1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 2. f4 d5! 3. exd5 Nf6=
2... Nc6 3. f4 d6 Though this move is commonly played, it is not best, and I actually think of it as a sort of error since Black really wants to push that pawn two squares at some point and therefore should play ....e6 and .... d5. But Dragon, Najdorf, and Sveshnikov Sicilian players like to get in ...d6, especially since White can always switch to an open Sicilian on them if they play ...e6. But there are better alternatives. I suggested the fianchetto set-up, which would fit well with Mike's preference for the Dragon: 3... g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Bb5 (5. Bc4 e6 6. f5!? Nge7! 7. fxe6 fxe6! 8. d3 d5! 9. Bb3 b5!|^ 10. a3!? c4 11. Ba2 a6 12. O-O O-O 13. Bg5 Rf7 14. Qd2 Bb7= Plaskett)
5... Nd4! (5... e6? 6. Bxc6! bxc6 7. e5!+/- Plaskett-Polga r, Hastings 1988 is a well-known error since Black is going to have trouble with the doubled c-pawns)
6. Bd3!? (6. Nxd4?! cxd4 7. Ne2 Qb6! 8. Ba4 (8. Bd3 d5! 9. e5 f6!=/+ Plaskett)
8... Nf6 9. d3 (9. e5 Ne4)
9... O-O 10. Bb3 d6 11. O-O a5 12. a4 Bd7=)
(6. a4!? a6! 7. Bc4 e6 8. d3 Ne7=)
(6. O-O!? Nxb5 7. Nxb5 d5! 8. e5!? d4!?~~)
6... d6! (6... e6?! 7. Nxd4 cxd4 8. Nb5! d6 9. c3 dxc3 10. dxc3 a6? 11. Qa4! Ke7 12. Qa3! Rb8 13. Nd4 Ke8 14. Be3 Ne7 15. O-O Qc7 16. Rae1 Nc6 17. Nf3!? Ne7 18. f5! and White had a great attack in Mark Pinto-Rose, USA 1990)
7. Nxd4 cxd4 8. Ne2 Nf6!? 9. c3 dxc3 10. dxc3= with a sort of Dragon position
4. Bb5 An alternative set-up when Black plays an early ...d6 is to put the Bishop on c4: 4. Nf3 g6 5. Bc4!? Bg7 6. O-O Nf6 7. d3 O-O 8. Qe1 (8. f5!?)
8... e6!? 9. e5!~~
4... Bd7 5. Nf3 e6 Usually Black compels the exchange with 5... a6 6. Bxc6 Bxc6 7. O-O
6. Bxc6!? This must not be theoretically best, since it is good to wait for Black to waste a tempo with ...a6 before exchanging. But I wanted to keep things simple and get rid of the Knight.
6. O-O Nd4!? 7. Bxd7+ Qxd7 8. d3 Ne7 9. Be3 Nec6 10. Bxd4 Nxd4 11. Nxd4 cxd4 12. Ne2 d5! 13. Nxd4 Bc5 14. c3 dxe4 15. dxe4 Rd8 16. Rc1!?~~
6... Bxc6 7. O-O Ne7?! Wojcio was playing all of his moves very quickly. His idea, as he later admitted, was to win on time. I think this was a good strategy generally against a higher rated player, but it did lead him to make some second-best moves at critical junctures. This is a case in point. The Knight has no good future here since ....Ng6 merely encourages White to break with f5! Perhaps the Knight could go to c6 after b5 and Bb7, but that gives White lots of time to launch an attack. Better to keep the path for the dark-squared Bishop open with
7... Nf6! 8. Qe1 Be7=
8. d3 Perhaps better, as Fritz suggests, is 8. Qe2! to highlight the poor placement of the Knight.For example, if immediately 8... d5!? (8... b5? 9. Nxb5)
9. exd5!? not normal, but tempting in this instance 9... Bxd5 ( Black dare not open the e-file with 9... exd5?! or he'll never be able to develop his kingside pieces)
(9... Nxd5?! 10. Ne5! and f5!)
10. Ne5+/= and White's pieces will be better placed.(10. b3!?)
Notice Black cannot play 10... Nf5? 11. Qb5+! winning. So the Queen at e2 has tactical advantages.
8... b5!? 9. Qe1!? Again, the Queen really belongs at e2 to help monitor the light squares: 9. Qe2! b4 10. Nd1 Ng6 11. Nf2 Qd7 12. f5!|^ The other downside of putting the Queen on e1 instead of e2 is that it cannot go to h5 to assist in attacking the weak f7 square in some lines.
9... b4 10. Ne2!? Now the Knigh t and Queen get in each other's way a bit since both would like to go to g3.
Perhaps instead 10. Nd1! d5 11. exd5 Qxd5 12. Ne3
10... d5! 11. Ng3?! I spent a long time considering 11. f5! dxe4 (11... exf5 12. exf5 Qb6 13. f6!? gxf6 14. d4 and White has the initiative)
12. dxe4 Bxe4 (12... exf5 13. exf5 Qd5!? 14. Ng3 O-O-O!? is an interesting idea)
13. fxe6 fxe6 (13... f6!? 14. c3!?)
(13... f5 14. Ng5)
14. Nf4!-> and I liked White's attacking prospects with all of the open lines in the center and Black's king stuck on e8 for some time to come. But it was complicated, I was behind on time, and I figured it's better to wait and build things up before opening up the position. Certainly Black is going to have trouble developing with the Knight at e7
11... d4? Again the result of moving too quickly. Though it might be a good idea to avoid open lines with your king in the center, Black certainly does not want a closed position when he has the two bishops. What's more, this move simply locks up the queenside and makes it impossible for Black ever to develop play in that area, so now White can simply focus on building up his kingside initiative. It's also just an ugly move: look at those horrible holes on the light squares.
Perhaps 11... dxe4 12. dxe4 (12. Nxe4!? Nf5!)
I was most afraid of the surprising move 11... h5!~~ which is the type of thing Watson would recommend in Modern Chess Strategy. Fritz likes it too and thinks things are equal here. It really highlights the lack of coordination among White's pieces. During the game Iexamined 12. h4?! (probably best is 12. exd5 Bxd5 13. Ne4 Nf5! though Black is perfectly fine now)
(12. Ng5!? h4! 13. Nh1 dxe4 14. dxe4 Qd4+ 15. Nf2 Bb5 looks rather embarrassing)
12... dxe4! 13. dxe4 (13. Nxe4 Nf5! 14. Ne5 Qd5=/+)
13... Ng6!<=> and suddenly it's Black who has the initiative on the Kingside!
12. f5! 12. Ne5
12... Bd7 The only real alternative I examined during the game was 12... exf5 13. exf5 (Fritz suggests the stronger 13. Ne5! Bb5 14. exf5 f6 15. Nc4 ( Fritz points out the interesting line 15. Nf7!? Kxf7 16. Qe6+ Ke8 17. Ne4 Qd7 18. Nd6+ Kd8 19. Nf7+ Ke8 20. Nxh8 Qxe6 21. fxe6 c4! but it's probably about equal!)
15... Bxc4 16. dxc4 Qb6 17. Ne4+/-)
13... f6! 14. Nd2!+/= and Black's light squares are like the holes in swiss cheese, but he can still put up a fight with 14... Qd5! 15. Qe2 h5!? and O-O-O
Too late now for 12... h5? 13. fxe6 (13. Ng5!?)
13... f6 (13... fxe6?! 14. Ne5!->)
13. Ng5! This might be the clearest way to gain the edge.
I had to examine a number of alternatives, all of which looked interesting and all of which took a lot of time on my clock: a) 13. f6!? gxf6 (13... Ng6?! 14. Nh5!)
(13... Ng8?! 14. fxg7 Bxg7 15. Nh5)
14. Nh5 Ng8! 15. Qg3!?|^ (15. e5!? and I liked the thematic attack on dark squares, but it did not seem to lead to anything clear.)
b) 13. Ne5!? Nc6! 14. fxe6 Nxe5! 15. exd7+ Qxd7 and Black survives
13... h6! This forces my hand and appears to maintain material balance, so it is probably the best move. Mike played it, of course, in about one minute, keeping with his strategy of winning on the clock. I had already burned up half my time and had 45 minutes left. Black loses at least a pawn and allows White a continuing initiative with other moves.
a) 13... Nc6?! 14. Nh5!! with a killer initiative
b) 13... e5?! 14. f6! gxf6 15. Rxf6->
c) 13... Qb6?! 14. f6 gxf6 15. Rxf6->
14. fxe6! I wasted ten minutes looking at fantasy alternatives before confirming that this was the best. Mike was so far ahead on the clock that I figured I had better get something solid out of my attack or he had excellent chances in any endgame due merely to his time advantage.
a) 14. f6? hxg5! 15. Qf2 (15. fxe7 Qxe7)
15... gxf6 16. Qxf6 Rh7!
b) 14. Nxf7? Kxf7 15. fxe6+ Kxe6 16. Qf2 Kd6 and the King evacuates to the Queenside
14... Bxe6 Not 14... hxg5?? 15. exf7#
and not 14... f6? 15. Nf7 winning a whole Rook.
15. Nxe6 fxe6 16. Qf2 Kd7! The best move again, and played almost instantly. At this point Mike offered me a draw. An excellent moment to do so. I was down to 30 minutes for the remaining moves and still had no tangible benefit from my attack. But I knew I was positionally won, with his pawns in horrible shape, his King on the run, and his development still lagging. I declined, of course, but I had Steve Stoyko's experience against Mike firmly in my mind and I could imagine myself ending up in the same situation -- trying to win an ending with a huge time deficit. I knew I had better go for an attack on his King and try to finish things off as quickly as possible.
17. c3! Trying to open up lines to get to his King and prevent it from finding a safe haven on the Queenside.
Fritz suggests 17. Nh5 Qe8! (17... Nc6? 18. Qf7+ Qe7 19. Qg6!+- is better than our game continuation)
18. Qe2 Nc6 19. a3 though it seems to amount to the same thing.
17... Nc6 This lets my Queen into the light squares with check, but there is hardly anything better. He certainly does not want to exchange pawns and open up lines for me:
17... bxc3?! 18. bxc3 Nc6! 19. cxd4 cxd4 20. Qf7+->
or 17... dxc3?! 18. bxc3 bxc3 19. Qc2->
18. Qf7+ Maybe I should really switch my attack to the center and the queenside now with instead
18. cxd4!? cxd4 (18... Nxd4?! 19. Be3!)
19. Ne2!? Bc5 and only now 20. Qg3! Qe7 21. Bf4 Raf8 22. Rac1 though Black can put up a surprising amount of resistance here: 22... e5! 23. Qh3+ Kd6 24. Bd2 Rxf1+ 25. Kxf1!? Qf7+ 26. Kg1 Rf8 27. Qg3~~
18... Qe7! 18... Be7 19. cxd4 Nxd4 20. Qxg7 and I will probably be two pawns up, which should give me an easy win even in a long ending.
Not 18... Kd6?? 19. Bf4+ Ne5 (19... e5?? 20. Nf5#)
20. Bxe5+ Kxe5? 21. Qf4#
19. Qh5 threatening to pin the Queen with Rf7
19... Qe8! It was amazine how quickly Mike found the right moves. He had used up less than 20 minutes at this point.
20. Rf7+!? Fritz suggests 20. Qd1! switching the Queen to the Queenside, which looks interesting. The problem with the Rook move is that, with Black's Queen at e8, the Rook is practically pinned since I'd rather not exchange queens and go into an ending. Meanwhile the Queen at h5 is tied to defending the Rook and cannot go after the Black king.
20... Be7! 21. cxd4 Nxd4? Mike misses his last chance. Better 21... cxd4! and I may have to settle for a pawn-up ending after 22. Rxg7+/= Qxh5 23. Nxh5 Raf8 which would be tough to win with 12 minutes left!
22. Be3! Nc2? This loses by force, as I had quickly calculated when playing 22.Be3. Of course, now I had to spend some time confirming those calculations, so maybe it fit in with his strategy.... Likely Black is lost in any event since my pieces are getting very active and his King is getting more unsafe.
22... Rf8 23. Raf1 Rxf7 24. Rxf7 Kc6!? 25. Bxd4 cxd4 26. Qg6->
23. Bxc5! Nxa1 24. Rxe7+ I figured during the game that 24. Bxe7! is even stronger, but I had no time to calculate it and it does present Black with lots of options. Fritz, though, boils it down quickly: 24... Qxe7 (24... Kc6 25. Qc5+ forces mate )
25. Qb5+! Kd8 26. Rxe7 (or 26. Qa5+ Ke8 27. Rxe7+ Kxe7 28. Qxb4+)
26... Kxe7 27. Qxb4+ and I get an additional pawn and put his King on the vulnerable f-file 27... Kf7 28. Qe1 Rac8 (28... Nc2? 29. Qf2+)
(28... Rad8 29. Qxa1 Rxd3?? 30. Qf1+)
29. Qxa1 Rc2 30. b4 and things are even easier than in the game
24... Qxe7 25. Bxe7 Kxe7 26. Qc5+ Kf7 27. Qc7+?! I wanted his King to be more exposed for later when I would have to attack him with Queen and Knight. But this move does allow him to go after my d-pawn, since his King will no longer be on the vulnerable f-file.
27... Kg6 28. Qc1 Rac8 Perhaps 28... Rad8 though I can take time to defend the pawn with 29. Ne2!?
29. Qxa1+- Rc2 30. Qd1 Rhc8 31. Qg4+ Kf7 32. Nh5! g5 33. Qf3+ Ke8 33... Kg6? 34. g4 looks very bad for the Black King
34. Qf6! Kd7 35. Ng7! R8c6 36. Qf7+ Kc8 37. Nxe6! Rxb2? 38. Qe8+ and he resigned here since
38... Kb7 39. Nd8+ Kc7 40. Qxc6+ Kxd8 41. Qf6+ will win both Rooks. Besides, I still had almost five minutes on my clock, which should be enough time to win a Queen-up ending.