My favorite move

Some while back I wrote about the best move I ever didn’t get to play.

Here’s probably my favorite move that I did get to play.

Slater (2050) – Hardin (1950), Kentucky, 1987

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.0-0 d6 6.c4 Nbd7 7.Nbd2 c6 8.b3 Qc7 9.Bb2 Re8 10.Qc2 Nf8 11.h3 h6 12.e4 e5 13.dxe5 dxe5 14.c5 Nh5 15.Nc4 Re7 16.Rfd1 b5 17.Nd6 Bd7 18.Rd2 a5 19.a4 b4 20.Rad1 g5 21.Nh2 Ng6 22.Nf1 Bf6 23.Ne3 Ng7

Don’t ask me to explain what either player is doing positionally. As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t play positionally at the time, despite which fact my opponent has managed to get his own pieces in a tangle. 

24.Nd5! I like this move because materially White gets only one pawn for the piece, and after it’s captured he has no immediate specific threat. On the other hand, the compensation isn’t too tough to figure out: that’s a deadly pawn roller on d5 and c5, and the bishop on g2 has suddenly come alive. Black is busted, but for purposes of practical resistance his goal should be to only give back material in ways that break up the pawns.

24…cxd5 25.exd5 Ree8? 26.Nxe8 Rxe8 27.d6 Qd8 28.c6 Bf5 29.Qc4 Ne6 30.c7 Nxc7 31.dxc7 Qc8 32.Qc6 Be6 33.Qxe8+ Qxe8 34.Rd8 Bxd8 35.cxd8=Q Qxd8 36.Rxd8+ Kg7 37.Bd5 1-0

It just dawned on me that it was 20 years ago that I hit my peak performance in chess – the summer of ’87, when I won various tournaments, busted a senior master, etc. The game above garnered me the highest score among Kentucky state residents in the Kentucky Open, qualifying me for a spot in the round-robin Closed championship. I have a couple more bloodthirsty games from that summer that I will post later.


10 thoughts on “My favorite move

  1. Whoa whoa whoa – you were playing 1.d4 / 2.Nf3/ 3.g3 during your peak years?!

    What made you switch to the 1.e4 nonsense?

  2. Greg – thanks. The funniest part of the position is Black’s bishop sitting forlornly on f6, unguarded and unable to move.

    Tim – since I had no actual opening repertoire, I felt free to play almost anything at any time :) I’m pretty sure I also played 1.e4 in the same tournament.

  3. Derek — Your comment raises an interesting point that I hadn’t focused on when I played through the game: After 25. exd5 aren’t you threatening 26. Ne4? If so, then what practical alternative does Black have to 25 . . . Ree8?

  4. Right, 26.Ne4 is in the air. Black can try 25…Qd8 26.Ne4 Re8 and queen saves the Bf6. But he’s still in deep doodoo and white has other tries besides 26.Ne4 if he likes.

    As I say, I think it’s lost for Black. But if he can conjure up some way to, for instance, give up a rook for the pawn duo, materially he might be able to hold a draw. Denys Shmelov could probably take Black on move 25 and beat me :)

  5. Don’t mind me — I have no idea what I’m talking about. I had hallucinated that 26 . . . Re8 allowed 27. Rxd7, which, of course, is impossible with the pawn on d5. That’s what I get for not double-checking my “analysis” (to use that term VERY loosely) :)

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