Couture, Jean-Luc
Gibney, Dr Eugene

Canadian Corr Championship K53
corr, 1997

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. c4 Bg4 4. e3 e6

4... e5? 5. Qb3!

5. Nc3 Bb4 6. a3

The system chosen by White is not one of the critical lines against the Tchigorin, and here 6. Qb3 looks somewhat better (dating back to the game Pillsbury-Tchigorin, St. Petersburg 1895-6), although Black has no problems in this line either.

6... Bxc3+ 7. bxc3 Nf6 8. Be2 O-O 9. cxd5 exd5 10. O-O Ne4 11. Bb2 Nd6

This move emphasises Black's dark square control and the poor White QB.

12. Nd2 Bxe2 13. Qxe2 Na5 14. a4 Ndc4 15. Nxc4 Nxc4

Black's strategic advantage is clear, but converting it into a win proves no easy task, with White putting up a determined and skilful resistance.

16. f3 Re8 17. e4 c6 18. Bc1

18. e5 Qg5 (18... Qb6 19. Rf2 but not 19 Rfb1 Rxe5) 19. a5 Qf5 with a plus for Black.

18... Qa5 19. Qc2 Re6 20. Re1 Rae8 21. Bf4 f5 22. e5 Rf8 23. Qb3 Rf7 24. Bg5

24. Qb4 Qxb4 25. cxb4 a5 and Black has only slightly the better chances. Black might be better avoiding the Queen exchange.

24... h6 25. Bh4 g5 26. Bg3 f4 27. Bf2 Qd8 28. Re2 b6 29. Rae1 h5 30. Rd1 Qf8 31. Be1 Rg7 32. Qb1 Qf7 33. Bf2 Qg6 34. Qxg6 Rgxg6

Black's plan is to post his King on e6, then slowly increase the pressure by creating a passed Q-side pawn, and eyeing a possible later K-side breakthrough.

35. Rb1 Kf7 36. g3 Re8 37. Kg2 Ke6 38. Rbe1 Rf8 39. gxf4 Rxf4 40. Bg3 Rf7 41. h3 Rg8 42. Rd1 Rgf8 43. Rd3 b5 44. axb5 cxb5 45. Be1 a5 46. Bd2 Nb2 47. Rde3 Rc8 48. Be1 Nc4 49. Rd3 a4 50. Ra2 Na5 51. Rb2 Nb3 52. Bd2 Rg7 53. Kf2 Kf5 54. Ke1 Rg6 55. Kf2 Rc4 56. Be1 Ra6 57. Rb1 Ke6 58. Ke3 h4 59. Rdd1 Rac6 60. Rb2 Rc8 61. Rd3 Rf8 62. Rb1 Rc7 63. Ke2 Rcf7 64. Re3 Rf4 65. Rd3 R8f7

Many times during this long ending I despaired of finding a breakthrough, even though this was my last game to finish in the tournament, and I knew I needed the full point to be assured of at least a tie for first place.

66. Re3 b4 67. Rd3 Rc7 68. Kf2 Rc8 69. Ke2 Rc4 70. Ke3 bxc3 71. Bxc3 Rf7 72. Bd2 Rb7 73. Rb2 Rb8 74. Kf2 Rb5

And with the threat of 75. ... Nxd4 White resigned. As it happened, the full point was enough to gain sole first place and the Canadian title!

0-1 [Dr Eugene Gibney]