(1) Small,Vernon A (2335) - Stuart,Peter W (2132) [D87]
New Zealand Championship Wellington (1), 28.12.1992

This game was played in first round of the 92/93 NZ Championship which was held in the Hall at Queen Margaret's College in Wellington. This was my first congress and the first time I had seen many of the top NZ players in person including Ortvin Sarapu, Paul Garbett, Peter Stuart etc. These names were only known to me from reading the NZ Chess magazine. Back then the Championship was an exclusive 12 player round robin, then there was Reserve Championship with another 12 players, then a third tier of competition the Major Open, which was where I was playing. I was keen to follow the Championship games and in the first round there was an upset when Vernon Small, considered one of the favorites, was quickly defeated by Peter Stuart.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5
Peter plays a Grunfeld which can lead to many long complicated variations. The only insight I can offer on Peter/^s opening preparation comes a few years later when I shared a motel room with Peter during a congress. I remember Peter turning up in his car, then starting to unload boxes and boxes from his car boot. I can't recall how many boxes, but it seemed a surprising number to me at the time. Each box was packed full with (+)Chess Informant[+] books, each book with a brown paper book cover to keep in mint condition.

4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Ne2 c5 9.0-0 Nc6 10.Be3 Bg4 11.f3 Na5
Diagram #

The Karpov variation, played by Karpov four times in his 1987 match against Kasparov.

12...Rxf7 13.fxg4 Rxf1+ 14.Kxf1 Qd6 15.e5 Qd5 16.Bf2 Rf8 17.Kg1 Nc4
N Probably a novelty and at least a deviation from a Karpov-Kasparov game. Kasparov had played 17...Bh6 here instead.

Vernon stamps out Bh6 altogether

18...Qf7 19.Bg3 Ne3
Diagram #Here Vernon blunders and I think I can understand the thought process. The first reaction is to move the Queen to c1, hitting to knight while keeping f1 sufficiently protected. But Black immediate regains the pawn with 20...Nxg2 and White is forced to go into an endgame after 21.Qf1 (which my chess engine gives as roughly equal). Vernon Small was understandably unhappy with this course of events and finds a subtle idea of provoking c4 first to stabilize Whites central pawn chain before dropping the Queen back...

20.Qb3?? c4
Whoops... the intended 21.Qb1 is met by 21...Qd5 game over.

21.e6 Qf1+ 0-1