Notes from the Class E Underground

That was the title Pat Barron gave to the collection of his games from the
Pittsburgh Open that he sent to me.  I have selected two of the five, which
were relatively more challenge and complexity than the others.

White: Patrick Barron
Black: Darrin Bond
Pittsburgh Open, June 1998
Sicilian Defense

 1 e4      c5
 2 Nf3     d6
 3 Nc3     e6
 4 Bb5+    Bd7
 5 O-O     a6
 6 Bxd7+   Qxd7
 7 d3      Nc6
 8 Be3     Be7
 9 d4      cxd4
10 Bxd4    Nf6
11 Bxf6

   White's last two moves make a strange impression, as if he were
   convinced that knights are better than bishops and determined to
   exchange a bishop for a knight.  But objectively, he isn't getting
   an advantage, and might have done better with a more conventional
   plan, such as playing 7 d4, or even 4 d4.

11 ...     Bxf6
12 Re1

   Black might now play 12 ... Bxc3, so that after 13 bxc3 he could
   attack the isolated doubled pawns on the c-file.  His own queen pawn
   would be vulnerable, but after suitable preparation he could
   advance it to d5 and exchange it, and I do not see an effective
   answer to this plan.

12 ...     O-O

   This allows a tactic.  Instead, 12 ... Qc7 first give White more
   to think about.

13 e5!     Be7
14 exd6

   Otherwise Black plays 14 ... d5.

14 ...     Bxd6

   14 ... Qxd6 might be simpler.

15 Ne4     Rad8
16 Qd2     Ne5
17 Rad1    Nc4

   17 ... Nxf3+ 18 gxf3 would leave Black with no way to defend or
   retreat his bishop!  It appears that Black's position is precarious,
   but he has a way out.

18 Qd4     Qc6
19 Nxd6

   The critical test is 19 b3.  If Black retreats the knight he loses a
   piece, so instead 19 ... Bxh2+ 20 Kxh2 Rxd4 wins the queen.  And
   after 21 Nxd4 Qc7 is check, so Black will have time to save his

19 ...     Rxd6
20 Qc3     Rfd8
21 Rxd6    Rxd6

   White must now play alertly, because after queens are traded, Black's
   rook and knight are well placed to take the initiative, while White's
   rook and knight will be doing relatively little.

22 b3!     Nd2

   22 ... Nb6 23 Qxc6 Rxc6 24 c4 leaves Black with nothing.

23 Qxc6    bxc6

   White should now take the bull by the horns with 24 Nxd2 Rxd2 25 Rc1.
   He is then ready to break out of the bind by 26 Kf1 and 27 Ke1; the
   only tricky line is 25 ... e5 26 Kf1 e4 27 Ke1 e3, but White then has
   28 Rd1! forcing 28 ... Rxd1+ 29 Kxd1 exf2 30 Ke2, with an endgame that
   looks hard to evaluate.  Another plausible defense is 24 Ne5.  Black may
   then get a slight initiative with 24 ... c5 and 25 ... c4, but maybe it's
   only a mirage.  Even 24 Rc1 may be all right.  After 24 ... Nxf3+ 25 gxf3,
   White has ugly doubled pawns, but he will be able to force the trade of
   rooks, after which his queenside majority will hold the game.  Other moves
   are less convincing.  For instance, 24 Ng5 h6 25 Nh3 Ne4! followed by
   ... Nc3 and ... Rd2 looks hard for White to defend.

24 Rd1??   Nxf3+
25 gxf3    Rxd1+ and Black won easily.

White: Jeffrey Surma
Black: Patrick Barron
Pittsburgh Open, June 1998
Ruy Lopez

 1 e4      e5
 2 Nf3     Nc6
 3 Bb5     Nf6
 4 Bxc6

   A dogmatic move, hinting that the player of White prefers knights
   over bishops.

 4 ...     bxc6
 5 d3      Bd6

   This is an awkward way to defend the pawn.  Black has nothing to
   fear from 5 ... d6, which is much more natural and flexible.

 6 O-O     O-O
 7 Re1     Qe7
 8 h3      Bc5
 9 c3      d5
10 Bg5

   Both players are apparently unaware that Black would lose his king pawn
   after 10 exd5.

10 ...     h6
11 Bxf6    Qxf6
12 d4      exd4
13 cxd4    dxe4
14 Rxe4    Bf5
15 Re5     Rad8?
16 Rxc5

   A devastating blow.  But Black does not lose hope!

16 ...     Be4
17 Ne6     Qg5
18 f3      f6
19 Ng4?    Qxc5

   Of course, 19 fxe4 was correct.  White now ends up with two pieces
   for the rook, but his disorganized and undeveloped position is
   soon overrun.

20 fxe4    Rxd4
21 Qf3     Rxe4+
22 Kh2     Re1
23 Nf2     Rfe8
24 g3      R8e3
25 Qg2     R3e2
26 Nd3     Rxg2+

   Pat writes, "I can't believe I missed 26 ... Qg1++!"

27 Kxg2    Qg1+
28 Kf3     Rf1+
29 Ke2     Qg2+
30 Ke3     f5
31 Nf4     Qxg3+
32 Ke2     Qxf4