KEG: A sloppy game won by Showalter after a one-move blunder by Brody on move 31.
Showalter sacrificed a pawn early on, but for much of the game had little or nothing to show for it. At best, until Brody's blunder, Showalter had fair compensation for the lost pawn. Brody had chances to win at various stages, but repeatedly missed opportunities. Not the finest of games by either of these players.
1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 e6
3. d4 cxd4
4. Nxc4 Nf6
5. Nc3 Bb4
The Sicilian Counterattack variation.
6. e5 is more usual, but the text is a solid if less enterprising alternative.
7. NxN bxN
Needlessly creating a weakness on d6 (though this weakness is not exploited by Showalter in this game). Best was 7...dxN after which Black is fine.
8. e5! Nd5
9. Qg4 g6
Rosenthal in the Tournament Book correctly states that 9...NxN would be bad here and that White would have much the better game after 10. QxB Nd5 11. Qg4 g6 12. 0-0. But 10. Qxg7 would be best after 9... NxN and would probably yield White a winning position.
10. 0-0 h5
11. Qf3 NxN
12. bxN Be7
As Rosenthal points out, an attempt by Black to grab a pawn with 12...Bxc3 would be answered by 13. Bxg6! fxB 14. QxB 0-0 15. Qg3 Qe8 16. Bg5 (or 16. Rd1 or 16. a4) leaving White with far superior chances.
Inferior to 13. Rb1 or 13. c4.
14. Bd2 Ba6
Showalter's planned sacrifice of his a-pawn is interesting and perhaps sound. In the short run, it gives him counterplay. But Showalter fails to follow the sacrifice up properly and ultimately gets into trouble. Rosenthal's suggested 15. Be4 is better. Probably best for White here, however, is the simple 15. BxB leaving him with about even chances (his lousy Queen-side pawn structure would be balanced by Black's weakness on the Black squares).
16. QxB Qxa2
Brody, not unreasonably, decides to snatch the proffered pawn. 16...0-0 was a good alternative. In either case, chances are about even.
17. c4 Qa6
Heading for home before his Queen gets trapped.
18. Rb3 0-0
Not best. Of course, and as Rosenthal points out in the Tournament Book, had Showalter tried to win his pawn back here with 19. Qxd7 he would have gotten into trouble immediately after 19...Rad8 20. QxB RxB. But better for White here would have been 19. Reb1.
Showalter continues to flounder. 20. h3 would have solved any back-rank mate problems and was best.
The move Brody was undoubtedly itching to play to solve the problem of his weakness on d6, but this was not the time for the move. Much better here was 20...Qa5. Now Showalter is able to cobble together a position in which he has fair compensation for the sacrificed pawn.
21. exd6 e.p. Bxd6
21...Rxd6 would be bad for Black after either 22. Rg3 (Rosenthal's suggested response) or the somewhat better 22. Qe5.
The position was now:
The battle lines are now drawn. Showalter has some attacking chances for his sacrificed pawn and poor Queen-side pawn structure. But from here, play became very ragged as I will discuss in my next post on this game.