(1) List,Paul M - Milner Barry,Philip Stuart [D40]
Hampstead Hampstead (11), 20.12.1939

In the other game of this month's web site article Paul List had played Mieses in 1927 in Germany. Many years later both players found themselves in London evading the horrors of World War 2 that had just broken out all across the remainder of Europe. As a typically British brave and defient move, the National Chess Centre which was newly opened, organised a strong event that featured many of the top English, and several good foreign players. In this event List again defeated Mieses to finish fourth, just one point behind the joint winners Milner-Barry and Konig. He was just half a point behind Sir George Thomas in third, but half a point above Vera Menchik who won the Women's World Championship many times. These are all names that have gone into chess history as fine players. Sadly neither the National Chess Centre nor Vera Menchik survived the London bombings.

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 c5
A move which retains a number of opening options for both players.

[Alternatively 5.cxd5 Nxd5 is the Semi-Tarrasch which featured in a few World Championship games played by Fischer and also Petrosian. This opening is currently a focus of some modern chess books. On the other hand (5...exd5 is a Tarrasch Defence in which Black has developed the knight to f6 rather than c6. This is supposed to be better for White but some theoreticians such as Samarian suggest Black is Ok.) ]

[Instead 5...cxd4 6.exd4 Be7 gives a Caro-Kann Defence whilst (6...Bb4 is more generally arrived at from a Nimzo-Indian.) ]

6.Be2 Be7 7.a3 dxc4 8.Bxc4 0-0
[Another option is 8...cxd4 9.exd4 would transpose to a completely different opening-the Steintiz variation of the Queens Gambit Accepted.]

9.0-0 cxd4 10.Nxd4 Nxd4
This was a new move at the time this game was played and has been chosen several times since. Previously [10...Bd7 was played, for instance, 11.Qe2 Qb6 12.Nxc6 Bxc6 13.e4 Rfd8 14.Be3 Qa5 15.f3 a6 16.b4 Qh5 Haalebos-Kroone, NED-T ch 1929.]

Other replies are actually good for Black eg [11.Qxd4 Qxd4 (or 11...Qc7 Videkovic-Roschina, Pula 2001.) 12.exd4 Bd7 Zagorac-Prihoda, CRO-Tch2 Zagreb 2011.]

[11...b6 also leads to a quiet game after 12.d5 as occurred in Gemovic-Jelic, Belgrade City T-ch 2013.; but 11...Qc7 although perfectly sound for Black gives White the chance for some attacking play 12.Ba2 b6 13.Bg5 Bb7 14.Rc1 Qd7 15.Qd3 Rfd8 16.Rfd1 Hj Matnor-Righi, Manila Olympiad 1992, and Bb1 can follow.]

Immediately exchanging off the isolated queens pawn seems to be the first stage in White's game plan. Efforts to retain it, and the attacking potential associated with an IQP, did not produce much at all in the following games: [12.Re1 b5 13.Bb3 Bb7 Geisler-Beyer, Germany 2014.; or 12.Be3 b5 13.Qf3 Rb8 14.Bd3 Charalambous-Tozaki, Limassol 2009 and Black was better in both games.]

12...b5 13.Ba2 exd5 14.Nxd5 Bb7 15.Nxe7+ Qxe7 16.Qe1
Milner-Barry came equal first in this tournament, despite 3 loses, by virtue of scoring most wins of all participents with his characteristic fierce attacking play. So the second part of White's game plan looks to involve the exchange of queens so as to play a very quiet game hence avoiding the sort of game Milner-Barry liked best.

16...Qd6 17.Qd2 Qc6 18.f3 Rad8
Black's efforts to keep the queens on the board have in fact lost time and mean he is now worst. [Instead 18...Qc5+ agreeing to White's policy leads to an even game after 19.Qe3 Qxe3+ 20.Bxe3 ]

Obviously removing the queen from danger but also establishing control over the dark squares in the centre. Also important is the fact the Ba2 is still very active on a2 whilst the action of Black's counter-part on Bb7 is blunted by the pawn on f3. Finally, once White's queen's bishop is developed, then Black instead will face issues as White can threaten to attack the queen and gain control of the c-file with Rac1.

Overly aggressive as sacrifices on f3 to exploit the queen and bishop battery are not really on as f3 is so well guarded. Instead the slower 19... Qd6 controlling f4 is better and reduces White's advantage markedly.

20.Bf4 Nd5
This seems forcing but actually makes White place the bishop on a strong central square.

21.Be5 Qh6
[An effort to exploit the slightly unstable position of the bishop with 21...f6 creates fatal weaknesses in Black's game. For example 22.Rac1 Qd7 23.Rc7 Qe8 24.Bd6 Rf7 25.Re1 and the queen runs out of decent squares for if 25...Qd8 then 26.Rxf7 Kxf7 27.Qe2 wins easily.; Similarly 21...Re8 fails to 22.Rae1 f6 23.Qe2 ]

Nicely exchanging off Black's most active piece whilst leaving an additional attack on d5. Instead [22.Qa7 trying to undermine the support of the d5 knight is less effective due to 22...Qe3+ 23.Qxe3 Nxe3 when Black is not too badly off.]

22...Rxd1 23.Rxd1 Qe6
Although hitting the loose bishop this self-pin is not the strongest for Back. [23...Re8 is a better version when Black's game is just about holding together. Play may have gone 24.f4 Qe6 when if White tries 25.Qd4 as played in the main game then the anti-positional 25...f6 now creates some complexities which give White some small chance of going wrong. For instance 26.Qa7 Ba8 27.Qc5 (27.Bc3 is less clear after 27...Kh8 28.Qc5 Qe3+ 29.Qxe3 Nxe3 ) 27...Kh8 (but not 27...Qg4 28.Rxd5+- ; or 27...fxe5 28.Rxd5 Kh8 29.Rd8+- ) although White can end up a safe pawn up following 28.Bxd5 Qg4 29.Re1 Bxd5 30.Qxd5 fxe5 31.fxe5 the presence of heavy pieces means Black's game is not totally hopeless.]

This natural move guarding e5 and hitting g7 is good and brings an immediate error from Black. However, even stronger was the quiet retreat [24.Bc3 when Black quickly runs out of sensible moves after 24...Rd8 (Black is unable to exchange queens here with 24...Qe3 due to 25.Bxd5 ) 25.Qd4 f6 (Again exchanging queens is quickly fatal eg 25...Qe3+ 26.Qxe3 Nxe3 27.Rxd8# ) 26.Ba5 Rd7 27.Re1 Qf7 28.Qa7 g6 29.Qb8+ Kg7 30.Bb4 when White threatens Re8 with a very strong attack.]

[24...Nf4 again requires accuracy in some messy lines which eventually come out with an extra pawn for White. However, with bishops of opposite colour on the board once more Black has a glimmer of hope: 25.Bxe6 (25.Qxf4 Qxa2 26.Qg5 f6 27.Rd7 Qb1+ (Certainly not 27...fxg5 28.Rxg7+ Kh8 as 29.Rxg5+ mates) 28.Kf2 Qg6 29.Qxg6 hxg6 30.Rxb7 fxe5 ) 25...Ne2+ 26.Kf2 Nxd4 27.Bxf7+ Kxf7 28.Rxd4 ]

Again natural and strong although [25.Bc7 with the idea of Ba5-b4 transposes to the above note at move 24.]

25...Rd8 26.h4
A very suble move. With a sudden change of tempo in the game White takes time out to provide his king with a bolt-hole on h2 whilst the pawn can be used to soften up Black's king side with h5-h6 if required.

This seems sensible moving the king out of the pin towards the centre so back rank mates are no longer feasible. However, [26...Kh8 27.h5 h6 holds out longer (Less attractive for Black is 27...Qf7 whose game would then be slowly taken apart via 28.h6 ) but after 28.Bb1 Black also has to carefully defend against a queen and bishop attack on the white squares especially h7.]

27.Re1 Qc6
[27...Qd7 also does not help Black after 28.h5 h6 29.Qc5+ Kf7 since 30.Rd1 wins as Black cannot defend d5, prevent Be1-a5, as well as the pentration on the White squares.]

28.h5 h6 29.Qe4 Bc8
[Of course if 29...Rd7 30.Qe8# ; 29...Kg8 30.Qg6 leaves Black without any reasonable move. One example is 30...Qc5+ 31.Bf2 Qc6 and now 32.Re7 wins material or mates.]

Another quiet and subtle move even removing Black's option of a check on b6 or c5. Any move by Black now leads to a rapid collapse of his game as in fact occurs with the move now played.

[30...a5 is also of no use and delays the end only by a move or two for example: 31.Bf4 b4 32.Qh7 Be6 33.Qh8+ Bg8 34.Bxh6 gxh6 35.Qxh6+ Kf7 36.Qg6+ Kf8 37.h6 winning readily.]

This is possible as the knight on d5 is still pinned so Black resigned as the Rd8 is lost. A rather unusual game with many curious variations. White, however, played the more straightforward sounder chess so prevailed in the end. 1-0