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MACA Chess Horizons Magazine Article
 2015 Mass Open Best Games U2100: Brand - Keegan
 FM David Griego
  December 2015

Stijn Brand (1944)
Thomas P. Keegan (1840)
84th Massachusetts Open (3)
Queen’s Pawn Game (D02)

1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 g6 3. e3 d5 4. Nf3 Nbd7 5. Nbd2 Bg7 6. Be2 O-O 7. Ne5 Nxe5 8. Bxe5 Nd7

Certainly not bad, although it looks a little accommodating. 8... Bh6?! is a strange (and probably dubious) looking move, admittedly stolen from a common Queen's Indian motif, with colors reversed. The idea is to evict the bishop on e5 with ...Nd7, and then regrouping and going for an eventual... e5. 9. O-O (9. h4!? Nd7 10. Bg3 also might give black second thoughts about his creativity) Nd7 10. Bg3 c5 (10... Re8 11. c4) 11. c3 Bg7 12. Qb3!?²) 8... c6 is probably best and normal 9. O-O Qb6 10. Rb1 Bf5 and black has no problems.

9. Bxg7 Kxg7 10. Nf3

It seems more aggressive to take a shot at the center with 10. c4 or maybe even a "head shot" with 10. h4!?

10… c6 11. O-O f6?!

This is connected to an ambitious but faulty plan of playing ...e5 quickly. 11... Qc7 is much more solid.

12. c4 e5?!

The incorrect plan continues. 12... dxc4 13. Bxc4 Nb6 14. Bb3 Bg4 is only very slightly better for white.

13. cxd5 e4

13... cxd5 14.Qb3 (14. dxe5 Nxe5 15. Nd4² {is good for an edge as well, as the IQP position is worse than normal with the weakness on e6) e4 15. Nd2 transposes

14. Nd2 cxd5 15. Qb3²

The resulting position is just quite a bit better for white, somewhat like a reversed French with many advantages. The d5 pawn isn't that easy to defend, white doesn't have the traditional bad bishop, and the c-file will soon be under his control.

15… Nb6

15... Qa5 16. Nb1!? is a regrouping which would be familiar to French Defense players. 16… Nb6 17. Nc3²

16. Rac1?!

16. a4 looks more ambitious. 16… a5 17. Rfc1 and white's initiative is growing smoothly. Rc5 is on the way, and the weakness on b5 and a5 only helps white.

16... Be6? 

Seems like a tactical oversight. 16... Qd6 17. a4 (17. Rc5 Bd7 18. Rfc1 Rfc8 is also manageable.) 17... Bd7 18. a5 Nc8 19. Qxb7 Rb8 20. Qc7 Rxb2 offers a good amount of counterplay for black.

17. Nxe4! dxe4 18. Qxe6 Re8 19. Qb3 Re7 20. Rc5 Rc8 21. Rfc1

So white is pretty much "routinely" up a pawn, and it's hard to imagine where black's counterplay will appear.

21… Rxc5 22. Rxc5

22. dxc5 Nd7 23. Qa4 a6 24. Qd4 looks totally dominating for white as well.

22... Rc7

It's understandable that black fears white doubling on the c-file, but an exchange of rooks will only lead to suffering.

23. Qc2

23. Rxc7+ Qxc7 24. Qe6 (24. Qc3? isn't so good due to Qxc3 25. bxc3 Nd5 26. c4 Nc3) 24... Qc1+ 25. Bf1 Qxb2 26. Qe7 Kg8 27. Qxe4 Qxa2 28. Qxb7+-

23... Re7!

Understanding his mistake from the previous move, White finds the best fighting chance. It's often not so easy to admit an error in this manner! 23... Rxc5 24. dxc5 Nd7 is equivalent to rolling over: both 25. b4 f5 26. Qc3+ +- and 25. c6 Qc7 26. Qxe4 +- (25… bxc6 26. Qxc6 doesn’t help) lead to a quick victory for White.

24. Bc4 f5

24... Nd7 25. Rb5 b6 puts the rook in an awkward situation. Black could consider undertaking some kingside action after this refinement.

25. g3

Not so bad, and it's understandable wanting to hold up ....f4. However, this does give black a future target for an attack. 25. Bb3 f4 26. Qc3 +- keeps everything under control for White.

25... h5 26. Bb3 h4 27. a4 hxg3 28. hxg3 Kf6!

We've probably entered the "Hail Mary" portion of the game now. Black manages to set White some serious problems using an aesthetically pleasing configuration of his forces.

29. a5 Rh7!

Again the best chance. 29... Nd7 30. Rc7 Rh7 31. Rxb7 Qh8 32. Qc6+ Kg5 33. f4+ Kg4 (33... exf3 34. Qxf3 and the queen covers h1) 34. Bd1+ mates soon.

30. axb6 Qh8

31. Kf1

Absolutely forced. 31. Rc6+ doesn't work here: 31… Kg5! (31... bxc6 32. Qxc6+ Kg5 33. f4+ exf3 34. Qxf3) 32. Kf1 bxc6 -+

31... Rh1+ 32. Ke2 Qh3 33. Kd2!

Again completely forced! Vacating c2 for the king still walks into mate: 33. Qc4?? Qf1+ 34. Kd2 Qe1+ 35. Kc2 Qc1#

33... Qf1 34. Kc3!

Again 34. Qc4?? Qe1+ 35. Kc2 Qc1#. 34. Qd1 Qd3+ 35. Kc1 Rxd1+ 36. Bxd1 axb6 isn't good either.

34... axb6 35. Re5 Qa1 36. Kb4 Rc1 37. Qd2 Kg5

After a series of perfect defensive moves by White, the attack has now run out of steam. A final gasp try would have been the pseudo-interference (and slick looking!) idea 37... Rc5!? hoping for 38. dxc5?? (38. Rxc5 bxc5+ 39. dxc5 is of course the end) 38... Qa5+ 39. Kc4 b5+ 40. Kd5 Qxd2#.

38. Rb5 Rc6 39. d5 Rc5 40. Rxc5 bxc5+ 41. Kxc5 Qa7+ 42. Kb4 b6 43. Qd4 Qa5+ 44. Kc4 b5+ 45. Kc5 b4+ 46. Kc4 Qa6+ 47. Kxb4 Qe2 48. d6 Qxf2 49. d7