Speelman's Agony #60

by Jonathan Speelman
9/3/2017 – Rudy van Kemenade featured in Agony #1 sixteen months ago and this week becomes our first repeat. After a veritable tsunami of submissions when this column first appeared the water level has now fallen, so that our Grandmaster Agony columnist's lead time is quite short. Please send in your games if you'd like them to appear, and you are more than welcome to send games even if you've already done so before. | Photo: Dyfed Chess Association Publicity Gallery

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European Senior Agony and Ecstasy

Rudy was 69 years old when Agony #1 appeared, and 71 this June. He has spent some 31 years playing in Yorkshire, managing to set two records: 15 times Huddersfield chess champion, and one of those joint champion with his wife Julie, who beat him in their individual game. He moved to Wales with Julie, the current Welsh Ladies Champion, fifteen years ago. They live near Aberystwyth and play for it in the Dyfed league and for Cardigan in the Welsh Premier League.

Rudy plays lots of senior chess in European events and at home and was playing in the Welsh senior championship at the time of writing. Agony #1 appeared just a few weeks after Rudy had represented Wales in the European Senior Team Championship in Greece where they came close to winning the bronze medal and all four games come from Halkidiki 2016. The two this week feature Agony against Russia and Ecstasy against Scotland.

[Event "ESTCC S65"] [Site "Halkidiki"] [Date "2016.04.22"] [Round "4.11"] [White "Van Kemenade, R."] [Black "Pushkov, Nikolai"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A03"] [WhiteElo "1957"] [BlackElo "2336"] [Annotator "Kemenade,Rudy van/Speelman,J"] [PlyCount "74"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [SourceDate "2015.07.13"] [WhiteClock "1:13:28"] [BlackClock "0:10:20"] 1. f4 d5 2. Nf3 c5 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. d3 Nc6 6. O-O e6 7. c3 Nge7 8. Qe1 ( 8. e4) 8... O-O 9. Na3 (9. e4) 9... Rb8 10. Nc2 (10. Qf2 b6 $11 11. Rb1 d4 12. Bd2 Nd5 13. Rbc1 Bb7 14. Nc4 dxc3 15. bxc3 Nf6 16. h3 $11 {Stopa-Locatelli, Bratto op 2014,1-0}) 10... b5 11. g4 (11. Qf2 c4 12. d4 b4 13. Ne3 bxc3 14. bxc3 Qa5 15. Nd1 f5 $15 {Racioppo-Selitti, Piemonte op Turin 2005,1/2-1/2}) 11... b4 12. cxb4 Nxb4 13. Nxb4 Rxb4 14. Rb1 {[#] JS: An unusual opening has led to a difficult strategic battle.} (14. Qh4 f5 $17 {Fritz15 JS: Computer assessments don't matter too much here, but indeed White's attempt to attack is blocked and Black can tee up on the queenside.}) 14... Ba6 {This looks active but blocks the a pawn which Black would like to advance to undermine White on the queenside.} (14... e5 {is rather a computery move} 15. Nxe5 (15. fxe5 Bxg4 16. Be3 Qc7 17. Qf2 Bxf3 18. Bxf3 Rc8 $14 {Fritz15}) 15... f6 16. Nf3 Bxg4) (14... a5 15. b3 Nc6 16. Be3 Qd6 17. Rc1 d4 18. Bd2 Rb6 19. Ng5 f5) 15. b3 $11 Nc6 16. Be3 Qd6 17. Qf2 (17. Rc1 {Fritz15} d4 (17... Nd4 18. Qf2 Bb7 19. Nxd4 (19. f5 $11 {Fritz15})) 18. Bd2 $11) 17... Nd4 18. Nxd4 (18. Rbc1) 18... Bxd4 19. Bxd4 Rxd4 20. Rbc1 (20. f5 $2 Rxg4 $17) 20... f5 21. g5 (21. gxf5 Rxf5 22. Qe3 Kf7 {was also interesting. f4 is weak, but so are c5 and to a lesser extent e6.}) 21... Rc8 22. Rc3 (22. a3 {Pushkov JS: This again weakens b3 but cuts off the rooks' retreat.} e5 23. fxe5 Qxe5 24. h3 Kg7 25. Rc3 $11 {Fritz15 JS: This is really difficult. One fairly logical line continues} h6 26. gxh6+ Kxh6 27. Bf3 g5 28. Rfc1 c4 29. dxc4 dxc4 {Black may lose a pawn but has arranged a nice square for his rook on h4.}) 22... Rb4 {[#]} 23. a3 $6 { JS: Even if White's position remains okay after this, it's a very bad idea to weaken b3 unless White has a concrete idea in mind. He clearly wanted to shift the b4 rook so that he could play Rfc1 without f4 dropping off but it doesn't work so the pawn should have remained on a2, bolstering White on the queenside and hugely slowing down Black's play there.} (23. h4 {is natural though when playing it you'd have to be happy that e5 wasn't a problem. In fact} e5 (23... Bb5) 24. fxe5 Qxe5 25. Rxc5 Rxc5 26. Qxc5 Rg4 27. Rc1 {is good for White so Black would react more slowly with  Rc7 or Bb5 meeting a3 with d4}) 23... Rbb8 (23... d4 {was also strong if unnecessary.} 24. axb4 dxc3 25. bxc5 (25. b5 {is what White wants to play but unfortunately doesn't work:} Bxb5 26. Rc1 Qd4 27. Bf1 Bc6 28. e3 Qd5 29. Qg2 Qxb3 30. Qc2 Qd5 31. Bg2 Qxg2+ 32. Qxg2 Bxg2 33. Kxg2 a5 34. Rxc3 a4 35. Ra3 Ra8) 25... Rxc5 26. Rc1 c2 $15 {Fritz15}) 24. Rfc1 $2 (24. Rb1 d4 25. Rcc1 Kg7 26. Qg3 Rb6 $15 {Fritz15 JS: Whatever assessment Fritz gives, this is distinctly unconmfortable for White.}) 24... d4 25. R3c2 Rxb3 26. a4 {[#]} Ra3 $19 {RVK: but the R & B get to be offside in what follows JS: A clear pawn up, Black shouldn't be trying too hard but rather just aiming to keep control.} ( 26... Kg7 27. h4 e5 28. fxe5 Qxe5 29. Bf3 Bb7 {looks like a very sensible way to do so. White will try to create trouble on the h-file, but with Black's queen beautifully centralised it really shouldn't work.}) 27. h4 $1 {JS: Quite rightly trying to create trouble.} Rxa4 28. h5 c4 29. hxg6 hxg6 30. Qh4 Rc7 ({ It looks better to prepare to meet Qh6 with Qg7.} 30... Qd7 31. dxc4 Raxc4 32. Rxc4 Rxc4 33. Rd1 (33. Ra1 $2 d3 $1) (33. Rb1 Qc7 $1 {tees up to play Rc1+ and also eyes f4.} 34. Kh2 Rc2) 33... Bb5 {and Black has very good control.}) 31. dxc4 d3 (31... Raxc4 32. Rxc4 Bxc4 33. Qh6 e5 34. fxe5 Qxe5 $19 35. Qxg6+ (35. e4 Bf7 36. Rxc7 Qxc7 37. exf5 Qc1+ 38. Kh2 Qf4+ 39. Kg1 Qxf5 $19) 35... Rg7 36. Qh5 Qe3+ $19) 32. exd3 Qxd3 33. Bf1 {[#]} Qe4 $2 (33... Qd4+ 34. Qf2 Qxf2+ 35. Kxf2 Rd7 $17 {Fritz15 JS: Certainly Black is clearly better here, though until he can sort out his king it will remain potentially messy.} (35... e5 36. fxe5 Kf7 37. Rd1 $1 (37. Bg2 Ke6) 37... Ke6 38. Rd6+ Kxe5 39. Rxg6)) 34. Rc3 $2 { RVK: after a thinking spell, having seen Rd1, but missing several key aspects. JS: I think this deserves one or even two question marks.} (34. Rd1 $1 { RVK: Seen and considered. JS: Even if you don't see everything, you should play this because the alternative is grim and Rd1 obviously gives serious chances (in fact it turns out to be winning).} Qe3+ (34... Rh7 35. Rd8+ Kg7 36. Rd7+ Kf8 37. Qxh7 {mating}) (34... Rf7 35. Rd8+ Rf8 36. Rcd2 $1 Qe3+ 37. Kh2 Qc3 38. Rxf8+ Kxf8 39. Qh6+ Qg7 40. Rd8+ $18) (34... Rc8 35. Rd7 $18 {missed} ( 35. Qh6 {JS: Even if you miss Rd7 then Qh6 is at least a draw and in fact precisely so after} Qe3+ 36. Rf2 Ra2)) (34... Qa8 35. Rh2 $1) (34... Rg7 35. Rd8+ Kf7 36. Qh8 Qe3+ 37. Rf2 Qg3+ 38. Rg2 Qe3+ 39. Kh1) 35. Kh2 Rf7 (35... Rg7 36. Rd8+ Kf7 37. Rd7+ Kg8 38. Rb2 $1 {Fritz15}) 36. Rd8+ Rf8 37. Rcd2 (37. Rxf8+ Kxf8 38. Qh8+ Ke7 39. Qg7+ Kd8 40. Qh8+ Kd7 $11 {Fritz15}) 37... Qc3 38. Rxf8+ Kxf8 39. Qh6+ Qg7 40. Rd8+) (34. Rh2 Qe3+ 35. Kh1 (35. Qf2 Qxf2+ 36. Rxf2 Rd7 $17) 35... Bb7+ 36. Bg2 Qxc1+ 37. Qe1 Qxe1#) 34... Rh7 {JS: And Black wins} 35. Qg3 Rh1+ 36. Kf2 Ra2+ 37. Be2 Rxe2# {JS: A tough battle in which Rudy played quite unusually in the opening and reached a strategically double edge position. Things went wrong after 23 a3? but he fought on gamely and managed to create counter chances. When Black faltered, it was winning for a move, but Rudy missed his chance and thereafter it was easy for Black.} 0-1

A rolliking battle

[Event "ESTT O65 Scotland B - Wales"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.04.27"] [Round "9.3"] [White "Marks, Ian"] [Black "Van Kemenade, R."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C41"] [WhiteElo "1888"] [BlackElo "1957"] [Annotator "Kemenade,Rudy van/Speelman,J"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "2016.04.19"] [SourceDate "2015.07.13"] 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Nf3 Nbd7 5. Bc4 Be7 6. a4 ({JS: It's important that} 6. Bxf7+ Kxf7 7. Ng5+ Kg8 8. Ne6 Qe8 9. Nxc7 Qg6 {is simply bad for White.}) 6... c6 7. O-O h6 8. Re1 Qc7 9. b3 {[#]} (9. h3 Nf8 (9... g5) 10. Be3 (10. b3 g5 11. Nh2 Ng6 12. Ba3 h5 {Zeidler-Van Kemenade, Dyfed Open 2015,1-0}) 10... Rg8 11. Nh2 g5 {Tolonen-Van Kemenade, EU cup Skopje 2015, 1/2-1/2}) 9... Nf8 (9... g5 10. Bb2 {JS: could lead to the game in which White missed a big chance – variation below. Black can't then play the move he wants to, Nf8, because this leads to a massive detonation.} Nf8 (10... Rg8 {or}) (10... O-O) 11. dxe5 dxe5 12. Nxe5 $1 $18 {splat, since if} Qxe5 (12... Be6 13. Nd5 $1 { Garcia-Osuna Vega, Seville op 1994, 1-0 & Faibisovich-Kuzmenkov, Leningrad ch1974,1-0}) 13. Nd5 Qxb2 14. Nc7#) 10. Bb2 g5 $2 {This is what Black wants to play, but we saw above it should have been punished.} (10... Ng6 $11 {JS: Blocks g5 but solidifies the centre with a very reasonable position.}) (10... Bg4 {is also not unreasonable.}) 11. Bd3 $2 (11. dxe5 $1 dxe5 12. Nxe5 { as in the previous note.} ({And in fact Fritz also gives} 12. Nd5 $1 cxd5 13. Bxe5 Qb6 14. exd5 {which is possibly even more murderous.})) 11... Ng6 { Now that he's bolstered e5, Rudy has got what he wants, though it's hard to say how good it should be be in theory.} 12. Ne2 g4 {This weakens Black's black square control on the kingside but drives the knight away and with two knights in the sector Black is pretty secure.} (12... Be6 13. Ng3 g4 14. Nd2 Nf4 15. a5 O-O-O (15... O-O) 16. a6 b6 17. Nc4 Nd7 18. Nf5 Bxf5 19. exf5 Bf6 20. Ba3 c5 $14 {Fritz15}) (12... Nh5 13. Nd2) (12... Nh4 13. Nxh4 gxh4 14. h3 Bd7 15. c4 O-O-O 16. b4 Rhg8 17. Kh1 Rg6) 13. Nd2 Nh5 (13... h5 14. Ng3 { White looks fairly comfortable though Black will castle long and try to attack. } h4 15. Nf5) 14. Nc4 $1 (14. Ng3 Nxg3 15. hxg3 h5 {is a very decent version for Black. The exchange of a pair of knights reduces the danger of an explosion in the centre and White can't now have one knight defending on the kingside and the other probing on the queenside.}) 14... Be6 (14... O-O) (14... Bd7) 15. Ne3 {[#]} (15. d5 Bd7 (15... cxd5 16. exd5 Bd7 17. Bxg6 fxg6 18. Bxe5 $16) 16. dxc6 bxc6 17. Ba3 Be6 18. Ne3 Nhf4 19. Nf5 h5 20. Qd2 $16) 15... O-O-O {JS: Perhaps this is bad because White gets too much play, but it's what Black wants to do and if so then the whole line with g5 must be very dubious.} (15... O-O) (15... Bg5 16. Nf5 O-O-O 17. c4) (15... Nhf4) 16. d5 cxd5 (16... Bd7 17. dxc6 bxc6 18. a5 $16 {Fritz15}) 17. exd5 Bd7 18. c4 (18. Bf5 Ng7) 18... Kb8 { [#]} (18... Nhf4 {first must be better (JS).}) 19. g3 $1 {JS: This creates a target in the long term, but given that Black can't pitch a knight in on f4 gains several tempi to attack on the queenside.} Ng7 20. Qc2 {JS: Very natural to prevent f5 and certainly my first instinct, but in fact} (20. Nc3 $1 { Fritz15} h5 (20... a6 21. b4 f5 22. Qb3 e4 23. Be2 Ne5 24. b5 {and it's clear that White will be first.}) (20... f5 21. Nb5 {is also far too quick.}) 21. Nb5 Bxb5 22. axb5 {and while Black is vaguely waving pieces at White, something awful is about to happen to his own king.}) 20... h5 21. Bxg6 $6 (21. Nc3 $1 a6 22. Bxg6 fxg6 23. Qxg6 Rdg8 24. Qd3 h4 25. Ne4 hxg3 26. fxg3 Nf5 {is what you want to play, but unfortunately White is too quick.} (26... Bf5 27. Nxf5 Nxf5 { is disgusting. With the knight on e4 White has almost total control.}) 27. c5 $1 $18 dxc5 {This loses, but if he doesn't capture then Black is dead anyway.} 28. d6 $1 {and Black is annihilated}) 21... fxg6 22. Qxg6 Rdg8 23. Qe4 (23. Qc2 $14 {Houdini4}) (23. Qd3 $14 {Fritz15}) 23... h4 {JS: Black is now playing and even if engines are happy to defend as White in practice he has real chances.} 24. Rec1 (24. Rac1) 24... hxg3 {[#] JS: The position is now extremely volatile. If White can get in c5 then he should probably win but Black has serious counterplay.} (24... Rh5 {Houdini4} 25. c5 $16 {Fritz15}) 25. fxg3 {Ian, to defend with Rf1-f2. JS: but this is a mistake in view of Bg5.} (25. hxg3 { Rudy, to defend with Kg2 & Rh1} Bg5 26. c5 Bxe3 27. Qxe3 Rh5) (25. Nxg3 $1 $16 {Houdini4 & Fritz15 JS: Of course in a position with fairly short forced lines the engines are correct. It's a bit ugly to weaken f4, but c5 is coming too quickly and, crucially, on g3 the knight prevents Nf5.}) 25... Qb6 $2 (25... Qc5 $11 {Houdini4} 26. Ba3 Bf5) (25... Bg5 {considered,} 26. Rc3 Bxe3+ $1 27. Qxe3 Nf5 28. Qf2 Rf8 29. Rf1 Bc8 $1 {JS: Blocking the back rank so that when the knight moves Qxf8 won't be with check. Black is now first, which in this position means everything.} 30. c5 Nd4 31. cxd6 Qxd6 32. Nf4 Ka8 (32... Nf3+ 33. Rxf3 gxf3 34. Re1 {also seems to be good.})) (25... Nh5 $11 {considered}) 26. Bd4 $6 (26. c5 {expected. Black had planned to take the b-pawn, then decided he couldn't.} Qxb3 27. Bxe5 $1 {Fritz15} (27. Bc3 {Rudy, and saw no escape for Q, but then} Bg5 $11 28. c6 Bxe3+ 29. Qxe3 Rxh2 (29... Bf5 {as given by Rudy isn't bad but not as forcing as this.}) 30. c7+ $1 Ka8 (30... Kc8 $2 31. Qxa7) 31. Kxh2 Rh8+ 32. Kg1 Qxd5 33. Rf1 Nf5 34. Qg5 Rh1+ 35. Kf2 Qf3+ 36. Ke1 Rxf1+ 37. Kd2 Qd5+ {[#] In a game you might reach here, but would be pretty uncertain about the evaluation. Clearly Black has lots of checks, but if they run out then White has an enormous one on d8. In fact engines give} 38. Bd4 Qa5+ 39. Nc3 (39. Bc3 Qd5+ 40. Bd4 Qa5+) 39... Qxc7 40. Rxf1 Nxd4 {as the main line, and if Houdini wants to tell me that this is "equal" then that's fine.})) 26... Qd8 (26... exd4 {Post mortem analysis, fluctuated in our evaluations.} 27. Qxe7 dxe3 (27... Bc8 {next, thought it won a piece, but then looked further} 28. a5 (28. c5 dxc5 29. a5 Qh6 30. Nf1 d3 31. Nc3 Nf5 32. Qe5+ Qd6 33. Qxd6+ Nxd6 34. Rd1 Bf5 $11 {Fritz15}) 28... Qb4 29. Nc2 Qd2 {Fritz15} 30. Ncxd4 Qh6 31. h4 gxh3 32. Rf1 Re8 33. Qf6 h2+ (33... Qe3+ 34. Kh1 Bg4 $11 { Fritz15}) 34. Kh1 Qxf6 35. Rxf6 Nh5 {JS This appealed to me and indeed Black has at least enough for the pawn, for if} 36. Rxd6 Re4 $1 (36... Rxe2 $2 37. Nxe2 Bg4 38. Kg2 Bxe2 39. Re6 {and White has control}) 37. a6 Bg4 38. axb7 Kxb7 39. Kg2 Nxg3 $1 {And yes, this was Houdini and not me.} 40. Nxg3 Rxd4 41. Nh1 Bd1 42. Rd7+ Kb6 43. b4 Rg4+ 44. Kf2 Rf8+ 45. Ke1 Re8+ 46. Kd2 Be2 {and apparently the tactics favour Black, though what would be clear if you got here in a game would be that Black should at the very least be alright.} 47. Raxa7 Rd4+ 48. Kc3 Rxc4+ 49. Kd2 (49. Kb3 Re3+ 50. Ka2 Rxb4) 49... Rd4+ 50. Kc3 Rd3+ 51. Kb2 Rb8 {[#] JS: This computer line is far too long for humans, but the main point is that with the pawn on h2 and Nh1 it's Black who is playing for a win and White who is trying to get perpetual check (or of course if Black blunders checkmate) .}) (27... Nf5 28. Nxf5 Bxf5 29. c5 Qxb3 30. c6 Qe3+ 31. Qxe3 dxe3 32. Nd4 Bc8 33. cxb7 Bxb7 34. Nf5 Bxd5 35. Nxe3 Bf3 36. Nf5 d5 $14 {Fritz15}) 28. Qxd7 $16 {First view, thought good for White.}) 27. Bc3 {[#] } (27. c5 exd4 28. c6 Bg5 29. c7+ Qxc7 30. Rxc7 Re8 31. Qc2 Bxe3+ 32. Kh1 Bf5 33. Rxb7+ Kxb7 34. Qc6+ Kb8 35. Qxd6+ {perpetual, Fritz15}) 27... Rh5 (27... Qb6 {considered, with an implicit draw offer} 28. c5 Qxc5 29. Bxe5 Bf5 30. Qd4 Qxd4 31. Bxd4 Bg5 32. Nc3 $16 {Fritz15}) (27... Bg5 $1 $15 {considered; Fritz15 JS: Black needs to attack at once, so this is very appealing and indeed strong.} 28. c5 (28. Bd2 Nf5 29. Nf1 Bxd2 30. Nxd2 Rf8 $15) 28... Bf5 $1 (28... Qf6 29. c6 (29. Nf1 Qf3 30. Qxf3 gxf3 $19) 29... Bxe3+ 30. Qxe3 bxc6 31. Rf1 Nf5 32. Qe4 cxd5 33. Qxd5 Rc8 $15 {Fritz15}) 29. Nxf5 Nxf5 $19 30. Nf4 (30. Qxf5 Be3+ 31. Kg2 Rf8) 30... Bxf4 $1 (30... Nh4 $19) 31. gxf4 Qh4 32. Ra2 g3 $19 {Fritz15}) 28. Nxg4 $2 {Releasing all the energy in Black's position, which results in the loss of a piece.} (28. Rf1 $11 {Ian, first idea} Ne8 29. c5 Nf6 30. Qc4 Rgh8 31. Rf2 dxc5 32. Raf1 R8h6 33. Nc1 Qh8 34. Nd3 Rxh2 35. Bxe5+ Ka8 36. Rxh2 Rxh2 37. Nf2 Rh5 $11 {Fritz15}) (28. c5 Bg5 29. Rf1 Rgh8 30. Rf2 Bxe3 31. Qxe3 Qg8 $11 {Fritz15}) 28... Bf5 29. Qf3 e4 $19 30. Qg2 Bxg4 31. Qxe4 Bf5 (31... Nf5 $142 $19 {Houdini4 & Fritz15. JS: was a cleaner way to win. }) 32. Qf3 Bf6 (32... Bg6 $17 {considered.}) 33. Bxf6 (33. Rf1) 33... Qxf6 {[#] } 34. Nf4 $2 (34. Ra2 Qe7 (34... Qh6 35. Nf4 Bc8 $17) 35. Nf4 Be4 36. Re2 Re5 37. Qc3 Nf5 $17 {JS and White is fighting but clearly worse.}) 34... Qd4+ 35. Kf1 (35. Qf2 Qxf2+ 36. Kxf2 Rxh2+ {JS: is also hopeless.}) 35... Rxh2 36. Rd1 Bg4 (36... Qb2 $1 {Houdini4 & Fritz15. JS: and presumably they're correct that it's mate in 12, but it's irrelevant because Bg4 wins easily.}) 37. Rxd4 Bxf3 38. Re1 Nf5 39. Rd3 Nxg3+ 40. Kg1 Rh1+ (40... Rh1+ 41. Kf2 Ne4+ {JS: wins a whole rook. A rollicking battle in which Rudy gave his opponent a big opportunity in the opening but was always fighting after it was missed and eventually landed the biggest punches.}) 0-1

Lead photo: Dyfed Chess Association Publicity Gallery 

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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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