Games from the Maritimes

Manley-Horton, New Brunswick Open 2019

Rate this Entry
With the New Brunswick Open making its long awaited return to the board for the first time since 2019, here is a look at the decisive final round game from the most recent edition:

[Event "New Brunswick Open"]
[Site "Fredericton"]
[Date "2019.06.23"]
[Round "5.1"]
[White "Manley, Jason"]
[Black "Horton, Joe"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A36"]
[WhiteElo "2203"]
[BlackElo "2189"]
[Annotator "Manley,Jason"]
[PlyCount "94"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

{(Notes: 2021) Heading into the last round, I was in a tied for the
lead with FM Joe Horton at 3.5/4. It was winner takes all, with a draw going
to tie-break. The tie-break was likely to favour Joe, so I saw this game as a
must win. Joe and I had met 5 times previously, with Joe holding a 3-1 lead
with one draw. I knew this would be a major test.} 1. c4 g6 2. g3 Bg7 3. Bg2 {
I opted for a quiet, solid English opening, looking to develop and then break
in the position when necessary. A must win doesn't mean a chaotic opening is
necessary, especially as white.} c5 4. Nc3 Nc6 {
Joe mirrors my position early on.} 5. e3 d6 {The break from symmetry. I favour
pushing d4 and establishing a strong centre, while Joe favours free
development for his light square bishop.} 6. Nge2 Bf5 7. d4 Qc8 {
With his eyes on trading off White's good bishop.} 8. dxc5 {
I opt to trade off, freeing space for a central advance with e4.} dxc5 9. Nd5 {
A strong square for the knight if it can be maintained.} Nf6 10. Nec3 Nxd5 11.
Nxd5 {While I like the position of the White knight, consider the relative
positions of the bishops. Joe's are much more powerful, and it appears that
his opening has been much more successful than mine. I'd say Black has a solid
edge so far.} O-O 12. Qa4 {Sidelining the queen. A questionable choice,
particularly with limited targets and incomplete development.} Re8 13. Qb5 {
?! And this can't be accurate. Black can easily defend the c-pawn and the
while targeting the hole at d3 and the c4-pawn.} Ne5 {Natural and good.} 14.
Nf4 Rb8 15. O-O {?! This would have been useful earlier, but retreating the
queen to put it back into action was a more pressing concern.} g5 {Joe goes right
after the d3 square. However, Bc2, cutting off the White queen's return path
may have been even stronger. Now White can eliminate the dark square bishop
and free up his queenside to complete development.} 16. Nh5 Bd3 17. Nxg7 Kxg7
18. Re1 Bxc4 19. Qa5 {Black has secured an extra pawn, but at least White can
unlock the queenside now.} Ba6 20. Qc3 f6 21. f4 {White keeps what pressure he
can muster on, hoping to break open the long diagonal.} gxf4 22. exf4 Nd3 23.
Re3 c4 24. Be4 {White tries to eliminate the well placed knight.} Nxc1 {
White isn't disappointed to see this. Black retains an edge, but White's
pieces are untangled and growing in activity.} 25. Rxc1 b5 26. Bb1 Qc5 {
Joe seeks to restrict White's movement through pressing on the dark square
diagonal.} 27. Rce1 e5 28. b4 {Locking down the queenside. White is hoping to
use the b1-h7 diagonal to create some winning chances of his own, which is
easier to focus on with less play happening on the other side of the board.}
Qb6 29. Kf1 {Breaking the annoying pin. now e5 is under threat, with Qc2
focusing on h7 as a secondary idea.} Qc6 {
?! Now White can equalize material and snatch an edge with fxe5.} 30. Be4 {
?! Too cautious. I was concerned about Qh1+, but the white king can hide on
the queenside and the position will be blasted open with fxe5.} Qd6 31. Qc2 {
? Awkward. Moving the bishop off the e-file would have pinned the pawn and
kept White's structure sound. Now Black can snag a second pawn and drive for a
win.} exf4 32. gxf4 Bb7 {? This is a major error which saves White. Now I can
grab a piece. Might the must-win situation be rewarded?} 33. Qg2+ Kh8 34. Bxb7
Rxe3 35. Rxe3 Qd1+ {But this is Joe's salvation. White doesn't have a clear
way to escape the checks. I was desperate, though, and needing a win sought to
keep the game going.} 36. Re1 Qd3+ 37. Re2 Qd1+ 38. Kf2 Qd4+ 39. Kf3 Qd3+ 40.
Re3 Qd1+ 41. Re2 {?? Well, I've escaped the checks, but now the bishop is
hanging and Black is totally winning. I should have accepted my fate of a draw.
} Rxb7 42. Kf2 Qd4+ 43. Ke1 Rb8 {White has few targets and no safe place for
his king, on top of weak pawns and Black's soon to be dominant passer on the
c-file. It's nearing resignation time.} 44. Re7 Rg8 45. Qh3 Qg1+ 46. Kd2 Rg2+
47. Kc3 {A final error, but White was finished either way.} Qa1# {And so I came
up short, with Joe claiming the 2019 New Brunswick Open Championship.} 0-1
Tags: None Add / Edit Tags