Fred Davies analysis 001
with reference to chess engine Stockfish 14, occasionally called the "silicon monster"
Alternative moves may sometimes be written inline (in parentheses). Otherwise, to avoid confusion, analysis follows move on separate line in parentheses with Black moves usually preceded by conventional ellipsis ("...").

copy editing by James Conlon

Neal Fisher v Francis Bowers
2021 September 30

Location: Peterborough Bridge Club

Competition: Silver Queen

A45 Trompowsky Attack (by transposition)

I have never been a great fan of the London System, or the Trompowsky for that matter. To me it is not the Emma Radacanu style of chess. Not a hard penetrating opening service, but merely pawn pushing i.e. lobbing the ball over the net, to get the game underway. For those of you interested in the Trompowsky I recommend you study the games of English GM, Julian Hodgson. As for the London, there are several recent training videos you can access - there is a detailed opening monologue by a French GM on Chess 24, or a PowerPlay CD by GM Danny King.

1. d4 Nf6

2. Bf4 c5

(Black challenges the centre straight away.)

3. e3 d6

4. Nd2 Nc6

(... Qb6 is much more aggressive and ambitious.)

5. c3?!

(This is not the correct move order. As we shall see in a moment, better is 5 Ngf3 keeping an eye on e5.)

... Bf5?!

(Unusually passive for a great tactician like Francis. ... cxd4 6 cxd4 e5! with a pull in the centre.)

6. Be2?!

(Too routine. It is so vital to calculate carefully in the opening phase. Stockfish 14 recommends 6 dxc5 but I like 6 e4! e.g. (i) ...Bg4 7 f3 Bd7 with a nice plus or (ii) ...Bxg4? 7 Nxe4 followed by 8 d5 winning a piece (the check on a4) or (iii) ...Nxe4?! 7 Nxe4 Bxe4 8 d5! and White is very much on top.)

... e5?!

(Correct idea, wrong move order. Correct was ... cxd4 and if (i) 7 cxd4 e5! 8 dxe5 dxe5 9 Bg3 Qb6 or (ii) 7 exd4 e5! 8 dxe5 dxe5 9 Bg3 Bc5. In both cases Black would have the freer game.)

7. dxe5 dxe5

8. Bg5

(I don't understand this move. 8 Bg3 looked natural with Nc4 to follow with pressure on Black's centre. Many of the great masters in history tell us that control of the centre is a key objective in chess. Nevertheless, the silicon master does not disapprove of Neal's idea.)

... Be7

9. Bxf6 Bxf6

10. e4!

(A good move. Limiting the scope of Black's Bishop on f6.)

... Be6?!

(Loses a tempo. Better was the immediate ...Bd7 as White could now play 10 Bg4 (even if ...Bd7) to leave Black with a bad Bishop for the endgame. After ...Be6 11 Bc4! Bd7 (not ...Qe7?) 12 Ngf3 and White is better.)

11. Ngf3 0-0 (... Qb6!)

12. 0-0 (12 Bc4!)

... Qb6 (...Na5!?)

13. b3 Rfd8

14. Qc1?!

(Loses a tempo. Simply 14 Qc2 is better linking the White Rooks.)

... a5?

(It is difficult to find a decent plan for Black here. One option is to pass and play ... h6 and await developments. The silicon monster recommends ... Na5 with level play. To comprehend this "strange" move, putting the Knight on the edge of the board is not what we are taught (a Knight on the rim is dim). But here it serves a purpose i.e. it guards the key square c4.)

15. b3!

(Stockfish likes 15 a4. As said before, I prefer 15 Nc4!)

... Rd7

16. Bb5! Rad8

17. Nc4 Qc7

18. Qc2 Bg4!

(Black exploits the extra tempo which is why 18 h3 was somewhat more accurate.)

19. Rad1?!

(Having played so well strategically Neal, playing White, misses a trick with 19 Bxc6 forcing bxc6 (otherwise the Knight gets to d5 via e3. Even so after say 20 Rfd1 h5 I think Black can just about hold the position.) ...Bxf3!

20. gxf3 b6?

(... Rxd1 21 Rxd1 Ne7 is equal.)

21. Rxd7 Rxd7

22. Rd1 Rd8?

(... Rxd1 was the best of a bad job.)

23. Rxd8+?

(White fails to calculate correctly. 23 Bxc6! and if ... Rxd1+ 24 Qxd1 Qxc6 25 Nxe5 or alternatively if ... Qxc6 24 Nxe5. The black pieces are overloaded due to the weak back rank.)

... Bxd8?

(Horrible. ... Nxd8 and all of Black's troubles are over.)
24. Bxc6! Qxc6
25. Qd3! Qg6+
26. Kf1! Qg5
27. Qd7 (Ke2!) h5
28. Qe8+
(Black is completely lost.)
... Kh7
29. Qxf7?
(Too greedy and not paying attention to the safety of his King. 29 Ke2 would have left Black paralysed.)
... Qc1+
30. Kg1
(Is White gaining time on the clock? He is still winning!)
... Qg5+
31. Kf1 Qc1+

Draw agreed! One can only speculate as to the part played by the clock. 32 Ke2! and if Qc2+ 33 Nd2 Bg5 34 Qxh5+ Bh6 35 f4! exf4 36 Qf3 and after the forced ...c4 37 bxc4 Qxa5 38 e5! the White e pawn will prove quicker than Black's a pawn because the White Queen controls the key central squares. I think Francis should change his name to Francis Houdini!

(Editor's note: Prepared for website publication on 2023 Feb 27. Annotation copyright held by Club (Fred Davies). Original version sent on email by Francis Bowers on 2021 October 01. PGN version can be derived by text editing.)