The tournament situation at the point of this game was looking good for me, if I could win this game then I was practically assured of winning the club championship because of the tie break system used. In case of a tie whoever finished higher in the qualifying tournament would win and as I had won this event my final game with the top seed J. Davis 2019 would not matter for the tournament standings.
Stewart is well known to play the Grob at Club and Correspondence level.
1...d5 2.Bg2 c6
The solid approach. Black wants to grab the center.
3.h3 e5 4.d3 Bd6 5.Nc3 Ne7 6.e4
This knight should not be developed so soon, d4 was simply better. I was hoping my opponent would take on d5 twice and be worse. Hope chess is never a good idea simply play the best move.
6...d4 7.Nce2 Ng6 8.Nf3 0-0 9.0-0 Be6 10.Ng3 Nd7 11.Nf5 Black has a central space advantage and nice development but white has a good square on f5 and possible attacking opportunities on the K-side.
7.exd5 cxd5 8.Nge2
8.Nxd5 Nxd5 9.Bxd5 Qa5+ Winning the piece but white is not so obliging
White is playing in unusual fashion Stewart has a good feeling for Grob positions.
With the g pawn sticking out on g4 the knight is better placed on g6 than f6
Better is 10...0-0 11.f5 I was cncerned with this possibility but a deeper look and I would have realised white's K-side pawn's are not advancing so easily. 11...Nh4 12.Bh1 Re8³ 13.Qe1 Bc5+ 14.Kh2 Be7]
11.Nxf4 Nxf4 12.Bxf4 0-0
My main plan for this game was just to play good solid moves takes my chances where I can and slowly try and grind my opponent down.
13.Qd2 Be6 14.Bxd6 Qxd6 15.Qf4 Qc5+
Trading queens must be avoided
16.Rf2 Rad8 17.Raf1
The reason for the ? is also to do with the fact I hadn't analysed the coming complications correctly and I shouldnt have been in a hurry to play such a forcing move giving up a key square on e4.
17...f6 and white's heavy pieces are simply blunted
18.Ne4 Qe7 19.Qg5!
White is playing good solid moves and putting me in an awkward position at the time I was impatient at not having an advantage yet and this impatience affected my play a bit, remembering winning this game and I would practicallly have won the tournament.
At the time I thought I was forced to trade queens because of Nf6+ possibilities, but this is not the case.
19...Qc7?! 20.Nf6+ Kh8 21.Qh4 White's attack is not dangerous for a pc but a human like me has issues allowing this but i also didnt realise how bad things were after Qxg5. 21...h6 22.g5 Qe5 23.Ne4 (23.gxh6 gxf6) 23...Nd5 24.gxh6 g6;
19...Rfe8 20.Qxe7 Rxe7 21.Ng5 h6 22.Nxe6 fxe6=
In my attempts to avoid the drawn KP ending after 20...Nd5 and not realising how good 20...Na4 was I play purposely to lose a pawn just to be able to continue the game! A decision that is very double edged.
20...Na4! I dismissed Na4 too quickly thinking such a move just seemed ridiculious but it is the best move. 21.b3 Nc3 22.Bxb7 h6 23.Nxe6 fxe6 the position is equal but atleast their is still a game going.
20...Nd5 21.Be4! g6 22.Nxe6 fxe6 23.Rxf8+ Rxf8 24.Rxf8+ Kxf8 25.Bxd5 exd5 26.g5 Ke7 27.Kf2 Ke6 28.h4 Ke5 29.Kf3 Kf5 30.Kg3 b5 31.a3 a5 32.Kf3 Ke6 33.Kf4 Kd6 34.Kg4 Ke6 35.h5 a4= Nobody can make progress.
21.Bxd5 Nxd5 22.Rxf7 Rxf7 23.Nxf7
Better is 23.Rxf7 h6 24.Rxg7+ Kxg7 25.Ne6+ A tactic missed by both during the game.
23...Rc8 24.Rf2 Ne3 25.Nd6 Rc6?!
25...Rxc2 26.Rxc2 Nxc2 27.Nxb7 Kf7 Again I want to keep material on as I am hoping my opponent will go wrong soon but playing hope chess is never good.
This throws away all white's advantage.
26.Nxb7 Nxc2 27.Nd8 Rc8 28.Re2 And white is still a healthy pawn up.
26...Nxc4 27.dxc4 Rxc4 28.Rd2
This is a bad decision, instead of activating white's rook just to activate my own I should have marched my King towards the d pawn and then activate my rook.
28...Kf7 29.b3 Rc3 30.Rxd4 Ke6 31.Ra4 a6 32.Rb4 b5 33.a4 Rxh3 34.axb5 axb5 35.Rxb5 Rg3+ 36.Kf2 Rc3 = with some play left
29.Rxd4 Rxc2 30.Rd8+ Kf7 31.Rd7+ Kg6
better is 31...Kf6
32.Rxb7 a5 33.Ra7
33.a4 Rc4 34.b3 Rc3 and white has good winning chances
33...Rxb2 34.Rxa5 h6 35.a4 Ra2
At this point I still hadn't realised my opponent wasn't going to make a blunder, the position is now simple enough that even if a blunder comes it won't be decisive. Infact I am just worse with a real chance of blundering myself and losing!
36.Kf1 Rh2 37.Rh5 Ra2 38.a5 Kf7 39.Rb5 Ke6 40.Rb6+ Kd5 41.a6 Kc5 42.Rg6 Kd4 42...Kd5 43.h4 Ke5 44.h5 Ke4 45.Ke1 Ke3 46.Kd1 Kd3 47.Kc1 Kc3 48.Kb1 Ra4 49.Rxg7 Rxa6 43.Rxg7 Rxa6 44.Re7
A great psychological blow my king is now cut but I am still living in denial hoping my one pawn will give me a chance to win.
better is 44...h5
45.Kf2 Kd5 46.Kg3 Kd6 47.Re2 h5
I now realise, realistically too late, any winning chances are now completely gone and I must struggle on and try not to lose.
48.Kh4 hxg4 49.hxg4
Both players are now heading under 5 mins. I am just playing instantly trying to put my opponent under time pressure and hoping for swindles. Further research is needed to find out exactly where the rook endgame is won and lost for me but J. Davis has written a good article here ( http://web.mac.com/xrissmith/Chess/Learn/EG/secretimprovement.htm ) based around this type of endgame.
49...Rh6+ 50.Kg5 Rh1
Stewart pointed out after the game it's the grob pawn trying to queen!
51.Kg6 Rg1 52.g5 Kd7 53.Rf2 Ke7 54.Rf5 Ke6 55.Rf6+ Ke7 56.Kh6 Rg2 57.Rb6 Rh2+ 58.Kg7 Rg2 59.g6 Rg1 60.Rb7+ Ke8 61.Kh7 Rh1+ 62.Kg8 Rg1 63.Rg7 Rg2 64.Kh8 Rg1 65.Rg8+ Ke7 66.Kg7 Rg2 67.Rb8 Rg1 68.Rb7+ Ke8 69.Rf7 Rg2 70.Rf6 Ke7 71.Rf7+ Ke8 72.Rf8+ Ke7 73.Rf7+
With less than 30 seconds on his clock white repeats the position giving me a lucky escape. The game was well played by my opponent and I am sure if we ended up in this endgame now he would win it easily. Stewart had a good philosophy throughout the game of simplifying the position which worked perfectly against my impatient play.
By drawing this game it gave Justin Davis the chance to win the championship if he could beat me in the final game making the finish of the tournament all the more interesting.