Games from the Maritimes

Martinovsky-Manley, Charlottetown Open 2022

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The first weekend in June saw the return of the Charlottetown Open, with the following hard fought last round game serving to decide the winner of the event:

[Event "Charlottetown Open"]
[Site "Charlottetown"]
[Date "2022.06.05"]
[Round "5.1"]
[White "Martinovsky, Ian"]
[Black "Manley, Jason"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C11"]
[WhiteElo "2214"]
[BlackElo "2203"]
[Annotator "Manley,Jason"]
[PlyCount "254"]

{(Notes:2022) Heading into the last round, I was sitting pretty at 4-0
with a full point lead, guaranteed at least a tie for first place. However, my
final opponent was to be the toughest, as I faced NM Ian Martinovsky. Ian had
suffered a tough loss in a complicated ending against Andy Wang in the second
round (the same round where I escaped a losing ending due to my opponent's
time trouble), so a draw would be enough for me to clinch the event. We had
drawn our only previous standard meeting earlier in the year, although Ian had
defeated me in a pair of quick chess games games at the Maritime Rapid
Championship and the New Brunswick Active Championship, and considering the
tournament situation, I knew he was going to give it his all to pull off the
victory.} 1. e4 e6 2. d4 {The first surprise. In most of Ian's games that I
had seen, he had eschewed main lines in favour of wing play, such as 1 g3 and
1 e4 e6 2 b3.} d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Nce2 {And here is the second
surprise, as this line is not one which I had faced too often. Freshest in my
mind was a pretty nasty beating I took in a similar line against Jerjis Kapra
of Halifax in the summer of 2021. I had tried to plan a fix for it in future
games, although I hadn't looked at it leading up to this event as I didn't
expect to face this line from anyone here. Time to see how well my memory is
working today!} c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Nf3 {A bit of a surprise, as f4 felt more
natural for White here. This move allows for more flexibility for the White
dark square bishop and the intriguing f4 square for the knight.} Qb6 8. a3 cxd4
{I played this looking to release some tension on c5-d4 before undermining the
centre with f6. Playing f6 immediately also deserved consideration.} 9. cxd4 f6
10. exf6 Nxf6 11. Nf4 Bd6 {Looking to expand via e5 in order to gain freedom
for all of my pieces. We're heading for a position defined by Black's isolated
queen pawn, which I generally don't mind, although considering the tournament
situation, I might prefer a more solid ending structure.} 12. Bd3 O-O 13. O-O
Qc7 14. Ne2 e5 {The key move, freeing the Black position. Black will have more
space and some open lines to press against the White position, but will also
have a clear weakness on d5 in any ending, During the game, I faintly
preferred White at this stage, but looking at it without a tournament on the
line, I prefer Black slightly.} 15. dxe5 Nxe5 16. Nxe5 Bxe5 17. Ng3 Bg4 {
A fairly loose development. Be6 deserved consideration here, moving to g4
should the queen take up a post on e2, as then the White queen couldn't pop
over to the queenside.} 18. Qa4 a6 {Qb6 was more ambitious, looking to extract
a toll of b2 in exchange for White's development of the queenside.} 19. Bg5 Qd7
20. Qb3 Be6 21. Rae1 Bd4 {?! Far too loose. Bd6 was solid and would keep the
position quite balance. Now Black's bishop gets sidelined as White's pieces
improve their positioning, and he can fight for an edge.} 22. Qb4 Ba7 23. Re2
Rae8 24. Qh4 h6 25. Bd2 Bc5 {While pondering this move, my hand hovered over
the board ready to play Qf7? at one point, but thankfully I caught myself
before throwing away an exchange.} 26. Bb4 {Rc1 deserved consideration here as
well, looking to increase pressure on Black's position rather than making this
trade quickly.} Bxb4 27. Qxb4 Bf7 28. Rd2 {Releasing the e-file. Bf5! looks
stronger, taking a good outpost and putting the question to the Black queen.}
Re5 {Nothing if not ambitious. I aim for seizing complete control of the
e-file myself, to use it as a base for counterplay. White looks a bit better
here, but Black is still very much in the game.} 29. f4 Re3 30. Qd4 Rfe8 31.
Nf5 {?! A misstep which loses the edge. This looks strong, but Black has a
powerful counter that simplifies into an even ending, if not one which faintly
favours Black.} Rxd3 {!} 32. Qxd3 Ne4 {The point. Black wins back the exchange
and his pieces are more strongly placed in the ending.} 33. Nd4 Nxd2 34. Qxd2
Re4 35. h3 Qc7 {And feeling fully comfortable for the first time in the game,
I offered a draw. Ian declined, as I expected he would, but I just wanted it
out there that I was amenable to a draw in this ending.} 36. Kh1 Qc5 37. Rd1
Qe7 38. b4 {
g3 is more cautious. Now Black can seize the initiative and press himself.} Qh4
39. Rf1 Qg3 40. a4 Qe3 {Forcing a queen trade, and entering a rook and minor
piece ending where Black's edge is small but clear. Qh4 was more ambitious,
but Black is still doing well here.} 41. Qxe3 Rxe3 42. Rd1 Re4 43. g3 Be8 44.
a5 Ba4 45. Rd2 Kf7 {Re1+ followed by Rb1 is an interesting idea here, although
activating the king is a good move as well.} (45... Re1+ 46. Kg2 Rb1 47. Nf5 {
The only move maintain the balance.} Kf7 48. Rd4 Bc6 {Looks quite even.}) 46.
Kg2 Kf6 {Repositioning the bishop via d7 deserved strong consideration here,
as White would need to play h4 to continue bringing his king into play, and
then g4 would beckon as a strong square for the bishop.} 47. Kf3 Re1 48. Ra2 {
?! Simply a mistake.} Re4 {?! A singularly unambitious move. Bd7 and Rd1 both
increased the pressure on White, whose position is growing more unsettled by
the turn. This offer of a repetition, meanwhile, is far too cautious.} 49. Rd2
Re1 50. b5 {!? Despite the position suggesting it, Ian doesn't have the luxury
of simply accepting the repetition, and instead looks to his best chance of
active play.} axb5 {Rb1 caused White more problems in terms of creating play.}
51. Rb2 Ra1 52. Nxb5 Bd1+ 53. Kf2 Rxa5 54. Nc3 Bh5 55. Rb6+ Ke7 {?! Kf5 may
have conceded the piece, but White wouldn't have enough pawns left to create
winning chances, as rook and knight versus rook is a much more straightforward
defense than rook and bishop versus rook. Now White is the one pressing in the
ending, and I have a long and difficult defense ahead of me.} 56. Rxb7+ Kf6 57.
Rb6+ Ke7 58. Ke3 Rc5 59. Nb5 {
Rb7+ deserved consideration as an intermezzo here.} Be8 60. Nd4 Bd7 61. h4 {
A pleasant surprise. I had anticipated f5, but now I can kick the king back.}
Rc3+ 62. Kf2 Ra3 {
Rc4 would put the question to White- does he have better than the repetition?}
63. Nb3 Ra2+ 64. Ke3 Rb2 {Rg2 first should also have been considered, but I
was too focused on forcing the trade.} 65. Rb7 Kd6 66. Nc5 {The rook trade
leaves us in a minor piece ending which is a likely draw. 66...Bb5! is an
interesting move, looking to press for the win for Black by preparing to push
the d-pawn, but I wasn't feeling suitably ambitious.} Rxb7 67. Nxb7+ Ke7 68.
Kd4 Bh3 {? Just because I'm fine with a draw is no reason to make myself work
this hard for one. Bc8 followed by Kd6 was comfortably equal. Now Black will
be fighting from behind for a long while, as the knight and three pawns versus
the bishop and two pawns is likely drawn, but it's not trivial.} 69. Ke5 d4 70.
Kxd4 Kf6 71. Nd6 g6 {Looking to fix all the pawns with g6 and h5.} 72. Ne4+ Kf5
73. Ke3 h5 74. Nf2 Bg2 75. Nd3 Kf6 76. Ne5 Bh3 77. Kd4 Bg2 78. Kc5 {
White tries working the king around to get in behind the pawns.} Be4 79. Kd6
Bb1 80. Kd7 Ba2 81. Ke8 Bb3 82. Kf8 Be6 83. Nc6 Ba2 84. Ne7 Bb3 {And now White
came to realize that the end of his plan here is a draw, and pivoted back to
take another try, while Black simply sits and waits.} 85. Nc6 (85. Ng8+ Kf5 86.
Kg7 Bxg8 {
By waiting a move before capturing here, Black gains the critical tempo.} 87.
Kxg8 Kg4 88. Kg7 Kxg3 89. Kxg6 Kxf4 90. Kxh5 Kf5 {And it's an elementary draw.}
) 85... Ba2 86. Nd4 Bd5 87. Ke8 Bc4 88. Kd7 Bd5 89. Kd6 Ba2 90. Kc5 Bb1 91. Nf3
Be4 92. Ne5 Bb1 93. Kd5 Kf5 94. Kd4 Ba2 95. Ke3 Bd5 96. Kf2 Ba2 97. Nc6 Bb1 98.
Ne7+ Kf6 99. Nd5+ Kf5 100. Ne3+ Kf6 101. Kf3 Ba2 102. g4 {Having made no real
progress since winning the d-pawn, White opts to take one last try, although
the draw is even clearer following the pawn trade.} hxg4+ 103. Nxg4+ Kf5 104.
Ne3+ Kf6 105. Ke4 Bb1+ 106. Kd4 Ba2 107. Ke4 Bb1+ 108. Kf3 Ba2 109. Ng4+ Kf5
110. Kg3 Bb3 111. Ne5 Ba2 112. Nc6 Kf6 113. Nd4 Bb1 114. Kg4 Bd3 115. Kg3 Bb1
116. Nb5 Bd3 117. Nc7 Bb1 118. Nd5+ Kf5 119. Nc3 Bc2 120. Ne2 Bd1 121. Nd4+ Ke4
122. Nb5 Kf5 123. Nd6+ Ke6 124. Nc4 Kf6 {Black still has to be careful- 124...
Kf5?? 125 Ne3+ would be an ignominious end to the game.} 125. Ne3 Bb3 126. Kf3 {
And looking at the position, I started to get the impression that I'd seen
this before, and started to look over my scoresheet. I thought this might be
close to the position we had seen around moves 104-108, but I didn't want to
risk claiming a repetition when under no real on board risk unless I was
certain.} Ba2 {This is a repetition of the position after Black's 104th and
106th moves, however.} 127. Ke4 Bb1+ {And here, as the check was much easier
to visualize on the scoresheet, I claimed a threefold repetition based on the
position after moves 105 and 107, which was accepted by Ian. With this result,
I secured clear first in the 2022 Charlottetown Open.} 1/2-1/2
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