Position after 30 moves. An unusual piece configuration. Usually one finds this kind of ending with only 1 Rook on the board. (In which case, if the defender has no pawn weaknesses, as the case here, then then game should end in a draw. Normally the side with the Queen has winning chances only when there is just one pawn difference.)
One would think that the presence of an extra Rook on the board would be to Black’s favour (increasing his chances), but in the game here the result was a solid, almost effortless draw. Do any of my readers have some information on this curious ending? I would like to hear from you! Endgame Theory would like to hear from you…
Board number 5. A must win situation for both players. Position before Black’s 20th move.
Earlier, Black made an interesting (and typical) pawn sacrifice on the Kingside (trying to get some initiative), but it was not quite convincing, but then it appears that White convinced himself that by simplifying things (ie. changing some pieces) would leave White simply better. Here the Armenian IM must have felt that after Ng3, Re3 and Qe2 he would be a pawn up for nothing…UNFORTUNATELY, his thinking was not dynamic enough….
Surprise! All of a sudden White is DEAD LOST. This move allows the Black Queen to come into play with check, and then the Rook comes into play along the f-file. White finds himself unable to prevent disaster. (For the record, the final moves were 21.Kxf2 Qh4+ 22.Ng3 Qd4+ 23.Re3 Rf8+ 24.Ke1 Qxe3+ 25.Qe2 Qg1+ 26.Kd2 Qd4 27.Ke1 Bg4 28.Qg2 Qe3+ 29.Ne2 Bh3 0-1)
SASIKIRAN ON FIRE!
Sasikiran’s last round game saw the Indian superstar play with great energy and creativity, not backing off from risky play.
Position after 14 moves. Something seems to have gone wrong with Black’s opening. His King is still in the centre, and the pawn structure clearly favours White’s pieces.
I am not sure what the best way for White to proceed is, but there is no doubt that at some point White will want to play f5. The only question is how much preparation should be involved in this task. I am certain that positionally inclined players like Karpov and Korchnoi would slowly prepare f5, confident that Black’s lack of counterplay on the Queenside must eventually lead to his downfall…
HOWEVER, Sasikiran has a very tactical style of play , much more inclined to the Tal-school of chess tastes, and for this reason he would not even consider preparation:
One can not get much more direct than this! White forces open the f-file even at the cost of a piece. In essence, the move is quite sound and poses pesky practical problems for the defender.
Black has no good alternative than to take the piece.
Here I believe that the most precise way of executing Sasikiran’s idea is the immediate 17.Qh5!. Then if 17…Qe7 (as in the game, and probably the only good move here too) 18.Bh3!? preventing the manoeuvre that occured in the game (Qe6-g6), as 18…Qe6(?) is met by the crushing 19.Bxf5.
So that leaves Black to decide what move to make on his 18th, and it is not clear to me what is best. Very unpleasant after 18…000 is 19.Bg5!, and no different would be 18…Bg7 19.Bg5!. That appears to indicate 18…Rg8!?, but this move is not very constructive as after 19.Rxf5 Qe6!? (what else?) 20.Bg5! Qg6 21.Qf3 with 22.Rf1 coming in with great force. Black is in serious trouble…
HOWEVER, in the game Sasikiran played the obvious move…and the game quickly proceeded:
17.Rxf5 Qe7 18.Qh5
White intends to mobilize his remaining pieces and double on the f-file. Clearly White has compensation, especially as Black has practical difficulty in developing. The theoretical question, however, is whether this compensation is enough for advantage…
An excellent manoeuvre, difficult to find over the board. Black intends to play Qg6 and try to push back White’s Queen. Had White played what I recommended at move 17, then Black’s Queen manoeuvre would have not been possible. (However, this is easy to say AFTER the game!)
19.Bh3!? Qg6 20.Qf3
Black should not now castle as 21.Rxf7 or 21.Bg5 is very unpleasant.
It is a tricky position, not easy to play in practice, but Black seems to be surviving (but no more). Here the computer finds the subtle 21…h5! (ruling out any Bg4-h5 manoeuvre) and after 22.Rf1 Rf8! and the game is unclear (if 23.Rxh5 Qe4 does not change the evaluation) It is also not clear how White should proceed….
INSTEAD, possibly short of time and under great psychological pressure, Black blundered by castling long: 21…000(?) which loses immediately: 22.Rxf7! Rhe8 (did Black intend 22…Rhf8? (23.Qc3+!)) 23.Bf5! Qg8 24.e6! and it is all over. Black resigned a few moves later.
An interesting fight. Typical of last round money games, where nerves, courage and the clock determine everything.