|KEG: Post II
Contrary to the claim that Didier achieved a won game through the opening, here was the position after Didier's 16. Re1
click for larger view
Didier has some pressure and come compensation for the sacrificed pawn, but Pillsbury clearly has the better chances and--in the long run--arguably a won game. But now Pillsbury loses his head.
For reasons I cannot guess, none of the commentators mentions this poor and (for especially for Pillsbury) surprisingly passive move. 16...Ne4 was better and may well have led to victory for Pillsbury. After the text, Didier's attack is back in business.
17. Bg5 h6
Marco says that 17...c5 was better, but after 18. bxc6 e.p. Black gets nothing. Both the text and 17...a6 seem better than Marco's move.
18. Bh4 c5
According to Sergeant-Watts in their book on Pillsbury, "It is indeed difficult to suggest a move for Black here...Black seems at the end of his resources and must weaken his position by moving." Sergeant-Watts suggest 18...d5 as a possibility, and White at most achieves a slight edge after this move. Best for Black here seems to be 18...a6. But even after the text, Black has a fully playable game. Didier has compensation for his sacrificed pawn, but nothing approaching a winning or even significantly better game.
19. bxc6 e.p.
19. Ne6 appears good at first sight, but Rosenthal is correct that after 19...fxN 20. fxe6 Qc8 (or 20...Qc7 or 20...Qe8) Black is better. Didier's move is thus best.
"Very well played. The move should win the game..." (Rosenthal). Excellently played." (Marco).
While 20. Ra6 is OK for White, it does not lead to anything approaching a "win" for Didier and arguably 20. Qd3 was better.
Pillsbury avoids the disaster that would have ensued after 20...c5: 21 Rxd6! Qc7 (21...cxN may be slightly better, but insufficient to hold the game) 22. Nb3 wins for White. Marco's proposed 22. RxN here would blow the win after 22...cxN. Marco's line only works because he has Black playing the foolhardy 22...gxR which leads to a forced mate for White after 23. Qg4+ Kh7 24. Re7 (even here Marco's analysis is sloppy, since his 24. Bxf6 lets Black escape after 24...Rg8 25. Qh5 Bc6 and only works because he has Black playing the awful 25...Be8 and thus losing to 26. Re4!).
The best analysis here seems to be by Sergeant-Watts, who proposed 20...Re8 as best. Pillsbury's move (20...Qc8), however, seems almost as good. He certainly was not lost or even in any real trouble---yet.
"!!" (Rosenthal). The text seems fine (and very pretty, since the exchange sacrifice is sufficient for equality). But 21. Ra3 seems more logical.
This move is terrible and leaves Pillsbury open to a winning King-side attack. Contrary to all the commentators, best and fine was 21...QxR. After 22. Qg4 (22. Re7 was equally good) g6, Pillsbury would have been fine after either: (i) 23. Qh4 Rae8 (and not Marco's 23...Rfe8 which loses to 24. Ne6 or Tinsley's 23...Kh7 which loses to 24. fxg6+) or (ii) 23. Qh3 Rae8 or 23...h5 (and not Rosenthal's 23...Rfe8 which loses to 24. Rf1! h5 25. Qg3 [and not Rosenthal's dreadful 25. g4 Re4 26. gxh5 gxf5 27. Nxf5 Kh7 which not only is not a win for White as Rosenthal erroneously claims but actually loses]).
This is sufficient to win but (though not mentioned by any of the commentators) drastically inferior to the crushing 23. Qg4+.
Tinsley states that it was "necessary and best to play 23. Qg4+" here. But this is one move too late and would blow Didier's win. Best was 23. Ne6 (if 23...fxN 24. Qh5; and if 23...BxN 24. Rg3+), though the text is also probably sufficient to win as well.
Fine defense by Pillsbury in a tough position. It is essential to prevent White's Queen from getting to h4 (a point Pillsbury seems to forget three moves later).
Didier still seems to have a winning attack here. But the game took some amazing twists and turns from this point as I will show in my next post on this game.