Hansen bounces back in 6th rd!
Another bloody round, but one that brings much satisfaction to Canadian chess fans, no doubt! Eric won a complex , wild and creative game against the strong Catalan grandmaster Marc Narciso. A theoretical innovation in the opening, a pawn sac and some aggressive play in mutual time trouble were the secrets to the Canadian’s success.
Tomorrow Hansen plays against the Hungarian Balogh, who is half point ahead. Could be the tournament decider! With so many players separated by only half a point, much excitement is expected! The round starts at 4:30 pm Spanish time.
gm Hansen,E vs gm Narciso,M
(French Defence. Winawer Variation)
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.h4!?
During the Fischer period of chess the Smyslov idea of 8.a4 was considered ‘necessary’, but has since been superceded by lines involving the rapid advance of the h-pawn. The results have been good , so far, but that will likely change once another independent thinker like Korchnoi appears on the scene and comes up with some good ideas for the defence. (Korchnoi essentially refuted the Fischer/Smyslov ideas in the late 1970’s)
The great Viktor Korchnoi almost became World Champioon after Fischer prematurely retired from chess. His brilliant ideas, fantastic calculation skills and unequalled fighting spirit , unfortunately, could not break the Soviet juggernaut, as Fischer had done in the early 1970’s. Karpov managed to hold on to his crown by a thread…
The idea behind the advance of the h-pawn is to simply create weaknesses on the Kingside and thus discourage Black from castling short. Ofcourse, this way of play requires some cold-bloodedplay by White–who often must sacrífice a pawn or two to justify his play. (Players who are not willing to shed a pawn or two (in true gambit spirit) should not play 1.e4) In this game, the young Canadian grandmaster shows himself on parr with both the latest theoretical developments as well as having the heroic spirit necessary to play it.
8…Qa5!? 8.Bd2 Nbc6 9.h5 cxd4 10.cxd4 Qa4 11.Nf3!
Although known, this pawn sacrifice is more often seen without the advance of the h-pawn.
11…Nxd4 12.Bd3! h6 13.Rb1!
A strong theoretical novelty! Curiously, without the advance of either h-pawn (Black or White) we find ourselves in a position already known to the theoreticians, who consider it better for White. INFACT, I myself have played this way in a 2007 game in Majorca. Never the less, Eric deserves credit for discovering this idea in this particular position.
13… Nec6 14.Bb4 Nf5 15.Qc1 Nxb4 16.Rxb4 Qa5 17.O-O Qc7 18.Re1
White is somewhat better. More importantly, it is not easy for Black to solve the problem of where to best hide his King. Castling kingside would now be met by g4-g5, with just the right degree of chaos that White players want. In the game continuation Narciso decides to keep his King in the centre, and while no one can confidently say that this is wrong, the fact is that Eric mated Black’s King!
18…a5!? 19.Rf4 Bd7 20.g4 Ne7 21.Nd4 a4 22.Rf3 Qa5 23.Kf1 Qc5 24.Qb2 Rc8 25.Rf4 b6 26.Re3 Rf8
27.Nb5!? (27.Ref3 is also promising)… Bxb5 28.Bxb5+ Kd8 29.Bxa4 b5 30.Bxb5 Qxc2
Probably in time trouble, Eric misses 31.QxQ RxQ 32.Ref3! with a clear advantage. The next few moves are far from perfect, but Eric manages to keep his head above water.
31.Qb4 Qc5 32.Qa4 Nc6 33.Re2 Qb6
34.Rc2! Nxe5 35.Rxc8+ Kxc8 36.Ba6+ Kd8 37.Rb4 Qd6 38.Rb7 Qc6 39.Qa5+
It is forced mate.