Playoff Match

With Zoran Babic and Michael Sugrue both finishing the 2015 Club Championship with 9 points out of 11, a two-game playoff match was arranged to determine the overall winner. The result was a 1:1 tie, with both Babic and Sugrue declared joint 2015 Club Champion.

Game 1

The first match was played on Saturday, February 13th, 2016.
Babic drew the white pieces, and prevailed with a strong king-side attack against Sugrue’s Sicilian Defence.

White: Babic
Black: Sugrue

B23: Sicilian, Closed.

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.f4 Nc6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bb5 a6 6.Bxc6+ bxc6 7.d3 g6 8.O-O Bg7
9.Qe1 O-O 10.Qh4 Rb8 11.Ne2 c4 12.e5 cxd3 13.cxd3 Ng4 14.h3 Nh6 15.d4 Nf5
16.Qe1 e6 17.Ng3 Nxg3 18.Qxg3 d5 19.b3 Qa5 20.Bd2 Qb6 21.Rac1 Bd7 22.Rc5 Rfc8
23.Rfc1 Bf8 24.Ng5 h6 25.Nf3

Babic_Sugrue_20160213

Position after 25. Nf3

25 …Bxc5?
Taking a terrible risk, although Black’s position is already difficult.

26.dxc5 Qd8 27.f5 exf5 28.Bxh6 Be8?
Somewhat better was 28 … Be6. Then if 29 Bg5 Qf8 to ward off mate on the dark squares.

29.Bg5 f6 30.Bxf6 Qc7 31.Ng5 Bf7 32.Qh4 Kf8 33.Qh8+ Bg8 34.Ne6+ and Black Resigned.

Game 2

The return match was played Saturday, February 20th. Babic had already secured at least joint title, and needed only to draw to become the sole 2015 Club Champion.

Sugrue had other ideas however, and managed to level the match with an endgame assault, after Babic had neutralised his early threats on the King side.

White: Sugrue
Black:  Babic

C79: Ruy Lopez, Steinitz Defense Deferred, Russian Defense.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.O-O Nf6 6.Re1 Bg4 7.c3 Be7 8.d3 h6 9.Nbd2
O-O 10.Nf1 Qd7 11.h3 Bxf3 12.Qxf3 Nh7 13.Ne3 Bg5 14.Nf5 b5 15.Bb3 Ne7 16.Ne3
Ng6 17.Qg4 Qxg4 18.hxg4 Nf6 19.f3 Nf4 20.Bc2 Bh4!

With this thrust, Black dissolves white’s bishop pair. The removal of the queen bishop also highlights the weakness of white’s dark squares.

21.Rd1 Ne2+ 22.Kh1 Nxc1 23.Rdxc1 c6 24.Nf5 Bg5 25.Rd1 Ne8 26.a4 g6 27.Ng3 Nc7 28.Ne2 Ne6 29.g3 Kg7 30.Kg2 Be3 31.d4 Bg5

Sugrue-Babic_20160220

Position after 31 … Bg5

32.d5!

Striking back on the queen side, where black has a few weaknesses of his own.

32 … cxd5 33.Rxd5 Rfd8 34.axb5 Nc7 35.bxa6 Nxd5 36.exd5 Be3 37.Bd3 Rdb8 38.b4 Kf8 39.Kf1 Rc8 40.Bb5 Ke7 41.Bc6 Ra7 42.Bb7 Rh8 43.c4 h5 44.gxh5 Rxh5 45.Kg2 Kd7 46.Ra3 Bb6 47.Nc3 f5 48.Nb5 f4 49.Nxa7 Bxa7 50.c5 Kc7 51.cxd6+ Kxd6 52.Rc3 Rh8 53.Rc6+ Kd7 54.b5 Be3 55.b6 fxg3 56.Kxg3 Bf4+ 57.Kg4 g5 58.a7 and Black Resigned.

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