Continuing my series on the 1977 Major Open, after four rounds I was on 2½ points.
In the fifth round I had White against Paul Carey, a teenage player with a slightly higher grade than mine. I played an early c3 against his Sicilian Defence.
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. c3 Nf6 4. e5 Nd5 5. d4 cxd4 6. cxd4 b6 7. Nc3 Bb7 8. Bc4 Bb4 9. Bd2 Bxc3 10. bxc3 d6
11. O-O Nd7
A very strange decision, letting me take on d6 for free.
12. exd6 O-O
13. Bd3 N5f6
14. Bg5 Qb8
15. Bf4 Nd5
16. Be5 Nxc3
A slightly stronger alternative was the Greek Gift 17. Bxh7+ Kxh7 18. Qd3+ Kg8 19. Ng5. As Black can’t afford to weaken his king’s defences any more he has to play Ne4, returning the piece.
18. Bxh7+ Kh8
19. Ng5 Ne4
White can still claim an advantage here after 20. Qa4, for instance 20. Qa4 Bc6 21. Qxc6 Rxc6 22. Bxe4 Rc4 23. Nxf7+ Kg8 24. Ng5 Qe8 25. Bxa8 Qxa8 26. Nxe6 with lots of material for the queen, or 20. Qa4 Nxg5 21. Qxd7 Nxh7 22. Qxf7 Rg8 23. Rac1 with more than enough compensation.
Understandably, though, I chose to play for a draw:
20. Nxf7+ Kxh7
21. Qe2 Nxe5
Rather careless, giving Black another option: 22… Kg8 23. d7 Kxf7 24. dxc8Q Qxc8 when there’s no perpetual and Black’s king may be safe enough to allow him to play on. 22. Qh5+ first would force the game continuation.
23. Qh5+ Kg8
Sacrificing a knight for the second perpetual check of my tournament.
Round 6, the end of the first week, brought me a black against David James, a future Welsh international from Liverpool, who is still very strong and very active today. I chose a variation of the Grünfeld which, I think, was recommended by Bill Hartston in his early Batsford book on that opening. It didn’t work out very well.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bc4 O-O 8.
Ne2 Nc6 9. Be3 b6 10. Qd2 Bb7 11. h4 Na5 12. Bd3 c5 13. Bh6 cxd4 14. Bxg7 Kxg7
15. cxd4 h5
16. Qe3 Qd6
This is too slow. Black’s king is dangerously short of defenders so I should have tried for counterplay via Rc8 followed by Nc4.
17. O-O Rac8
18. e5 Qd8
A fatal mistake. I had to try Qd7, with the idea of Qg4. Now White has a very strong attack.
19. Nf4 e6
20. Qg3 Rh8
White crashes through my defences with a bishop sacrifice. It’s all gone rather horribly wrong for me.
22. Bxf7+ Kxf7
23. Qg6+ Ke7
24. Qxe6+ Kf8
25. Qf6+ Kg8
26. Qg6+ 1-0
So I was back to 50%, and after a rest day on Sunday, had White against Ted Lea, an experienced player of about my strength. The game was a quiet draw not deserving of any further discussion.
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. Bxd7+ Qxd7 5. O-O Nc6 6. c3 Nf6 7. Re1 e5 8.
d4 Rd8 9. Bg5 Be7 10. dxe5 dxe5 11. Qxd7+ Rxd7 12. Na3 Nh5 13. Bxe7 Kxe7 14.
Nc4 Ke6 15. Rad1 Rhd8 16. Rxd7 Rxd7 17. Ng5+ Ke7 18. Nf3 Kf6 19. g3 h6 20. Ne3
Rd3 21. Kf1 Ke6 22. Ke2 Rd7 23. a4 Nf6 24. Nd2 g6 25. f3 Ne8 26. Nb3 b6 27. Ra1
Nd6 28. Nd2 Na5 29. Nd5 f5 30. Rf1 Rf7 31. Ne3 f4 32. Nd5 fxg3 33. hxg3 c4 34.
Rh1 h5 35. Ne3 Rh7 36. Nd5 g5 37. Kf2 Nab7 38. Ne3 Nc5 39. Ndxc4 Nxc4 40. Nxc4
Nxa4 41. Ra1 1/2-1/2