Classic Game – Blackpool Rocks!, Blackpool 2017

Blackpool

To some, the land that time forgot to forget.
Blackpool has its strange charm. There is a strange optimism which refuses to go, amongst the various neon-lit barbers, "Viagra Hotel" (real place) and Madame Leonarda Priscilla (Palmist to the Stars) there is a continuation of entertainment in this seaside town.

You still get the sense that "going to Blackpool" was quite an occasion in a different time.

Blackpool, the Las Vegas of this part of Lancashire

Enough about Blackpool, let's talk Chess!
The 2017 congress was a great event again with record numbers of entrants (around 350). The open boasted several GMs, a WGM, an IM and a smattering of FMs.

Some 1-movers!

From earlier rounds, we were treated to some very nice moves on the higher boards - here are two favourites: White to play:
From a game featuring FM Charlie Storey as White. Whilst giving away a small material investment temporarily, the scope of the bishop is unstoppable after 1. Rxc6! bxc6 2. Bxd4 Ba7!? 3. c5! and white won in fine style. Black to play:
From a game where local lad Nugith Jayawarna really put his opponent, IM Alan B Merry under significant pressure, the IM unleashed the corker 1...Qxd5, after which the position favours black.

Game of the Tournament

In my own very humble opinion, the following was the game of the tournament. Alan Merry who treated us to some delightful chess in the earlier rounds made no obvious blunders but Wells' tactical vision was superb. Wells also unleashed the tactical wizardry in an earlier round against Surtees. A very impressive all-round performance!
[Event "Blackpool 2017, Round 4, Board 1 Open"] [Site "Chess Toolkit (Author = TQM.)"] [Date "12/03/2017"] [Round "4"] [White "Merry, Alan B"] [Black "Wells, Peter"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "N/A"] [Annotator "TQM"] [SetUp "1"] [PlyCount "44"] [EventDate "2017"] [EventType "ECF Congress"] [EventCountry "GB"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 d5 3. e3 c5 4. Bxf6 gxf6 5. dxc5 Nc6 {If this looks familiar, it's because it was the same moves as Carlsen - Karjakin, Game 1, WCCh 2016!!} 6. c3 {Carlsen played 6. Bb5 here; perhaps Merry has an improvement!} 6...e6 7. b4 a5 {very much in line with the Queen's Gambit or Slav lines, black undermines the queenside pawns and creates tension in the position} 8. Bb5 Bd7 9. Nf3 Rg8 {this "little rook move" becomes very significant in what follows. As in many chess games, the doubled pawns create an open file; if black can use this well, he might have a benefit from the doubled structure!} 10. O-O axb4 {like in some lines of the Slav, the question is put to white: Allow the break-up of your strong queenside or give up the bishop pair? Here Merry opts for the latter} 11. Bxc6 Bxc6 {There is a brutal pressure against g2. The way Wells makes this work is outstanding} 12. cxb4 d4! {A committal decision but one which works. Black has the activity against g2 and wants to utilise it asap. There are other reasons why this advance is good: 1. Tactically, nothing can take d4: (13. Nxd4 Rxg2 -+ and 13. exd4 Bxf3 14. Qxf3 Qxd4 and white loses material - the knight cannot move safely and the rook is en prise)} 13. Qe2 (13. Nd4 Rg2)(13. exd4 Bf3 14. Qf3 Qd4) 13...d3 {This is again quite a committal decision but also a potential strength. It distracts white's queen from the nice e2 square but could be potentially weak in an ending} 14. Qd1 f5 15. a4 Bg7 {Wells is on such good form here but perhaps white should play an earlier Nbd2 to halt the d3 pawn and re-organise forces} 16. Ra3 Be5!! {this is where the defensive task becomes very challenging. There are so many threats and active lines for black to play on. The computer prefers the stifling g3 at the cost of opening the a8-h1 diagonal} 17. b5 (17. g3 Qd5 18. b5 Qf3 19. bxc6 Qc6 20. Rd3 {where white is marginally better.}) (17. Ne5 Rg2 18. Kh1 Rh2! 19. Kh2 Qh4 20. Kg1 Qh1) 17...Bxh2! 18. Kxh2 Rxg2!! {just throwing the kitchen sink at white to open the position!} 19. Kh1 (19. Kg2 Qg5 20. Kh2 Qh5 21. Kg2 Qg4 {and after} 22. Kh2 Bf3 {white's game is over} 23. Rg1?! Qh4) 19...Bxf3 20. Qxf3 Rg4 21. Kh2 Qg5 22. c6 Rh4 23. Qh3 Rxh3 24. Kxh3 Ke7 {Rg8 will join the action with deadly effect}
A truly great game and enjoyable weekend.