Games involving players of different generations usually end in favor of the younger player. But not always.
In his prime, Jon Speelman of England was one of the best players in the world. He was a candidate for the World Championship, reaching the semifinals of the candidates matches in the 1990 cycle. Though he is far from his peak, he continues to play creatively.
In this contest, he faced Laurent Fressinet of France, a much younger player who is rated 2692. The game became quite chaotic and Fressinet chose to play very aggressively against Speelman, perhaps hoping that his older opponent would succumb amidst the complications. Fressinet does come close to winning, but Speelman finds some great resources to stay afloat and eventually it is the younger player who falls prey to the tactical chaos.
Speelman, J. vs. Fressinet, L.
4NCL 2015-16 |Birmingham ENG |Round 10.121 |01 May 2016 |ECO: A48 |1-0
1. d4Nf62. Nf3g63. Bf4d64. e3Bg75. Be2O-O6. h3Not the most exciting
opening by White. Fressinnet plays this stage perfectly to create some great counterplay, despite the dry nature of the position. 6... b67. O-OBb78. Bh2Nbd79. a4a610. c4Ne411. a5c5!Creating an interesting imbalance in the position. 12. axb6Qxb613. Ra2This doesn't seem required -- a better way to defend the pawn on b2 would have been to rely on some tactics and just continue development with Nc3. Now, the rook is slightly misplaced, and White is, surprisingly, behind in development. Fressinnet uses the opportunity to add more pressure:
( 13. Nc3The position is probably around equal as Black can't take the pawn on b2 because: 13... Qxb2?14. Na4!Qb415. Rb1and Black loses the bishop on b7. )
13... cxd414. exd4e5!15. dxe5Nxe5it is unusual to weaken the pawn on d6 like this, but Black has compensation because of his very active pieces. 16. Bf4!Bringing the bishop on h2 back into the game! 16... Qc6!?It seems strange to allow
White to push the Black queen around with Nd4, but Fressinnet has an idea in mind.
( 16... Qc7seems more natural but after 17. Nxe5dxe518. Be3White has a solid position. )
17. Nd4Qc718. b3Qe7!A very surprising, but interesting transfer. The Black queen wasn't very useful where it was, but on the kingside it can create some real threats. 19. Rc2Qh420. Be3f5
( 20... Ng5looks tempting to me but it allows 21. Nc3!Nxh3+22. gxh3Qxh323. Nd5!and the deadly bishop on b7 has been blocked. )
21. Nf3Qf6There are no immediate threats, but Black's pieces are all very intimidatingly placed. 22. Bc1An interesting attempt to regroup pieces, but simply continuing to develop with Nbd2 would have been a lot more natural and solid.
( 22. Nbd2Nxf3+23. Nxf3Nc324. Qd2 )
22... g5!?Once again, Fressinnet choses the most
aggressive option. 23. Bb2Rad8
( 29. Rd3Bf4!and Qh4 or Qh6 creates
incredibly strong kingside threats: 30. Bxg4Qh631. Bh3Bxg2!It is amazing how tied up White is. 32. Kxg2Qg6+33. Kh1Rxd3 )
29... Rxd8Here White misses a great way to almost equalize: 30. Bd3
( 30. Bxe5!Qe731. Bd3Qxe532. Bxh7+Kxh733. Qxd8and the open Black king should give White plenty of chances to give checks. )
30... Bg731. Qc2Qc6!32. f3The White king looks close to getting mated on the dark squares, but it was very important to be precise for Black: 32... Qb6+
( 32... Qc5+!the lines are very similar to Qb6, but now White has no counterplay. Fressinet probably wanted the queen on b6 so he could play Qh6 easily. But Black could also play e4! to transfer the queen to the kingside from h5. 33. Kh1e4!34. Bxe4Qh5+35. Kg1Bxc336. Qxc3g3with a classic mating net. )
( 32... g333. Bxh7+Kh834. Bf5!Qh635. Bh3would keep the balance. )
33. c5!Qxc5+34. Kh2Now things are very unclear because the Black queen doesn't have an easy way to get to the kingside. And the open position gives White counterplay 34... gxf3
( 34... e435. Bc4+!lets White survive! )
35. Bxh7+Kh836. Be4!Perhaps Fressinnet saw 33. c5 when playing Qb6...and missed this intermediate defensive move. Without it, White's position looks almost lost. But suddenly now things aren't at all easy. 36... fxg2
( 36... Bxe437. Qxe4Qxc338. Qh4+!is the key idea which makes Be4 possible. )
37. Kxg2It's stunning how strange the position looks with almost all the pawns gone. With the extra pawn, Black should be fighting for more. Also, his king appears a little safer. But it is clear that White's pieces are better placed to switch to the kingside. Black needs to play a little precisely to generate threats while White can just continue playing natural moves. Now, in extreme time pressure, Fressinet plays a couple of natural but pointless moves. 37... Bc638. Rf3Rc8?!The rook doesn't do anything on c8. 39. Qe2Kg8?
( 39... Bxe440. Qxe4Qc6would have been perfectly fine, but Fresinnet was trying to play for a win. )
40. b4!Suddenly, the sneaky threat of Qa2 decides the game 40... Bb5
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