[Event "Wolverhampton League v Halesowen"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.03.09"] [Round "?"] [White "Cooper, Lawrence"] [Black "Arkell, Keith"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E73"] [WhiteElo "2349"] [BlackElo "2500"] [PlyCount "53"] {With a score of something like 7/32 against Keith I didn't approach the game with great confidence but at least it made a change not to be the higher graded player with team expectation on my shoulders.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 e5 {This was one of three openings I thought he might play.} 4. Nc3 d6 5. e4 g6 {Not as common as Be7.} 6. Be2 {A flexible move keeping the option of following up with h4 or developing the knight to f3. With me not being that familiar with the structures I wanted to avoid the position becoming too blocked.} Bg7 7. h4 h5 {Played instantly and it looks very natural to prevent the h pawn advancing further. I do gain the g5 square for a knight even though it may only be temporary.} 8. Nf3 {One thing that was encouraging here was a number of games that Keith wins with black are with a kingside structure of e6, f7,g7,h7 and a7,b7,c6 on the q/side. This opening leads to a different type of position where white has space and black hasn't a clear way to exchange his way to equality.} (8. Bg5) 8... Nbd7 (8... O-O {looks more flexible but it does commit the king to the kingside.}) 9. Ng5 Nf8 {This plan is a bit slow.} ( 9... O-O {or}) (9... a6 {are also possible, the latter to prevent any annoying Nb5 tricks and on a good day aiming for b5.}) 10. f3 {to keep the knight out of g4} (10. b4 {I wasted some time on} cxb4 11. Qa4+ {before deciding there was little point in giving my opponent the c5 square for his knight.}) (10. Qa4+ Bd7 11. Nb5 Qb8 {doesn't lead anywhere either.}) (10. O-O {is favoured by the computer but I didn't even consider it. Having played h4 I had other ideas for my king.}) 10... N6h7 (10... N8h7 11. Be3) 11. Be3 (11. O-O) 11... f6 {A surprise as it weakens the kingside structure. I now had to decide if to retreat and leave his pieces slightly tangled or if to save time by exchanging. } (11... Nxg5 12. hxg5 Nh7 (12... f6 13. gxf6 Bxf6 14. Qd2) 13. Qd2 Bf8 14. g3 {and i am able to defend the g5 pawn and maintain my space advantage.}) (11... Bf6 12. Qd2 Be7 13. O-O-O Nxg5 14. hxg5 Nh7 15. g4 Bxg5 16. gxh5 Bxe3 17. Qxe3 {is also in my favour.}) 12. Nxh7 Rxh7 {With hindsight this makes more sense than the other capture as the rook may be useful on the second rank and the knight is closer to the e5 square if/when the position opens up.} 13. Qd2 f5 { Committal but at least gaining some space. I thought he might finish development before doing this.} (13... Bd7 {encourages white to play f4 as the knight finds it harder to get to e5.}) 14. O-O-O (14. g3 {may be better to remove the option of f4.}) 14... a6 {I felt now was the right time to open the position albeit it does bring the g7 bishop to life.} (14... f4 {should be tried. It partially closes the position but the slight negative is that it makes it less likely that the bishop will see active service on the long diagonal.} 15. Bf2 {and white will break with g3.}) 15. f4 {I decided to open the centre albeit it does give his bishops a chance to join in the game. It seemed logical with black yet to complete his development.} (15. g3 {or were also possible.}) (15. Bg5) 15... Qa5 {Now I have to be aware of b5 ideas although it looks like white's plans are more threatening.} 16. Bd3 Bd7 17. exf5 gxf5 (17... Bxf5 18. Qc2 (18. Bxf5 gxf5 19. fxe5 Bxe5 20. Bf4 Bxc3 21. Rhe1+ Kd7 22. bxc3 {also favours white}) 18... exf4 (18... Bxd3 19. Rxd3 {is still better for white but black does at least have time to castle.}) 19. Bxf5 gxf5 20. Bd2) 18. fxe5 Bxe5 {It's worth mentioning that in this game the black bishops were much bigger than the white ones and the one on e5 looked rather imposing. It may be this factor that led to the exchange sacs that followed!} 19. Bg5 ({The computer prefers} 19. Bf4 {but I wanted to keep the black king in the centre. Black's next move is an important moment in the game.} O-O-O 20. Bxe5 dxe5 21. Rdf1) 19... Ng6 (19... b5 {looks the best practical try as I have to be careful how I react.} 20. Rhf1 {An obvious move but dependent on correctly analysing the response to b4.} (20. Kb1 {might be the move I would have played giving black some time to create counterplay.} bxc4 21. Bxc4 Rb8 22. Rde1 {and white should be better but black is not without chances.}) (20. Rdf1) 20... b4 (20... bxc4 21. Bxf5 {looks better than the capture on c4 and black's position is looking critical.}) 21. Ne4 $1 {Is a difficult move to see in advance but appears very strong.} fxe4 (21... Qxa2 {The king is safer than I thought but I would have been more nervous had this appeared on the board.} 22. Nf6+ Kf7 (22... Bxf6 23. Bxf6) 23. Rde1) 22. Qf2 {This looks devastating.} Bf5 23. Qxf5 Qxa2 24. Qxf8+ Kd7 25. Qf5+ Kc7 26. Qxh7+ Kb6 27. Rd2) 20. Rhf1 Ne7 {Black is happy to castle even at the cost of a pawn (or two). I wanted to keep the initiative rather than cash in.} (20... Bxc3 21. bxc3) (20... Rf7 21. Qe2) 21. Rde1 $1 {I started to believe I might get a result after this move. The main attraction was that taking on e7 and Qg5 becomes dangerous as black can no longer answer Rg7 as the pin on the e file means I take it.} (21. Bxe7 Bxc3 22. bxc3 Rxe7 23. Bxf5 Bxf5 24. Rxf5 O-O-O {was not at all appealing.}) 21... O-O-O 22. Rxe5 {I was very happy to remove the imposing bishop and felt my king was now completely safe.} dxe5 23. d6 Ng6 (23... Nc6 {is a better try but I can take on d8 with the better chances, safer king, initiative etc} 24. Bxd8 (24. Rxf5 {still gives decent enough competition but is not as good as with the knight on g6} Re8 25. Qf2 Nd4) 24... Qxd8 25. Rxf5 (25. Bxf5 Bxf5 26. Rxf5 Qxh4)) 24. Rxf5 {I wanted to keep the initiative rather than allowing his queen into the game via d8 and h4. Fortunately this was one of those rare occasions where the most tempting moves proved to be very strong.} (24. Bxd8 Qxd8 25. Rxf5 (25. Bxf5 Bxf5 26. Rxf5 Qxh4 27. Qd5 {is also way stronger than I'd realised.})) 24... Rg8 (24... Bxf5 25. Bxf5+ Kb8 26. Bxg6) 25. Rf6 Be8 ( 25... Nf8 26. Rxf8+ Rxf8 27. Bxh7 {is one of many lines where white collects material without allowing the black queen a route back into the game.}) (25... Rhg7 {was the move I expected but I was confident that} 26. Bh6 {was very strong} Qd8 27. Bxg7 Rxg7 28. Rxg6 (28. Qg5) 28... Rxg6 29. Bxg6) 26. Bf5+ (26. Bxg6 Bxg6 27. Qd5 Rhg7 28. d7+) 26... Rd7 (26... Kb8 {was expected and I was going to choose between taking on g6 or playing d7. Qd5 is also appealing.} 27. d7 (27. Bxg6 Bxg6 28. Rxg6 (28. Qd5 Rhg7 29. d7 Rd8 30. Qxe5+ Qc7 31. Qxc7+ Kxc7 32. Nd5+ Kxd7 33. Nb6+ Ke8 (33... Kc7 34. Bf4+) (33... Ke7 34. Rxg6+) 34. Re6+ Kf8 35. Bxd8) 28... Rxg6 29. d7 Rxd7 30. Qxd7) 27... Bxd7 28. Rxg6 Rxg6 29. Bxg6 Rg7 30. Qd6+ Ka7 31. Be3) 27. Qd5 {and it's difficult to suggest anything which explains why Keith now resigned and sportingly congratulated me on a well played game. I would be the first to admit that I caught him on a bad day and that the next meeting will be a lot tougher, probably longer and quite possibly a different result.} 1-0