Molner - Rohde [B80]

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1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3
I guess this is the main move, but it seems uninspired to me. The line that's always attracted me most is [6.Ndb5!? noticing that Black has neglected to play the normal . ..a6. The variations in that line strike me as forcing and interesting, for instance: 6...Qb8 7.Be3 a6 8.Bb6 axb5 9.Nxb5 with fascinating complications to follow.]

6...Nf6 7.f3
Maybe it's a matter of taste, but I'd prefer 7. Be2, retaining the flexibility to decide between f2-f3 or f2-f4 at a more informed moment.

7...a6 8.Qd2 d6 9.0-0-0 Bd7 10.g4 h6 11.h4 Ne5 12.Rg1 g6 13.g5 hxg5 14.hxg5 Nh5 15.f4 Nc4 16.Bxc4 Qxc4 17.f5 b5
The position is, to borrow jargon, in dynamic equilibrium.

As the job of annotation falls on me, I'll risk being presumptuous and award a dubious mark to this move, though it does not fail to any immediately decisive continuation. 18. a3!, recommended by my analysis engine, may not seem obvious, but I believe it anticipates a stronger defensive formation. White's knight can come to b3, for instance, to blunt a potentially opened b-file. [18.a3 b4 19.axb4 Qxb4 20.Qd3 Rb8 21.Nb3 is a sample variation. Black's attack is too slow, while White threatens the obvious Qxa6 as well as the non-obvious Bc5 (...dxc5 Qxd7 mate).]

18...Qc7 19.fxg6?!
Surrending all aggressive flexibility with that pawn, Molner goes on the defensive. Probably concerned about his newly created weakness on c3, he prepares to move his centralized knight to make way for Bd4. For this, he needs to first resolve the tension on his f-pawn. Naturally any discussion of White's having an advantage is history.

19...fxg6 20.Nf3 Bg7 21.Bd4 0-0 22.Bxg7 Rxf3!
Brash play from Rohde, who has a thing or two to teach the younger generation about enterprise.

23.Bf6 Rc8 24.Ne2 Bc6 25.Nd4 Bxe4!
Rohde isn't letting off the pedal!

26.Nxf3 Qxc2+ 27.Qxc2 Rxc2+ 28.Kb1 Rc6+ 29.Kb2 Bxf3 30.Rd2?!
Molner is clearly rattled by Rohde's energetic assault and takes no time in going astray. Strategically sober was 30.Rdc1.

30...e5 31.Rf1 e4 32.Be7 Ng3
Chess was deeply enriched when people began bringing their knights reliably to the rim circa the hypermodern revolution. The vaguely forseen moment when that knight returns triumphantly to the theater of action is always beautiful.

33.Rc1 Rxc1 34.Kxc1 Nf5 35.Rxd6?
The first unambiguous error is decisive. Ah the rosy-cheeked blush of youth! Molner needed to hunker down with the stodgy 35.Bf6.

35...Nxe7 36.Rxa6 Kf7 37.Rf6+ Kg7 38.Rb6 Nd5
Black needs only coordinate his pieces properly and the combination of the three diverse pieces - passed pawn, knight, and bishop - easily outmatch the desperate rook and woefully retarded White a- and b-pawns.

39.Rxb5 e3 40.Rb8 Kf7 41.Rb7+ Ke6 42.Rb8 Kd7 43.Rf8 Bg4 44.a4 Nb4 45.Rf7+ Ke8 46.Rf1 Nd3+ 0-1