Chess

Victor Ludorum

31 March 2018

9:00 AM

31 March 2018

9:00 AM

A match which has attracted less attention than it deserves was Luke McShane’s victory over David Howell in the final of the UK Knockout championship, which coincided with the London Classic last December. En route to the final, Luke eliminated both the reigning British champion Gawain Jones and England’s most celebrated grandmaster, Nigel Short.
 
The following game from the final is furnished with notes based on those kindly provided by the victor.
 
Howell-McShane: British Knockout Championship, London 2017; King’s Indian
 
1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 g3 Bg7 4 Bg2 0-0 5 d4 d6 6 0-0 Nbd7 7 Nc3 e5 8 e4 c6 9 h3 Qa5 10 Re1 exd4 11 Nxd4 Ne5 12 Bf1 Qb6 13 Be3 c5 Not 13 … Qxb2 as then 14 Na4 Qb4 15 Bd2 Qa3 16 Re3 traps the queen. 14 Nb3 Be6 15 Nd5 Bxd5 16 exd5 Rae8 17 Kg2 Re7 18 Qc2 Rfe8 The doubled rooks put a useful amount of tactical pressure on White’s position. 19 Bd2 Qd8 20 a4 Qc8 21 Nc1 h5 21 … Nc6 is possible but then 22 Rxe7 Nxe7 23 Bd3 prevents the knight coming to d4. 22 Na2 h4 This is consistent but risky. 23 gxh4 Nh5 24 Nc3 Bf6 This is based on an oversight but White subsequently misses the refutation. Instead 24 … Qd7 is better when the position is about equal. (see diagram 1) 25 f4 White can refute Black’s 24th move with 25 Ne4 Qf5 26 Nxf6+ Qxf6 27 Bg5 Qf3+ 28 Kg1 f6 and now the move 29 Rxe5! is overwhelming, e.g. 29 … dxe5 30 Qxg6+ Kh8 31 Ra3 Qd1 32 d6 Re6 33 d7. 25 … Ng4 Another way to play is 25 … Nd3 and after 26 Rxe7 Ndxf4+ 27 Bxf4 Nxf4+ 28 Kf3 Rxe7 29 Kxf4 Qf8 the situation is unclear. Black’s move in the game is simpler and leads to an advantage. 26 Ne4 This is more or less forced. 26 … Bxh4 This is fine but Black had a spectacular alternative with 26 … Bd4 27 Nxd6 and now the amazing 27 … Re3!! After 28 Rxe3 Rxe3 29 Ra3 Qd8 Black is close to winning. 27 Nxd6 Qd7 Black must be careful not to get carried away. After 27 … Bxe1 28 Nxc8 Re2+ 29 Bxe2 Rxe2+ 30 Kf3 Rf2+ 31 Kxg4 f5+ 32 Kg5 Rg2+ 33 Kh6 Black has no way to give mate. 28 Rxe7 Rxe7 29 Ne4 Qf5 30 Bd3 Nxf4+ 31 Bxf4 Qxf4 32 hxg4 (see diagram 2) 32 … Qxg4+ This natural move is a mistake. Correct was 32 … f5 and if 33 Nf2 then 32 … Re3 with a winning attack. 33 Kf1 Now Black wins. The last chance was 33 Kh2 f5 34 Qg2 Qxg2+ 35 Kxg2 fxe4 36 Be2 when White has chances to resist. 33 … Qf3+ 34 Kg1 f5 35 Qh2 Qxd3 36 Nxc5 36 Qxh4 Rxe4 37 Qd8+ is nothing to be afraid of. After 37 … Kg7 38 Qc7+ Kh6 39 Qh2+ Kg5 40 Kh1 Rh4 41 Rg1+ Kh5 finishes off. 36 … Qd4+ 37 Kh1 Qxc5 38 Rg1 Qxg1+ White resigns Black will emerge a piece up.

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