SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
Attack and Counter-attack!
The following position is from the game between gm Holden Hernandez and gm Aramis Pedraza from premier section of the Capablanca Memorial (2012). I like the sharp tactical skirmish that takes place between moves 30 and 35; shot and counter-shot!
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 30th MOVE (30.Re2):
gm A. PEDRAZA 2551
gm HERNANDEZ, H. 2570
An unusual position, very complex and difficult to correctly evaluate. Even though White has an extra pawn, it is of very little significance at this point with so many pieces on the board and the Knights being positioned on relatively insecure squares. Especially, notice that the White King position is somewhat exposed.
With his last move, White indicates that he intends to double Rooks on the e-file. Black must do something about this. Probably best now is 30… Nfd5!? 31. Rae1 Rxd6 32. Nxd6 Qxd6 33. Rxe3 Nxe3 34. Rxe3 h6 with White being only a bit better. Queen and Rook endings are notoriously difficult to play.
INSTEAD, Black thought that he could force another weakening of the pawn structure on the Kingside with the clever use of some tactical motifs…
Sharp! Black had counted on 31. Kh1?! Rh6! 32. h4 Re6 returning to base but with the square g4 becoming a Black asset, helping to secure the Knight on e3. No doubt he was surprised when White took the Knight…
31. hxg4! Rh6 32. Kg1!
Ofcourse White’s last move was forced , but the exclamation mark is for having forseen that walking into a variety of discovered checks is NOT dangerous! If now the natural 32… Nxg4-ch then 33. Kg2! Rh2 34. Kf1 Qc5 35. Rd1 White escapes and Black has insufficient attack for this investment.
Also not working is 32… Nf5-ch 33. Qf2! Qxf2 34. Rxf2 Nxd6 35. g5! and Black loses material.
So that only leaves the discovered check that picks up the Rook on a1(!):
Black will be up in material slightly ( an exchange for a pawn) and he is counting on the insecure position of the Knight on d6 being a more important factor than the fact that the Black Knight on a1 has no immediate exit!
33. Kg2 Nxa1
It is funny how in chess sometimes one finds most of one’s pieces off-side and it doesn’t really matter, and how in other positions it does matter. Here in the above position it REALLY matters: White dominates the centre and it is actually the Black King position that is more insecure than White’s!
A magical counter-shot! It is quite possible that 34.Qd5 (!) is even more precise a move order (with the same theme on f7), but the move played in the game is also very strong! White is able to convert his superior piece coordination into an attack against the seemingly well defended Black King position.
The Knight can not be taken : 34… Kxf7? 35. Qd5 Re6 36. f5 Kg8 37. Rxe6 and 34… Rxf7?? 35. Re8 Rf8 36. Qd5 are both fatal. So Black has little choice here…
34… Re6 35. Ne5!
Dominating the entire board , White has a clear advantage. He has 2 pawns for the exchange and the Black Knight is in trouble on a1. White eventually won the game, but not before mutual time trouble made his task more difficult than it should have been…
What is White’s best move here?
From the Elite section of the Capablanca Memorial. This was played just yesterday. Black still has not castled and several of his pieces are offside. Here is your chance to prove yourself!
POSITION AFTER 20 MOVES