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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Fun With The Sicilian Wing Gambit Deferred

    Yesterday I spent a little time online playing 10 minute games and since I haven’t posted one of my games for a long time and I am pretty sure readers have been dying to see one, I thought the following game would delight everybody even though I shot myself in the foot.
     For my opening against the Sicilian I chose the Wing Gambit Deferred. The straight Wing Gambit (1.e4 c5 2.b4) is played with the idea of deflecting black's c-pawn, then dominating the center with an early d4. GM Joe Gallagher called it "a forgotten relic, hardly having set foot in a tournament hall since the days of Frank Marshall and Rudolph Spielmann. White sacrifices a pawn for...well, not a lot." Also, according to Gallagher, delaying b4 until the 3rd move is best when black plays 2...e6. 
     All that may be true, but it’s still a lot of fun to play. The Siderite blog has some interesting material on the gambit HERE and HERE
     In this game things were pretty even until move 13 when Stockfish took umbrage with my move for not hitting his B with 12.h6; I chose instead to play my R to the e-file...I was toying with the (bad) idea of opening the e-file with a N sacrifice on d5. But, black wasted some time with his Q and then placed his R on the rather useless square b8. And, just like that, my 13th move was justified!
     Black couldn’t take the N on d5 without losing the game. Not that it mattered because Stockfish says I was clearly winning no matter what he did. A few moves later SF says I should have played 19.e5 utilizing the pin on his d-Pawn, but being inspired, I sacrificed a B although to be honest, I didn’t see a forcing followup and that’s where I got into trouble. I finally spotted it, but it too too much time. 
     After my 22nd move I could have either mated or won a R, but there wasn’t really anything wrong with the move actually played which did neither. Stockfish was giving me an advantage of almost +2.50. 
     Not being able to find a good followup, although 24.e5 was screaming to be played, I decided to sacrifice another piece on e6. I played 25.e5, but it was too late...black compelled an exchange of Qs leaving me with a lost R and P ending.
    At move 42 I managed to get a passed P on the K-side and was hoping he would lose some time on the clock trying to determine if it presented any danger. It didn’t and he didn’t and after I played 48.Kxe6 he had a R on the second rank and Ps on the a- and b-file, the b-Pawn also being on the 2nd rank, not to mention Stockfish now points out that he had a mate in 21 moves. 
     I have long advocated studying K+P and R+P endings as being beneficial. As the late NM James Schroeder used to admonish, never stop studying the endgame. Back in the days when I actually studied chess, I was in the Chicago Chess Club one day and picked up a copy of Peter C. Griffiths’ The Endings in Modern Theory and Practice, took it home and actually studied it. I still have the book and it’s full of notes in the margins, especially in those two sections. Apparently the material came in handy because in the section on related squares there is a penciled note referring me to an ending I played in the state championship, but the game score has long since been lost.
     When we reached move 49 all black had to do was advance his a-Pawn and with my K cut off by his R the win was easy. But, he made a colossal blunder with 49...Rc2 which allowed my to approach and win the b-Pawn leaving an easy draw. Unfortunately I had only seconds left and my opponent a couple of minutes. My time expired in a dead drawn position. 

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