Jon Speelman: Agony Column #36

by Jonathan Speelman
1/11/2017 – In the endgame it is often a good idea to send your king across the board to invade the enemy's camp. In the middlegame, however, such a strategy is often be reckless or even foolish. But it sometimes pays unexpected dividends. In his Agony Column #36 Jon Speelman presents three games and two active kings who brought agony and ecstasy.

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Jon Speelman's Agony Column #36

This week's games are by Dave Samaniego, a teenager from the Philippines.

Dave started playing in tournaments three or four years ago and since he lives in the provinces rather than Manilla itself only competes in two or three tournaments a year. He also competes in maths competitions at which he says he's approximately the same strength as chess - good enough to win local scholastic tournaments but not national ones. Of course he also has lots of other interests including playing video games, reading political news and reading tech news.

Dave is now 17 though he was 16 when he sent me the games half a year ago. All three come from a junior tournament at Aquinas University of Legazpi. They are a little rough as you'd expect from a not vastly experienced player but full of interest.

[Event "STCAA Chess 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.02.09"] [Round "3"] [White "Samaniego, Dave P"] [Black "Bautista, Rothsen"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A30"] [Annotator "Speelman,Jonathan"] [PlyCount "134"] [EventDate "2016.02.08"] [EventType "team-swiss"] [EventRounds "7"] [SourceDate "2015.07.13"] 1. Nf3 e6 2. c4 d5 3. d3 Nf6 4. Nbd2 Be7 5. g3 c5 6. Bg2 Nc6 7. O-O O-O 8. e4 { Not a good move since it weakens the centre leaving holes at d3 and d4.} Nb4 ( 8... dxe4 9. dxe4 e5 {was a simple way to get some advantage since the knight on d2 is misplaced as compared to its opponent on c6 which is already striving to occupy the crucial d4 square.}) 9. Qe2 dxe4 10. dxe4 Qd3 11. Qxd3 Nxd3 12. Rd1 $2 (12. Ne1 Nxc1 13. Rxc1 {is still okay for White though most uninspiring. }) 12... Ng4 13. Rf1 Rd8 14. h3 Nge5 15. Nxe5 Nxc1 16. Ndf3 $6 (16. Rfxc1 Rxd2 17. Rab1 {is okay since if} Bf6 18. Rd1 $1) 16... Ne2+ 17. Kh2 f6 18. Ng4 Bd7 { [#] Once this bishop gets out, Black will have at least some advantage.} 19. e5 (19. Rfe1 Nd4 {and the knight is huge on d4. If White exchanges it Black will have a nice passed pawn in addition to the two bishops}) 19... f5 20. Ne3 Bc6 21. Rfd1 f4 $5 {Trying to use the e2 knight but White is solid enough to keep his position intact} 22. Nc2 fxg3+ 23. fxg3 Rf8 24. Rf1 Rad8 25. Rae1 Bxf3 26. Bxf3 {[#]} Nd4 (26... Rd2 $1 {happens to work tactically (and isn't that hard to spot - I didn't see it first time when scooting through the game but did when I gave it a moment's thought).} 27. Rxe2 Rxf3 28. Rxd2 Rxf1 29. Kg2 { is about equal}) 27. Nxd4 cxd4 $1 (27... Rxd4 28. Bg4 Rd2+ 29. Kg1 g6 {is very nasty}) 28. Bg4 d3 29. Bxe6+ Kh8 {[#] White has won a pawn but the black d-pawn is on the march - or rather will reach d2 before it's blockaded. If Black can then support it he will have good chances, despite the pawn deficit.} 30. Bd5 {Perfectly playable - indeed Houdini likes it - but I quite like the idea of} (30. Bf7 d2 31. Rd1 Rd3 32. e6 g6 (32... Bd6 33. Kh1 Rd8 34. Rf2 Bc5 35. Re2 Be7 36. Kg2) 33. Rf2 Rfd8 34. Kg2 Kg7 35. Rf3 {which looks balanced}) ( 30. Kg2 d2 (30... d2)) 30... d2 31. Rd1 Rxf1 32. Rxf1 b5 33. b3 {Now Black gets the b file though that still doesn't mean much} (33. Rd1 Bb4 34. e6 (34. a3 bxc4 35. Bxc4 Be7 36. h4 g5 37. hxg5 Bxg5 38. Kg2 Rd4) 34... bxc4 35. Bxc4 Rd4 36. b3 $1 (36. a3 Be7 37. Bb3 g6 38. Kg2 Kg7 39. h4) 36... Re4) 33... bxc4 34. bxc4 Rb8 35. Rd1 Rb2 36. a4 (36. Kg2 g6) 36... a5 37. Kg2 Bb4 (37... g6 { needed to be played at some stage to get the king out to get some control over the e pawn and here was a very sensible moment.}) 38. Kf3 Rb3+ {[#]} 39. Kg4 $2 {This is the moment at which White goes seriously astray since the rook gets to e1 paralysing his pieces. Instead} (39. Ke4 Rxg3 40. c5 (40. e6 g6) 40... Bxc5 41. Rxd2 Bb4) (39. Ke2 $1 {sets up a very interesting idea:} Rxg3 40. Rxd2 $3 {which is very unobvious to the human eye and hard to assess quickly. In fact the point is that if} Bxd2 $2 (40... Rxh3 41. Rd3 Rh5) 41. Kxd2 Rg5 (41... g6 42. c5 Rg5 43. Kd3 Rxe5 44. Kd4 Re7 45. c6 Kg7 46. Kc5) 42. Kd3 $1 Rxe5 43. Kd4 Re8 44. c5 {and it turns out that White will win the rook for the c-pawn with a winning position}) 39... Re3 40. Kf4 $6 (40. Kf5 Re1 41. Bf3 Bc3 42. Ke6 Rxe5+ 43. Kd6 Re3) 40... Re1 $1 41. Bf3 Kg8 42. h4 ({Of course if} 42. c5 $2 Bxc5 43. Rxd2 $2 Be3+) 42... Kf7 43. g4 Ke6 44. Bd5+ Kd7 45. Bf3 Bc3 (45... Kc7 $1 {looks better since now White can safely get in c5 immediately.}) 46. Kg3 ( 46. c5 $1 Ke6 47. g5 Bxe5+ 48. Kg4 Bc3 49. c6 Kd6 50. h5) 46... Bxe5+ 47. Kg2 Bf4 48. c5 Be3 49. c6+ Kd6 50. h5 g6 51. hxg6 hxg6 52. Kg3 g5 53. Kg2 Kc7 54. Kg3 Bf4+ 55. Kf2 Re3 {In order to free the king, Black wants to put the rook on c1 where it covers c6-c7-c8.} 56. Ra1 Rc3 57. Rh1 Kb6 58. Rb1+ Kc7 (58... Kc5 $1 {was better since the c-pawn isn't really dangerous and the advance of the king will create additional threats.} 59. Rb5+ (59. Ke2 Rc1 60. Rb5+ Kc4 61. Rd5 Kb3) 59... Kd4 60. Rd5+ Kc4 61. Rd7 Kb3 62. Ke2 Kc2) 59. Rb7+ Kc8 60. Rd7 Rc4 61. Kg2 $6 {This makes it relatively straightforward though} (61. Bd1 Rxc6 62. Rd5 Rh6 63. Bf3 Rh2+ 64. Kg1 Kc7 {looks lost too} 65. Rxg5 {would then lose to} Rh3 66. Rg7+ Kb6 67. Be2 Rd3 68. Bd1 (68. Kf2) 68... Re3) (61. Ke2 Rxa4 {is also lost.}) 61... Rxa4 62. Be2 Ra2 63. Ba6+ {This expedites the loss but the advance of the a pawn will soon decide anyway.} Kb8 64. Kf1 Ra1+ 65. Ke2 Re1+ 66. Kf2 d1=Q 67. Rxd1 Rxd1 0-1

[Event "STCAA Chess 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.02.11"] [Round "7"] [White "Samaniego, Dave P"] [Black "Gacosta, Joshua"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D02"] [Annotator "Speelman,Jonathan"] [PlyCount "72"] [EventDate "2016.02.08"] [EventType "team-swiss"] [EventRounds "7"] [SourceDate "2015.07.13"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. c4 c6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Bf4 {This is unusual because it encourages 4... dxc4 now when in some lines ...Nd5 will menace the bishop} Bf5 (4... dxc4 5. e3 b5) 5. e3 e6 6. Nc3 Bb4 7. Qb3 Qa5 8. a3 Bxc3+ 9. bxc3 Nbd7 {[#]} 10. Bd6 (10. Nd2 {would have given quite a nice advantage} O-O 11. Qb4 Qxb4 12. axb4 dxc4 13. Nxc4 Nd5 14. Bd6 $5 {seems to work tactically but I'd normally prefer} (14. Kd2 N7f6 15. f3 Nxf4 16. exf4 {with a small but pleasant edge.}) 14... Rfd8 15. Na5) 10... Ne4 11. Bb4 Qc7 12. Nh4 $2 (12. a4 {was necessary}) 12... a5 13. Nxf5 exf5 14. Qa4 Qb8 15. Bc5 b6 16. f3 Nef6 17. Rb1 Qc7 18. cxd5 Nxd5 19. Bb4 Ra7 20. Qb3 axb4 21. cxb4 O-O 22. Bc4 N7f6 {[#] With only a single pawn for a piece, White is clearly lost but more adventures lie ahead.} 23. Kf2 Re8 24. Rbe1 Qd6 25. Qd3 Rea8 26. Qxf5 Rxa3 27. e4 Ne7 28. Qe5 Qxb4 29. Rb1 Qd2+ 30. Kg3 Ng6 31. Qf5 {[#]} h5 $2 (31... Ra2 $1 32. Bxa2 Rxa2 33. Qc8+ Nf8 34. Rhg1 Qf2+ 35. Kf4 Ra5 {is an easy win.}) 32. Qxg6 b5 $2 ({After} 32... Rf8 {it happens that despite dropping a whole knight Black still has a winning attack.} ) 33. Bxf7+ Kh8 34. Rhd1 Qe3 {[#]} (34... h4+ 35. Kh3 Qf4) 35. e5 $4 {Losing. Instead} (35. Re1 {should win though it's pretty complicated:} Qxd4 36. e5 R8a4 $1 37. Qg5 h4+ (37... Qd7 38. Bb3 h4+ 39. Kf2 {and White has some measure of control}) 38. Kh3 Qg4+ 39. Qxg4 Nxg4 40. Rb2 Re3 41. Rxe3 Nxe3 42. Re2 $1 Nd5 ( 42... Nf5 43. e6 Ne7 (43... Ra7 44. Rd2 Kh7 45. Rd7)) 43. Bxd5 cxd5 44. e6 Ra8 45. Re5 Re8 46. Rxd5 Rxe6 47. Rxb5 Rh6 48. Rb4 g5 49. Rg4) 35... Ne4+ 36. Kh4 $2 {making it simpler though} (36. Kh3 Nf2+ 37. Kg3 h4+ 38. Kxh4 Qf4+ 39. g4 Qxh2+ 40. Kg5 Nh3+ 41. Kf5 Qf4+ 42. Ke6 Ng5+ $18 43. Kd6 Nxf7+ 44. Kc5 Qxf3 45. Rh1+ Kg8 {is also lost}) 36... Qf4+ {[#] And with mate looming Dave resigned.} (36... Qf4+ 37. Kxh5 Qxh2+ 38. Kg4 Qxg2+ 39. Kf5 Rxf3+ 40. Ke6 Qh3+ 41. Ke7 Ra7+ 42. Kf8 Qc8#) 0-1

[Event "STCAA Chess 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.02.10"] [Round "4"] [White "Manlapas, John Kerwin"] [Black "Samaniego, Dave P"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B01"] [Annotator "Speelman,Jonathan"] [PlyCount "76"] [EventDate "2016.02.08"] [EventType "team-swiss"] [EventRounds "7"] [SourceDate "2015.07.13"] {In this very flawed but exciting battle, White lost most of his position with a vile blunder 11.Nh4? but was allowed back into the game before finally succumbing when he drove Black's king not to its but to the White's king doom. } 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nxd5 4. b3 {Playable but rather passive} Bf5 5. Bb2 c5 6. a3 Nc6 7. Nc3 Nf6 8. h3 e5 9. Bc4 Bd6 10. Qe2 O-O {[#]} 11. Nh4 $4 { A horrible move after which White loses the house} Nd4 12. Qd1 Bxc2 $1 13. Qc1 Bxb3 14. Bxb3 Nxb3 15. Qd1 Nxa1 16. O-O Bc7 17. Bxa1 Nd5 18. Qg4 Nxc3 19. Bxc3 g6 {Obviously, Black should be completely winning but the battle did continue.} 20. f4 f5 (20... exf4 21. Nf5 h5 {is fine though you would prefer not to open the long diagonal}) (20... h5 $1 21. Qg3 exf4 22. Rxf4 Qd6 $1 {is completely clean}) 21. Qg3 {[#]} e4 $4 (21... exf4 22. Qf2 Qd5 {keeps control}) 22. Nxg6 $1 Kf7 23. Nxf8 Qxf8 24. Be5 $6 {This bishop is a ferocious attacking unit and shouldn't have been exchanged off for what was mainly a loose piece on c7.} ( 24. Qh4 {kept a clear advantage.}) 24... Bxe5 25. fxe5 Ke6 26. Qc3 $2 {Now Dave gets time to get organised.It was essential to detonate the centre immediately with} (26. d3 $1 {when the black king remains very unsafe.} exd3 27. Qxd3 Rd8 28. Qb3+ {was still better for White.}) 26... Rd8 $1 {[#] With White now unable to break up the his centre, Black is okay - indeed more than okay.} 27. g4 $2 {Trying to get at the king but now White's king becomes extremely exposed.} f4 $1 28. Re1 Rd4 29. Qb3+ Kxe5 30. Qxb7 f3 31. Qc7+ Kd5 ( 31... Qd6 32. Qf7 Qd5 33. Qxf3 Rxd2 34. Qg3+ {was still a fight}) 32. Qd7+ Qd6 33. Qb7+ Ke5 {[#]} 34. Qg7+ $2 {When driving an enemy king forward, you must make sure that you can continue to attack. Otherwise, as here, he may become a powerful attacking unit in his own right.} Kf4 35. Qf7+ Kg3 36. Kf1 Kh2 37. Qb3 Qg3 38. Qe3 Qg2# 0-1


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Jonathan Speelman, born in 1956, studied mathematics but became a professional chess player in 1977. He was a member of the English Olympic team from 1980–2006 and three times British Champion. He played twice in Candidates Tournaments, reaching the semi-final in 1989. He twice seconded a World Championship challenger: Nigel Short and then Viswanathan Anand against Garry Kasparov in London 1993 and New York 1995.


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