McPhillips vs. McCabe

Another game from the Kilkenny match, this time a superb win for Darren over the brilliant Karl McPhillips. All annotations and text are from Darren:

Karl McPhillips (2281) vs. Darren McCabe (1889),
Armstrong, Kilkenny vs. Rathmines ‘A’, played Saturday 19th February 2011.
Annotated by Darren McCabe


Its always difficult to play against a friend but to play a friend who is 2300 and knows every opening you are likely to play is horrible. On the other side of the coin, I knew every opening he could play so it wasnt all bad.

Benko Gambit
1.d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. Nf3

The line I had prepared. This move is not too dangerous and usually leads to a quiet position. White has no real chance of getting an advantage here. However Black shouldn’t disregard the move completely or he can easily end up worse. Black has to play accurately. 4…Bb7 Black’s main objective is to destroy White’s centre. If White is allowed to calmly build up behind it his position will be very pleasant. The main idea of the Nf3 variation is the following variation. 4… g6 5.cxb5 a6 (5… Bg7 6. Nc3 a6 7. e3 when whites a tempo up on another Benko Mainline.) 6. e4 Nxe4 7. Qc2 f5 8.Nbd2 Qa5 9. b4Qxb4 10. Rb1 with a strong initiative. For example Qc3 11.Qd1 when Bb2 is coming! 5. Nbd2 White wants to play e4 quickly. (5. cxb5 Bxd5 and Black has traded a wing pawn for an important central pawn.)

5… bxc4 Black begins to dismantle White’s centre 6. e4 e6 this move guarantees that White’s centre will crumble. 7. dxe6 (7. Bxc4 exd5 8. exd5 Qe7+ 9. Qe2 Qxe2+ 10. Kxe2 Nxd5)

7… dxe6 8. e5 Nd5

This is probably a good starting point to find a plan for both sides. Whites Plans Kingside: White could try to play on the Kingside. His e5 spearhead, the lack of Black pieces and the fact that he could initiate an attack quickly with moves like Nxc4, Bd3, Ng5 and Qh5 are all good reasons why he could play there. Central Plan: White can also play in the centre and try to control the d6-square in particular. After 9.Nxc4, the e5-pawn and the knight influence this square. White could try to exchange dark-squared bishops with a timely Bg5! to increase control. This would also exchange the c5-pawn’s protector and a white rook could find a home on c1. Blacks Plan: Black has completed his objective of dismantling White’s centre but at the cost of isolating his c5-pawn. Although this can be viewed as a weakness, it is difficult to attack and it also does a great job in keeping a white knight out of d4. He also controls the d5-square and his knight on d5 and his bishop on b7 are well placed. White’s e-pawn is a bit loose and Black may also use the d-file as a source of counterplay. Its not hard to imagine a black rook going to d8.

9. Bxc4 (Nxc4 is better.) 9…Be7 10. Bb5+ this move has no real purpose as Black wants to develop his knight to c6 anyway 10…Nc6 11. O-O O-O 12. Ne4 White underminds the defence of his own e5-pawn. 12…Qc7 13. Bxc6

Only move. Any other move drops the e5-pawn. White also concedes the two bishops 13…Qxc6 14. Re1 (14. Bg5 is probably White’s best bet. Exchanging the bishops makes sense as it enhances control of d6 and also exchanges one of the c5-pawn’s protectors. However Black should still hold an edge after 14…Bxg5 15. Nexg5 h6 16. Ne4 Nf4 17. Nd6 Rad8)
14… Rfd8 The black rook x-rays the white queen down the open file. White is probably already lost here. 15. Bd2 White has nothing better. 15…Nb4 Unleashing a pin on the d-file and the black knight eyes the d3-square.

16. Re3 This move is aimed at limiting any damage a black knight would cause on d3. Rd3 Removing the defender to the e4-knight and winning a pawn by force. 17. a3 Rxe3 18. Bxe3 Qxe4 19. axb4 Qxb4 20. Qd7

White tries to get some active play. 20…Qxb2 21. Re1 Bxf3 This move sacrifices the c-pawn but it kills any White counterplay on the Kingside. Black will push his a-pawn up the board to decide the game. 22. Qxe7 Bd5 23. Bxc5 a5 Time to push! 24. Ba3 White blockades the pawn. It may be very difficult for black to promote his passed a-pawn as white will try and “keep it under lock and key”. This in turn ties the White pieces down on the queenside and will leave the White Kingside bare. Black must attack there next. 24…Qc3 wins the e5-pawn as any rook move off the back rank and white will be mated with Qc1 .25. Rc1 Qxe5 26. Qc5 Setting up a back rank mate. 26…h5! combining defence with attack. Black gives his king luft and will now ram the h-pawn up the board in order to create holes in the white kingside.
27. f3 h4 28. h3 Qg3 29. Qe3 Rb8 The rook enters the game and now threaten a deadly fork on b3. 30. Be7 Rb2

It is game over. White has a few checks before he can resign. 31. Rc8+ Kh7 32. Qd3+ f5 33. Qf1 Bxf3 wins the White Queen. 34. Qxf3 Rb1+ 35. Qf1 Qe3+ 0-1

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2 Responses to McPhillips vs. McCabe

  1. Michael says:

    Well done Darren. Great win. Well annotated too.

  2. leon fagan says:

    brillant result from a quality player well done was a pity about overall result.

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