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4NCL Online – A Crazy Start To A Crazy 2nd Season


No lost game was ever saved by resigning! A fortuitous escape for Andy Lewis in the 1st round of the 4NCL Online Season 2.

Many of you will know that I've played in a number of World Seniors events over the past 5 years.  As a proud member of the England "B" team in the World 50+, I've benefitted from the opportunity in these events to play a number of my chess idols from the past: John Nunn & Jonathan Speelman amongst these.

However, the 4NCL Online gives one a different type of opportunity: to play the great names of the future! In my first game of this season, my opponent was Tarun Kanyamarala.  One of the most promising Irish juniors for a number of years, 16 years old Tarun is already an FM and fast advancing to IM strength.

It was always going to be an fascinating game: little did I know just how crazy!

[Event "4NCL Online"] [Site "lichess.org"] [Date "2020.08.25"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Lewis, Andrew P"] [Black "Kanyamarala, Tarun"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A26"] [WhiteElo "1875"] [BlackElo "1632"] [Annotator "APL"] [PlyCount "142"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "Anglia Avengers 1"] [BlackTeam "Gonzaga A"] 1. c4 f5 {Not exactly what I was expecting, but I am pretty comfortable with the "Closed Sicilian Reversed" approach that I took in the game.} 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. O-O O-O 6. Nc3 d6 7. Rb1 Nc6 ({Another plan for Black is:} 7... a5 8. a3 e5 9. d3 Na6 10. b4 axb4 11. axb4 c6 12. Qb3 Qe7 13. e3 Kh8 14. Ba3 Nc7 15. Bb2 Ne6 16. Na4 Nd7 17. Nd2 g5 18. Qc2 f4 19. b5 c5 20. Nc3 $14 { Lewis,A-Wall,T 4NCL: Div2 2018 (1.2) 1/2-1/2 with a promising position for White.}) 8. d3 e5 9. b4 h6 10. b5 Ne7 11. a4 {Natural enough, but White has any number of ways to progress his Q-side initiative.} (11. Nd2 $5) 11... g5 12. Ba3 $5 ({More flexible is:} 12. Nd2 Qe8 13. Ba3 Qh5 14. c5 f4 15. cxd6 cxd6 16. Bxd6 fxg3 17. fxg3 Ng4 18. Qb3+ Kh7 19. h3 $16 {Lewis,A-Zeidler,S World 50+ TT (3.1) 1-0}) 12... Rf7 {Nice flexible move. Rf8 moves off the diagonal before Ba3 makes it too hairy.} 13. c5 $5 (13. a5 $5 {Ye,R (2525)-Afifi,A (2400) Interzonal-15 1990 (4) 1-0}) 13... f4 ({I was anticipating a continuation such as:} 13... g4 14. Nh4 d5 15. c6 {with consequences difficult to calculate.}) 14. b6 ({Another idea is:} 14. Nd2 {But I couldn't see an obvious follow-up after.} d5 15. c6 bxc6) 14... axb6 15. cxd6 cxd6 16. Nb5 Nf5 17. Nd2 {I thought I had plenty of play after this move, but I had overlooked something rather important.} d5 $1 18. Nf3 {"And next move the Black centre collapses with Pd4" - but I had already found the flaw in my conception.} Qe8 19. d4 e4 $1 20. Ne5 {winning the exchange, but Black has more than enough after:} e3 $1 21. Nxf7 $6 {I thought for around 10 of my 20 remaining minutes here, trying to fathom out this exceptionally random position. I did not come up with a good solution. The exchange of pieces simply consolidates Black's pluses.} (21. Qd3 $5 {looks a better try.}) 21... Qxf7 22. Nd6 Nxd6 23. Bxd6 Ng4 24. f3 ({The counterattack against the doubled b-Ps looked too slow.} 24. Qb3 Be6 25. Qxb6 exf2+ 26. Kh1 Qh5 27. h3 Ne3 28. Rxf2 Bxh3 29. Bxh3 Qxh3+ 30. Rh2 Qxg3 $36) 24... Nf2 25. Qb3 ({I was open to giving back material - but I felt I would just be worse: eg.} 25. Rxf2 exf2+ 26. Kxf2 Qe6 27. Be5 Bxe5 28. dxe5 Qxe5 {and now:} 29. Rxb6 $4 {fails to:} Qe3+ $19) 25... Bxd4 26. g4 $6 { Positionally, a rubbish move - but there was an idea behind it. The B on g2 is now a prisoner inside its P-chain. But Nf2 is also a prisoner. Perhaps the 2 cancel each other and I am just an exchange up? It's an interesting but flawed conception. Bg2 is locked in a cage. But Nf2 has the possibility of sacrificing itself on Pg4. Or, if Black can achieve ...Bc8-d7xa4 (as per the game) of offering a B+N exchange for a R on d1.} (26. Qb4 $5 {was my other (and probably a better) idea. However, I couldn't reach any clear evaluation of a continuation such as:} Qg7 27. Bf8 Qh8) 26... Bd7 27. Rfc1 ({Now I noticed that my intended next move:} 27. Qb4 {is simply met by:} Rxa4 $17) 27... Bc6 {The dust has settled. Black has 2Ps for the exchange, and the oddly placed Nf2 is doing more in the position than the absurdly placed Bg2. This was looking ugly.} 28. Ba3 {My only chance, I felt was to trade off this B for its counterpart.} Qd7 29. Bb2 Bc5 {Tarun's play had been excellent up to this point, but now, close to the finish-line, I felt he over-finessed.} ({The simple:} 29... Bxb2 30. Qxb2 d4 31. Qxb6 Rxa4 {looked crushing. But after the game I noticed:} 32. Rxc6 $5 Qxc6 (32... bxc6 33. Qb8+ Kg7 34. Rb7 $18) 33. Qd8+ Kf7 34. Qh8 {and the game is still interesting.}) 30. Ba3 ({The exchange-sacrifice always comes into consideration, but here:} 30. Rxc5 $6 bxc5 31. Qc3 d4 32. Qxc5 Rxa4 {doesn't give White any real attack for his 2-Ps minus.}) 30... Bxa4 (30... Rxa4 31. Bxc5 bxc5 32. Rxc5 {gives White more hope.} ) 31. Qb2 Rc8 {A principled continuation. Black wants to discourage Ba3xc5, since Black will acquire a crushing P-phalanx after ..b6xc5.} 32. Ra1 (32. Bxc5 bxc5 33. Qxb7 Qxb7 34. Rxb7 d4 $19 {is crushing. Nf2 is very effective in shephering home the passers.}) 32... Bb5 ({Obviously, I am continuing to hope for tricks in this position, such as:} 32... d4 $4 33. Bxc5 bxc5 34. Qa2+ $18) 33. Bxc5 bxc5 34. Qf6 $5 (34. Ra5 Bc4 {and Black keeps his P-mass.}) 34... Qc6 {Now playing "on the increment", I had overlooked this obvious reposte. Black should now be able to consolidate.} 35. Qe5 Re8 36. Qb2 Ba6 37. Ra5 Bc4 (37... c4 38. Qd4) 38. Bf1 Kf7 $5 {An interesting concept. The K comes to the Q-side to support the passed-Ps.} (38... b5 39. Ra7 d4 40. Rca1 {keeps the game going. }) 39. Qa3 Rc8 40. Ra7 Ke6 $5 {Tarun had been ahead on time for most of the game, but now his clock also ran down to the last minute. Suddenly, I felt I was back in the game.} (40... Z0 $140 41. Qb2 Rc7 42. Qh8 $40) 41. Qb2 Ba6 42. Qg7 {Could Tarun simply have missed this obvious Q-invasion?} Kd6 43. Qxh6+ ({ Perhaps a better try was:} 43. Ra1 $142 $5 Z0 44. R1xa6 $140 bxa6 45. Qe7#) 43... Kc7 44. Qxg5 Kb6 45. Rxa6+ Kxa6 46. Qxf4 {The situation has change beyond recognition. Black has lost his K-side Ps, but surely his Q-side Ps are more than sufficient.} d4 47. Qf7 {with ideas of Rb1 followed by Qa2#.} Ka7 48. Bg2 c4 $5 {Gambiting the d-P to bank on the c-P!} 49. Ra1+ Kb8 50. Qf4+ Qc7 51. Qxd4 Qc5 52. Qf4+ $2 {A rubbish check, the Q only gets in the way of the freeing advance Pf4, and does nothing to hinder the might c-P.} ({What's wrong with the obvious retreat? After:} 52. Qc3 {White may even be better!}) 52... Rc7 53. Qf6 c3 $19 {The passed c-P is immense: surely this must be the end of the game!} 54. f4 c2 55. Rc1 Qa3 $5 (55... Nxg4 $19) (55... Rd7 56. Qh8+ Kc7 $19) 56. Qh8+ Ka7 57. Qd4+ Kb8 58. Qh8+ Rc8 ({Naturally, I was praying for:} 58... Ka7 59. Qd4+ Kb8 60. Qh8+ {with a 3-fold repetition.}) 59. Qe5+ Ka8 60. Qa1 Qxa1 61. Rxa1+ Kb8 62. Rc1 {Miraculously, the newly liberated Bg2 is just in time to pick up the c-P.} b5 (62... Nxg4 63. Be4 {picks up Pc2.}) 63. g5 b4 64. Bd5 Nh3+ (64... Rd8 65. Bb3 (65. Rxc2 Rxd5 $19) 65... Rd1+ 66. Rxd1 cxd1=Q+ 67. Bxd1 Nxd1 68. g6 $18 {White Qs first!}) 65. Kf1 (65. Kg2 $4 Nxf4+ {wins Bd5.}) 65... Nxf4 66. Bb3 Rc3 $2 {Looks decisive, but White has a "miracle" defense..} ({As Tarun pointed out after the game, Black continues to press for a win after:} 66... Rh8 {:eg.} 67. Bxc2 (67. Rxc2 Rxh2 $19) (67. Kg1 $4 Nxe2+ $19) 67... Rxh2 68. Be4 Rf2+ 69. Ke1 Rxe2+ 70. Kf1 b3 71. g6 Rf2+ 72. Ke1 Ng2+ 73. Bxg2 Rxg2 $19) 67. Bxc2 b3 68. Rb1 $1 Rxc2 69. Rxb3+ Kc7 70. Rxe3 Kd6 71. Kf2 Z0 {Draw agreed on White's proposal. White could, of course, is the only side that could legitimately play on for a win. But I felt I had ridden my luck too far already in this game!} (71... Ng6 72. Kg3 Rc4 73. Re8 Rb4 $11) 1/2-1/2
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