1977 Major Open Part 2

In round 3 I was paired with the white pieces against Tony Cullinane, a former British Championship contender who was graded some way above me.

I took on his French Defence with the Advance Variation.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Qb6 6. a3 c4 7. g3 Na5 8. Nbd2 Bd7
9. Bh3 O-O-O

10. O-O Ne7

This is inaccurate. f5, Be7 and h6 have all been played here.

11. a4

Too slow. 11. Ng5 Be8 12. Qf3 gives White some advantage.

11… Ng6 12. Ng5 Be8 13. f4 Be7 14. Ngf3 Bd7 15. Re1 h5 16. Kg2 h4

17. b4

Black has gained the upper hand over the last few moves and this desperate throw makes things worse.

17… cxb3 18. Ba3 hxg3 19. hxg3 Kb8 20. Bxe7 Nxe7 21. Ng5 Be8

Better was 21… Rcf8. Now my computer tells me I should play Rb1 when I’m back in the game. But I continued in desperation mode:

22. f5 exf5 23. e6 f6 24. Nf7 Bxf7 25. exf7 Nc8 26. Bxf5 Nd6 27. Bg6 b2 28. Rb1 Qc7 29. Qf3 Nxf7 30. Bxf7 Qxf7 31. Rxb2 Qd7 32. Rb5 Qh3+ 33. Kf2 Qh2+ 34. Qg2 Qxg2+ 35. Kxg2 Nc6

Black hasn’t made the most of his chances but he’s still emerged with an extra pawn. Here he could have played 35… a6, the point being that after 36. Rxa5 b6 37. Rxa6 Kb7 my rook is trapped.

36. Reb1 Rd7

Not so obvious, at least to me, but the computer still prefers Black after b6 here.

37. Nb3 b6
38. Nc5 Re7
39. a5 Rhe8

He had to play 39… Re2+ 40. Kf3 Rc2, maintaining the balance. His next two moves were also not best, leaving me with an easy win.

40. axb6 Re2 41. Kh3 a5 42. b7 Rh8+ 43. Kg4 Ka7 44. Nd7 Re4+ 45. Kf3 g5 46. b8=Q+ Nxb8
47. Rb7+ Ka8 48. Rxb8+ 1-0

So a rather fortunate win left me on 2½/3. In Round 4 I played black against another higher rated player and former British Championship contender, Rory O’Kelly, who had previously beaten me in the 1969 London Under 21 championship. Rory is still active today, playing regularly for Mushrooms in the London League. I met his queen’s pawn opening with the Grünfeld Defence and we soon found ourselves in the ending.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Bg5 Ne4 5. Bh4 c5 6. cxd5 Nxc3 7. bxc3 Qxd5 8.
e3 cxd4 9. Qxd4 Qxd4 10. cxd4 e6 11. Rb1 Be7 12. Bxe7 Kxe7 13. g3 Nd7 14. Bg2
Rb8 15. Ne2 b6 16. Kd2 Ba6 17. Rhc1

12 years later, in 1989, these moves were to be repeated in Serper (2420) – Semeniuk (2365), which ended up as a draw, so we were destined to keep pretty good company. Semeniuk now played Rbc8, while I preferred the other rook.

17… Rhc8 18. Nc3 Bc4 19. Nb5 Bxb5 20. Rxb5 Rxc1 21. Kxc1 Rc8+ 22. Kb2 Nf6 23. h3 Kd6 24. Rb3 Nd5 25. e4 Ne7 26. Rc3 Rxc3 27. Kxc3 Nc6

A serious mistake. I should have held fast and played f6, with good drawing chances.

28. f4 b5 29. g4

Missing the opportunity for an immediate e5, for instance 29. e5+ Kc7 30. d5 exd5 31. Bxd5 Nd8 32. g4 Kb6 33. Kd4 Ne6+ 34. Ke4 Kc5 35. Bxe6 fxe6 36. f5 winning.

29… f6 30. h4 a5 31. g5 b4+

Letting the white king in is immediately fatal, but White seems to be winning anyway due to his superior minor piece. Some computer analysis: 31… e5 32. gxf6 Nxd4 33. fxe5+ Kxe5 34. f7 Ne6 35. Bh3 Nf8 36. Bf1 Kf6 37. Bxb5 Kxf7 38. Kb3 Ne6 39. Ka4 g5 40. Kxa5 g4 (40… gxh4 41. Kb6 h3 42. Bf1 h2 43. Bg2 Ke7 44. a4 Nf4 45. Bh1 Kd8 46. a5 Ng6 47. a6 winning) 41. Kb6 Nd4 42. Ba6 Nf3 43. a4 Nd2 44. Bc8 g3 45. Bh3 Nxe4 46. a5 Nd6 47. Kc6 Ke7 48. a6 Nc8 49. Kd5 Kd8 50. Ke4 Kc7 51. Kf3 Ne7 52. Kxg3 Kb6 53. Bf1 Nf5+ 54. Kh3 Ne3 55. Bd3 h5 and White will eventually pick up the h-pawn.

32. Kc4 a4

Another computer line: 32… f5 33. e5+ Kc7 34. d5 exd5+ 35. Bxd5 Ne7 36. Kc5 a4 37. Bc4 Nc6
38. e6 b3 39. axb3 axb3 40. Bxb3 Ne7 41. Bd5 Kd8 42. Bc6 Nc8 43. Bb7 Ne7 44.
Kd6 Ng8 45. Ke5 Ke7 46. h5 Kf8 47. hxg6 hxg6 48. Kd6 Ne7 49. Kd7 Ng8 50. Bc6
Ne7 51. Ba4 Ng8 52. e7+ Nxe7 53. Bb3 Ng8 54. Bxg8 Kxg8 55. Ke6 Kg7 56. Ke7 and wins

33. gxf6 b3 34. e5+ 1-0

Sad, but there you go. After four rounds I was on 2½ points: still not so bad.

Richard James

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About Richard James

Richard James is a professional chess teacher and writer living in Twickenham, and working mostly with younger children and beginners. He was the co-founder of Richmond Junior Chess Club in 1975 and its director until 2005. He is the webmaster of chessKIDS academy (www.chesskids.org.uk or www.chesskids.me.uk) and, most recently, the author of Chess for Kids and The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids, both published by Right Way Books. Richard is currently the Curriculum Consultant for Chess in Schools and Communities (www.chessinschools.co.uk) as well as teaching chess in local schools and doing private tuition. He has been a member of Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club since 1966 and currently has an ECF grade of 177.