SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
OVERSIGHT OR INSPIRATION?
Position after Black’s 15th move (15…Rc8):
It is not often that Nigel Short finishes dead last in a tournament, but the 13th Karpov International was his unlucky tournament!
Click on to enlarge
HOWEVER, it must be admitted that his score does not do justice to his games: Nigel was in every game and had his chances. To my way of seeing things, Nigel was neither outclassed nor outplayed. On another day, with the same positions, Nigel could have achieved one of the top places.
In the position above, from a French Defence, the game is just beginning to heat up. Probably now White should exchange Bishops starting with 16.Bxf6 Qxf6 17.Bxd7 Nxd7 and then defend his f-pawn, with a double-edged but balanced game.
INSTEAD, I think that Bologan might have actually OVERLOOKED Short’s next move, an elementary tactic:
In itself a logical move, but it allows a little combination that nets Short 2 pieces for Rook and pawn:
16…Rxc3! 17.QxR Bxb5 18.Rxe6
What do you think of this position?
Normally 2-pieces are superior to Rook and Pawn and this situation is no exception. Especially when the player with the Rook and Pawn does not have any direct threats or the initiative. Here Black should be able to slowly take the initiative. The game continued:
18…Bxd4 19.Qxd4 Bd7! (re-positioning the Bishop) 20.Re5!?
And now Nigel can cause real problems for Bologan with the precise 20…Qh4!?, which wins a pawn. White will have an uphill fight to make a draw. INSTEAD, Nigel played inaccurately (20…Bf5?!) and after 21.g4! Black —realizing that 21…Be4 simply loses to 22.RxB!–had nothing better than 21…Bg6 when White might even be slightly better!
IN ANY CASE, this very interesting game continued for a long time and both sides inevitably played some inaccurate moves. Short even regained the edge and seemed to have good winning chances at several moments. I think that in the ending Short achieved a technically winning position (N,B and pawn against Bologan’s Rook) but missed the way when short of time (no pun intended).
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 52nd MOVE (52.Rb5):
Black can not keep his a-pawn, but if he can keep his c-pawn and get his King over to d5 or d6 he should win the ending. ( It is well known in theoretical texts that the technique is to slowly advance the c-pawn and eventually win the Rook, resulting in a B and N ending!) The correct way is to play 52…Kf6! and after the likely 53.Rxa5 Bc2 (only) 54. Kd2 Bb3 and nothing will stop the Black King from coming over and defending the c-pawn. (INSTEAD, Nigel played the inaccurate 52…Bg8?!, and after 53.Rxa5 Bb3 54.Kd3! White already threatens to draw with RxN and Kc4. Black does not have the time to bring in his King and the game was soon drawn when the pawn disappeared.POSTSCRIPT: Apparently instead of Bologan’s move 52.Rb5, the move 52.Kd3 gave drawing chances. Which is , I suppose, typical of evenly balanced and hard fought games! Even winning this game, however, would have not saved Nigel from occupying the cellar.
POSITION AFTER 12 MOVES:
From the Polish First League. This year. Black’s last move was 12…g5, trying to keep the h-file closed. HERE I very much like the energy and imagination with which White continued the attack!
The h-file is going to be opened one way or the other!