SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
POSITION AFTER 15 MOVES:
fm Gonzalez Perez,Ar (elo 2460)
A typical Queen’s Indian//Queen’s Gambit position has arisen. More often than not, we find the moves …h6 and a3 (or b3) thrown in. It makes some difference, but does not alter the evaluation of the opening: unclear , with mutual chances.
I have experience on both sides of this position at the grandmaster level. White has some chances of getting the initiative, but breaking down the Black position usually requires a lot of manoeuvring and energy. Cat and mouse play….
My young Cuban opponent wants to play …Nd6, centralizing his Knight and controlling the important e4 and c4 squares. I decided to tease him…
16. Qb3 !?
More of a pyschological move than anything real: the Queen can be dangerous on the a2-g8 diagonal. Black should probably just ignore this and play 16… Nd6! as I can not take the d5-pawn (17.Nxd5?? a4! wins a piece !) I would have probably continued 17. Ne5!? , trying to work along the long diagonal (h1-a8)
INSTEAD, my opponent prematurely shut out his Bishop on b7, which is what I was hoping for…
To be fair, c6 is a pretty normal move in this opening and so it is difficult to criticize Black for playing it. However, in this position above it is probably the losing move! My opponent did not take into account some promising tactical play by White. I proceeded energetically:
A surprisingly strong move! Before the game I had debated whether I should open with my favourite 1.e4, but had decided against it. Fortunately for me, I now get a second opportunity…
17…dxe4 18. Nxe4 !
The whole point! Black finds his pieces temporarily un-coordinated and unable to stop White from invading the Black camp. Wrong now would be 18… Rxe4?! 19. Ne5! and Black is dead in the water: for example, 19…Nd6 20. Bxe4 Nxe4 21. Qxf7 Kh8 22. Qxb7. No better would be 19…Bxe5 20.PxB Rd4 as after the exchange of Rooks and Rd1 Black will lose his Queen or get mated on the back rank…
Black defends the best he can:
18…a4!? 19. Qc2! Nd6 20. Ne5!
This leads to the win of a pawn. Notice how Black’s Bishop on b7 does not contribute to the defence.
20…Nxe4 21. Bxe4 Bxe5 22. dxe5 Qe7 23. Bxh7 Kh8
Avoiding the corner (23… Kf8) is no better as White builds up the pressure with the simple 24. f4 g6 25. Rd6!
Here I used up half of my remaining 25 minutes trying to find the most precise way to make the most of my advantage. It is not as easy as one would have expected. A false path would be 24. f4?! g6 25. Bxg6 fxg6 26. Qxg6 as White does not have time to bring in his Rooks: 26… Rg8 27. Qh6 Qh7 28. Qf6 Qg7 29. Qh4 Qh7 30. Qxh7 Kxh7 31. Rd6 Rae8 and Black should not lose.
Tempting, however, is 24. Be4 Qxe5 25. Rd7!? (25. Bxc6? Rec8) when White will likely get an advantageous Rook ending. HOWEVER, I wanted more…and I found it:
This is the correct course! White can best pursue his advantage by chucking his extra pawn and trying to attack the Black King. Now if Black tries to trap the Bishop (24…g6?) then White takes twice on g6 and the Queen and Rook attack is immediately fatal for Black. As it was in the game situation, the Rook on the 4th rand proved to be very troublesome for Black in any case…White won on the 42nd move.