rc1, "+/-"  {Diagram?}  - Black is clearly lost. ]  


38.Qxg6 Bxa1;  39.Bd3 Qd7;  40.Qh6+ Kg8;  {See the diagram just below.}  
This is all forced.



  The actual position in the game ... just after Black played ...Kg8. It is White to move and win.  (alaf2_rgm17-pos3.jpg, 19 KB)




41.Bc4+,  ("+/-")  {Diagram?}  

Black Resigns. (If ...Qe6; then simply taking the Queen wins. 
Or if ...Qf7; then Qg6+ wins easily.) 

A nice game by Speelman with some entertaining tactics. All the students of this 
line should study this game very carefully.


  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby I.   Copyright (c) A.J.G;  2003.   


(All games - Code initially generated with the program,  ChessBase 8.0.) 


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Page first posted: Sept. 14th, 2003.  This page was last updated on 01/04/13 .

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