SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
Below is a selection of positions from interesting games that have been played this week. I have a couple dozen to present to the reader, but only 4 today. As I take a final look at what I have written, I notice that all 4 positions are from the Russian Championships Higher League in Irkutsk.
In essence, these examples are typical of the types of situations that arise in master chess. Mistakes, brilliant or unexpected moves, or simply good strong moves…Enjoy!
The following position ocurred in a game from the the first round of the Russian Championships Higher League 2010, in Irkutsk. The opponents were up-and-coming superstar Nepomniachtchi and master Chernyshov.
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 12th MOVE (12.Nc4)
Black did not play his opening with the precision that was necessary, and he finds himself having to part with a pawn. Trying to not part with the pawn by 12…Qc7 runs into a nasty 13.a4!; or 12…Bc5 is met by 13.d4, also with a big advantage.
Curiously, however, the pawn has little practical importance at this stage of the game: should Black now play the correct 12…Nh5! he would get enough counterplay to compensate. 13.Nxb6 ab6. 14.Qxb6 0-0 . 15. Be3!? and now 15…Nhf4 and 16…f5 gives White something to worry about on the Kingside! My chess engine does not find Black’s chances so bad…
Instead, Black completely lost his head and jumped from the frying pan into the fire: he retreated his Bishop to d8 (12…Bd8??), completely overlooking the obvious 13. Qxb7! which just wins 2 pawns for nothing. From that point on the game was utterly hopeless.
BLACK MUST HAVE OVERLOOKED THIS OBVIOUS MOVE!
Also from the 1st round of the Irkutsk championship, this is the position after White’s 25th move in the game Rakhmanov vs Ginzburg.
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 25th MOVE (25.g3)
White’s last move created ‘luft’ for White’s King. The position is about equal, with White probably having slightly better practical chances. Certainly White is threatening nothing with his last move!
Here Black’s sense of danger failed him completely. He greedily grabbed the pawn that was to be had on e5 without bothering to check to see if there was a trick up White’s sleeve! The game continued quickly: 25…Nxe5?. 26.de5 Rxe5? (26…Bxe5 would be met with the winning 27.Rxd5!!, as in the game continuation) 27.RxR BxR, leading to the following position:
WHITE TO PLAY AND WIN!
Probably Black had only considered White taking the d-pawn with his Bishop, checking the King, which is completely harmless. White’s next move must have come as a very unpleasant surprise
Very pretty! The threat of mate in 1 move (29. Rd8 dbl check!) can only be defended at the cost of a piece. Black resigned. MORAL OF THE LESSON: Beware of gift pawns.
Also from the 1st round of the Irkutsk championship. The opponents are grandmasters Smirnov and Bocharov.
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 32nd MOVE (32.Bg2)
This complicated game has seen the advantage switch sides several times already. The position is a complete mess! Black is down an exchange, but his 2-Bishops are very powerful. Combined with the weakened White Kingside and uncoordinated White pieces, Black found a clever way to break into the White King position.32… f3! 33. Bxf3 Nxe5!
A brilliant move that must have escaped White’s attention. Should White now play the obvious 34. Bxd5 then Black wins with 34… Nxg4!! 35. Bg2 Nxf2 etc White now has no choice but to take the dangerous Knight34. Rxe5 Bxf3
White finds himself completely helpless! He can not retreat his Rook from e5 because of …Qg3ch (thanks to the Bishop on a7!). In the meantime, there is little that White can do from preventing Black from invading along the a8-h1 diagonal.35. Rb3 Qd6 36. Rb4 Ba8
A very strong retreat that emphasizes the weakness on f2. There is no good defence.37. Nc4
Or if 37. Re3 Qd5 38. Ree4 Rxf2 wins 37… Bxf2 !38. Kh2 Qd3
Also from the Irkutsk championship, 1st round! The opponents are Maletin and Obolenskikh, and the game is completely wild!POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 20th MOVE (20…Kc7)OBOLENSKIKHMALETIN
This is a typical position that can arise from those crazy lines in the Queen’s Gambit (Slav) that are the rage these days. White has the advantage (as we shall soon see) but it is necessary to play with great energy in order to prove it.
The real hero of this game is White’s Knight. I ask the reader to pay special attention to this beast: it has a charmed life! As we shall see, it plays the decisive role , in both attack and defence…
21. Qa7! Bb7
Black threatens …Qa8, snuffing out White’s attack22. Bxc6!! The key move
This Bishop can not be taken: 22… Kxc6? 23. Qc5 Kd7 24. Qd6 Ke8 (24… Kc8 25. Ne7) 25. Rxe6 mating.22… Qa8
more or less forced23. Qc5! Bxc6
It was necessary for White to calculate very accurately abouts here…one false slip and not only would he let go of his advantage, but he could end up losing!24. Qe5! Kb6 25. Qxf6!
The Knight can not be taken: 25… exf5 26. d5! Qc8 27. dxc6 Qxc6 28. Qxf7 wins very easily. Therefore, Black tries his only chance: counter-attack25… Bh1 !
Threatening mate in one move! Fortunately for White, the Knight can attend to this threat…26. Ne3 !26… Bf3 27. Qxf7
Ofcourse White must be winning here! If Black does nothing then White will take the e-pawn with check27… Qe8 what else?WHITE TO PLAY AND WIN28. Nxc4!
What a hero this Knight is! White’s next move is to take the pawn on e6 with his Rook, winning the Queen. Black throws in the towel. [1:0]