A game from the Lewisham 100th Year Anniversary Tournament of 1986. Maybe it could be called: Tales of the Unexpected or ‘How to Confuse a Stronger Player’.
Those of you who have been around the chess scene for a number of years (and I mean over 20 years!) will probably remember a very talented player, Kevin Wicker. I think he was an FM when the title meant something and, like me, he was member of Lewisham CC. I think he gave up playing in the late 1980’s and according to a source who still keeps in touch with him, Kevin regrets having ever played chess! It is probably fair to say that he was a better tournament player than club player. I recall some of his excellent games/results against GMs and IMs. Kevin was a considerably stronger player than I was but ironically, I had a score of 3/3 against him, all played at our Club, which supports the above statement. Probably he underestimated me as, with the White pieces, which I had in every game, I could be quite dangerous myself.
My random style seemed to upset his clear logical positional style and he would foolishly allow our games to deteriorate into tactical melees – more my territory than his! I suppose you could call this a practical example of ‘How to beat Heffalumps’ from the famous Simon Webb book, Chess for Tigers (P.S. I am only quoting from memory)
Here are two of the games we played. In both cases, his king is hunted down and succumbs to a direct attack meeting a tragic end whilst trying to escape to the queenside!
White AP Smith
Black KJ Wicker
French, Winawer C16
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e5 b6
Knowing Kevin’s style, he would very soon be playing h5 in order to secure the f5 square for his knight, Bf8 to secure his ‘good bishop’ which has done its job in provoking White’s 4 e5, and …Ba6 to exchange his ‘bad bishop’ for my ‘good bishop’. So I thought to myself ‘What move would upset Kevin’s logical, positional train of thought….let’s see…..ah… just the move …’
Obviously a dubious move but played purely for psychological impact! Kevin was a very strong positional player so I felt the best way to play him was to randomise the position (even more than usual!) as soon as possible. This move caused Kevin quite a jolt – once he had noticed what I had played! I knew he would be expecting the game to continue 5 Qg4 Bf8 – so much so that he actually wrote down 5 Qg4 before noticing the strange vision of a pawn on g4 instead of a queen!
Anyway, my move 5 g4?! was supposed to deter 5…h5 but Kevin was never one to shirk a challenge. I was happy though. I was dragging Kevin into the type of game that, in my opinion, did not really did not suit him.
6 gxh5! Qh4 7 Bb5+ c6 8 Be2 Ba6 9 Bf3 Rxh5?
Bad judgement on Kevin’s part. Why worry about recovering his sacrificed pawn? After this, my pieces all ‘rocket out’ developing a huge initiative!
10 Bxh5 Qe4+ 11 Be3 Qxh1 12 Qg4
Planning Qxe6+. Mission accomplished! After 12 moves I think it is random enough. There is not going to be much call for positional manoeuvering from hereon in.
I am not sure what Black should do but one thing I am sure of is that this is not it! The very provocative but obvious alternative 12…Kf8 also seems to fail after 13 0-0-0 (threatening to trap the Queen with 14 Nf3) 13..Bxc3 14 Nf3 Bxb2+ 15 Kxb2 Qxd1 16 Bxf7! Ne7 (16..Kxf7 17 Ng5+ followed by 18 Qxd1 capturing the loose queen on d1 is also bad) 17 Bxe6 Ke8 18 Qh5+ Kd8 19 Qh8+ Kc7 20 Qe8 Qxf3 21 Qxe7+ Nd7 22 Qxd7+ Kb8 23 Qxc6 Qf8 24 Bxd5 Qb4+ 25 Bb3 and I’m winning.
No hesitation. I didn’t need to think twice about this move!
13…fxg6 14 Qxg6+ Kf8 15 0-0-0 Bxc3 16 bxc3 Bc8?!
A luxury in this position – to undevelop one of only the only two pieces he has developed. But what else?
17 Nh3 Qe4 18 Bh6+! Nxh6 19 Qxh6+ Ke8 20 Rg1 Kd8 21 Qf8+ Kc7 22 Rg7+ Bd7 23 Ng5 Qf5 24 Nf7
Despite having an extra piece, Black is paralysed! The threat now is 25 Qd8+ Kb7 26 Nd6+ winning the queen. So in the absence of any useful moves to make, Black decides to move the only piece that is not paralysed, and capture a pawn.
24…Qxf2 25 Qd8+ Kb7 26 Nd6+ Ka6 27 Rxd7
What can Black do? If 27…Nxd7 28 Qxa8 wins as there is no defence to 29 Qb7 mating or 27…Qf1+ 28 Kb2 and there are no more Black checks and his problems remain the same. If he plays 27…Qxh2 to restore material equality, then 28 Qc8+ Ka5 29 Qxb8! Rxb8 30 Rxa7 is mate!
This next game I give against Kevin was played ten years earlier than the one above. Once again, all logic disappears from the game very quickly and what started as a ‘Modern Defence’ descends into chaos, bearing no relation to structure normally associated with that defence!
White AP Smith
Black KJ Wicker
Lewisham Club Championship, England, 1976
1 e4 g6 2 f4 c6 3 d3 d5 4 Nd2 Bg7 5 Qf3?!
A system I played back then that is closely related to the Mason variation of the Philidor where Black plays an early …Qf6. The idea is the same: to attack with the kingside pawns.
5…Na6 6 Be2
To meet 6…Nb4 with 7 Bd1.
6…Nh6 7 Qg3 Qc7 8 Ngf3 Ng4 9 Ng5
Guarding against Black’s threatened infiltration by 9…Ne3 and uncovering the threat of 10 Bxg4.
9…h5 10 h3 h4
A good positional move securing the g3 square and perhaps dreaming of Nf6-Nh5-Ng3 manoeuvre. But this is not positional chess – it’s a hack!
11 Qf3 Nf6 12 Nf1 dxe4?! 13 dxe4 e5?
Kevin’s last move 13…e5 seems to be a serious error of judgement as I am able to ‘home in’ on his weak f7 square, more or less forcing him to make an immediate decision on where his king is going to set up residence. There was a logic to his move though – Black is better developed – hence the central break and the opening up of the centre but, on closer examination, the pieces he does have out are nearly all on poor squares!
14 Bc4! 0-0?!
Maybe 14…Rf8 is better with the intention of trying to castle queenside.
15 g4! hxg4?!
Perhaps the losing move because it opens the g-file, and allows my f1 knight to spring into action via g3.
16 f5! gxf5 17 Nxg3 b5
White’s attack has built up surprisingly quickly so Black hopes to gain a tempo by attacking my powerful white squared bishop hoping to exchange it for his offside knight after 18 Bb3 Nc5. It looks difficult to find a satisfactory alternative move as White’s attack already seems almost irresistible.
It is a shame to leave my fantastic bishop ‘en prise’ but I have an attack to get on with on the kingside!
18…bxc4 19 Nxg7 Kxg7 20 Rg1!
Most of the Black pieces are ‘snoozing’ miles away on the queenside and cut off from the kingside whilst White’s pieces are surprisingly well co-ordinated.
20…Ng4 21 exf6 22 Qxg4 fg 23 Qxg5+ Kf7
The Black king takes an afternoon stroll but it proves a bit hot for him!
24 Qh5+ Ke7 25 Rg7+ Kd6 26 Qg6+ Kc5 27 Be3+ Kb5 28 a4+ Ka5 29 Rxc7 Nxc7 30 Qxc6 Kb4 31 Qc5 mate
As good as he was, Kevin was bemused how he could lose to such unsound chess! Simon Webb would have been proud of me – except that he hadn’t yet written his famous Chess for Tigers book.
White AP Smith
Black KJ Wicker
Lewisham II v Lewisham I, County Cup, 1978
French, Winawer C16
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e5 b6 5 Qg4
As can be seen from game 1 of this article, I varied in our 1986 game with the ‘improvement’ (novelty!?) 5 g4!
5…Bf8 6 Nd1?!
This is where knowing one’s opponent comes into play. This move was thought up over the board to interfere with Kevin Wicker’s thematic plan of placing a Knight on the f5 square by challenging the square with Ne3 at some point. A quick review of the position shows that Black has absolutely no pieces in play whereas I, as White, have my Queen actively placed and my Knight ‘actively developed’ to ‘d1’….
I am not sure why it is necessary to play this move in this position – probably it is a waiting move as he hopes I will play 7 Bd3 and after 7…Ba6 White will have wasted time with the bishop if 8 Bxa6 is played.
7 Nf3 Ne7 8 Ne3!
The plan comes to fruition! The knight doesn’t look too bad here and the time taken to get it to e3 can be justified because of Black’s time consuming manoeuvre Bb4 >Bf8.
Why? This is an unnecessary weakening of his kingside position. Thematic is 8…Ba6 with a good game.
9 exf6 gxf6 10 Bd3!
Timed perfectly! Although Black can now play 10…Ba6 and White will lose a tempo capturing Bxa6 there is a price to pay as the Black King will become misplaced.
10… Ba6 11 Qh5+! Kd8 12 Bxa6 Nxa6 13 Ng4 Bg7 14 0-0 Qe8 15 Qh3 c6 16 Re1 Nc7 17 Bf4 Ng6 18 Bxc7+
I didn’t really want to give up my dark squared bishop but it is necessary because my queen is suddenly ‘offside’ on h3. This exchange clears a route for my queen to return to the new theatre of action that has switched from the kingside to the centre/queenside. Strange! It looks like Black had set up his king and queen the wrong way round!
18…Kxc7 19 Qg3+ Kb7 20 Qd6
Gaining a tempo by hitting the e6 pawn.
20… Nf8 21 a4!
Played to allow my queen can slip back behind the a-pawn so that she doesn’t get in the way of the general queenside pawn storm that I was now intending. All a question of timing!
21…Rd8 22 Qa3!
From h3 to a3 in seven easy moves!
22…Nd7 23 b4
Black is probably doing fine now except that his king is perhaps less safe than White’s king. Hence on to stage 2 of my plan – chuck all my queenside pawns at him.
23…e5 is an alternative and the position is unclear.
24 Qb3 Rg8 25 Ne3 Qh5 26 Kh1
Black has gained a lot of tempi for his attack but his clock time is now becoming critical with a time control at move 35.
26…Bd6 27 c4! e5 28 b5 e4 29 bxc6+ Kb8
29…Kxc6 is an alternative but both players are in serious time trouble and the position is mind-bogglingly complicated i.e. 30 cxd5+ Kb7 31 Nc4 exf3 (or 31…Bf4 32 Rxe4) 32 Nxd6+ Kb8 33 Qxf3 Qxf3 34 gxf3 and it seems to be good for White.
30 cxd7 exf3 31 g3 Bxg3!? 32 fxg3 f2
With both flags hanging, it is suddenly Black who is on the attack and White must be careful as 33 Rf1 loses to 33…Qf3+ 34 Ng2 Qxb3 or 33 Reb1 to guard the queen still loses to 33…Qf3+ 34 Ng2 f1=Q+ 35 Rxf1 Qxb3. So…
Leaving my rook to its fate but opening up my queen’s defence to the f3 square and counter-threatening Nxf6
33…fxe1=Q+ 34 Rxe1 Rxd7 35 Nxf6
Black’s flag fell before making the last move before the time control but as the final position would have been sent for adjudication White will win anyway.