Games from the Maritimes

Manley-Martinovsky, New Brunswick Open 2022

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Earlier this month, the New Brunswick Open took place for the first time since 2022. The event came down to the following last round game, presented here with notes.

[Event "New Brunswick Open"]
[Site "Fredericton"]
[Date "2022.07.03"]
[Round "5.1"]
[White "Manley, Jason"]
[Black "Martinovsky, Ian"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B06"]
[WhiteElo "2208"]
[BlackElo "2201"]
[Annotator "Manley,Jason"]
[PlyCount "75"]
[EventDate "2022.??.??"]

{(Notes:2022) Heading into this last round battle, Ian and I were part
of a three way tie for the lead, with Jean Desforges being the third
protagonist, with white against Brian Zhang in the final round. Preliminary
calculations suggested that tie-breaks would favour either of us over Jean in
the case of a tie, so the winner of this game would be claiming the trophy for
2022. Ian and I had drawn both of our previous standard games earlier in the
year, in 16 moves at the Fredericton Spring Tornado with these colours and in
127 moves with the opposite colours at the Charlottetown Open four weeks
earlier. Ian had generally dominated our games at other time controls, and I
had yet to defeat him at any time control, so I was going to have to break
some new ground in order to win my second New Brunswick Open title.} 1. e4 g6
2. d4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. Bc4 {The Modern Defense was a new opening for our games,
but Ian has a very broad opening repertoire, so I had no particular
expectations for what I would face here. I decided to opt for calm development
early on.} a6 5. O-O b5 6. Bb3 e6 7. Re1 Ne7 8. c3 O-O {White has a strong
centre, but Black has plans to expand on the wings. Objectively this is likely
a bit better for White, although I think Black is fine for practical purposes.}
9. Bf4 h6 10. h4 {Looking to put a clamp on a g5 expansion, this could be a
weakness later in the game.} Nd7 11. Nbd2 {A solid enough development, but
holding back to play the knight to a3 following a4 would make for a more
influential post on the queenside.} Bb7 12. a4 e5 {An essential central thrust
for Black to avoid falling into too passive of a position.} 13. dxe5 {
Releasing the tension is a choice that I'm not sure I would make again in this
position. This frees Black up for more queenside expansion.} dxe5 14. Be3 c5
15. axb5 axb5 16. c4 {!? An anti-positional thrust, I was starting to grow
more wary of Black's queenside expansion and felt that after c4 I would be
starting to fall behind. This thrust leaves White with a backwards queenside,
but it also establishes a clear target on c5. This move crystallizes the
battle as one over queenside control, but it is also quite drastic.} b4 17. Ba4
Bc6 18. Bc2 {A retreat with a purpose, as I played Ba4 knowing that I would
have to handle Bc6. I wanted to free up b3 for the knight, and I didn't simply
play Bc2 in place of Ba4 as I felt that the bishop was a little misplaced on
c6.} Qc7 {?! This allows White to start dictating the play with pressure on c5.
Rxa1 followed by f5! kept the pressure on White.} 19. Nb3 Rfd8 20. Qe2 Bb7 21.
Red1 {?! Rxa8 would allow White to keep the momentum. Now Black can deflect
the rook and start to create in the centre.} Rxa1 22. Rxa1 f5 23. Ra7 {
Preparing for a potential exchange sacrifice on b7. At the time, I thought my
position was clearly worse, but hindsight has me thinking that such a sacrifice
was an unnecessarily risky proposition. Black has limited avenues of attack
and White has pressure on c5. The position is more dynamically equal than
anything else.} Qb6 {?! Putting the question to White with Ra8 was the
critical move. Now White can make a shift and introduce some dangerous threats.
} 24. Ra5 {! A counterintuitive but strong move. With the queen on b6, Bxc5
will now gain a tempo, so the threat has some extra bite in it. White has a
plus now, and will have the upper hand in coming complications.} fxe4 25. Nfd2
{The knight is looking to emerge on e4, a very strong and influential central
square.} Nf5 26. Rb5 Qc7 27. Bxe4 Bxe4 28. Nxe4 Nxh4 {? Too optimistic by far.
White's pieces are starting to take over the centre, and losing time grabbing
a wing pawn is asking for trouble. Nd4 is Black's best chance, although White
retains a clear plus.} 29. Nbxc5 Nxc5 30. Bxc5 Nf5 {? And Ian offered a draw.
It's too late for that, however, as his position is falling apart, and this
last move allows a nasty tactic.} 31. Bb6 Nd4 32. Qd3 {Looks to let Black off
the hook, but I had seen far enough to realize this was busted.} Nxb5 33. Bxc7
{! The key move. White gives the exchange but gets a passed pawn that will
cost Black a full rook to stop. White is completely winning.} Rxd3 34. cxb5 Rd5
{Strictly speaking, Rd1+ would be more accurate, as deflecting the king to h2
would make White have to go through more hoops to hold the b pawn, but the
ending is clearly won in any event.} 35. b6 Rb5 36. Nd6 Rxb6 37. Bxb6 e4 38. b3
{And Ian resigned. Shortly afterwards, Jean resigned his game as well, as I
finished in clear first with 4.5/5 to win my second New Brunswick Open!} 1-0
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