M. Heidenfeld – J. Sodoma 2009

This game was played in round 3 of the 2009 Irish National Club Championships which took place in the pleasant surroundings of the Carlton Shearwater Hotel in Ballinasloe. This was the board 2 game in the match between Ennis and Kilkenny. Any notes by me are in italics, I left Jans (brief!) comments in normal type.

Mark Heidenfeld IM (2391) – Jan Sodoma (2360) Irish Club Championships, Ballinasloe, 12th April 2009
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0-0 Qf6 So we have a Spanish Exchange variation, an opening which I have to confess to not knowing a whole lot about. It has been played by many super strong players down through the years including Fisher however it doesn’t seem to be so popular nowadays at the very highest levels. Qf6 is a somewhat offbeat answer to the Exchange and perhaps this threw Mark a little bit as I don’t think his opening play in this game is accurate. 5…f6, 5…Qd6, 5…Bg4 and even 5…Ne7 are more common. Players looking for something different to play against the Exchange variation could do worse than copy Jans choice. In fact looking at the limited games that I have between 2200+ players in this line, statistically Black is doing fairly well results wise. 6.d3 Not the most ambitious move. I think 6.d4 is better, after 6…exd4 7.Nxd4 white has a lead in development and the usual slight structural advantage against a solid position and the two bishops for Black 6…Bd6 7.Re1 I don’t understand this move at all. Perhaps it would be consistent if white were planning to follow it with d4 however, since he doesn’t, it just seems to waste a tempo 7…Ne7 8.Bg5 Qg6 9.Nbd2?! White prevaricates one move too long. 9.Bxe7 would be more consistent but after 9…Kxe7 black is at least equal. He will look to develop his light squared bishop while simultaneously weakening whites kside and then quickly bring his rooks to the centre with a nice position. Still this would be preferable to the game for white. See if you can spot blacks next.

Heidenfeld - Sodoma 2009 Black to move


9… Bh3! nice move! Well done if you found this without peeking. 10. gxh3 As Jan says g3 is worse for white too the light squares around his king are looking very draughty in that scenario10…h6 11.h4 hxg5 12.hxg5 Qh5 13.Kh1 Ng6 14.Rg1 0-0-0 15.Rg3 Nf4 16.Nc4 f6! Black hurries to open the kside not giving white any chance to organise a defence.

Mark Heidenfeld - Jan Sodoma 2009 Position after 16...f6!

17. gxf6 gxf6 18. Nxd6+ I don’t like this move. On general principles it looks wrong to swap whites good knight for blacks inactive bishop improving blacks pawn structure in the process. While its true that Black could look to redeploy his bishop on more active duties for example on the g1-a7 diagonal, I think that white would have better chances of defending with 18 Ne3 18… cxd6 19. Qf1 Kb8 20. Re1 d5 21. Qg1 Rh7 22.Re3 d4 23.Re1 Rdh8 24.b3 a5 25.a3 Ka7 26. Rf1 Nh3 As Jan says this is not a necessary manouevre Ne2 is playable of course but Black has such a bind on the position that there is no need to rush to win the exchange. Black prefers to keep control of the position. 27. Qg2 Ng5 28. Kg1 Nh3+ 29. Kh1 Nf4 30.Qg1 after the knights little detour we are back at the same position as after whites 26th move. This time black goes a different way

Heidenfeld - Sodoma 2009 Position after 30 Qg1


30… Rh6 31. Re1 Ka6 here Jan suggests instead 31…Rg8 32.Rf1? Rhg6 33.b4 Ne2 34. Qg2 Rxg3 35.fxg3 Nxg3+ 36.Kg1 Ne2+ winning, however instead of 32Rf1 white could stumble on with 32.Qf1 but of course black is still better and this was an option worth considering for black 32. Rf1 b5 here 32…Rg6 33.Nd2 Re2 34.Qg2 Rhg8 35.Re1 Nxg3+ 36.fxg3 Rxg3 wins but black is still in control after the move played. 33.Rg4 33. Re1 Rg6 34. Qf1 Rhg8 33… f5 34. exf5 Qxf5 35. Qg3 Ne2 36. Qg2? White cracks under the pressure. He is in serious trouble in any case for example 36.Rg5 Qf7 37. Rxe5 Ne2! wins 36… Qxf3!

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As always comments and analysis are more than welcome!

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