A missed opportunity: Arkell-Allen, Blackpool 2012

From the first round of this year’s Blackpool Open in March, here’s a near-miss by Keith Allen, playing Black against GM Keith Arkell.

Arkell-Allen, Blackpool Open 2012White has been over-pressing to squeeze something out of a level position, and has now fallen into trouble. It seems from what follows that both players were probably short of time.

55. … g4?

It’s not immediately obvious why this is bad. Instead 55. … Rh6! is much simpler. Black wins easily, since the rook comes around to b1.

56. Ra8 c3!

Black is still better, but it’s more complicated than it needs to be after White’s next.

57. Re8!

A shock: after 57. … cxb2?? 58. Rxc6 the black king is caught in a mating net, since the escape square g4 has been closed off by Black’s 55th. Allen finds the best continuation.

55. … g3!

Opening up g4 again. Black still has much the better of it.

58. bxc3 gxf2?

Now Black’s advantage slips away. Better 58. … g2! 59. Rc1 Rxa3 with excellent winning chances.

59. Kf1!

Much stronger than 59. Kxf2 Rcxc3. White plans to capture on f2 with the rook instead, after which the black king is once again exposed.

59. … Rcxc3?! 60. Rxf2+ Kg4??

A tragedy. 60. … Kg6 is essential, after which White has nothing better than a perpetual.

61. Rg8+ Kh3 62. Rf7 Rb1+ 63. Ke2

and Black is mated.

1-0

[Click to replay the full game.]

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