Mike Splane vs Jan Dejong (2000)
Kolty Chess Club Championship
July 8, 2010
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Bd3 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ne2 Qb6 8. Nf3 cd 9. cd f6 10. ef Nf6 11. 0-0 Bd6 12. Nc3 Bd7
So far, all this was book. I was following my pregame preparation and was expecting Black to castle instead of playing Bd7.
I knew that White was supposed to play 13. Be3 here but one openings manual that I consulted before the game stated that the idea behind 13. Be3 was to prevent 13. … e5 which I didn’t think was a threat. Another book said “If 12. … Bd7 then 13. Bg5 0-0-0 is playable.” The lesson is: don’t trust openings books.
After the game I discovered that White has some better tries on move 12 so I probably won’t reach this position again.
13. Bg5 ?
The idea is to play Bh4 and Bg3 to trade my bad bishop for his good one.
The b2 pawn is supposed to be poison after 13. … Qb2 14. Nb5 Bb8 15. Rb1 Qa2 16. Ra1 Qb2 17. Ra4 when Black’s queen is trapped.
13. h3 would have stopped his next move, but I rejected it because I wouldn’t have been able to play the Bg5-h4-g3 idea. However, with the black queen on b6 maybe the bishop really belongs on e3. I’ll have to look up this position in an online database to learn what White is supposed to play. I only found one online game where 13. h3 was played and White won, for whatever that is worth.
13. … Nd4!
Jan said something like, “Well, I’ll give it a try.” I responded. “Wow.” I thought he had just blundered a piece. Without thinking I played
I expected him to resign, but he stunned me with
14. … Qd4!
I couldn’t believe It! Doesn’t this lose the queen? I even wrote 15. Bg6+ on my score-sheet. But after 15. Bg6+ hg 16. Qd4 Bh2+ 17. Kh1 Bf4+ Black has a perpetual check or can play for more with 17. ... Be5+ 18. Qh4 Rh4+ 19. Bh4 Kf7. so the opening manual was wrong. White plays 13. Be3 because he has to guard the d-pawn.
I took a long look at this line and concluded that Black was better. In fact, I spent about fifteen minutes deciding what to play and as a result was behind on the clock by 25 minutes.
So what can I play instead? Any move that stops the perpetual check will threaten Bg6+ so I looked at 15. h3 and 15. g3. These moves seemed too passive and I didn’t really want to weaken the squares in front of my king.
I looked at 15. Nb5 to try and win the bishop pair, but after 15. … Qe5 16. f4 Qe3+ 17. Kh1 Qb6 18. Bf6 gf 19. Qh5+ Kf7 when I couldn’t see any way to get at his king. Then I spotted the move 17. … Ne4 when I incorrectly thought that Black would be able to consolidate his position and keep the extra pawn but after 18 Be4 Bb5 19. Re1 the d5 pawn falls.
Threatening 16. Bg6+ and if the queen retreats I can capture on f6 and d5. After the game Jan told me he had been in this position “hundreds of times” but that he had never faced 15. Re1. Frisco Del Rosario was watching from the next board. After the game he told me that when he looked at the game at this point he thought I was in the type of position that suited my style much more than Jan’s so he expected me to win. I was far from confident.
I didn’t realize how risky this move was. After the game I looked in a couple of online databases and found one game where White played 15. Re1. Black replied 15. … Bh2+ 16. Kh2 Ng4+ 17. Kg3 Qf2+ and eventually won. I’m not convinced that this sacrifice was sound - 18. Kh3 e5 19. Bb5 stops Black’s attack, but he does have three pawns for the piece.
15. … 0-0-0
I thought this was forced if he wanted to hold on to the extra material, but maybe he could try 15. … Ke7.
I was worried about 15. ... Qg4 16. Bf6 Qd1 17. Rad1 gf 18. Nd5 Kf7. I thought this position favored Black so I intended to play 16. Qd2. Gjon Feinstein came up with a suggested improvement, 19. Bc4! ed 20. Bd5+ Kg7 21. Bb7 Rae8! when the d1 rook is tied to guarding e1 so White has to find 21. Bc4! which prevents any back rank mating ideas and wins a bishop. I don’t know how much of this Jan saw; he castled fairly quickly.
Of course he’ll see 17. Nb5+.
I could’ve played 16. Be3 Qh4 17. g3 Qh3 18. Bf1 Qh5 19. Ba7 to win the pawn back, but I didn’t want to weaken my kingside pawns or allow him to simplify the position. This was probably a better move than what I played.
16. … Kb8 17. Be3 Qh4 18. g3 Qg4
This was a mistake, handing me a useful tempo to take the e4 and g4 squares away from his knight. I was expecting 18. … Qh3 19. Bf1 Qh5 when I was very tempted to take a draw with 20. Be2 Qh3 21. Bf1 Qh5 etc.
19. f3 Qh3 20. Bf1
I thought his queen was misplaced on h3, the threat to sac the bishop on g3 can be ignored, but I wanted to gain a tempo to clear the d-file so my queen could go to d4.
20. … Qh5 21. Na4!?
After my third long think I came up with this highly original idea.
I looked at 21. Qd4 b6 22. Ne4 Ne4 23. fe Qe5! and decided I had nothing.
I also looked at 21. a4 planning a5 and Qd4. This idea seemed too slow.
Then I looked at 21. Nb5 but I thought he could safely capture the knight. I didn’t want to let him get rid of his bad bishop so I looked for a better move.
I looked 21. Re2 preparing to double on the c file and adding a defender to h2 but this seemed too slow, giving him time for 21. … Rc8.
21. … e5
White was threatening 22. Qd4 b6 23. Nb6. Black can’t defend by taking the knight because of 21. … Ba4 22. Qa4 b6 23. Qa6 (threatening Bb6) Bc7 24. Rc7 Kc7 25. Qa7+ Kd6 26. Bf4+ I didn’t analyze this any farther.
On my previous move I saw that he would have to play …e5 but missed the 22. … d4 threat. Now I’m struggling again.
I looked at 22. g4 Qg6 23. g5 d4 24. Bd3 Ba4 and thought I was getting killed.
22. ... d4 23. Bf2
The bishop on e3 appeared to be safe, due to the pin on d-file, but he is threatening to swap on c5 to get out of the pin. So I looked at sacs with Na6 + and Nb7, but didn’t see any convincing follow-up.
23 . … Bc6 ??
Letting me smash up his kingside. I thought he was better after 23. … Bc8. Frisco suggested 23. … Rhf8 bringing up unused force.
24. Na6+ Ka8 25. Rc6
I was afraid I was giving up too much, it’s not immediately obvious that the c6 pawn can’t be defended, but the logic of the position called for this sacrifice.
25. … bc 26. Qa4 Rc8 27. f4! Ng4?
Too aggressive, the knight is needed for defense. I was expecting 27. … Nd5 28. Bg2 when I intended to push my b-pawn and he has no answer to my pressure on the long diagonal.
Because of the bishop on f2 he can’t play 27. … e4 or 27. … ef because of 28. Qd4 Bb8 29. Nb8 and mate on a7 so Jan prepares to capture on f2 after 28. h3 but after
The threat to mate him on c6 trumps his idea.
28. … e4
After 28. … Qh2+ 29. Kf1 his queen is out of play.
The only good capture.
It was easy to rule out 29. Be4 Qh2+ 30. Kf1 Qf2#
If 29. Qd4 Nf2 30. Qd6 Rhd8 I thought he was fine, catching up in development.
If 29. Bd4 Qh2+ 30. Kf1 Qg3 looked very dangerous.
29. … Nf2 !
Jan thought I was threatening 30. Re5, but this allows him to defend with 30. … Ne5 31. fe Qd8. Instead of 30. Re5 intended to play 30. Re7 with two mate threats, the obvious 31. Bc6+ Rc6 32. Qc6# and the less obvious 31. Ra7+ Ka7 32. Nc5+ Kb6 33. Qb4+ Kc7 34. Qb7+ Kd8 35. Qd7#.
His capture on f2 not only threatens the rook, it also threatens 30. … Qd1+ trading queens and killing my attack.
I was enjoying the feeling of deliberately being a rook down with a totally won game.
As soon as I played this I spotted a beautiful win with 30. g4 Qg4 31. Re8 Qd1+ 32. Qd1 Nd1 33. Bc6#. I started shaking my head in disgust at missing this brilliancy. After a minute I spotted the hole in the analysis. After 31 …. Rhe8 32. Qc6+ Rc6 33. Bc6# doesn’t quite work. The bishop on g2 is pinned.
30. … Nh3+ ?
He could try 30. … Qe8 hoping for 31. Rd6? Qe1+ 32. Bf1 Nh3+ 33. Kg2 Qf2+ 34. Kh3 Qf1+ 35. Kh4 h6 when it’s White whose king is in trouble. I was going to play 31. Kf2 when I don’t see how he can defend c6.
After the game Jan told me he thought this move was impossible due to 31 Qf2# and the knight move would force a perpetual check.
31. … Kb7
Of course he would love to trade queens with 31. … Qb5+, but the c6 pawn is pinned.
32. Rd6 Qd8
Now the c8 pawn is attacked three times and defended three times, but appearances are deceiving.
33. Qb5+ Ka8 34. Rc6
There is no defense to the coming discovered check so Jan resigned. If 34. … Rc6 35. Nc7# and if 34. … Qc6 35. Qc6+ Rc6 36. Bc6 is a pretty mate.
After the game I noticed that his h8 rook never moved. That’s probably the main reason I was able to get away with all these sacrifices.