Published 19 June 2013

Woodcock prize 2013

White: Stewart Fishburne
Black: Alan Agnew
Played: in BDCL Division 1 on 12 February 2013

1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Bc4 Nf6 5. Qe2 Nc6 6. e5 Nxd4
I've been aware of this line, where white gives up his Queen for 3 minor pieces and a couple of pawns, for about 35 years. But never played it as either White or Black! On inspection my theory book from the 1970's just says 'interesting but unclear'. But a more recent book suggests that whilst it might in theory be good for Black, in practice it is a lot easier to play as White.
7. exf6 Nxe2 8. fxg7 Rg8 9. Ngxe2 Rxg7
Well that's as much theory as I know. It's 'make it up yourself' time, now! The first choice is where to put the c1 Bishop. I wanted to prevent e5 and attack down the central files so Bg5 seemed sensible. The first point is that f6 isn't possible as Bh6 then traps the Rook
10. Bg5 c6 11. O-O-O Qa5
This is the downside of Bg5. Black develops with tempo. Maybe Bh6 and rapid development would have been better?
12. h4 b5 13. Bb3 b4 14. Ne4 d5 15. Nd4?!
The first offer of a piece. Black avoids dxe4, Nxc6 which definitely looks scary. In fact it's good for White. Qb6, Rd8+, Qd8, Nd8, Kd8 runs into Bh6! and the Rook is in trouble (Rg8, Bf7)
15... Bd7 16. Bh6 Rg8 17. Ng5
Fritz prefers Black here, but not by very much. And it's a difficult position to play!
17... O-O-O?!
better is f6, but it'd still very complicated. Now white gets some pawns back, before sacrificing another piece.
18. Nxf7 c5 19. Bxd5
Nd8 may be better, but this opens the Black King's position, and Alan was becoming a little short of time.
19... cxd4 20. Rxd4
Now there are threats of Rc4+ and Bf4+. Black plays the obvious move to control e5, but Bc6! is better (apparently) with equal chances.
20... e5 21. Nxe5 Be8?
trying to make something of the pin on the d-file, whilst keeping the Queen active along the 5th rank (which the alternative, Bb5, would not). But there's a hole...
22. Rc4+ Kb8 23. Bxg8
I think Black had planned Qxe5 now, but had missed Bf4 winning the Queen. But there was an even stronger move for White. 23. Nd7+!! Rxd7 24. Bf4+ Rc7 25. Bxc7+ Qxc7 26. Rxc7 Kxc7 27. Bxg8 Now white has won material and simplified. In the game there are still tactics to navigate
23... Kb7 24. Nd3 Bb5 25. Rxb4 Rxd3
Rg8 would have set more problems. We were both short of time now, though.
26. Rxb5+ Qxb5 27. cxd3
The smoke has cleared a lot, and white has a winning material advantage. Just a question of avoiding a fork picking up a piece (or rook)
27... Qc5+ 28. Kb1 Qxf2 29. Bd5+ Kb6 30. Rc1 Qd4 31. Be4 a5 32. Bf8 Qd8 33. Bc5+ 1-0
Black is going to be mated or lose his Queen. For example Ka6 a4! (controlling b5), followed by Be3 and Rc6.