Don was kind enough to pass on a game he played last week against Max in the summer tournament. Sitting at the adjacent board I quickly became fascinated with this tense game, and the analysis afterward was not easy, even with resident NM Mark Kernighan doing color commentary. Don came up short defending against the Isolated Queen's Pawn, and it's interesting to see how quickly things turned against him from a mostly level position. Mostly human commentary here, but I'll let the computer jump in for the tactical strikes.
1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e3 Nf6 4. Bxc4 e6 5. Nf3 c5 6. O-O Nc6 7. Nc3 cxd4 8. exd4 (Max, like his mentor, does not fear the IQP)
So it's Black to move in this apparently common position (45 positions in my 2nd grade level database). White has the isolated pawn, but open lines and outposts for his pieces, etc, etc. My computer says +0.38 in case that matters, sounds reasonable to me. Don took in inordinate amount of time on his next move (12-20 minutes or so out of 60), and came up with what is the book move:
8.....Be7, after which 9. Bg5 O-O 10. Re1 gets us to:
All the same, this is standard material. But Don had used even more of his clock, having been burdened ironically by having read an excellent book on the IQP, Winning Pawn Structures. The book does such a good job detailing the concrete, tactical nature of IQP positions that Don felt compelled to find the exact move on each turn, which is a difficult task to say the least. Not having memorized exact lines, Don starts to go wrong on this move. Meanwhile, I suspect Max is in his element in this position.
10 .....Nb4?! Here theory prefers 10....a6 or 10....b6, getting the light-squared bishop geared toward d5. The Nb4-d5 idea isn't bad yet, but the bishop never really gets in the game in what follows (compare with Keene-Miles posted earlier).
11. a3 Nbd5 12. Bb3 Bd7 13. Ne5
13....Rc8? Don slips in a difficult position. White's ideas are obvious - queen to the h-file, rook to the h-file with Re4-h4, perhaps Bc2 and Qd3 in combination. Black needs to play ...Bc6 to keep control over d5 or even simplify by exchanging knights. Now the computer gives some winning lines already: (14. Bxf6 Bxf6 15. Nxd5 exd5 16. Bxd5 or 14....Nxf6?! 15. d5! exd5 16. Nxd5 Nxd5 17. Nxf7 Rxf7 18. Qxd5)
Max misses this at first, but not for long...
14. Qd3?! g6? (still time to bail out with 14...Bc6 or 14...Nxc3)
15. Qh3 Re8? (now there's really trouble on f7)
16. Nxd5 Nxd5 17. Nxf7! The knight is untouchable, 17...KxN leads to mate in 2.
Don was short of time and only recorded the following:
17....Qb6 18. Nh6+ Kg7 19. Bxe7 Rxe7
When Black can only hope to swindle, but eventually lost. An instructive game, well played by Max, and one that I think will make Don a much stronger IQP player for next time.