What happens when tiger meets tiger and both would rather go down swamping than risk a stodgy draw?


Alex Bourke returns with more hair-raising swamp on swamp action in the final apocalyptic ...


Jason Voorhees (Alex Bourke)
Freddy Krueger (James Peet)

Kings Head 2 v Muswell Hill

Instructions for playing through game: Please click the moves to replay the game. Variations are shown in green and can also be clicked to see them on the board. Tip:  you can also use the forward and back arrows on your keyboard to play the moves.

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5

Freddy Krueger is a junior graded 126, which means he's worth at least 136, which means next season he'll be worth at least 146. He's confident, almost cocky, banging out moves, used to shunting over-confident grown-ups into the blunder zone. He's trying to put me to sleep with the most boring opening in the world before carving me up in my worst nightmare.

However what Black doesn't know is that 25 or 30 years ago I too used to be a deadly teenager lurking in the woods around Lake Crystal, well the Bristol League actually.

A solid way to contain a tiger is to close the position and outmanoeuvre him, push him slowly off the board. Less Simon Webb in Chess for Tigers, more Aron Nimzowich in My System, which hopefully Freddy won't have got his fingers on till next year.

4. g4 Be4 5. f3 Bg6 6. h4 h5!

Yep, Freddy's definitely a tigger, avoiding the insipid 6... h6 7. h5 Bh7 8. e6 !? and/or Bd3.

7. g5

I'm looking forward to trying 7. e6 in a quickplay.

7... e6 8. Bd3 Ne7 9. Ne2

9. b4 is also highly tempting. Greek GM Kotronias' book "Beating the Caro-Kann" tells you how to play the line properly (preceding g4 with 4. Nc3), but in tonight's battle of the stripey ones, neither knows exactly what's coming up, only that each plans to splatter the other all over the board.

9... c5

Now 10. c3, c4 and the game would be dead.

10. Nf4 Bf5 Apparently thwarting White's attempts to cripple g6 as 11. ... g6 next will close the K-side forever. White is thus forced to make the first swamp!

11. g6!?

"I was terrified when I saw this move," said Black afterwards, before he spotted the one way to avoid being left with a rubbish pawn on g6 or a giant white pastie on e5.

11... Nxg6 12. Bxf5 Nxf4 13. Bxf4 exf5 14. c3 Be7 15. Bg3 Nc6

15... f4 16. Bf2 may also be playable.

16. f4 Qb6!

Gordon F. Bennett, how did I miss this? Black looks to be winning another pawn at d4 or b2. But in Tigerland, things can go from okay to oh cripes in a couple of shakes of a tiger's tail. d5 is vulnerable.

17. Qd2 cxd4 18. Bf2 dxc3 19. Nxc3 d4

Black counterswamps, deliberately walking into a pin. See if you can guess the next few moves. Hint: think Kill Bill rather than consolidate.

20. O-O-O! O-O-O!

Not 20... dxc3 21. Qd7+ winning the black queen.

21. Qc2!

Getting out of the line of fire, renewing the bishop pin of the d4 pawn, locking the black knight on c6 (Nxd4; 22. Bxd4, Q or Rxd4; 23. Nb5 dis ch) and hitting f5.

21... g6 22. Na4 Qb4

Or Qc7; 23. Rh3 or Re1 or Rd3 look promising.

23. a3 Qa5 24. Bxd4 Kb8 25. Bc5 Rc8?!

25... Bxc5 26. Nxc5 (26. Qxc5? Qxa4) 26... Nd4! 27. Qc4 (or 27. Rxd4 Rxd4 28. Nb3 Qd5 winning) 27... Qxc5 28. Qxc5 Nb3+ winning a piece. White's next is pure instinct for a tiger. The rest of the game is pure swamp on swamp as we each try to out-hustle the other.

26. Rd7 Nd4

Surely White loses the bishop? However now the Rd7 is on the business side of Black's knight. Only one move keeps White in the game.

27. Qg2

Threatening mate at b7.

27... Nb3+

Someone once said never force your opponent to play a move he wants to play anyway. Anyway....

28. Kb1 Qb5

or 28... Nxc5 29. Nxc5 crunches on b7.

29. Rxe7 Nxc5 30. Nxc5 Rxc5

Reaching the time control. Black has quite a lead on the clock in a quickplay finish, so White must rustle upsomething

31. Qd2

And White offers a draw, letting Black believe I don't think I have any winning chances, which of course Black declines.

There comes a moment when a kill is no longer clear, but it's psychologically hard to accept the other guy deserves to live after being chased all over the forest for the previous hour. So one plays on for a loss in the climactic final 30 minutes. I've done it so many times. Of course Black's quite entitled to play on with all those bits surrounding my king, but now he's so busy tring to win down my end that he might not look too carefully what's happening around his own goalmouth. (OK, ok I know I'm mixing horror spoofs with footballing metaphors but have you seen some of those soccer stars' haircuts lately?)

31... Rhc8 32. Rd1 Rc2 33. Qd6+

Setting a devious trap, which the immediate Qb4 would not.

33... R8c7 34. Qd8+ Rc8 35. Qd6+ Ka8 36. Qb4 Qxb4 37. axb4 R2c7??

Black has overlooked the difference between a K on b8 and a8 in his eagerness to play on.

38. Rxc7

And Black resigns in view of Rxc7; 39. Rd8+ and mates.


I've decided to give up ultra-violence for a while and return to the solid technique that originally got my grade up into the 150's. Swamping is all very well when you want to try to snatch a point off a heffalump. But ultimately the way to success in chess is paved with self-restraint, careful planning and hard analysis, as described in Nimzowich's My System and Kotov's three books Think/Play/Train Like A Grandmaster.


I'll leave you with some closing thoughts on The Way of the Swamp:

To swamp or not to swamp, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler to 'ave a right good go and enjoy chess to the max.

Do not concern yourself with victory or defeat, be one with the moment. And the moment is jammy.

Don't try this at home Unless you too are a man or woman not afraid of the feel of jam on your hands.


Game(s) in PGN