[Event "2024 St. Albans Chess Congress: Round 5:"] [Site "?"] [Date "2024.04.14"] [Round "5"] [White "Cowell, Louis"] [Black "Owen, Michael"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B02"] [Annotator "alanl"] [PlyCount "60"] [EventDate "2024.??.??"] 1. e4 Nf6 {Alekhine's Defence.} 2. e5 Nd5 3. c4 Nb6 {From here, we can transpose back into the mainline with 4. d4, but instead I went} 4. c5 { with the intention of sidestepping mainline theory and just getting a game. This is a move I knew existed but haven't ever played in a serious game. It's apparently called the 'Lasker Variation'.} Nd5 5. d4 e6 $5 {I expected 5...d6 here, which would've been a more typical way to play.} (5... d6 6. cxd6 exd6 7. Nf3 dxe5 8. dxe5 {[%csl Gb4,Gg4][%CAl Gf8b4,Gc8g4] Whereupon White will come under some pressure from the Black bishops but I think should ultimately be ok, with the pawn on e5.}) 6. Nf3 {I thought for a quite a long time here about 6. Nc3 but got a bit lost in the ensuing variations and eventually decided to play it safe with 6. Nf3 and just get on with development.} (6. Nc3 {Since Black has not played d6, so dxe5 putting the queen in touch with the knight is not possible, 6...Nxc3 is the likely next move (as 6...d6 doesn't look that appetising to me). This could give White quite a nice game.} Nxc3 (6... d6 7. Nxd5 exd5 8. cxd6 cxd6 9. Nf3 dxe5 10. dxe5 {Seemingly just a better version of the mainline with 5...d6.}) 7. bxc3 d6 8. cxd6 cxd6 9. f4 $1 {Weird position! I'd take White though.}) 6... Be7 7. Nc3 Nxc3 8. bxc3 d6 9. Bd3 $5 { Sacking a pawn for development. Aren't I clever?} (9. cxd6 cxd6 10. Bd3 dxe5 11. Nxe5 {Also good.}) 9... dxc5 10. O-O Nc6 11. Bb2 cxd4 12. cxd4 O-O 13. Qe2 {[%csl Ge4][%CAl Ge2e4] Intending Qe4, caveman style.} (13. Qc2 {I thought about this, inducing a pawn weakness immediately, but I think after say} g6 { [%csl Gb4][%CAl Gc6b4] White probably has to expend a tempo with} 14. a3 { else lose the bishop, and the queen looks a bit naff on c2 while the DSB isn't really in a position to exploit the dark-square weaknesses anytime soon}) 13... Nb4 14. Bb1 Nd5 15. Qe4 g6 (15... f5 $6 16. exf6 Nxf6 17. Qd3 {[%CAl Rb2h8, Rb1h7] I like White's position very much here.}) 16. Rd1 f5 $6 {I don't think this is right. Black's kingside suddenly looks quite weak, not to mention the weak pawn on e6. These factors seem to more than compensate the pawn.} 17. exf6 Rxf6 (17... Nxf6 18. Qe2 {[%csl Gg5,Gc2,Gb3][%CAl Gf3g5,Gb1c2,Gc2b3] White has ideas here, but will have to be careful not to run out of steam and lose their compensation.}) 18. Ne5 {[%csl Rg6][%CAl Re5g6,Re4g6,Rb1g6] Aiming everything at g6.} Qf8 {[%csl Rf2][%CAl Rf6f2] Taking aim at f2.} 19. Rd3 $4 {It was between this and 19. Bc2, and I went with the wrong move. This is more direct - the idea is to slide the rook over to g3 - but I completely missed that after Rxf2, we haven't got a tempo to do that with because Black is threatening mate!} (19. Bc2 {Another way to sacrifice the f2 pawn, but this one looks correct.} Bd6 (19... Rxf2 $2 20. Nxg6 hxg6 21. Qxg6+ Qg7 (21... Kh8 $4 22. Qh7#) 22. Qxg7+ Kxg7 23. Kxf2) 20. Ng4 Rf7 {and the game continues.}) ( 19. Rd2 {The safe move. I didn't like this because it seems to hand the initiative back to Black with a move like} Bd6 {for example.}) 19... Rxf2 20. Bc2 (20. Rf3 Rxf3 21. Nxf3 {Didn't really look any better to me.}) (20. Rg3 $4 {This was my original plan, but I had to abandon it because I completely missed it's mate in 1!} Rf1#) 20... Rxc2 21. Rf3 Rxb2 22. Rxf8+ Bxf8 {Black is now up a rook, the bishop pair and two pawns for the queen - ordinarily not a fair trade, but White has a winning idea here!} 23. Nxg6 $4 {I played this way too quickly, thinking that since Black couldn't recapture, it's a free pawn and a weakening of Black's kingside structure and therefore can't be bad. However, I underestimated the strength of the quiet move 23...Bd7.} (23. Qf3 $1 {I remember looking at this for a while, and if I had to guess I'd say I missed that after} Bd6 24. Qf7+ Kh8 {, White is in time for} 25. Rf1 $1 {as} Bxe5 {is simply met with} 26. Qf8#) 23... Bd7 {I missed this move, although I didn't quite realise I was busted yet. Now there is a genuine threat of hxg6, so the knight must move.} (23... hxg6 24. Qxg6+ Bg7 25. Qe8+ Kh7 26. Qh5+ {etc. }) 24. Ne5 Nf6 25. Qh4 Bg7 26. Rf1 Rf8 27. Nxd7 Nxd7 {Here, I realised that in my calculations from 24. Ne5, I'd missed a key resource for Black - 28. Rxf8 can be met with Nxf8, guarding e6 and protecting the knight, so 28. Rxf8 Nxf8 29. Qe7 or 29. Qd8 would be pointless. White really is toast now.} 28. Re1 { In the spirit of avoiding trades and hoping for a blunder.} (28. Rxf8+ $6 Nxf8 {and I can't see what White could do here.} (28... Bxf8 $2 29. Qd8 {For example, this would've offered me a chance to stabilise things, although White can probably only hope for a draw here.} Nb6 30. Qf6 {[%csl Re6][%CAl Rf6e6] Threatening e6.} Re2 31. Qg5+ Bg7 32. Qd8+ {etc. etc.})) 28... Rd2 (28... Rff2 {I thought I would see this, but it probably doesn't matter either way.}) 29. Rxe6 {I was playing for lame tricks here, and why not? White can't do anything else. Here I hoped for 29...Bxe4+ 30. Kh1 Rff1, at which point 31. Qg5+ might offer me some drawing chances, but of course I just got mated instead.} Bxd4+ 30. Kh1 Rf1# {Black wins. I wasn't too disappointed with the result - I had some nice ideas in this game, and I knew the risk of going all out for the attack. Given the time again I think I'd still sack the pawn in the opening, but unfortunately my calculation wasn't up to scratch on this occasion!} (30... Rff2 $2 31. Qg4+ {And maaaaaybe Black blunders a draw here.}) 0-1