Two Pawn Swindle

I’m generally a fast player, and although this is a disadvantage in that I make plenty of careless mistakes, it does mean I rarely get into time trouble. The following is one of my favorite games. It’s really less of a comeback than it is an extraordinarily lucky swindle.

Li, Sean (1383) – Haley, Connor (1754)

Texas State Scholastic. 2/23-24/2005. Round 7 (final).

My opponent’s rating of 1754 was rather intimidating at the time, but I had just beaten a 1640 and a 1700 in rounds 5 and 6 respectively. I had 5 points; winning this game would put me at 6 points out of 7.

1. c4 c6 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 d5 4. b3

4. Black to move

A somewhat unusual opening.

4… e6 5. Nc3 Be7 6. d3 Qa5 7. Bd2

7. Black to move

The only reason I take note of this position here is that this is exactly the same position as my game after my 7th move two rounds earlier in the same tournament. I won that game against a 1640, so I thought it was pretty good for me that this game was proceeding the same way. At move seven, however, my previous opponent played 7… Bb4, whereas Haley played 7… Qd8, a more conservative move.

7… Qd8 8. e3 0-0 9. Nf3 Nbd7 10. 0-0 Rb8 11. Qc2 Re8

12. White to move

12. e4 dxe4 13. Nxe4 Nc5 14. Nxc5 Bxc5 15. b4

15. Black to move

15… Be7 16. Rfd1 Qc7 17. Bf4 Bd6 18. Bxd6 Qxd6

19. White to move

19. Rab1 e5 20. d4 e4 21. Ne5 Bf5

22. White to move

Black’s position is superior.

22. h3 h5 23. Rb2 Rbd8 24. c5? (This move is a positional mistake—now the d4 is very weak.) Qe6 25. Kh2

25. Black to move

e3 26. Qe2 exf2 27. Qxf2 Be4 28. Re2 Bxg2 29. Qxg2 Qd5 30. Qxd5 Nxd5

31. White to move

At this point it’s fairly grim for White. The Black knight is threatening the pawn on b4 and a fork at c3, and White’s pawn on d4 is weak.

31. Rb2 Nc3 32. Rdd2 Ne4 33. Rdc2 Rxd4 34. Nc4

34. Black to move

White is a pawn down, and Black controls the center.

Rd3 35. g4 hxg4 36. hxg4 Rg3 37. Rg2 (37. Nd6! threatens the rook on e8 and the knight on e4, which guards the g3 rook. This would have won at least the Exchange.) Rxg2 38. Rxg2 Rd8 39. Re2 Rd4

40. White to move

40. Na5 Rxb4 41. Nxb7 Rxb7 42. Rxe4 Rb2+ 43. Kg3 Rxa2

44. White to move

Here is the critical position. Black is in severe time trouble. White is two pawns down, but swindles the game. 🙂

44. Re7 Kf8? (44… Ra5 would have won for Black.) 45. Rc7 Ra6 46. Kf4 f6 47. Kf5

47. Black to move

47… Ra5? (This gives up the c6 pawn without a fight and leaves the rook passive.) 48. Rxc6 Rb5 49. Ke6 Rb8 50. Ra6 Re8+ 51. Kd6 Rd8+ 52. Kc7 Ke8 53. Rd6 Ra8

54. White to move

White now trades the rooks and easily wins.

54. Kb7 Rd8 55. Rxd8+ Kxd8 56. c6 a5 57. c7+

57. Black to move

Kd7 58. c8=Q+ Kd6 59. Qd8+ Ke6 60. Qxa5+ Kf7 61. Qc7+ Kg6 62. Qf4 Kf7 63. g5 Ke7 64. Qe4+ Kf7 65. g6+ Kf8 66. Qe6 1-0

The game was G/75; each side started with 75 minutes, and there was a 5-second delay on each move. At the end, my opponent had run out of time, while I had 51:07 remaining. With this win, I had 6 points, and tied for second place; this is the best I have ever done at a Texas State Scholastic.

Full game (contiguous): 1. c4 c6 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 d5 4. b3 e6 5. Nc3 Be7 6. d3 Qa5 7. Bd2 Qd8 8. e3 0-0 9. Nf3 Nbd7 10. 0-0 Rb8 11. Qc2 Re8 12. e4 dxe4 13. Nxe4 Nc5 14. Nxc5 Bxc5 15. b4 Be7 16. Rfd1 Qc7 17. Bf4 Bd6 18. Bxd6 Qxd6 19. Rab1 e5 20. d4 e4 21. Ne5 Bf5 22. h3 h5 23. Rb2 Rd8 24. c5 Qe6 25. Kh2 e3 26. Qe2 exf2 27. Qxf2 Be4 28. Re2 Bxg2 29. Qxg2 Qd5 30. Qxd5 Nxd5 31. Rb2 Nc3 32. Rdd2 Ne4 33. Rdc2 Rxd4 34. Nc4 Rd3 35. g4 hxg4 36. hxg4 Rg3 37. Rg2 Rxg2 38. Rxg2 Rd8 39. Re2 Rd4 40. Na5 Rxb4 41. Nxb7 Rxb7 42. Rxe4 Rb2+ 43. Kg3 Rxa2 44. Re7 Kf8 45. Rc7 Ra6 46. Kf4 f6 47. Kf5 Ra5 48. Rxc6 Rb5 49. Ke6 Rb8 50. Ra6 Re8+ 51. Kd6 Rd8+ 52. Kc7 Ke8 53. Rd6 Ra8 54. Kb7 Rd8 55. Rxd8+ Kxd8 56. c6 a5 57. c7+ Kd7 58. c8=Q+ Kd6 59. Qd8+ Ke6 60. Qxa5+ Kf7 61. Qc7+ Kg6 62. Qf4 Kf7 63. g5 Ke7 64. Qe4+ Kf7 65. g6+ Kf8 66. Qe6 1-0

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