SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
Accurate tactical play is the key to success in competitive chess, more so than strategy or opening preparation. And I am not referring only to the flashy 10-move deep firework-tactics that adorn books and magazines–I am especially talking about the ordinary 2 or 3 move-deep tactics that one finds at every critical turn.
These tactics don’t usually decide the game’s outcome (though they can, in some cases) , but they can have an important role in determining who is going to have to defend and who is going to have the initiative.
Wtiness the tactical exchanges that took place in the Kotsur vs Marin game played yesterday in the World Cities team championship in the UAE:
POSITION AFTER 20 MOVES:
Something has gone wrong in Black’s opening and the c6-square is very vulnerable and impossible to defend. Now the simple 21. Bf4! would give a clear advantage: 21… Rc8 (21… Nxb2 22. Nxe6!) 22. Nxe6! and Black has only bad moves at his disposal.
INSTEAD, White focused on winning a useless pawn:
This gives Black a chance to solve all of his problems!
Marin should ”fall into” White’s trap: 21… Rxb4! 22. Nc6
White’s point: the Black Queen can not defend the Rook on b4!
22… Ne5!! 23. Nxe5 (23.Qc3? NxN nets Black R,B and N for the Q) Qc7 and Black all of a sudden has an excellent game. The extra pawn that White has can not be held for very long 24. Nd3 Nxd3 25. Qxd3 Qb7 26. Ne3 Bf6 (or 26… Rc8) and White must chuck the extra pawn.
HOWEVER, the Romanian grandmaster played imprecisely 21… Qc7? 22. Nc6 Rb5 and now 23.Rdc1! would have secured an almost overwhelming advantage.
INSTEAD, White returned the favour to Black and soon fritted away all of his advantage. At move 29 Black found a nice tactic that even turned the tables and gave him the upper hand:
White’s pieces are caught offguard and unprotected, giving rise to a great opportunity for Black!
29…Nxa5! 30. Rxc7 Nxb3 31. Rxc8 Kh7 32. Rdd8 Qxb4
All of this is forced up to now
White threatens mate in one move, a threat easy enough to parry. Black should now play the immediate 33…g5! when the 2-Rooks pose no danger to the Black King. If then 34. Rh8 Kg7 35. Nh5 Kg6 36. g4!? Qxg4 37. Ng3 a5! and Black has excellent winning chances.
Against other tries, Black’s Queen and pawn on the Queenside are superior to the 2 White Rooks, which lack coordination.
INSTEAD, probably short of time, Marin made a fatal tactical mistake, giving an unnecessary check on e1:
33…Qe1?? 34. Kg2 g5
No better is 33…g6 as White simply doubles on the 7th rank and the King is also caught in a mating net!
35. Rh8+ Kg7 36. Nh5+ Kg6
It is forced mate!