The Campbell Report
Hard Chess
with USCF Senior Master Mark Morss
(4) Wilson - Morss [A82]

A couple of years ago I added the Leningrad Dutch to my repertoire, and soon enough I found myself with the black pieces against the very same Staunton Gambit that I as White had abandoned. My opponent in this encounter was USCF Master Jeff Wilson of Hoffman Estates, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.

1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 d5 5.fxe4 dxe4 6.Bg5 Bf5 7.Bc4 Nc6 8.Nge2 Qd7

8...e5?! is well met by 9.0-0.

9.0-0 e6 10.Qe1 0-0-0 11.Rd1 Na5 12.Bb3

12.Bb5 c6 13.Ba4 Nc4 14.d5 (14.Bb3 Nxb2 15.Rb1 Nd3 is very complicated, but I think Black is better, for example 16.cxd3 exd3 17.Ng3 Qxd4+ 18.Rf2 Bc5 19.Rbb2 Ng4!) 14...Bc5+ 15.Kh1 was played in Schultz-Wille, Germany 1957. I don't care for White's chances.


Schiller and Colias, in How to Play Black against the Staunton Gambit, say, "The immediate response [to 12. Bb3] should be 12...Be7 , since Black's light-squared bishop isn't going anywhere, and Black can afford to finish development before taking on b3." But I disagree. After 12...Be7 White can compel the return of the pawn, with a more or less even game.


A) 13...Nc6 14.Bxf6 gxf6 (14...Bxf6 15.d5) 15.d5 Bc5+ 16.Kh1 and White is better;

B) 13...c6 14.Nxe4 Nc4 15.Nxf6 gxf6 (or 15...Bxf6 16.Bxf6 gxf6 17.Qc3) 16.Bc1 Rhg8 17.Bb3 and the game looks roughly even to me.

13.axb3 h6

Black is entirely willing to invest a tempo in the opening of the g-file, should White decide to exchange on f6. If White retreats the bishop, Black will have some initiative.

13...Be7 as played in Morss-Ilosvay is also a good move, but I wasn't sure about how to evaluate 14.d5


14.Bh4 Bd6;
14.Bf4 Nd5


I was aiming here for simplification, which I believe favors Black in this position. It's difficult now for White to avoid the next series of exchanges.

15.Ng3 Bd6 16.h3 Nxe3 17.Qxe3 Bxg3 18.Qxg3 Qc6

Diagram h
Game position after 18...Qc6

c6 is a good post for the queen in the Staunton with 4. f3 d5, defending the e4 pawn and the queenside, and eyeing c2.

Black has the advantage in the diagrammed position, for if White invests the time necessary to win the e4 pawn, Black will be able to stir up an initiative. But White has little choice, since not enough wood remains to mount a convincing queenside attack.

18...e3?! 19.d5 Bxc2 20.Rc1 Bd3 (20...Bxb3? 21.Nb5) 21.Rfd1 Ba6 22.Qxe3 favors White.

19.Qe3 Rd6

Black piles up on d4.

20.Rfe1 Rhd8 21.g4?

It would have been much better to take the e-pawn immediately. This move exposes White's kingside pawns in the coming ending.

21...Bg6 22.Nxe4 Qxe4 23.Qxe4 Bxe4 24.Rxe4 c5 25.c3 cxd4 26.Rdxd4

White wisely decides to play a single rook and pawn ending, maximizing his drawing chances. He exchanges his least active rook.

The king and pawn ending after 26.Rexd4 Rxd4 27.Rxd4 Rxd4 28.cxd4 Kd7 is won for Black.

26...Rxd4 27.cxd4 Kd7

Diagram i
Game position after 27...Kd7

Black has the better pawns, the more active king, and, with ...Rc8 soon to be played, the more active rook -- a good recipe for a win.

28.Kf2 Rc8 29.Rf4 Rc2+ 30.Ke1 Ke7 31.Re4 Kd6 32.Rf4

White's rook moves look desperate, but his chances for a draw depend on finding activity for his rook.

32...Rxb2 33.Rf7 Rxb3 34.Rxg7 a5

White's rook finds its activity, but it's very tough for White now that Black has connected, passed pawns.

35.Kd2 a4 36.Kc2 b5 37.h4 Rh3 38.Rb7 Kc6 39.Re7 Kd5

Not all rook and pawn endings are drawn.


Copyright © 1999 by Mark F. Morss

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