Bridgeburner: <Part II>
The success of White in this game is no endorsement of his strategy, which is to mount an assault against Black’s King. Despite Black’s cramped game, he has ample resources to cope with this sally and pose some serious difficulties for White. White may have over estimated the importance of Black’s extra pawn, and determined that he needed to make use of his strong-looking centre, the extra lines created by the absence of the pawn, and Black’s seemingly vulnerable King position.
Contrary to appearances, White’s salvation lies in positional consolidation. 18.Rfe1 or 18.Rae1, developing a Rook onto the half open e-file against Black’s main weakness at e6, and preventing moves like …Ne3, was much better. For example:
A. 18.Rfe1 Na5 19.Bd3 (19.Bxd5 looks reasonable but ultimately Black will stand better after 19…exd5 20.Re7 Rd7 21.Rae1 Kd8 22.Kf2 Nc6 threatening …Bg6 and …Be5 with advantage, as White’s rooks are neutralised and Black no longer has a weakness at e6). 19…Bg6 20.Bxg6 hxg6 21.Rxe6 Rhe8 22.Rxe8 Rxe8 23.Re1 Rxe1 24.Nxe1 or
B. 18.Rfe1 Bd7 19.Rab1 g5 20.Rb2 g4 21.Reb1! Na5 (forced) 22.Nd2 Bc6 and Black is in no position to cash in the extra pawn.
<18…Bg6> 18…Ne3 was also to be considered:
19.Bxe6+ Bd7 20.Bxd7 Rxd7 21.Rf2 (to prevent …Nc2) Nc4 22.d5 (if 22.Bg3 Nxd4) Nb4 23.Nd4 Nxd6 24.cxd6 Kb8 (if 24…Rxd6 Nf5 (24…Rxd5?? Ne7+) is drawish; 24…Nxd5 25.Rd2! equalises (25…Rxd5?? 26.Nf5 Rd7 27.Rxd5! wins))
25.Ne6 (25.Nf5 Re8 followed by …g6; 25.Nb5 a6 26.Nc3 Rxd6 27.Rd1 Rc8 28.Rf3 h5 and Black maintains a strong bind) a5 and Black will eventually harvest White’s central pawns. 18…Bh5 is also possible.
<19.a5 a6 20.Rfe1 Rhe8 21.Re2?> A poor move because of the threat of 21…Bh5, undermining the d pawn, and preventing the rook from attending the d1 square if the Knight moves. 21.h3 was necessary.
A possible continuation is 21…Ncb4 (threatening to fork White’s rooks) 22.Bb3 Bc2 23.Bc4 Bf5 24.Bb3 h5 25.Ba4 Nc2 26.Bxc2 Bxc2 with approximate parity.
<21…Bh5! 22.Rb2 Ne6> 22…Bxf3 is also good.
<23.Nd2 Bg6> A wasted move only made good by White’s blunder on move 24. The only move to maintain significant pressure is 23…Nf5! And if 24.Ne4 or 24.Rb6 then 24…Nfxd4.
If 24.Nb3 Bg6 25.Rc1 Nfxd4 26.Nxd4 Nxd4 27.Kf2 e5 28.Rb6 Be4 29.Re1 Bc6 30.Reb1 wins.
If 24.d5 exd5 25.Bxd5 Nxd6 26.cxd6 Rxd6 27.Nc4 Rdd8 28.Bxc6 bxc6 29.Rab1 Rd4 30.Rb8+ Kd7 31.R8b7+ Ke6 32.Re1+ Kf5 33.Ne3+ Kg6 wins (33…Kg5 34.Rxg7+ Bg6 may be even better)
<24.Ra3??> Right idea, but absolutely the wrong way of executing it. Correct was 24.Re1! Nd5 (…Nf5? Bxe6+) 25.Nb3 with many defensive chances.
<24…Nf5 25.Rb6> A bad move in a lost position. 25.Ne4 was better although after 25…Nfxd4 26.Nc3 White is still lost. Alternatively 25.Rab3 Nxd6 (25...Nxa5 transposes) 26.cxd6 Nxa5 27.Rb6 Nxc4 28.Nxc4 Rd7 29.Na5 Be4 also wins for White.
<25…Nxd6 26.Bxa6?!> Regardless of whether Vidmar thought this move merited two exclamation marks, it is a desperation move that should have lost instantly to 26…Nb8!
26.cxd6 Rxd6 27.Rc3 Kc7 loses more prosaically.
<27.Na7??> A tragedy for Rubinstein who had outplayed Vidmar at every turn. After 27…Nb8, Black would have emerged with a full piece to the good and an easy win.
The rest is brightly colored silence.