This was my final game to finish in Preliminary tournament 02 of the 36th World Championship. The win secured my first IM norm, as well as my first win against a Senior International Master.
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 The Anti-Moscow Gambit, which leads to complicated positions with chances for both sides. It is therefore not surprisingly very popular in ICCF play.
6... dxc4 7. e4 g5 8. Bg3 b5 9. Be2 9. Ne5 is another popular option, although it currently seems that Black can force a draw if he desires in long variations that begin with 9... h5 10. h4 g4 11. Be2 b4 12. Na4 Nxe4 13. O-O Nxg3 14. fxg3 Bg7 15. Nxf7 Qxd4+ , as has been seen in several games. I currently have an ongoing ICCF game as Black in this variation.
9... Bb7 10. e5 I made this move as it caught my attention that 10 e5 had been successful for White in two recent games between higher level ICCF players. Futher analysis suggested that the two wins were soundly played, and that the positions starting at move 16 were very complicated with good attacking chances forWhite.
10. Qc2 and
10. h4 are more popular alternatives.
10... Nd5 After
10... Nh5 it is also difficult for White to prove any advantage with 11. a4 (or the piece sacrifice 11. Nxg5 Nxg3 12. Nxf7)
11. O-O Nd7 12. Nxd5 A subsequent game between two 2600+ ICCF GMs Lafarga Santorroman - Hall continued 12. a4 Be7 13. Nxd5 cxd5 14. axb5 a6 and ended in a draw after 26 moves
12... cxd5 13. Ne1 Concrete analysis suggested to me that including throwing in the moves 13. a4 a6 before 14. Ne1 only allowed greater opportunities for Black counterplay, but this may need further investigation.
13... Bg7 14. f4 O-O?! Only in pr actical retrospect, it is probably safer to head the other way with the King as in Nedoma-Abramov, and play 14... Qb6 15. Kh1 O-O-O
15. fxg5 hxg5 16. Nf3 f6 The first game that had caught my attention was in World Championship Final 26, where 16... f5 17. h4 was played in the game Perevertkin-Jaulneau, and White won in 36 moves.
17. Qd2 Qe7 A second game had completed a month earlier, where Rodriguez Amezqueta - Raivio continued 17... fxe5 18. Nxg5 Qe7 19. Bg4 Bh6 20. h4 and White was better and won. SIM Antonenko's reply is an improvement.
18. exf6 Bxf6 19. Rf2! The only way I could find to fight for an advantage.
19... b4 Concrete variations showed 19... g4 is not a good idea for Black. So instead he continues to push his queenside pawns.
20. Raf1 a5 21. Qe3 a4 Here my opponent offered a draw.
22. a3 I declined and gave Black a choice of taking the a-pawn or pushing the b-pawn.
22... bxa3? 22... b3 is better, for the subtle reason that it prevents the following repositioning of White's king bishop from e2 to c2, where it adds to the attack. Black's position then becomes very difficult to defend. In contast, after 22...b3, White is somewhat better after 23. Be5 23 Be5, but I could not find a increasing or winning advantage with that nor with other White move 23 alternatives such as(23. Bc7)
(or 23. h3)
23. bxa3 Rae8 24. Bd1! Bc6 25. Bc2 Bb5 26. h3 Rc8 27. Rb1 Bc6 28. Re1 Rf7 29. Rfe2 Bb5 30. Qc3 The queen acts as a temporary blockader of Black's queenside counterplay, and allows the White rooks to penetrate further into Black's position.
30... Nf8 31. Ne5 Bxe5 There are many alternatives with most of these moves, but Black's defense is difficult at best.
32. Rxe5 Qf6 33. Qe3 Rg7 34. Rf1 Qe7 35. Rff5 Be8 36. Rxf8+! This exchange sacrifice speeds up the win.
36. Rxg5 Bg6 37. Bxg6 Rxg6 38. Rxg6+ Nxg6 39. Rxe6 Qf7
36... Kxf8 37. Rxe6 Qd7 38. Bd6+ Kg8 39. Rh6 Qc6 40. h4 Qd7 41. hxg5 White has a winning attack. The White bishop can return from d6 to e5, and the Queen can also make its way to the h file if needed. Therefore Black resigned, and I had made my first IM norm!