SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
It is difficult to describe what happened in my game today. Mutual madness comes to mind. First I was winning –easily it seemed to me–and then I walked into every trick that my opponent laid for me! Then he was winning–for one move. When time control was reached (move 40) it seemed as though a draw was the likely result–but White could try. And he did…a fascinating game in many ways. But to be honest, if I don’t play another game like today for the next few years then I will not miss it!
I have recently taken up this line of the Kings Indian. I have noticed that the Serbian GMs specialize in this line. Black is very solid, especially where it counts: on the Queenside. Unlike most lines in the Kings Indan, White has to work to get something going over there.
This pawn structure (c5-d6-e5) is how they used to play the Kings Indian in the 1950’s until the …Nc6 lines became all the rage. I believe the line was abandoned for no good reason up until recently…
12.Ne1 Nh6 13.f3 Nf7 14.Nd3 Qe7 15.a3 Bd7 16.b4 b6
I suggest the readers to take a look at GM Damljanovic’s games in this line. He has scored very impressively with the Black pieces. Now probably White should maintain the tension on the Queenside with Qb3, like Kramnik did recently in a similar position.
This is the correct way, even though it is at first illogical. Black voluntarily keeps his Knight on a6. When I first studied this opening system, I realized that the Knight on a6 performs many important functions: it prevents the sacrifice on c5; it protects the b8 square, allowing for Black to oppose Rooks should White double on the file; and should Black ever play Qa4 the vulnerable a-pawn is shielded.Simply trading off the Black Knight would facilitate White’s chances of penetrating on the Queenside.
That being said, I agree that the Knight is offside. But (and this is important) Black has many other pieces on the board to do important work. Chess is a dynamic game and one should learn that not all bad pieces are infact bad!
18.Rb1 Rfb8 19.Nb5 Bh6 20.Qa4 Bc8!
All according to plan! White has also invested a lot of pieces on his Queenside play and they have run into an impasse. In the meantime, I will angle for a timely …f5 to get some counterplay. It is not a lot of counterplay, but sometimes a bit of counterplay is quite sufficient to maintain chances.
21.g4 Rb6 22.Kh1 Bd7 23.Be1?! Nc7 24.Ba5? Ra6
I could not believe my eyes that a 2550 GM would jumble all of his pieces on the Queenside like this! Black now has serious threats. What is White to do? Bad are both 25.Nb4 cxb4 26.axb4 Nxb5 27.cxb5 Qe8! etc and 25.Nc1? Bd2 . INSTEAD , my opponent calmly sacrificed his Queen for Rook and Knight, like it was the most natural move on the board! (After the game I asked him if he was a poker player!)
25.Nxc7 Bxa4 26.Nxa6 Rc8 27.Rb2 f5! 28.gxf5 gxf5 29.Rfb1 Be3! 30.Rb7
Now the simplest is 30…Qh4 31.Be1 Qh5 with threats
30…Qf6 31.Nc7 Kh8?! 32.Rb8
Last chance now to keep a winning game is 32…Bd7! 33.Rxc8 Bxc8 34.Rb8 Qg6 and now White’s Rook must defend the mate threat.
32… Rxb8?? 33.Rxb8 Kg7 34.Ne6 Kh6 35.Rg8!
ONLY NOW DID I REALIZE THAT I WAS IN TROUBLE!
My intended 35…fxe4 would be answered by the stunning 36.Bd2!! Bxd2 37.Nf2 (Diagram right) and White is threatening to win! I have the to bail out with 37…Qg6 ! leading to a roughly equal ending.
INSTEAD, I REFUSED TO BE RATIONAL AND CONTINUED TO TRY TO WIN
35…Bd7?! 36.exf5 Qxf5?? [36…e4 ] 37.Nf2!! Bxe6
Now White has his chance to win: 38.dxe6! (simply there is no defence to the Ng4 threat) 38… Ng5 39.Ng4 Kh5 40.Nxe3 etc. I would be able to resign with confidence.
WHITE–IN SEVERE TIME TROUBLE–MISSES HIS CHANCE TO WIN!
38.Ng4??.Kh5 39.Nxe3 Qb1 40.Rg1 Qb2 41.dxe6 Qxe2
It is still a wild position! White can not win with 42.e7 because after 42… Qxe3 43.e8=Q Qxf3 there is a perpetual check.
42.exf7 Qxf3 43.Rg2 Qxf7 44.Kg1
Material is about equal and White’s pawns are weak and easy to attack. Ofcourse, my King is on the wrong side of the board and White has some chances of winning should he be able to manoeuvre his minor pieces to start checking my King. But, I don’t think he can do it. I was pretty confident that I had reasonable chances to draw , provided I did not blunder (again!)
44…Qf4 45.Bd2 Qd4 46.Kf1 a5 47.Ke2 a4
Black’s a-pawn is an important source of counterplay. In the end it saves me. I could have avoided what now happens in the game, but I did not see too much wrong with my move
48.Rg5!? Kxg5 49.Nc2
We now have an ending where Black has 2 pawns and a very active King. If there is a win for White somewhere here , then it is certainly no obvious and with the fast time control (30 seconds per move) it would be unlikely that most GMs would find the win.
49…Qxd2! 50.Kxd2 Kf4 51.Ke2 Ke4 52.Ne3 Kd4 53.h4 Kc3
I did not really have to calculate here, as my moves are all forced.
54.h5 Kb3 55.Kd3 Kxa3 56.Kc3 Ka2 57.Kc2 Ka3 58.Nf5 [58.Nd5 e4 59.h6 e3 60.Nxe3 Kb4 etc ] 58…Kb4 59.Nxd6 a3 60.h6
Black saves the game by just move
60…e4! 61.Nxe4 Kxc4 62.Ng5 Kd4!!
This is where studying theoretical endings where one side is a piece up comes in handy!
63.Nxh7 Ke5 64.Kb3 Ke6 65.Kxa3 Kf7 66.Ng5 Kg6 67.h7 Kg7
A theoretically drawn ending. Black does not even know the c-pawn. The Black King just goes to h8 and g7 and all White can do is stalemate
68.Kb3 c4 69.Kxc4 Kh8 70.Kd5 Kg7 71.Ke6 Kh8 72.Kf7
SOME GAMES SHOULD BE WORTH MORE THAN ONE POINT….
Born in 1985. IM in 2007. Hans Tikkanen was one of Sweden’s strongest juniors. He is qualified for the strongest group, which he has played in before, in the Swedish Championship 2008. He is currently rated 2550