Another Durao Brilliancy!
The XXXVth edition of the Sevilla International Chess Tournament took place between January 8 and January 16 at the luxurious Al-Andalus Palace Hotel. I have played in this traditional tournament almost every year since 1993, and Sevilla has come to be one of my favourite cities in the whole world! I have also won ( or tied for first) this tournament close to 10 times…
This year I did not play well, making numerous unforced errors, undoubtedly the result of not having played much chess last year. Only with a gigantic push in the final 2 rounds was I able to score 7 points in 9 games , and tying for first. The Cuban GM, Renier Vázquez, won the tournament on tie-break.
79-year old IM Joaquim Durao played what was undoubtedly the most brilliant attacking game of the tournament. Readers will remember the November 11 (2009) blog article I wrote on the life and times of this Portuguese legend. In Durao’s lifetime he has played many brilliant attacking games. Age does not seem to be adversely affecting his creative skills at all!
From John Keats’ epic poem, Endymion, 1818:
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Durao,J. – Gutierrez,V
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cd 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. f4
Durao’s favourite system against the Najdorf. He has played this way against former world champion Tigran Petrosian
, as well as against many grandmasters including O’Kelly, Gheorghiu, Smejkal, and Rogoff
6… Nc6 (World Champion Misha Tal played 6… e6 against Durao at the Leipzig Olympiad in 1960. The game is analyzed in the November 11 blog entry. Though Durao lost that game, he played a very strong attacking game, forcing the world champion to defend perfectly. He even sacrificed a Knight before losing…)
7. Be3 e6 8. Qf3 Qc7 9. Bd3!?
Today many grandmasters prefer to castle long and advance their pawns on the Kingside, but Durao prefers to castle short and attack with his pieces. Durao has scored many victories with this plan.
9… Nb4?! A risky move that has been played in the past. However, 9… Be7! is safer. 10. O-O Nxd3 11. cd b5 12. Rac1 Qd7 13. f5!? Durao seeks to open the f-file. Also interesting is the forcing 13. e5!? Bb7 14. Qg3 de 15. fe Nd5 16. Nxd5 Bxd5, but it is not clear how White should proceed. 13… Bb7 14. fe fe 15. Qh3! Bc8
The critical position. It is clear that Black’s opening has not gone well and his King is stuck in the centre for the time being. But it is not so clear how White should proceed. Several masters thought that White should advance his g-pawn. Durao thought for a while here (but not too long!) and found a surprising and forcefull way to break into the Black position. Many grandmasters in the tournament, including myself, felt that Durao should have won the brilliancy prize for his keen handling of this attack!
Durao’s solution to the position is worth remembering. While he wants to get at the Black King, he first tries to open lines on the Queen-side. This method of attacking on both flanks at the same time brought Alexander Alekhine many victories. Black must now make a difficult decision…16… b4 17. Nce2! e5 18. Nf5 g6 19. Qh4 gives White the attack that he wants, so it seems that Black’s next move is necessary.
Now comes a whirl-wind attack! It is especially impressive that a 79 year old player can play so energetically and calculate almost perfectly.
17. Nxa4!! Durao offers a Knight!
If now 17… Qxa4 then White wins brilliantly with 18. Rxf6!! gf 19. Qh5! and his attack smashes thru: 19… Ke7 20. Nc6 Kd7 21. Qf7 etc. White is threatening Nb6, so Black’s move is forced:
17… e5 18. Nf5
Black has succeeded in closing the f-file, but he still can not take the Knight! Do you see why?
18… Qb7 Essentially forced!
Black can not take the Knight 18… Qxa4 because White has a brilliant move: 19. Rxc8!! (diagram, right). Now after 19… Rxc8 20. Nxd6 Bxd6 21. Qxc8 Kf7 22. Qxh8 White is simply up material and wins easily.
19. Nb6 Bxf5 20. Qxf5 Rd8 It seems that the worse is over for Black, but…
21. Qe6! A very strong move 21… Be7? Not the most resistant defence.
Better, though also insufficient to save the game is 21… Qe7 22. Qh3! Qb7 (diagram, right) 23. Rxf6!! gf 24. Nd5 24… Qf7 25. Rc7 Rd7 26. Nxf6! with a forced mate (diagram , below)
Black is getting mated!
BACK TO THE GAME (after 21…Be7)
How does White proceed?
22. Rxf6!! Another strong sacrifice! 22… gf 23. Nd5
White has many threats.
23… Rb8 there is no better!
Losing immediately is 23… Rf8 24. Rc7; And 23… Rd7 goes off to 24. Nxf6 Kd8 25. Nxd7 Qxd7 26. Bb6 Ke8 27. Rc8 etc.
24. Nxf6 Kd8 [ Ofcourse not 24… Kf8 25. Bh6#]
White wants to play Bb6ch (diverting the Black Queen) and then Qd7 mate, but unfortunately Black taking the Bishop gives check! This inspired Durao’s next move: a quiet move!
25. Kh1 !?!
This move threatens Bb6ch and mating. And , in my opinion, is certainly the most artistic way to finish the game. Quiet moves have a hidden beauty to them…but , for the sake of completeness (and mathematical purity) even faster is 25. Bd2! Qb6 26. Kf1 and mate in just a few more moves!
25… Bxf6 Of course 25… Rf8 would be answered by 26. Bb6 Qxb6 27. Qd7# 26. Qxf6 Kd7
Note that instead 26… Qe7 loses both rooks and still gets mated!: 27. Qxh8 Kd7 28. Qxb8 etc.
Now it is forced mate in just a couple of moves: 27. Qf7 Kd8 28. Bg5
A powerfully conducted attack by the 79 year young Joaquim Durao!