SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 18th MOVE (18.Nd2):
Here White stands a bit better than usual in these slow moving ”d3”-spanishes; his Bishop is actively posted on b3 and he has Qf3 coming in, with creeping pressure. Black should dig-in with 18…Bc6 and after 19.Qf3 Rab8. It would be a tough fight ahead for both players.INSTEAD, Sasikiran decided to play poker and mix things up…probably reasoning that it would not make much difference to the outcome….even so, there is a miscalculation in his cards and he immediately finds himself in hot water:
18…c4?! 19.dxc4 bxc4 20.Bxc4 Nxe4?!
Maybe Black simply overlooked Ivanchuk’s next move, which wins material.
If now 21…Qc5 then 22.b4! wins a piece. Sasikiran played more rationally, giving up an exchange.
There then ensued some wood chopping:
21…Bxd5 22. Bxd5 Nxd2 23. Bxa8 Rxa8 24. Qxd2 Qc4 25. Bg3 Nc5 26. Qe2 Qxe2 27. Rxe2 Nb3 28. Rd1 f5!?
Black does not have nearly enough compensation for the exchange, but there are not insignificant technical problems to be overcome by White still. Sasikiran hopes to make a fight of it by playing f4 and advancing his King to e6. Who knows, should Ivanchuk play passively he might even get back into the game and start advancing this centre pawns!
White has a number of ways to proceed, the most obvious being to play 29.f4! and if 29…e4 30.Bf2 and 31.g4! opening up the g-file. It would be difficult to imagine Black holding out in the long run…
BUT, Ivanchuk found another solution to the technical problems in the position and decided to play into an ending where he would have 2 Rooks and 2 extra pawns versus Rook, Bishop and Knight:
29. Bxe5!? PxB 30.Rxe5
Here White has 2 wonderful Rooks that completely dominate the centre files. Notice that neither of Black’s minor pieces has a good outpost to hang on to. On top of this, once White gets his Q-side pawns going Black will most likely have to give up a piece just to prevent them from advancing too far…Ivanchuk won without too much apparent difficulty. Students of the endgame will find it worthy to study Ivanchuk’s handling of the position.
I don’t know if Ivanchuk was aware of it, but his ending has striking similarities to an ending that arose in the famous game Pillsbury vs Tarrasch, Vienna 1898 (!):
click on to enlarge
The Ivanchuk vs Saskiran game can be played over below: