SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
GM Bogdan Lalic
This is the position after White’s 19th move from the game Giuseppe vs Lalic, Cutro 2010. Black has a positional advantage in the form of better pawn structure and more actively placed pieces. In particular, the position of the Knight on g4 can be quite awkward for White. However, White is fighting: he plans to take the Bishop on d5 and atleast–for what it is worth–have the Bishop pair as some sort of compensation.
In this kind of position timing is everything. Black can either try to immediately exploit opportunities that come his way or just wait until much later in the endgame when White’s weaknesses might be more easily taken advantage of. The first approach demands tactical and calculating skills. The latter approach relies on patience, experience and good technique.
Lalic chose the first approach:
This had to be carefully calculated as the Knight on g4 has no safe retreat. Black threatens to just take on d4 and the motif of the piled up pieces along the d-file will pay dividends. If now 21.fxg4 Rxd4 22.g5 hxg5 23.hxg5 Nh7 24.Rfe1 Red8 25.Be3 Rxd3 26.Bxb6 Nxg5 27.Bxd8 Nf3 and Black is clearly on top. or if the imaginative 21.Nb5!? then Black replies 21…Ne5!? 22.dxe5 Rxd3 23.exf6 Rxd2 24.fxg7 cxb5 with clear advantage.
Therefore White continued:
21.Ne2 (defending the pawn on d4) 21…Ne5 !
A beautiful move that had to be forseen several moves before! The trapped Knight on g4 escapes a la Houdini. Amazingly, even though White can take the Knight with his pawn and continue chopping pieces each move, Black obtains a clear advantage in every line!; the game continued:22.dxe5 Rxd3 23.Bc3 (Only slightly better was 23.exf6 Rxd2 24.Ng3 Bf8) 23…Nd5 24.f4 Rh3 and Lalic had no problem and went on to win the game.
MORAL OF THE STORY:
There can arise positions in a game of chess where opportunities can only be seized by those players who have confidence in their calculating skills and who have perfected their calculating skills at home with a lot of training.