N. Larter – E. Hermansson (Bilbao -2014)

ECC 2014 Round 1
White: N. Larter (1790) – Black E. Hermansson IM (2455)
Result: 0.5-0.5
Notes by Larter

1.e4 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.g3 Bg7 5.Bg2 d6 6.Nge2 Nf6 I like it when Black puts the N here as it gives White something to bite onto in a K-side attack – 5…e6 and 6…Nge7 would avoid that possible weakness. 7.O-O O-O 8.d3 a6 9.Rb1 Rb8 Notwithstanding the remark above I think this is one of the most exacting lines that White has to play against as Black doesn’t waste any moves. White would like to prepare 11.Be3 with 10. h3, but doesn’t really have time if Black plays accurately (as in the game), so White is faced with the choice of playing 10.h3 anyway or else gambling with 10.Be3 in the hope that Black does not play an immediate 10…Ng4. 10.h3 b5 11.b3 now Black should play to keep the tension between b5 and c4, as it will prevent White from playing 13. Nd1 after 12. Qd2 (with the idea f4, Nf2 to commence the K-side attack), on account of 13…bxc4 when White cannot recapture with the b pawn due to the pin. However, Black had other ideas 11…Qa5?! A superficially attractive, but dubious plan. 12.Be3!? b4?! 13.Nd5 Qxa2?! I couldn’t believe it when Black took the pawn, surely he has not missed the interference play 14.e5!

14. e5!

14. e5!

There’s a shitload of stuff going on here, eg; 14…Nxe5 15.Nxe7+ Kh8 16.Nxc8 Rfxc8 17. Ra1 Qb2 after which White has 18.Rb1 or 18.Rxa6 depending on mood. Whatever happens, though, the a1-h8 diagonal is going to get clogged, preventing the Black Q from getting away, unless 14…dxe5 15.Nxf6+ Bxf6 16.Bxc6 is played, giving up a piece.14…Nd7 Perhaps the best try 15.Ra1 15.Ndc3 initially looked interesting, eg; 15…bxc3 16.Nxc3 Qa4 17.Bxc6 dxe5 but I couldn’t see a continuation after that. 14…Qb2 16.f4 dxe5 17.Rb1 Qa3 18.Ra1 exf4!? 19.Rxa3 bxa3 Black gets a R and two pawns for the Q, plus a nasty passer on a3 and a monster bishop on a1-h8. White’s pieces are somewhat uncoordinated to boot and it is going to be difficult to blockade that a pawn. Game on! 20.Ndxf4 Gaining time. Na5 21.Nd5! Has to be better than passive moves like 21.Nc1. 21…e6 22.Ne7+ Kh8 23.Nc6 Nxc6 24.Bxc6 Ne5 25.Bxc5?! Probably the quiet 25.Ba4 is better and if 25…Rd8 26.Nc1 25…Rd8! 26.Ba4 Rxd3


Position after 26…Rxd3

I was starting to get concerned now. Black is threatening to create some nasty tactics against my K-side (27.Qc2 Nf3+ 28.Kf2 Rd2 29.Qc1 Bb7 for example) and if I let them tie me up it could be then possible for him to run the a pawn. 27.Qxd3? Is probably still not necessary nevertheless. Still the luxury of returning a Q to free one’s position and liquidate into a decent endgame is a nice resource to have. 27…Nxd3 28.Bxa3 I felt I was at least equal here – even the pawn down. 28…e5 29.Rxf7 Bxh3 30.Bd6 Rc8 31.Ra7 Bg4 32.Kf1 Bh3+ 33.Kg1 Bg4 34.Kf1 Bf8 35.Bd7 forced, or my N drops

After 35. Bd7

After 35. Bd7

My opponent was playing on increments by now while I had around 20 minutes left. 35…Bxd7 36.Rxd7 Bxd6?? 37.Rxd6 Attacking the a pawn and the N. 37…Rf8+ 38.Kg1 e4 39.Rxa6 Rf2 40.Nf4 Rf3 41.Ne6! Black has to address the back row threat. 41…h6 41…h5 gives White forking chances with the N. 42.Ra8+ I offered a draw here, which was declined. 42…Kh7 43.Ra7+ Kg8?! This surprised me. 44.Rg7+ Kh8 45.Rxg6 Kh7 46.Rg7+ Kh8 47. Rg6 Kh7 48.Rg7+ draw agreed

draw agreed

draw agreed

Perhaps White may have a small possibility to win now after gaining the pawn, but the Black e pawn is still the most dangerous one on the board and is well supported by the R and N in a position is loaded with tactics.


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