(1) Baruch,A.J.D - Turner,M.N [A14]
4NCL, 13.01.2018

Again the same flexible opening move as in the other game presented this month on this web site. This time Black adopts a Slav type set up to try and blunt the action of the Bg2.

1...d5 2.c4
An early strike at the Black central pawn which is played less often here than Bg2 or Nf3. The opening is still not fully classifiable but now may become an English Opening or a Reti although other possibilities may occur too.

2...c6 3.Bg2 Nf6 4.Nf3 e6
A solid move stabilising the central d5 pawn. Again Black has many other options such as developing the queens bishop with [4...Bf5 generally referred to as the Lasker variation, or; 4...Bg4 the Capablanca line whilst Black may also choose; 4...dxc4 and try and hang onto the pawn or even play in Slav/Grunfeld style with; 4...g6 when the opening is in each case an English according to Kosten.]

Guarding the c4 pawn now allows the queen's bishop to be developed and later for White to begin operations in the centre. [5.0-0 dxc4 gives the solid but still complex semi-slav line against the Reti as discussed by GM Desmuth in the most recent book on this opening (The Modernized Reti).]

5...Nbd7 6.0-0 Be7 7.Bb2 0-0 8.d3
[Keeping within the bounds of a Reti Opening whereas the more direct 8.d4 produces a Catalan Opening.; 8.Qc2 is the other major way for White to play]

[8...b5 is more incisive and challenging for White for instance 9.Nbd2 Bb7 10.Qc2 Rc8 Kapalan-Matanovic, Boris Kostic Memorial 1979.]

A subtle move order change that later induces a slight error from Black.

[This is OK for Black but another more active option might be considered of 9...Ba6 which might, under certain circumstances, slow down White's central pawn breaks of d4 or e4.]

10.Qe2 a6
This is not optimum as it slightly loosens Black's queens-side pawn structure. Instead after [10...Qc7 11.Nbd2 , here rather than on move 9, returns to the generally regarded main line when Black gets a playable game via 11...Rad8 (Also playable are the following although White is perhaps a touch better in each case: 11...Rac8 12.Rac1 Qb8 13.Rfd1 Rfd8 Corvi-Rossi,Toscolano Open 1996. (or 13...c5 ) ; and 11...Rfd8 12.e4 dxe4 13.dxe4 Nc5 (or simply 13...e5 ) 14.Rad1 Lurie-Porat, ISR-Tch 2011.) 12.Rac1 Qb8 Ferretti-Fabius, FRA T-ch 2002.]

11.Nbd2 c5 12.Rac1
Completing development and keeping all White's possible pawn breaks (cxd5, d4 and e4) available depending on what Black does.

Not bad, probably with the idea of exchanging of White's powerful Bb2 but marginally passive. Black could keep options open too with [12...Re8 or; 12...Rc8 also waiting to see what White intends.]

13.cxd5 exd5 14.e4 Nc7
Sensible play activating the knight after which Black is actually Ok. Soon however, he overreacts to White's sudden central activity. [Now 14...Bf6 is poor due to 15.e5 gaining a move and space with the option to start a kings-sdie attack with Ne1 and f4.]

15.d4 dxe4
Now White is a lot better. Instead [15...Re8 16.Rfd1 Rc8 completes development and keeps the game in a very tense dynamic equilibrium in which each side has numerous pawn exchange options.]

16.Nxe4 f5
[16...Re8 is here no use as surprisingly Black is unable to gain any benefit from the pin on e4. Some possibilities are 17.Rcd1 Bf8 18.Ne5 cxd4 (18...f6 19.Nxf6+ gxf6 20.Qg4+ Bg7 21.Bxb7 fxe5 22.dxc5+- ; 18...f5 19.dxc5 Bxe4 20.Bxe4 fxe4 21.Rxd7+- ) 19.Nxf7 Kxf7 20.Qh5+ Kg8 21.Ng5 h6 22.Qf7+ Kh8 23.Bxb7 hxg5 24.Bxa8 Nxa8 25.Rxd4 and White has a winning game in each case as all the tactics fall in his favour.]

17.Ned2 Bf6 18.Ne5
Pressing forward in the centre looks good especially by analogy with the analysis given at move 16. However, [18.Nc4 looks a bit stronger as White begins to exploit the uncoordinated nature of Black's pieces on the second rank whilst still controlling the centre eg 18...cxd4 19.Rfd1 Qe8 20.Qf1 with the strong threat of Nd6.]

18...Bxg2 19.Kxg2 Kh8
Taking time out to remove the king from the possibility of Qc4+ hands back the advantage to White. Instead [19...Nxe5 20.dxe5 Qd5+ and Black is not badly off, for example, after 21.Nf3 Be7 22.Rcd1 Qc6 23.e6 Rae8 ]

Safely securing the outpost on e5.

20...Nb5 21.Qc4
Natural and good supporting the d4 pawn but [21.dxc5 turns out to be very hard to meet. Despite several exchanges White ends up with a passed pawn on b6 which is a real thorn in Black's side. For instance. 21...Nxc5 22.a4 (22.Rfd1 first is also good.) 22...Nc7 (22...Nd6 23.Rfd1 Qe7 24.a5 underlining the problem with playing a6 earlier in the game in that Black's queens-side structure is unstable. 24...Nxb3 25.Rc6+- ) 23.Rfd1 Qe8 24.a5 Qb5 25.Qxb5 Nxb5 26.axb6 Nxb3 27.Rc2+- and Nd7 is very strong indeed.]

[21...Qe8 holds out more hope but Black remains under heavy pressure for instance after 22.dxc5 (22.Rfe1 Nxd4 23.Nc6+/- ) 22...Bxe5 (22...Nxc5 23.Rfd1 Ne4 24.Rd7+- ) 23.Rce1 Bxb2 24.Rxe8 Raxe8 25.a4 Nc3 26.c6+/- ]

Now ultimately Black is unable to hold back the passed pawn.

22...Qe7 23.Rfe1 Rad8 24.Rcd1 Nb8
[24...f4 doesn't generate play and instead just loses a pawn via 25.e6 Nf6 26.Rxd8 Rxd8 27.Qxf4 ]

25.a4 Nc7 26.Rxd8 Rxd8 27.e6 Nc6 28.Ne5
[28.Nh4 is a cleaner, if more tricky, winning line eg 28...Nd4 29.Bxd4 Rxd4 30.Nxf5 Rxc4 31.Nxe7 Rd4 32.Nc8 Kg8 33.Nxb6 Rb4 34.Nd7 Rxb3 35.Nxc5 Ra3 36.Rd1 and the passed pawn will cost Black a piece and Black can't reach a R+Kt v R (with equal pawns) ending after 36...Nxe6 37.Nxe6 Rxa4 38.Ng5 Kf8 39.Rd7 a5 (or 39...h6 40.Ne6+ Ke8 41.Rxg7 ) 40.Nxh7+ ]

28...Nxe5 29.Rxe5 Rf8
Possibly time was an issue as having defended well Black begins to slip once more. Instead [29...a5 30.Rxf5 Nxe6 31.Re5 and Black just hangs on after 31...Qb7+ 32.Qe4 Qxe4+ 33.Rxe4 Rd6 (33...Nd4 34.Bxd4 cxd4 35.Kf1+/- as the d-pawn is weak) 34.Be5 Rc6 35.f4+/- and White is better with some winning chances.]

Again emphasising the weakening aspect of the a6 move. If the pawn was still on a7 Black would be OK.

Now Black is lost after this return move. Not much better though was [30...bxa5 31.Bc3 Nb5 32.Bxa5 Re8 33.Qd5 (33.Rxc5 Nd6 34.Qd5+- ) 33...Kg8 34.Bb6+- ]

31.axb6 Nxe6 32.Qd5 Qf7 33.b7 Qg6
Black has no decent moves but this loses in one.

[34.Rxe6 Qxe6 (34...Rxe6 35.b8Q+ ) 35.Qxe6 Rxe6 36.b8Q+ A very difficult game indeed. The promising Black junior player just made one or two slips more than White and with powerful central play White was able to win with a very nice finish.] 1-0