Jomo Pitterson vs Maurice Ashley

Dec 19, 2007, 3:00 PM |

[Event "Fred Cameron Op, Jam CC"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2007.12.16"]
[Round "6.1"]
[White "GM Maurice Ashley"]
[Black "NM Jomo Pitterson"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B30"]
[WhiteElo "2520"]
[BlackElo "2360"]
[Annotator "Wilkinson, I"]
[PlyCount "80"]
[EventDate "2007.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2007.12.16"]

The stage was set for an epic encounter at the Jamaica Conference Centre, the
site of the International Seabed Authority, as former national champion NM
Jomo Pitterson squared off against the celebrated international grandmaster
the Jamaican-born Maurice Ashley who, for many years, has resided in the USA.
Ashley, who made history in 1999 when he became the first black international
chess grandmaster, was obviously the odds-on favourite to win the event and
was very confident. Heading into the final game, Maurice had a perfect score
of 5/5 coming off a great win over the explosive Barbadian FM Phillip Corbin
in round five and needed only a draw to clinch the title and the biggest first
prize money in the history of Jamaican chess. This was Jamaica's strongest
ever open tournament with 13 titled players including a couple of Fide Masters
and a throng of local national masters and candidate masters. Jomo, who has
had a great year in chess, locally and overseas, had defeated many-time
national champion NM Duane Rowe in the previous round and, on 4.5/5, needed a
win to secure the title. Rumours had it that he had earlier vowed to beat the
grandmaster if and when they met.} 1. e4 c5 {The Sicilian defence that Jomo's
training partner FM Warren Elliott predicted Jomo would play. This inidcates
that Black has ambitions for the full point or, at the very least, wants to
exchange some blows.} 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 e5 {Black takes control of d4.Jomo has
had good results in 2007 with the Pelikan/Sveshnikov variation so why not
pursue this set-up ?} 4. Bc4 d6 {Quite recently Black preferred 4...Be7 but
the eventual champion scorched the battlefield to rein in the full point after
5.d3 d6 6.Nd2 Bg5 7.Qh5 Nh6 8.h3 Nd4 9.0-0 0-0 10.Nb3 Bxc1 11.Raxc1 Ne6 12.Ne2
Qf6 1-0 (37) Kamsky, G -Shirov, A, FIDE World Cup Final (gm 2),
Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, Dec.2007.} 5. d3 Be7 6. Nd2 Nf6 7. Nf1 {This Ruy Lopez
-like move with the redeployment of the steed as it heads for the e3-square
seems to give Black no problems in the opening.} Nd7 $5 {An interesting move.
Jomo seems well prepared for the most important game in his entire chess
career.} 8. Ne3 Nb6 9. Bb3 Nd4 10. O-O Bg5 $1 {
A strong move. 10...Nxb3 and 10...0-0 were also good.} 11. Ne2 O-O 12. a4 $6 ({
Although looking drawish, the variation} 12. Nxd4 cxd4 13. Nd5 Nxd5 14. Bxd5
Bxc1 15. Rxc1 {would have preserved the "Sozin-looking" bishop while avoiding
the weaknesses that subsequently emerged in the Ashley camp. Probably the GM
did not wish to suck up the juice from the position so quickly by the mass
simplification.}) 12... Nxb3 13. cxb3 Be6 14. f4 {The best foot forward for
White to have any sort of advantage heading into the middlegame.} exf4 15. Nxf4
Bf6 {Diagram # An analysis of the battlefield shows that Black has emerged
from the opening much better as his development is basically complete and he
has the two bishops. Further, although he has a backward d6 pawn this is only
likely to be temporary and his position is otherwise compact. White, on the
other hand, is still to complete his development, the Bc1 snoozing a bit,
while the doubled b-pawns are future targets.} 16. a5 $1 Nd7 17. Ned5 ({
Maurice sagaciously avoided the capture} 17. Nxe6 $6 {
that seemed to improve Jomo's position after, for instance,} fxe6 18. Qe2 Bd4
19. Rxf8+ Nxf8 20. Kh1 Ng6 {with what looks like a clear advantage to Black.})
17... Bd4+ 18. Kh1 Nf6 19. Nxf6+ Bxf6 {
This hardworking holy man is worth his weight in gold.} 20. b4 $1 {
Maurice strives for some activity.} Qd7 21. Qe1 Be5 {There he goes again!} 22.
Be3 {Tired of being pinned down to defending the pawn Ashley decides to
complete his development.} Bxb2 {Pitterson pounces right away. Any devotee of
the King's Indian Defence must love to see how this "dark" bishop was roaming
so effectively in a Sicilian set-up.} 23. Rb1 {Diagram #} Be5 $6 {
This seems to be an inaccuracy. Arguably stronger was} (23... Ba3 $1 {
and in the variation -} 24. bxc5 dxc5 {Jomo is a pawn to the good and as
Ashford and Simpson would say "solid as a rock"!}) 24. bxc5 {Ashley finally
has some breathing space after this capture and must have heaved a huge sigh
of relief after being on the backfoot for a while.} dxc5 25. Bxc5 Rfc8 26. Qe3
$6 {Diagram # This is where the Jamaican grandmaster probably started to go
wrong. White should probably have seized the chance to get rid of one of
Black's religious figures. The failure to do this will return to haunt him. In
one sample variation -} (26. Nxe6 $1 fxe6 27. Qb4 Qxd3 28. Qxb7 {
it is the first player who has the advantage.}) 26... Ba2 $1 {
The harassment begins as the holy men now wage their modern crusade.} 27. Rbd1
Bb3 $1 {Let's really dance!} 28. Rde1 Bc3 $1 {As the veteran NM Robert Wheeler,
a FIDE arbiter and the chief arbiter of the event, said to me during the game
the bishops were now "raking" the board.} 29. Rc1 {
What is this ? Hide and seek ?} Bxa5 {Delicious. Jomo munches a pawn.
Maurice's position was now critical especially with time dwindling down on the
clock. Jomo had many trumps in the position as, inter alia, he was ahead on
material, had the bishop pair striking fear into the heart of the enemy and
had connected queenside passers.} 30. d4 {
With a passer of his own Maurice tries to mix it up.} b6 {Diagram #} (30... Ba4
$1 {came in for serious consideration hanging onto the bishop pair and
maintaining the tension.}) 31. Ba3 $2 {
Ashley missed the last chance for redemption. The best defence was} (31. Qxb3
$1 {and after} bxc5 32. dxc5 $132 {
The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is still up for grabs.}) 31... Bc4 $1
{Badddaaffffff. Pooowwww! Jomo was piling on the punches.} 32. Rfd1 b5 $1 33.
d5 Bb6 $5 {Very unpleasant for White.} (33... Qg4 $1 {
was a very strong alternative.}) 34. Qg3 f6 35. Bb2 Qf7 {To his credit, the
former Wolmerian desperately pursues some counterplay by trying to complicate
things.} (35... Bc7 $5) 36. e5 fxe5 37. Bxe5 Re8 {The excitement was palpable
on the faces of scores of onlookers who, like a tennis match, looked left and
right animatedly at the demonstration board showing the moves and the platform
on which the gladiators were battling.} 38. Re1 $4 {In time trouble the final
straw that broke the camel's back is essayed. More stubborn was} (38. Ne6 $1 {
after which Black has a couple of ways to press home his advantage. Forexample,
} Re7 (38... Qg6) (38... Bf2 $5)) 38... Ba5 $1 {
The crusaders are coming to find out how water walk go ah pumpkin belly!} 39.
Re4 Bd2 $1 {The dagger in the heart.} 40. Rd1 ({
There was really not much better.} 40. Rcxc4 {loses to} bxc4 {while after}) (
40. Bxg7 Qxg7 41. Qxg7+ Kxg7 42. Rcxc4 bxc4 43. Ne6+ {
White is toast, being a whole rook down.}) 40... Rxe5 {and pandemonium broke
out, the thunderous applause shaking the foundation of the playing hall as
Jamaica's chess continued its surge forward with a gigantic leap.} 0-1