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Mike J Surtees vs Jovanka Houska
British Championship (2008), Liverpool, rd 7, Aug-04
Caro-Kann Defense: General (B10)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-14-11  KingG: Great game from the lower rated player. Some annotations by Andrew Martin at
Premium Chessgames Member
  pawn to QB4: Thanks a lot for pointing this one out. I've played Surtees a few times, thought he was good but this is breathtaking. Opening's conventional by his standards.
Jul-17-15  ToTheDeath: Excellent and original dark square attack.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <pawn to QB4> - < Opening's conventional by his standards.>

True. Doesn't Surtees have a name for his opening adventures -- Revolutionary Opening Theory, aka ROT ... ?

This is brilliant ROT.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: This appears to transpose into a gambit line against the French with a tempo more; in the French version, Black plays ....c7-c5 in one go.

Wonder whether the solid Houska was at all familiar with the wing gambit motif. She got well and truly rolled in this one.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <perf> Yeah, the Caro-Kann is a fine opening ... yet I can't help thinking that there's something wrong with those lines where Black plays ...c6 and then ...c5, ending up a clear tempo down on similar French lines.

That said, there are positions where a tempo doesn't make much difference. The real trick is knowing whether your chosen line is one of those, or one where tempo is vital.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Dom> Played it a lot in the 1980s, when 3.e5 was coming into fashion after not being considered a challenging way to meet the defence, and before Short introduced his method and began posing problems of another kind.

Never thought much of 3....c5, though this has had its adherents; always seemed dodgy to me.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Back when this game was played <philfeeley> posted it in the kibitzers cafe -- glad it made it into the the database. In 2008 I looked at it with Fritz, more recently I took a peek with SF.

The way the game goes, it's sort of a French in which White exchanges his a- and b-pawns for his opponent's c-pawn, making his center very hard to challenge, as in the gambit line 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Ba5 6.b4 cxb4 7.Nb5 bxa3+ 8.c3. Bearing that in mind, Houska could have gone for a different kind of game with 5....Bf5.

8....Ba5 looks suspect, taking the bishop far away from the kingside. Probably even ...Bf8 would have been better. After 9.Ng3, SF goes straight to a draw: 9....f6 10.Bb5 fxe5 11.Qh5+ Kf8 12.Bxc6 bxc6 13.Qf3+ Ke8 14.Qh5+, etc. (If 14....g6 then 15.Qxe5 Nf6 16.Rxa5! Qxa5 17.Ne4!!.) I'm sure Surtees wouldn't have played this way, but it shows that even an engine thinks White has plenty for the pawn.

Instead after 9....Nge7 10.Nh5! 0-0 Black is already in terrible trouble, and after 11.Bg5 Qc7 (11....h6 was necessary) 12.Rxa5! Qxa5 she's completely lost. It's amazing that at this point White has only two pieces developed (one of which he promptly sacrifices), yet he's completely winning.

In addition to Surtees' 13.Nxg7, there's also 13.Bd3 (SF), with a quite different (but equally deadly) attack: 13....Ng6 14.Nf6+! gxf6 15.Bxf6 Rd8 16.Qh5 Kf8 17.Bxg6! fxg6 18.Qxh7 Qc7! and now taking the queen would allow Black to fight on, but 19.Qh8+ Kf7 20.Qg7+ Ke8 21.Qg8+ Kd7 22.Qf7+ Ne7 23.Qxe7+ Kc6 24.Qxd8 wins.

After Surtees' move, the knight can't be taken: 13....Kxg7 14. Bf6+ Kg8 15. Qg4+! Ng6 16. Qh5 Nxd4 17. Bd3 and the king is doomed. After Houska's 13....f5, SF likes 14.exf6, followed by the slow-looking 14...Nf5 15.Bd3 Qc7 16.Nxf5 exf5 17.0-0 Qf7 18.Nd2 Qg6 19.Nf3. The game continuation 14.Nh5 looks more normal, and maintains a winning position.

After 14....Ng6 15.Nf6+, ...Rxf6 was best, but still quite hopeless. Instead 15....Kh8 allowed Surtees to make another offer that had to be refused: 16. Nxh7, and if 16....Kxh7 17. Qh5+ Kg7 18. Qh6+ Kf7 19. Qh7+ Ke8 20. Qxg6+ Rf7 21. Be2! and, oddly, the rook can't be defended, e.g. 21....Kf8 22.Bh5 Qc7 23.Bh6+ Ke8 24.Qg8+, or 21....Ne7 22.Bxe7! Kxe7 23.Bh5.

And in the game continuation, after 16. ...Qc7 17. Nxf8 White has a material advantage to go with his attack, so he's clearly winning. SF likes 17.Nf6, because of the neat 17....Kg7 18.Qh5 Rh8 19.Ne8+!!, but it's a matter of choosing your own road to Rome at this point.

23. Qh8+ mates one move faster: 23....Kf7 24.Qg7+ Ke8 25.Bb5+ Nc6 26.Bxc6+, etc. But after the game's 23.g6, there's no reason to play on: 23....Nexg6 24.Bxg6 Nxg6 25.Rg1!.

Really a magnificent game, and an interesting illustration of just how valuable a big center can be. It's funny that Surtees never touched his QN, and even the KB stayed home until move 20.

Dec-28-18  Albion 1959: This is a wild and woolly game to look at. There is nothing conventional about the way that Surtees plays! In this respect he is akin to Michael Basman, with their unorthodox styles. Offbeat bizarre opening moves that seem to flout the established rules. This opening was similar to a Sicilian Wing gambit, but was this really sound? Move 8. Ba5?! Does not look right, I believe that the bishop was better placed on e7 to cover the dark squares. Was it possible from move 13 onwards that Houska to defend this position better than she did?

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