Swamp 6 A Swamp Too Far

Homepage HOME  Alex Bourke, one of the "founding fathers" of the khcc site finds time in between writing bestsellers like Vegetarian London and Vegetarian Europe to continue the Swamp series.

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See Also Swamp 1Swamp2, Swamp3 Swamp4, Swamp5, See also Members Guide to France, Alex's French Chess Dictionary


English Opening

P Catt
A Bourke

LL1 Hackney 1 - Kings Head 1


It's almost the end of the season. Kings Head 1, struggling to stay up, are facing the heffalumps of top team Hackney 1. We're out-trunked and unfortunately we're playing at Golden Lane where heffalumps aren't allowed to bring beer to the board. This is not good, as after four pints your 40 points stronger opponent just knows that this is one of the 90% of games he should win and gets reckless. A cocky heffalump is a vulnerable one, if you can lure him into the swamp where 10 or 20% of games go your way.

1. Nf3 d6 2. c4 e5 3. d3 f5 Yawn, somebody wake me up when he does something. If White wimps out of occupying the centre, then it vill be mine, all mine, meester Bond. If White doesn't charge soon, Black's reversed closed Sicilian gives an automatic K-side attack with Qe8-g6/h5, Ng4, Na6-c5/c7-e6. Eventually White lumbers forward on the Q-side to attack, but attack what? 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. e4 Be7 6. Be2 Na6 White must now lose a tempo to precede b4 with a3, and this move is also a subtle suggestion that Black is just biding time, not heading to e6 via c5 or c7 to join the attack. It also keeps the QB diagonal open. Possible too was a5 first to slow White's probable Q-side advance. But I don't want to give any indication yet of the coming K-side attack. "Never force your opponent to make a move he wants to make anyway." Let White think he's forcing me to play defensive moves, which are in fact moves I want to play. If he thinks he has the initiative, he'll use more clock time. 7. O-O c6 8. a3 O-O 9. b4 Nc7 10. Qc2 Qe8 It looks like I'm covering e5 and getting out of the path of Rd1. "How good is my opponent?" I asked the lads outside. 170 said someone. Best go swamp then. No, 150 said my captain, play sensible chess. He's getting behind on the clock, so just continue development and wait for a chance in time trouble. 11. Bd2 Normally this bishop goes to b2. As White doesn't appear to be building to d4, with the centre quiet it's now safe to commit on the wing. 11... f4 12. d4 Well that's a surprise, moving his KN away from guarding h2. Cheers. 12... exd4 13. Nxd4 Ng4 Hoping to provoke h3, Ne5 and the black QB chops at h3 for an early bloodbath. 14. Rac1 Qg6 15. Nf3 Ne6 16. Qb1 Qh6 17. Qd3 Ng5 18. Rfd1 Recognising he's in trouble and preparing to run. 18... Nxf3+ 19. Bxf3 Qxh2+ Also possible was Nxh2. 20. Kf1 Ne5 21. Qd4 An excellent move, going to the most active square. White is losing, but losing does not mean lost if you go onto the swampfensive. Qc2 just loses, so there's no need to analyse the alternative. 21... Be6 Bg4 and Bh3 were analysed in the bar by our star players, but we couldn't find a clear win. I was worried about Ke2 then Rh1 is awkward, trapping the black Q. 22. Na4 b5 Else after Nxf3; gxf3, Bf6 (else Bc3); Qxd6 and White smashes through. Probably Black should switch from the swamp chapter of Chess for Tigers to the one about Winning a Won Game. The outside passed pawn is enough, I could just sit tight for adjournment. But then White's centre is strong, and anyway he's desperately short of time so why not try to crack him? I don't play chess just for the half points. 23. Nb2 Nxf3 24. gxf3 Bh4 If I can bag at least a second pawn before White's passive pieces get going, then the endgame will be an easy win. Note by Editor - Fritz is showing a massive plus score for the following variation which shows that Alex doesn't cheat by using computers for analysis, or that I've missed something! 24... Qh3+ 25. Ke2 Bf6 26. Qxd6 Bxb2 27. Rh1 Bxc4+ 25. Ke2 But now White is consolidating. Lines with Bf6 and Rh1 still look too hairy, the last chance is to drive the White Q off the g1-a7 diagonal and get in at f2. Opening the d-file might help to mate him. I can't see a forced win yet. 25... c5 26. bxc5 dxc5 27. Qxc5 Rfc8 28. Qd4 Rd8 29. Qc5 Rac8 30. Qxa7 Rd7 Now I'm the one losing a lot of clock time thinking, which is exactly what White wants. No one knows what will happen, we're flying by the seats of our strides and having a lot of fun. 31. Qb6 Bxc4+ 32. Nxc4 bxc4 33. Qe6+ Kf8 34. Qb6 Kf8 was played quickly, completely overlooking the crushing 34. Bb4+ Re7 35. Bxe7+ Bxe7 36. Rh1 which White doesn't have time to analyse. Kh8; Qxd7, Qf2 mate was too obvious. He's not putting a foot wrong in terrible time trouble, no matter what I throw at him. His outside pastie is more dangerous so I have to keep chucking wood on the fire. You can only win if your opponent makes a mistake. 34... c3 35. Rxc3 Rxc3 36. Bxc3 Rxd1 37. Kxd1 Black's position is probably lost due to White's more mobile passed pawn. But White has just survived a very stressful game, everyone else is in the bar, someone is jangling keys and there's still a chance to hustle a draw if I can convince him oh so casually that he's not winning. He's expecting me to have sealed B or Q x f2. "Well Bxf2 looks bad because you have Qd8+, Kf7; Qd7+, Kg6; Qxg7+, Kh5; Qg4+, Kh6; Bxg7 mate," I immediately play out confidently and swiftly, implying he'd be daft not to see that and suggesting I'm much better at analysing endgames so he'd be foolish to continue, not revealing that I've actually sealed Qh1+. "Now after Qh1+, for example, purely hypothetically, Ke2, Qc1 black's position is active, he has pressure against f2, lots of checks and a passed h pawn. Who can say how it will all end?" All this is pure bluff of course. Maybe White can consolidate the centre and roll the pawn. "This position will take hours, maybe days to analyse. I hate adjournments." We'd just won the match thanks to two heffalump defaults, everyone else was in the bar celebrating or drowning their trunks, White probably wanted to join them and was too shattered to find anything better. So he offered a draw. Cheers mate, I'm still the luckiest swamper in the room. Luck being where preparation and guile meet oppportunity. Swamping may not be the soundest chess, but it sure is the most fun. If you want to know more, get a copy of Chess for Tigers by Simon Webb. Postscript: There is another solution to the no booze at the board rule. John McVicar finds that spending half the game in the bar doesn't affect his play as the other guy has to think too. But Alan Parsons has the best solution, play half a dozen moves and if he hasn't become the umpteenth victim of your early English mate trap then offer a draw and go watch footie downstairs. * [Alex Bourke]                 

Game(s) in PGN