Today's 5-second tactics
Below is an interesting (remarkable) example from recent grandmaster chess where tactical elements play a more significant role than logical, strategic chess. It can often happen in praxis that the direction the position takes gets out of our control and then we are left only with our basic survival instincts to guide us. In such cases tactical acumen can either be our saviour or our executioner…
Ipatov,Alex vs Panjwani,Raja
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 c5 5.g3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qa5 7.Bd2 b6 8.Bg2 Bb7 9.O-O O-O 10.d5 Qa6 11.Re1 Ne4 12.Qc2 f5 13.Bf4 Qxc4 14.Ne5 Qa6 15.Bxe4 fxe4 16.dxe6 dxe6 17.Rad1 Nc6 18.Rd7 Rad8 19.Qxe4 Rxd7 20.Nxd7 Re8
I gave this position above to several of my younger students to evaluate and explain to me who stands better (if anyone) and why. The unanimous conclusion –with which I agree–is that Black has a basic positional advantage (better pawn structure and the coming …Nd4 is worrisome for White given he no longer has a light-square Bishop).
Fortunately for the former World Júnior Champion, it is his move and that makes all the difference! In chess, while positional advantages are our meat and potatoes, checkmate ends the game(!)….Ipatov deserves much credit for finding some brilliant tactical resources that don’t allow Black the time to exploit his positional trumps…
It is necessary for White to create threats and exploit the temporary absence of the Black Queen from the vital central squares. The immediate threat is 22.Nf6+. If now 21… Nd4? 22. Nf6+! Kf7 23. Qxh7 is simply crushing. After the game it was established that the best line for Black is to accept the piece sacrífice: 21… 22. Nf6+ Kf7 23. Nxe8 Kxe8 24.Qxe6+ Ne7 with an obscure position where White seems to be slightly better (25. Rd1 Bc8 26. Qe5) but Black has many counterchances. I would not be surprised if the correct result of the game is a draw.
HOWEVER, one can understand Panjwani’s move as it appears to neutralize White’s tricks:
Now 22.Nf6+ does not worry Black and only draws after 22…PxN 23.Qg4+ Kh8! (23…Kf7? 24.Rd1! and the Black King will soon be bagged) 24.Qh4 Rf7 25.Qh5 Re7 26.Qh4! with a repetition. There are several minor options for White in the line above, but they don’t work either. The game should be a draw.
IPATOV’s move is PHENOMENAL:
Incredibly, this move–which leaves two pieces enprise and does nothing to stop …Nd4–wins! White’s threats have no good defence. If now 22… Nd4 23. Qf4! Rf7 24. Qg5 Nxe2 25. Rxe2 Qxe2 26. Bd4 mating. Or if 22…Ba8 (to bring back the Black Queen) then 23. Bh6! Qc8 24.Rd1! (this move is a key move in these lines) 24…Kh8!? 25.Qf4 etc. If instead 22…KxB then 23.Qg4+! Kf7 24.Rd1!! leaves the Black King with no good way to defend against the coming Queen check on the f-file. Or if 23…Kh8 in the above variation then 24.Nf6! Rg7 25.Qxe6 is practically a forced mate–or Black must shed LOTS of material to avoid it.
I recommend the reader to get a board and set up the position above to convince himself of just how hopeless Black’s position is! I find it remarkable! THE GAME CONTINUED:
22…Nd8!? 23.Qf4 Rf7 24.Qg5+ Rf5 25.Qxd8+ Kxg7 26.Qe7+ Rf7 27.Qg5+ Kh8
28.Ne5 Rg7 29.Qd8+ Rg8 30.Qf6+ Rg7 31.Nf7+ 1-0
It is mate in just a couple of moves