|KEG: A poorly played game with two moments of interest: Didier's 9th and 21st move. He could have obtained somewhat the best of the game on move 9, and could have stayed in the game had he not gotten lost in the tactical complications on move 21.|
The one nice moment in the game was Didier's pretty 20th move.
1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Bc5
Didier generally played the Ruy Lopez in the early rounds of this tournament. He had faced the Evans Gambit twice as Black thus far, drawing with Rosen (and losing the replay) and losing to Tchigorin. So he decides to try his hand on the White side of this opening.
5. c3 Ba5
6. d4 Bb6
A strange choice by Mortimer. 6...exd4 is usual and best. The text gives Didier a chance to obtain at least equality with 7. dxd5 or 7. Nxd5. But Didier misses these opportunities and pursues a will of the wisp.
I can find no record of anyone else playing this move. It has the merit of taking Mortimer out of any preparation.
Making this a true gambit opening!
While this is playable, simpler and better was 8...d6 which leaves Black a pawn ahead with a defensible position.
After 8...dxc3, the position was:
click for larger view
Having opted to play a gambit, Didier here had a chance--as pointed out by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book-- to play in true gambit style with 9. a5 getting the better game. Mortimer would have had three possible responses to 9. a5, each of which would have left White with the better chances:
(A) 9...Bc5. As Rosenthal points out, White now gets an edge after 10. Bxf7+ KxB 11. Qd5+ Kf8 12. QxB+. But White's edge is small on this line, since his Queen-side is not developed and Black is up a pawn. Stronger than Rosenthal's line, therefore, was 10. Qb3 retaining a powerful bind on Black's position.
(B) 9...c2. This move--not considered by Rosenthal in his commentary--is better than 9...Bc5. White gets the better game here with 10. Qxc2 Nxa5 11. RxN BxR 12. Ne5 Nh6 13. Bxh6 with somewhat better chances in this complicated position.
(C) 9...Bxa5 (best). White here gets the edge after (Rosenthal's line) 10. Qd5 Qe7 11. RxB. That White is better here is clear from the likely continuation to Rosenthal's line: 11...Nf6 12. Qb5 a6 13. Qa4 0-0 14. e5. The position would be complicated, and tactics would rule the day.
Listless play by Didier. In contrast to the recommended 9. a5, Didier now has only minimal pressure for his two pawns minus.
From this point, play was very ragged.
9...d6 was better.
Very weak. Didier could have had somewhat the better position with 10. Ng5. Now, he would have little to show for his sacrificed pawns had he faced strong opposition.
What was best on the last move is now misguided and allows Didier to seize the advantage. 10...0-0 was correct.
Missing another opportunity. 11. NxB was best.
12. Bh4 a6
Instead of this dithering, Mortimer should have solidified his game with 12...0-0.
13. e5 immediately was better.
What was good on move 13 is a losing mistake after 13...Be6. Didier should have played 14. Rab1 or 14. NxB. Has he forgotten that he is playing a gambit opening?
15. BxB(d5) Nxe5?
Mortimer would likely have had a winning position with 15...g5. But now Didier has chances again.
More weak play. He should have exploited Mortimer's weak play with 16. a5 or 16. BxN. Now, Mortimer is back in the driver's seat again...but not for long.
With 16...g5 Mortimer would have had good winning chances. Now, Didier once again has the better chances.
17. NxN dxN
18. Rxe5 Bc5
The position was now:
click for larger view
Didier is still two pawns down but has definite and dangerous attacking chances. There are some exciting tactical possibilities afoot. Unfortunately for Didier, however, he miscalculated and--despite a gorgeous 20th move--was dead lost after move 21.
This sad (for Didier) story will be recounted in my next post on this game.