An extraordinary finish!
The following game was played on Saturday’s final round of the Spanish Tch (Linares) between EEB (my team) and SESTAO (the tournament winner). I had quickly lost my game against the Cuban star Dominguez and decided to spectate my team mates’ games. In particular, the game below drew a crowd. I am certain my readers will be as fascinated with the finish as much as I was! At every turn the game saw one brilliant resource , then another…
gm Libiszewski, F (2510) – gm Edouard, R (2665)
Spanish Tch 2013
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. h3 Nbd7 9. g4 Rc8 10. Qd2 h6 11. O-O-O b5 12. f4 Be7 13. Kb1 exf4 14. Bxf4 Ne5 15. Qg2 Nfd7 16. Nd5 Bxd5 17. exd5 Bg5 18. Bg3 Bh4 19. Nd4 Bxg3 20. Qxg3 g6 21. h4 Rc5 22. Bg2 Qf6 23. g5 hxg5 24. hxg5 Rxh1 25. Rxh1 Qg7 26. Rh4 Kd8 27. Qh3
A quick glance reveals that Black has been completely outplayed and his position is really disorganized. White is threatening to invade along the h-file. If now 27…Kc7 28.Rh7 Qf8 29.a3 Kb7 30.Nc6 and Black can not hold out for long. The French star shows his class and boldly decides that the best defence is offence:
Now the White Rook can not infiltrate as Black Queen will take the White Knight on d4.
Threatening to win the Queen with a Knight check on either c6 or e6! If now 28…Kc8 then 29.Nxb5! and White emerges with a clear Pawn to the good. (29… Qxc3 30.Nxc3) Or if 28…Qe5 then 29.Nc6+ wins an exchange.
It is important not to rush things: not 29.b3?? Na3+ picking up the Queen! In this position Black is in a bad way as most of his pieces are stumbling over each other or are completely out of play (such as the Black Queen on g7). On top of this, the Black King is insecure. Black barely has a good move! HERE probably the simplest way to proceed to win the game is to go slowly with the calm 29.a3 !–giving the White King a little air– for example: 29…Kc8 ( 29…Qf8 30.Qh3! and infiltrate with the Rook along Black’s first rank ) 30.Nc6 Kc7 and now 31.b4! . There would be none of the scary tactics that happen in the game as the White King has an escape square on a2.
HOWEVER, being short of time and sensing victory around the corner, Fabian decides to proceed directly. To be fair, what he plays should be good enough to win the game, but allows Black some incredible tactical shots:
Snaring the Rook! If now 30…Rxc6 31.dxc6 White should have no difficulties winning, for exemple 31… f5 32.gxf6 Qxf6 33.Rh7+! No doubt White thought that this line was forced…Black comes up with a real SHOCKER that keeps his practical chances alive:
Not only leaving the attacked Rook enprise, but putting both a Knight and the Black Queen on the block also!! Black simply threatens to take the White Queen.
This kind of sensational move can drive the spectators crazy!
The Queen can not be taken: 31.Qxg7? Na3+ 32.Ka1 Nxc2+ 33.Kb1 Na3+ 34.Ka1 Rc1 mate!! . Ofcourse, neither the Rook nor the Knight can be taken. Doing his best to remain calm, Fabian finds the best move:
A super move! White not only threatens to take either the Rook or the Knight (d3), but also to pick up the Queen with a Knight fork on e6! It seems as though Black must throw in the towel and admit defeat…
Defending the Queen and threatening to win with 32…Na3+!
Losing immediately are 32.cxd3? Na3+ or 32.Qxd3? Qe1+ with a mate. Also insufficient is 32.a4? Na3+! 33.Qxa3 Qe1+ 34.Ka2 Rc3! with a winning attack for Black! (Curiously, White can draw with 32.a3 as 32…Nxa3+ would lose compared to the last line : 33.QxN Qe1+ 34.Ka2 Rc3 35.Nxb5+!! and the White Queen will penetrate to the 7th rank) However, Black can still draw (after 32.a3) 32… Qe3! 33.Ne6+ = fxe6 34.Rh7+Kb8 35.Rh8+ Rc8 36.Rxc8+ Kxc8 37.cxd3 Qg1+ 38.Qc1 and the ending should be drawn without a problem.) It looks as though Black is going to pull this one from the fire…
But White finds the only move:
It looks as though this is impossible because of 32…Na3+ 33.Ka1! (33.QxN gets mated) 33… Nxc2+ 34.Kb1 Na3+ but White can actually escape with his King and win : 35.Qxa3! Qe1+ 36.Kc2!, as the readers can verify easily enough for themselves.
But Edouard finds yet another resource to keep the game going:
Remember all this is happening while both players have just minutes (or less) on the clock, which makes it even more impressive! Losing immediately would be 33.Qxc4? Qe1# or 33.Qxd3? Qe1+. Note also that 33.Nb5+ is only a draw: 33… axb5 34.Qxe5 Na3+! gives Black a perpetual.
IN THE GAME White also let his resourceful opponent escape with a perpetual check:
33.Ne6+? fxe6 34.Qxe5 Na3+ 35.Ka1 Nxc2+ 36.Kb1Na3+ 37.Ka1 Nc2+
HOWEVER, White can actually win in a BRILLIANT fashion on move 33:
Black must be careful not to play 33…KxP as 34.Nb5+! allows a winning ending an exchange up for White.
It is understandable that this solution was not found during the game as it seems as though White just doesn’t have a good move: neither Knight can be taken because of mate, while White’s 34.Re4 leaves him worse after the simple 34…PxQ 35.RxQ Na3+ 36.Ka1 NxR. HOWEVER, there is one way to win:
ONE OF THE MOST INCREDIBLE MOVES I HAVE EVER SEEN. Fabian showed it to me afterwards. The White Queen defends the immediate mating threats by Black, and in doing so sacrífices herself to gain a VITAL tempo!
Those excited spectators !
Best play would then be:
34… Na3+ (34…Qxg5 35.Qxd3!) 35.Ka1! (35.Qxa3? Qe1+) Nxc2+ 36.Kb1! Na3+ 37.Qxa3! bxa3
WHITE TO PLAY AND WIN! ———————
WINNING! The Bishop has the last word. If the King moves to a7 then 39.Nc6+ picks up the Black Queen. If instead 38…Kb6 then the Pawn promotes to a Queen with check! BEAUTIFUL!