SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
An interesting type of tournament took place in San Sebastian over the holidays: a series of knock-out events where each player would play 2 games –simultaneously–with the same opponent. One with the White pieces and the other with the Black pieces. At stake was 100,000 euros in cash prizes; 20,000 euros plus a super motorcycle for the winner.
More than a dozen 2700-gms plus several dozen lesser rated braved the festival, with the Ukrainian gm Andrei Volokotin emerging as winner. Congrats!
A lot of really competitive chess took place! There were not a lot of draws , probably naturally the result of the 2-game format. There was lesser need to play it safe and more willingness to mix it up.
One of the nicest finishes took place in the Gharamian vs Hoffman encounter in round 5.
POSITION AFTER 22 MOVES:
gm Hoffman , A
gm Gharamian ,T
A lot of theory in the opening and during the last couple of moves both players were on their own. As is typical for races where one side is charging up one side of the board and the opponent trying to do the same on the other side, the initiative is King and sometimes one must make a sacrifice in order to get it first!
A very strong move that forces open more lines towards the Black King. Notice that the Black Queen is way on the other side of the board and can not easily help the defence. If Black takes the Knight 23… gf then White has the pleasant choice of opening up the g-file (preparing the way for Rdg1) with the immediate 24. gf or first removing the Black Bishop with 24. Bh6 Qf8 25. Bxg7 Qxg7 and then 26. gf.
Hoffman’s reply is natural, but unfortunately for him it does not slow down the White enslaught.
23… Bxf5!? 24. gf
It is clear that the White attack will come first. Passive defence with 24… Qf8 allows White to crash thru with 25. fg fg 26. Rdg1, so Black puts his trust in a central counter-thrust
24… d5 !? 25. Bh6! Bh8
Gharamian can now try the temping 26. fg fg 27. Qg5 Qe8 28. Nf4! when it is not clear how (or if ) Black can defend. However, the French star had another idea…
26. Bf4!? Qf8 27. e5! Nh5
Not a great place for the Knight, but how else to try to close the h-file?
A typical sacrifice in this opening! I remember an old game of Bobby Fischer where he remarked that he had once thought of applying for a patent for this move! The Black defences are now shattered….
28… gh 29. Rg1 Kh7 30. f6!
There is no good defence to the check on d3