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The Gazette - May 2022

Sponsored by The Ulverscroft Foundation
Edited by Julie Leonard
The views expressed in the Gazette do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the BCA, nor those of the editor.

David Hodgkins Memorial Annual Best Game Competition

David Mabbs writes:

It was a pleasure and a privilege, to judge the Best Game of 2021. Throughout the year, I resisted the strong temptation to preview some of the entries - I thought it best to save them up until Christmastime, in order to have them all fresh and current in my mind. I played through them in random order.

Quite soon, I recognised an entry as being very deserving of a Best Game prize. Shortly afterwards, another even stronger entry displaced it. Later, yet another game appeared, even better. And - so it went on! I was very impressed indeed at the quality of the entries. It was evident that our players were at the top of their game, and everyone concerned should be justly proud of their performances.

Congratulations to all, but there can be only one prize-winner: this year it is Peter Gibbs for his fine win over Malola Prasath Thittanimuttam in the fourteenth e-mail tournament. As White, Peter seized the centre early on, and gained a strong spatial advantage to contain the Black pieces to the back two ranks. Then came subtle intermediate moves mixed with a barrage of sacrifices to force Black's resignation on move 25. A flawless and model game.

Editor’s note:

David played through a total of twenty games to find the winner. I’m sure everyone will join me in thanking him for his meticulous work and careful considerations!

It was not going to be possible to give the trophy to Peter at our Skype AGM this year, so I had the honour of presenting it to him in person at the Chess Theme Break in Bournemouth. Peter was warmly congratulated and applauded by all who were there!

Now here is the game, with annotations kindly supplied by Rod Macdonald.

14th BCA Email Tournament

White: Peter Gibbs

Black: Malola Prasath

ECO: E76 - King's Indian Defence, Four Pawns Attack

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 0-0 5. f4 d6 6. Nf3

[This is the main line in what is known as the Four Pawns Attack in the King's Indian Defence. White immediately builds up a large pawn centre in order to gain a spatial advantage. Black first develops his pieces, then tries to attack White's centre by means of the pawn advances ... e7-e5, ... c7-c5 or ... f7-f5, depending on circumstances. This formation has never attracted serious interest in high-level play, although Alexander Alekhine used it three times in the 1924 New York City tournament with a score of +1 -0 =2. Danish grandmaster Bent Larsen also occasionally experimented with the Four Pawns Attack.

The main line continues with 6. ... c5 7. d5, when Black can attack White's centre with the pawn sacrifice 7. ... b5, or the quieter 7. ... e6. The latter can transpose into the Modern Benoni.]

6. ... Na6!?

[The modern alternative to the main line, 6. ... Na6!?, aims at sacrificing a pawn with 7. ... e5 and going into tactical complications.

Black first develops one additional piece before reacting in the centre. The idea is to bring in the push e7-e5 instead of the main line c7-c5. This is a gambit in which Black hopes to take advantage of the slight underdevelopment of White forces in order to win back the sacrificed pawn or to directly attack the white king. The move ... Na6 is designed to eventually post the knight on c5 (once the d4-pawn has left) in order to attack the e4-pawn. An important difference between this move and Nbd7 is that Na6 does not block the queenside bishop.]

7. e5

[7. Bd3 is also worth a try.]

7. ... Ne8 8. h3

[8. Be2 is more common here.]

8. ... c5 9. d5 e6 10. Be2 Nac7

[A novelty. On the other hand, 10. ... f6 11. 0-0 Nac7 12. Be3 b6 13. Qd2 fxe5 14. fxe5 dxe5 15. Bh6 exd5 16. Nxe5 Bf5 17. Bxg7 Kxg7 18. cxd5 Nd6 19. Rae1 Qh4 20. Rf4 Qg3 21. Bg4 Rae8 22. Ne2 Qxe1+ 23. Qxe1 Rxe5 24. Bxf5 Nxd5 25. Qd2 1-0, in 38 moves, as in the game I. Rausis (2496) - P. Jirovsky (2351), Hamburg 1999 (R. Sander)]

11. 0-0 b6

[11. ... b5 12. Nxb5 exd5 13. cxd5 leaves White with a decisive advantage.]

12. Be3 Qe7 13. Qd2 Bb7 14. Bf2

[Better is 14. Rad1 Rd8 15. Bf2, with a very strong advantage for White.]

14. ... Rd8?

[An interesting idea is 14. ... f6!? 15. Bh4 Qd7, leaving White with a moderate advantage.]

15. Rad1

[15. Bh4 keeps an even firmer grip: 15. ... f6 16. Rae1 b5.]

15. ... dxe5?

[15. ... f6 is better, but after 16. Bh4 Kh8, White firmly in control.]

16. Bh4

[16. fxe5 makes it even easier for White: 16. ... exd5 17. Bh4 g5 18. Bxg5 f6 19. exf6 Bxf6 20. cxd5 Kh8 with an overwhelming edge for White.]

16. ... Bf6

[16. ... g5 doesn't get the cat off the tree: 17. Bxg5 f6 18. fxe5 exd5 19. exf6 Bxf6 20. cxd5 is very strong for White.]

17. fxe5 Bxh4 18. d6 Qd7

[18. ... Nxd6 is one last hope: 19. exd6 Qf6 is still strong for White.]

19. Nxh4

[19. dxc7? is a blank shot: 19. ... Qxd2 20. Nxd2 Nxc7 is decisive for Black.]

19. ... Na6

[19. ... Nxd6 is not the saving move: 20. Qxd6 Qxd6 21. exd6 all but wraps it up.]

20. Qg5 Nb8

[20. ... Nb4 does not improve anything: 21. Bg4 Ng7 22. Rf2.]

21. Bg4 Kg7

[21. ... Ng7 is not much help: 22. Qf6 or 22. Qh6.]

22. Nd5!

[Deflection: e6.]

22. ... h6 23. Qe3 h5 24. Nxg6!

[Mate attack.]

24. ... hxg4 25. Nge7 1-0

Don’t forget that the 2022 competition is already open and Paul Benson is our judge for this year! All BCA members, including associates, can enter games, which must have been played in a BCA event or for a BCA team during 2022. Any eligible games that are published in the gazette are automatically entered. Other games can be sent to Paul either directly or via another committee member. If you’re especially pleased with a game from the Spring Chess Congress in Derby or the 16th Email Tournament don’t be shy about sending it in!