KEG: A very poor game by both sides. Didier was 0-11 going into this game. He had blown winning positions in a few earlier games. Against Pillsbury, he hung his Queen in a winning position. Here, he outplayed Burn, but then went astray, finally hanging his King (he overlooked mate in one).
1. d4 d5
2. c4 e6
3. Nc3 Nf6
4. Nf3 be7
5. Bg5 b6
6. e3 0-0
On this move, as on his 6th and 8th turns, Burn probably should have played cxd5.
8. 0-0 Nbd7
9. Qe2 dxc4
Rosenthal in the Tournament Book says 9...c5 was best, but the choice between that and the text is basically a matter of style. Had Didier play 9...c5, Burn would have maintained a slight edge with 10. Bf4.
The text gains time and opens the diagonal for the b7 Bishop, and allows Black to play c5 on his next turn.
10. Bxc4 c5
11. Rad1 cxd4
Rosenthal says that Black would have done better with 11...Ne4 12. NxN BxN 13. BxB, but Burn would likely have played 13. Bf4 with the better game.
Best for Black here was 11...h6.
Burn had played well to this point and would have had a clearly better position after 12. Nxd4. The text, however, needlessly creates weaknesses (e.g., an isolated d-pawn) and is the beginning of a series of moves that lands Burn in what was probably a strategically lost position.
Weak, and allowing Burn to obtain a clear edge with a series of simple exchanges. Best for Black here was 12...h6.
I fail to understand this move. Rosenthal claims that White gets at best an equal position with 13. BxN, but after BxB (d5) 14. BxB (or 14. NxB) BxN 15. QxB QxB White, despite--and now arguing because of--his isolated Queen's pawn has the better game. The text spells nothing but trouble for Burn. Didier--even with some second-best moves--now gets the better game.
13...NxN was better.
14. Ne5 Rc8
15. Bd3 was clearly better.
Rosenthal's criticism of this move is well-founded, but his suggested 15...Nb4 would have been even worse (after 16. Rfe1). Best for Didier here would have been the simple 15...NxN.
This accomplishes nothing. Despite his prior poor play, Burn could still have had a decent position with 16. NxN.
Another pointless move. While Burn ultimately manages a winning King-side attack, that only occurred because of wretched play by Didier. Best was 17. Rfe1.
18. bxN Bd5
19. Rfe1 Ne4
20. Bc2 f5
Just awful. Burn could have kept at least a playable position with 21. BxN. Now, his game is probably lost.
The position was now:
Burn has managed to achieve a strategically lost position against the played at the bottom of the standings. He has a weak c-pawn, his King-side attack is going nowhere, and his Bishop is bad. Didier, by contrast has strong play on the c-file and has the two Bishops. Yet--as I will show in my next post--Didier managed (despite further poor play by Burn) to get a lost game within eight moves and checkmated within ten moves. How Didier pulled this off will be the subject of my next post on this game.