Taking the King for a Walk

In the midst of an otherwise rough tournament, I was at least able to check an item off my chess bucket list (I get the feeling that it’s something that a lot of people would like to do occasionally, or at least once, for their personal story). Wise? Perhaps not (see explanation below), but enough to get me the win in that game, and memorable enough. Enjoy!

 

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 1.43.53 AM
Li – Oliver, Seattle Seafair Open 2017

With more central space and active pieces aimed at Black’s kingside, White has a quite safe and sizable advantage. Black, understandably attempts to spice things up.

10…d5 11. f3

11. c5 is also fine, but allows 11…Nc4 when it’s a bit annoying to avoid giving up the bishop pair, as moving the bishop away from e3 opens the door for …Nc6 and …Bf6 targeting d4.

11…Bh4+

It was only now that I realized that after 12. g3 allows 12…Bxf3. Interestingly enough, 13. O-O! is complicated, yet good for White after 13..Bxe2 14. Qxe2 when 14…dxc4 allows 15. Be4 threatening b7 and h4, and Black must also look out for Bxh6. This is probably something you’d want to see before playing 11. f3, or else…

12. Kd2?!

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 1.52.33 AM

With the center possibly to be opened with …dxc4, …c5 etc. what could possibly go wrong? In all seriousness, I figured Black would have to deal with his bishop on g4, and I would quickly develop the a1-rook and hide the king on the queenside. Instead of 12…Be6, which would have forced …Nc4, I was rewarded with:

12…Bh5? 13. Nf4

The automatic response, attacking d5 as well, because of 13…dxc4? 14. Bh7+.

13…Bg5!? 14. Nfxd5

Supposedly my “safe” option, as 14. Nxh5 is squashed by the surprising 14…Bxe3+ 15. Kxe3 and not 15…Qg5+ but 15…Qh4! threatening the deadly …Re8+. However, the game move was evidently not as safe as I imagined.

14…Bxe3+ 15. Kxe3

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 2.01.44 AM

Since I didn’t feel like this sequence was worth it if I had to give back the pawn, this seemed oddly logical. In reality, it will take White several moves to protect the d4-pawn with anything else, so even 15…Nc6 poses some problems for White, as Black again threatens the ugly …Qh4, essentially forcing White to give back the pawn. Though there is still the option of:

15…Na6 16. a3?

16. Kf2 was likely the safest choice to get out of any danger right away, but I was worried about 16…Nxd5 17. cxd5 (17. Nxd5 c6) Nb4. After 16. a3 though, Black has simply 16…Re8+ 17. Kf2 (or 17. Kd2 Nxd5 18. cxd5 Qg5+ doesn’t look fun for White) 17…c6 forcing White to give back the pawn.

16…c5 17. dxc5?! Nxc5 18. b3?

Again, once I intended to keep the pawn, there was no going back, even if the computer considers this too dangerous. The familiar theme is 18…Qh4 (probably other options are good for Black as well), but after meekly trading on d3, Black’s opportunities fizzled out.

18…Nxd3? 19. Qxd3 Bg6 20. Qd4 Nxd5 21. Nxd5 Re8+ 22. Kf2

With White’s active queen and king relatively safe, it was hard for Black to create any problems after this. Despite some far from perfect play from both sides, I ended up winning in the end, and had survived trying to hold onto a pawn with a king on e3.

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