On the Ropes


Bruno Carlier – Neil Carr

Guernsey, 1986

(Notes by Neil Carr)


   1 e4 g6 2 d4 Bg7 3 Nc3 d6 4 Nf3 Nf6 5 h3 O-O 6 Be3 Nc6!?

A common move for Black in this position is 6…b6, and after 7 Be2 Bb7 8 e5 dxe5 9 dxe5 Nd5 10 Nxd5 Qxd5 11 Qxd5 Bxd5 12 O-O-O e6, Black is deemed to have equalised.

EPSON MFP image   7 d5?!

I think 7 Qd2 would have been better.

   7…Nb8 8 Bc4 c6 9 a4 Qa5 10 O-O Nbd7

I couldn’t quite get away with 10…Qb4 as 11 Qd3 Nbd7 12 Na2 would have given White a very promising position.

EPSON MFP image   11 Qb1!

A humdinger of a move. Simple in its ideas and yet extremely difficult to see.

   11…Qc7 12 Qa2 cxd5

I was getting worried about my f-pawn!

   13 exd5 Nc5

In fact by now I was rather worried about my whole position. Although it doesn’t look bad at first sight, I could see myself getting slowly squashed to pulp.

EPSON MFP image   14 Nd4 Nfe4 15 Nxe4 Nxe4 16 Rad1 Bd7 17 Be2



I can’t play 17…Bxd4 18 Rxd4 Qxc2 of course because of 19 Bd3!.

   18 Bf3 Nf6 19 Ra1 Rfe8

I was praying for a chance to break out at this stage, but I didn’t realise God was going to work as quickly as he did!

   20 c3 Qc7 21 Qb3


   21…e5! 22 dxe6 fxe6 23 Nb5 Bxb5 24 axb5



The only move. 24…d5 would have lost to 25 Rxa7 Rxa7 26 b6!.

 25 Ra4 d5 26 Qa3 Bf8 27 b4 Ne5 28 Be2

28 b6 would have been too risky.

   28…Nc4 29 Bxc4 Qxc4 30 Rxa7 Rxa7 31 Qxa7 Qxb5 32 Ra1 Qc6 33 Ra3 e5 34 Qb6 Qxb6 35 Bxb6 Rc8

And now I’ve clearly got a slight edge. Time pressure is lurking, however, for both of us…

EPSON MFP image   36 Kf1 Rc6 37 Be3 Rc4 38 Ra8 Kf7 39 Ra7 Rxc3 40 Rxb7+ Ke6 41 Bd2 Rc2 42 Ke1 d4 43 f3 Rb2 44 Rb5! Be7 45 Kd1 Ra2

I now crossed my fingers for 46 Ra5??, as it would have lost to 46…Rxd2+. but it was not to be. Perhaps I should have crossed my legs as well!


    46 Ke1 Bh4+?!

I was going to play 46…d3 in this position, but time pressure wrongly led me to deciding to check him. After all, I thought, it might be mate!

   47 Kd1 Bf2??


 And now Bruno knocked me onto the ropes.

   48 Ra5! Rxa5

Unfortunately, this is the only move. My rook, incredibly, gets trapped after 48…Rb2 49 Kc1 Rb3 50 Kc2.

   49 bxa5 Kd5 50 Ke2 Bh4


This was the adjourned position and I could see the first prize slipping down the drain. I was gutted, or should it be guttered, and I was drained! (Thank you -Ed)

   51 a6 Kc6 52 Ba5!

This posed a difficult problem for me. I could play 52…Be7, but after 53 a7 Kb7 54 Bc7! I wasn’t really sure if I was holding it or not. Alternatively, I could form a blockade on the kingside…


   52…h5 53 Kd3 Bg3 54 Bd8 h4 55 Ke4 Bf2!

If 55…Be1, White can win with 56 f4 exf4 57 Kxd4 as all of Black’s kingside pawns fall.

   56 Bf6 Bg3 57 Bd8 Bf2 58 Bf6 Bg3


   59 Bg5!

The best try. After 59 Bd8 Bf2 60 Kxe5 d3 61 Ba5 Be3, White’s probably even worse.

   59…Kb6 60 f4 $1 exf4 61 Kxd4 Kxa6 62 Ke4 Kb5 63 Bxf4 Be1 64 Kf3 Kc4 65 Kg4



A big blunder. I could have salvaged a half point with 65…Kd5 since after:

a) 66 Bg5 66…Ke6 67 Bxh4 Bc3 68 Kg5 Kf7

b) 66 Kg5 (which is the reason I rejected 65…Kd5); I can draw with 66…Ke4 67 Bc1 Kd3 68 Kxg6 Ke2 69 Kh5 Kf1 70 Kg4 Kxg2 71 Bg5 Bc3, and although White is going to be a pawn up, Black only has to control the h4 square for the game to be drawn.

   66 Bg5 Ke4 67 Bxh4 Bd2 68 Bg5 Bb4 69 Bd8 Bd2 70 Bg5 Bb4 71 Bd8 Bd2

But these moves were only to raise my confidence. Bruno had at last seen the plan.

EPSON MFP image   72 Bc7!!

White can control the g5 square with 73 g3 followed by 74 Bf4.

EPSON MFP image   72…Kd5??

A move a sheer panic. I had seen a good swindle in this position but for some unknown reason my hand picked up the king and stuck it on d5. I could have played 72…Be3 73 g3 Bd2 74 Bf4 Be1, which is really devious since then 75 Kg5 only draws after 75…Kf3 76 g4


analysis position after 76 g4


White could have won, however, with 75 h4; but when we analysed this position after the game he admitted to the fact that he had missed 76…Bh4+. Still, I guess my luck couldn’t last for ever.

   73 Bf4

and now the position is going…

   73…Bxf4 74 Kxf4 Ke6 75 Kg5 Kf7


   76 Kh6 Kf6 77 g4 g5 78 Kh5

Gone. And Mr Carlier was a richer man. 1-0


 First published in Kingpin 12 (Autumn 1987)


photo: Jean Lane




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