Game of the week
European Team Championship
Novi Sad 22/10/2009.
Kosteniuk almost always plays 3.Bb5 (the spanish opening) and she probably reasoned that Monica had prepared something special for this important encounter. She therefore tries to take her opponent into something else. However, now both players are into unfamiliar territory!Kosteniuk vs Calzetta, deep in concentration, after White’s 3rd move!
3… Be7 !? The Hungarian Defence! A rare line these days….
Tit for tat! Monica, with almost no experience against 3.Bc4 (except probably some blitz games) decides to avoid the more popular moves and plays the old and seldom played Hungarian
4. d4 Applying pressure
Now if Black gives the centre with 4… exd4 White might try 5. c3!? (5. Nxd4 Nf6 6. Nxc6 dxc6!? leads to an ending with equal chances) 5… Na5! (5… dxc3 6. Qd5! is good for White) with complex play that theory has not yet made a final verdict on.
5. dxe5!? The most common move played in practice.
5… Nb8 6. Bd3! Nf6 7. c4 (diagram below, left) White plays to control the game by gaining space in the centre. 7… O-O 8. h3 c6 9. Nc3 Na6 10. Be3 Nc7 11. O-O Nfe8 12. Qc2 cxd5 13. cxd5 g6 14. Bh6 Ng7 (diagram below, right)
15. g4 (diagram below, left) A great conception, rarely played in the old days, but today considered natural. White declares his intention to strangulate Black!
15… Nce8 16. Kh2 Kh8 17. Rg1 Bd7 18. Rg2 Rc8 19. Rag1 b6 20. Qd2 Nf6 21. Ne1 Ng8 22. Be3
22… g5 23. Nf3 f6 24. h4 h6 25. Rh1 Kh7 26. Kg1 Kg6 27. Nh2 Rc7 28. Nf1 Qc8 29. Qe2 Kf7 30. Ba6 Qb8 31. Nb5 Bxb5 32. Bxb5 Rfc8 33. hxg5 hxg5 34. Bc6 Bf8 35. Qf3 Rxc6 36. dxc6 Ne6 37. Rh7 Bg7 38. Ng3 Rxc6 39. Nf5 Qc8 40. Rgh2 Ne7 41. Nxg7 Nxg7 42. Bxg5 Qe6 1-0
5… dxe5 Ofcourse not 5… Nxe5? as after 6. Nxe5 dxe5 7. Qh5! Black is in trouble
6. Bd5!? An interesting move, and quite popular in practice, that declares White’s willingness to double Black’s pawns. By itself this is not something that Black should necessarily fear, but Black will have to play accurately if he is to avoid the worse of it.
Another reasonable plan is to preserve the Bishop and simply move the Queen: 6. Qe2 (diagram, right) This leads to play similar to many of the d3-Spanish variations. Both sides will manoeuvre with the minor pieces ; White will try to gain space and create threats while Black will try to build up a solid centre.
Typical play can be 6… Nf6 7. c3 Qd6 8. O-O Nd7 9. Na3 Qg6 10. Nc2 O-O 11. Bd5 Re8 12. Ne3 Nd8 13. Nf5 (diagram below, right)
RETURNING TO THE ACTUAL GAME:
6… Bg4 !? A double-edged move typical of modern play. Black simply ignores White’s ‘threat’
Although Black’s move is probably quite acceptable, there are more solid continuations available:
A: 6… Bd6 Simply protecting the e-pawn. After 7. Ng5 Nh6 8. c3 (diagram below) we have Bronstein vs Reshevsky Petropolis iz 1973 , with chances for both sides. Black is solid like a rock
C: not to be recommended is 6… Bf6 as after 7. Bxc6 bxc6 8. Qxd8 Kxd8 9. Bg5! Black has a difficult ending to hold.
RETURNING TO THE ACTUAL GAME:
7. Bxc6 splitting the Black pawns on the Queen side
7… bxc6 8. Qe2 Ofcourse not 8. Qxd8 Rxd8 9. Nxe5?? Rd1 mate!
White’s plan is to attack the Black pawns. Putting a Knight on c4 will be nice, and Black will have to decide how to defend his e-pawn.
9. Nbd2 Ditto last comment
9… Bd6 Defending the pawn. Another reasonable idea is 9… Nd7 10. Nc4 f6 and the e-pawn is quite secure. 10. Nc4
10… O-O There is little to be gained by delaying this move
11. h3 !? Now that Black has castled, White asks Black what he intends to do with his Bishop.
11… Bh5 Exchanging on f3 makes little sense.
12. Bg5 A good practical move: provoking a weakness
I suppose around here Kosteniuk was toying with the idea of castling long and advancing her Kingside pawns against the Black king.
12… Qe7 A reasonable move, defending once more the e-pawn.
13. g4! Kosteniuk decides to castle long!
13… Bg6 14. Nfd2
White has to protect his e-pawn before proceeding further. The Knight is very flexible on d2, where it can later go to b3 to start to annoy the Black pawns (ie.Na5)
14… h6!? An interesting move. Monica feels that she can live with a pawn weakness on the doorstep of the King. Another idea is to play Qe6 and Nd7 and f6, like she tries to do in the game, but with no pawn on h6. In either case, White is somewhat better.
15. Bh4 It is annoying for Black to keep this pin. 15… Rab8
I think that the immediate 15… Qe6 is more logical. In the end the Black rook achieves nothing on the b-file.
16. f3 ! Simple but important.
After this move the White centre is secure and White will be free to advance on the Kingside. In my experience, once the centre is nailed down securely, depriving counterplay to the opponent, the practical chances are greatly improved. Now everything will depend on what kind of counterplay Black will be able to dig up.
16… Bc5 This does not turn out well: the Bishop has little future on this diagonal.
I would play the immediatel 16… Qe6!?(getting out of the pin) and after 17. O-O-O Be7 18. Bg3 Nd7, though I prefer White’s chances after 19. h4
17. Nb3 Bb6 18. O-O-O So far all according to plan…
Black’s problem is not that his position is that bad, but that White’s position presents no real targets! It is in this type of situation that great accuracy is required by the defender.
18… Qe6 19. Bg3 Nd7 20. h4
20… f6 Adding protection to e5, but also presenting an extra target.
It is difficult to say, but perhaps …Rfd8 should be considered more closely
21. g5! A nice move! White forces open lines, and Black can not take twice.
21… fxg5?! Not good!
This allows White to open the h-file and is the real cause of all of Black’s later problems. He had to try 21… h5 22. gxf6 Rxf6 23. Rxd7 Qxd7 24. Bxe5 (diagram right)
White is still better (black’s pieces are poorly placed), but atleast Black can contain the immediate threats. There is still a lot of fight left in the position.
22. hxg5 h5 Ofcourse not 22… hxg5? 23. Rxd7 Qxd7 24. Nxe5 Qe8 25. Qh2 with a winning attack.
Black is hoping that White’s attack has been stalled for the time being, but this turns out to be an illusion.
23. Rxd7! A strong exchange sacrifice that involves little risk on White’s part.
23… Qxd7 24. Nxe5
White has real threats and will likely pick up atleast another pawn.
24… Qe6?! A slight, but significant imprecision after which Black’s defence will soon collapse
Black’s only chance to resist is to play the bold 24… Qd6! (diagram below, left) 25. f4 ( maybe better is 25. c4 c5 26. Rd1 Qe6 27. Nd7 Rbd8 28. Nxf8 Rxf8 though Black is still fighting) 25… Rbe8 26. Nxg6 (26. a3?! Rxe5 27. fxe5 Qe7) 26… Qxg6 27. e5 (diagram below, right)
In the diagram to the right, Black has a lot of weaknesses, and his Bishop is quite useless at present. However, and this is more important, Black is not going to lose any time soon since he has contained White’s threats.
25. f4! Ofcourse! The threat of f5 is hard to meet
25… Be8 [No better is 25… Rbe8 26. f5 Bxf5 27. Qxh5 with a winning attack]
26. f5 Proving that playing the Queen to this square was wrong. Black is now busted and the only question is how long Black can hold out. In team matches it is important to not be the first game to lose!
26… Qe7?! [ A bit better is 26… Rxf5 27. exf5 Qxf5 28. Qc4 Kh7 but after 29. Bf4 there should be no doubt of the eventual result.]
27. g6! Nicely played! Now it is just a question of a few moves before White will come crashing down the h-file.
27… Qg5 Check! At least it delays the inevitable…
28. Kb1 It is curious how useless the other Black pieces are!
28… Be3 Resigning herself to defeat. However, after the desperate 28… Bxg6 29. Nxg6 Qg4 30. Qxg4 hxg4 31. e5 it is only too clear that the best move is to resign!
29. Rxh5 And that is that! The Black king is cut off and can not escape.
29… Qxg3 [Only a masochist would consider 29… Qh6 30. Rxh6 Bxh6 31. Ng4]
Black resigns. A nice, instructive game!