Jean-René Koch – Neil Carr
French U21 Ch, Montpellier, 1987
(Notes by Neil Carr)
1 e4 g6 2 d4 Bg7 3 Nf3 d6
Readers of the last Kingpin will remember (to their cost!) that I was feeling like a right Pirc during the tournament in Guernsey. This time I shall try not to punish the loyal (if not slightly foohhardy!) Kingpin readers with such plays on words but instead try my hardest to adopt a more Modern writing style.
4 Nc3 Bg4!?
I like to throw in 4…Bg4 here as it avoids the rather annoying 5 h3 variations.
5 Be2 Nf6 6 h3 Bxf3 7 Bxf3 Nc6 8 Be3 O-O 9 Qd2?!
Sacré bleu! The Frenchman was probably toying with the idea of a kingside attack, but without the knight on f3 he gets into a few problems.
9…e5 10 d5!? Nd4!
11 Bxd4? exd4 12 Qxd4 Nxe4! would have been killing.
11…Nxf3 12 gxf3 Nh5!
And now I’m better.
13 Ne2 f5 14 Qb4! Qh4!
I have to continue to play aggressively in this position as White only needs one tempo to equalise. 14…b6 would have been met by 15 Ng3.
15 Qxb7 fxe4 16 Qxc7 exf3 17 Nc3 Rfd8 18 Rhg1
White’s main plan in this position is to establish his knight on e4.
I probably could have got away with 18…Qxh3 but the knight move just seemed to feel right.
19 Bxf4! Qxf4+ 20 Kb1 Rac8 21 Qa5
In retrospect he probably could have played 21 Qxa7 but he was a little afraid of 21…Rxc3.
22 Rg3 would have lost to 22…e4, so this time he was forced to take the pawn.
I analysed 22…Rxc3 for ages but just could not make up my mind whether it worked or not. A possible variation after the exchange sacrifice would have been 23 bxc3 Qc4 24 Qe3 Rb8+ 25 Kc1 e4 26 Rd4!, which is very unclear.
23 Rg4 Qxf2
A bit of a dicey move to play. I wasn’t at all certain whether it worked or not, but it was just screaming to be played.
24 b4! Qe3 25 bxc5
If 25 Ne4 then 25…Qe2 would have been very strong for Black.
25…Qxc3 26 Qc7 Ra8
I’d seen this position when I played 21…Qh4 and had presumed that the combined threats of …e4, …f2 and …Qa3 would lead to a comfortable win. However, I had completely underestimated the move he played.
A real humdinger of a move. Now a draw is the only result.
27…Rxa4 28 Qc8+ Bf8
After 29 Qe6+ Kh8 30 Qf6+ Kg8 White would have been forced to take the perpetual.
First published in Kingpin 12 (Autumn 1987)
In the final position Neil could have continued the game by returning the rook: 29 Qe6+ Kg7 30 Qd7+ Be7!
31 Qxa4 (31 Qxe7+ Kh6 -+) 31…Qxc5 and Black is better.