KEG: A tactical skirmish in which Showalter comes out on top, but takes far too long to win what should have been a routine Rook and pawn ending.
1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nf6
3. Nxe5 is more usually played in the Petroff, but the text is a good alternative.
4. Bd3 d5
5. Nxe5 Be7
The symmetrical 5...Bd6 is best, but the text is quite playable.
6. 0-0 0-0
Better is 6...Nd7
7. c4 c6
Rosenthal in the Tournament Book prefers retreating with 7...Nf6, but the text move, which supports the d-pawn, looks best.
8. Nc3 NxN
Rosenthal again claims that retreating the Knight to f6 is best here, but the text which cuts down on White's attacking prospects is best.
9. bxc3 Nd7
10. Qc2 Nf6
A mistake. Burn should have eliminated Showalter's e5 Knight with 10...NxN.
11. c5 !
Well-played. The bind on Black's position is strengthened, and White's attacking chances are now excellent.
12. Re1 g6
Rosenthal in the Tournament Book says that 12...Bd7 was the correct move, but then 13. Rb1 would create problems for Black. Showalter's move was best in his difficult position. The King-side assault had to be anticipated, and creating weaknesses on the Queen-side was not the solution for Burn.
13. Rb1 Qc7
Showalter has played very well to this point, but the text allows Black an easy way to defend himself (14...Nh5). Best here for White was 14. Qe2.
15. Qd2 Qd8
Best was 15...NxB. The Tournament Book claims that this would lose to 16. QxN Be6 17. Nxg6!, but Black can avoid this with 16...Bd8
16. Bh6 Bf6
Showalter falters again. Best was 17. c4 eliminating Black's strong pawn on d5.
Burn should have traded off White's Knight at e5 with 17...BxN.
Missing the powerful shot 18. f5!. With the text, White's advantage is gone.
Burn would have had a good game with 18...f6 19. Bh4 Bh6. (If here 19...Qc7 20. Nxg6! with good chances for White). Now White is winning again.
19. g4 Nf6
Black is in trouble here. His best chance was to sacrifice the exchange with 19...RxN, though his game would still be very difficult.
Black is busted.
Black's best chance here was 20...Ne4, but he would still be lost.
Chess can be a cruel game. This slip by Showalter (he should have increased his pressure with 21. Qf4) could have cost him the game.
One move too late. 22. Bf4 may have been slightly better here, but the damage is done.
Pretty, but it is no longer sufficient to win against best defense.
24. Ne7+ Kh8
25. BxQ bxc5
The losing move. 25...Nxg4 is the only defense.
26. NxB RaxN
The only hope of salvation lay in the problem-like 26...Nxg4!
27. Bf5 Rce8
27...Rcd8 also loses quickly (to 28. Bc7). The best try is 27...cxd4.
28. Bd6 RxR+
The game is going downhill fast for Burn now. 28...Rg8 was the only possible means of offering further resistance.
29. RxR Rg8
30. Bxc5 Nxg4
This temporary piece sacrifice is as good--and as hopeless--as anything.
31. BxN Bf6
32. h3 h5
Since the Bishop could not be saved because of the discovered check with the g7 Bishop, White simply gobbles up Black's pawns. Black could now safely resign.
35. hxg4 Kh2
36. Ra6 Rb8
37. Rxa7 Kg6
38. a4 would have been more precise, but White's win is hardly in doubt even with the text.
Equivalent to resignation.
39. BxB RxB
The position was now as follows:
Looks like an easy win! But Showalter needed another 28 moves to clinch the game, and Burn managed to work up drawing chances.
The conclusion of this game, hardly a model of end-game play by Showalter, will be discussed in a later post.