SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 32nd MOVE:
White is clearly better here, with an extra pawn to boot. Black sacrificed the pawn in the opening–hoping to get activity and to later recover it–but instead found himself slowly outplayed. Now that the pawn has advanced itself securely to d6, Black finds himself with serious difficulties. Notice that the Queen is the worse possible piece to blockade a pawn!
The problem, from White’s point of view, is how to make progress. Nyzhnyk finds a creative solution:
White’s idea is simple: by a forced sequence of moves–exchanging a Bishop and Knight for Rook and 2 pawns–White will be able to destroy the Black blockade of the pawn on d6. Black has no choice but to go along…
33…Rxf7 34.Nxg6 Kg8 35.Ne5 Qe6 36.Nxf7 Qxf7 [ not 36…Kxf7 37.Re1! is immediately decisive ] 37.Re1!
The position that White wanted when he started his combination. White’s threats are very serious: moving his Rook to the seventh rank and then advance his d-pawn. Surprisingly, Black has no good defence! So he tries to confuse his young opponent…
14 year old Ilya Nyzhynk is the world’s youngest GM
37…h4!? 38.Qg5! maintaining pressure38… Bc6 39.Re7 Qf8
So Black has succeeded in preventing the advance of the pawn, but unfortunately for him White has a cute tactical idea that breaks thru. This part of the game is very instructive and the reader is advised to pay close attention to the important role of tactics in White’s plans.
40.Rc7! b4 [40…Be8 41.Nd5! wins easily enough ] 41.d7!!
A beautiful move! White simply ignores Black’s attack on his Knight and seemingly sacrifices his main asset: the strong passed pawn. If now 41…Bxd7 then 42.Nd5! wins material. Or taking the Knight on c3 allows 42.d8(Q)! followed by a mate on g7. This leaves Black only with the text:
41…Nxd7 42.Nd5! Qe8 43.Rc8!
THE CRUNCHER! White wins the Black Queen.[1:0]
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 31st MOVE:
It has been a tough struggle but White has achieved a winning position. The semi-open h-file allows a winning motif against the Black King should White be able to play Ng5 or Rh3. So clearly White must first move his Bishop from g5 to make it possible for the Knight to move (and clear the way for the Rook to go to h3 , should it be necessary).
The precise route to victory begins with 32.Bf6! (32…gxf6 ( no good either is 32…Nd3 33.Rxd3! Qxd3 34.Ng5! etc ) 33.exf6 Rc1 34.Qh6 etc.)
However, the young French star tries to rush things and plays a move that seems to be just as strong but infact allows Black an absolutely spectacular way to escape!
Vachier Lagrave (left) and Wang Hao in the post mortem. GM Yasser Seirawan looks on.
Making way for the Knight to go to g5.
One of the most remarkable defences that I have ever seen! Black is not only ready and willing to give up his Queen but he also has forseen that in the line 33.Rxd3!? g5!!! (making way for the Black Queen to defend along the b1-h7 diagonal) 34.Rc3!? what else? 34.Ng5 allows 34…Qd3 defending everything! 34… gxh4 35.Rxc8 Kh7 and Black escapes. Finally, 33.Ng5(?) allows …Nf4ch winning.
Only now did White realize that victory had slipped thru his fingers (!) and so he allows a perpetual check. Trying to win with 34.Kh1 Rc1 35.Ng1 could easily backfire after 35… Ne2! 36.h3 axb5 37.Qg5 Rxg1 38.Kh2 Rb1 39.Qe3 Rxb2 when only Black has practical chances of winning.34.Kg3 Ne2 35.Kh3 Nf4 36.Kg3 Ne2 37.Kg2 Nf4 [½:½]
A very clever escape!