(1) Walton,A - Gordon,S [A45]
Shropshire Chess Congress 2013 (4), 06.01.2013
[Stephen Gordon]

It was a little strange for me to travel down to Telford from Oldham and face two of my local clubmates. I've known Alan since I was around 8 years old and we've faced each other quite a lot in tournament since then. More often than not I came off second best...

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 e6
With this system Black is looking get a Bishop for Knight trade without accepting any structural damage. In return White is gaining time for development. [2...Ne4 ]

3.e4 h6 4.Bxf6 Qxf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bd3
Quite rare. I feel as though this can't be the best move simply because it's not clear what the Bishop does on this square [6.Qd2 Appears to be the mainline and is the move that Luke McShane played against me back in 2006. That game ended in a draw although I may have been somewhat lucky to survive. 6...c6 7.f4 e5 8.dxe5 dxe5 9.f5 Is what White's aiming for with 6.Qd2 and this position seems to be being tested quite frequently at present.]

I feel as though this might be a small inaccuracy [6...c6 preventing Whie from playing Nd5 after Black plays ...e5 7.Nge2 e5 looks preferable and comfortable for Black]

7.Nge2 e5 8.Nd5 Qd8 9.c3 g6
[I didn't want to commit to 9...c6 too early as the White knight appeared to sit well on e3 and I didn't want to voluntarily create a weakness in my position on d6 10.Ne3 ]

10.0-0 Bg7 11.dxe5 Nxe5
I spent a long time over this decision. Do I try and keep active pieces by capturing with the knight, or do I fight for space by taking with the pawn? I suspect taking with the pawn is objectively correct because Black should be slightly better in the long run with two Bishops on the board. So I had a little regret in my mind after taking with the knight as I'd made a decision against my instinct. Sometimes these things can happen in a morning round! [11...dxe5 and I think that Black has a very healthy position]

12.Bc2 0-0 13.h3
Now it's a case of both sides coming up with a plan. I wanted to try and create some dark squared weakness in the White position. If the pawn on f2 moves foward then the White Kingside will start to look rather drafty, which explains why I went for

13...Re8 14.Ne3
and the rather strange looking retreat. I want to target the e4 pawn to try and tempt the White f-pawn forward to defend it. Therefore my knight belonged elsewhere

14...Nd7 15.Re1 Nc5 16.Ng3 h5 17.Qf3
Although White has almost completed development, there are some coordination problems and now the first threat is created

17...Ne6 18.Nc4
[Another developing move such as 18.Rad1 would be a mistake due to 18...h4 19.Ngf1 Ng5 and the e4 pawn is dropping]

As soon as I played this I felt as though it may be a slight mistake, as it allows White to trade a set of Bishops which appears to ease the pressure somewhat [18...Bd7 may be a slight improvement]

19.Ba4 Bd7 20.Bxd7 Qxd7 21.Nf1 Qc6 22.Ncd2 b5 23.h4 a5 24.Ne3 Qd7!?
It's clear a knight is coming to d5 but I didn't want it to be able to keep jumping forward. So a couple of backwards Queen moves made sure things were covered

25.Nd5 Qd8 26.g3 c6
With the Queen on d8 there's no Nf6+

27.Nf4 Nc5 28.Nb3 Nd7 29.Rad1 Qc7 30.Qd3?!
dubious because White is crazy to capture on d6 after

30...Ne5 31.Qe2
[31.Qxd6? Qxd6 32.Rxd6 Nf3+ 33.Kf1 Nxe1 34.Kxe1 Rxe4+ and things have turned sour for White]

31...Re7 32.Kg2 Rae8 33.Nd4 Nd7
Something strange happened after Alan's next move...

After taking his hand off the Queen, Alan showed his immediate disappointmentby telling me he had just blundered a pawn. I almost felt obliged to capature it. It was objectively ok to take the pawn, but maybe the position is still very close to equal. [34.Nxb5 Is something I was willing to allow. Although material is equal after the following sequence, I think the two minor pieces will outpeformed the Rook and extra pawn that White has 34...cxb5 35.Nd5 Qc6 36.Nxe7+ Rxe7 37.Qd3 Re6 38.Qd5 Qb6 ]

34...Rxe4 35.Rxe4?
This is the real mistake [It's very difficult to find the following when you think you've blundered but Alan had a fantastic resource, leading by force to an unclear ending 35.Nde6! R4xe6 36.Nxe6 Rxe6 37.Rxe6 fxe6 38.Qxd6 Qxd6 39.Rxd6 Ne5 40.b3 after the game we were debating this position and I felt as though it could be a little dangerous for Black. However I'd missed that after (40.f4 Nc4 41.Rxe6 Nxb2 42.Rxg6 Na4 43.Rxc6 Nxc3 44.Rc5 ) 40...Kf7 41.f4 Black has a nice resource to evict the Black rook 41...Bf8 After 42.Rd8 it's still fairly balanced however]

Now Black is a clear pawn ahead and with a bit of care this should be enough to bring home the full point

36.Nf3 d5 37.Ng5 Re7 38.a4
trying to damage the Black structure, but Black can do the same in return

38...bxa4 39.Qc2 a3!
Giving the pawn back to create some visible weaknesses on c3 and a3

40.bxa3 Ne5 41.Rb1 Bf6 42.Ngh3 Re8 43.Re1 Qd7 44.Qe2 Kf8 45.Qa6 Nc4 46.Rd1
[46.Rxe8+ Qxe8 47.Nxd5 doesn't quite work because of 47...Qe4+ (47...cxd5? 48.Qxf6 and White is right back in it) ]

Now there are no more tricks and the White queenside pawns will be disappearing soon 0-1