Today’s chess miniature
Spain 22/ 9/2009.
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6
The Petroff is a solid defence that Gelfand has been playing successfully for years. Black tries to limit the strategic and tactical possibilities of his opponent, keeping the game relatively uncomplicated and straight forward. This opening is seen at every level of tournament practice, and has earned a reputation of respect.
3. d4 This move and 3.Nxe5 are equally popular today
3… Nxe4 Simplest
Rarely seen today is 3… exd4 4. e5 Ne4 5. Qxd4 d5 6. exd6 Nxd6 which used to enjoy popularity in the 60’s and 70’s.
4. dxe5!? Super sharp! More common today is 4. Bd3 d5 5. dxe5
This last move is an invitation to some very sharp tactics, something which the young Gashimov enjoys very much. His style is highly tactical and his games are wonderful examples of the kind of chess that the legendary Paul Morphy was known for!
4… d5!? The safest move.
Gelfand did not want to be drawn into his opponent’s preparations with 4… Bc5!? (see diagram on left below). Black begins an immediate attack against White. Though it is not seen so often in practice, occassionally some strong grandmaster will try his luck with it. Ivanchuk used it to defeat the Cuban superstar Bruzon a couple of years ago!
5. Bc4! (diagram right, below) Meeting fire with fire! Also playable is 5. Qd5!? , which is how Bruzon continued.
5… Nxf2 (5… Bxf2 6. Kf1!) 6. Bxf7! Kxf7 (6… Kf8 7. Qd5 Nxh1 8. Qxc5 Kxf7 9. Qd5 Kf8 10. Nc3 d6 11. Bg5 c6 12. Qd4 Qe8 13. O-O-O) 7. Qd5 Ke8 8. Bg5 ( known from correspondence games is 8. Qxc5 Nxh1 9. Bg5 d6 10. Qe3 Qd7 11. Nc3 with better chances for White) 8… Be7 9. Bxe7 Qxe7 10. Kxf2 and White has been doing well in recent games.
5. Nbd2 Challenging the Black Knight
5… Nc5 !? A curious tango is initiated with this move
There are some interesting alternatives. Probably not so good is the natural 5… Nc6 because after 6. Bb5! White builds some unpleasant pressure on the Black position.
However, quite acceptable and seen quite often in master practice is 5… Nxd2 6. Bxd2 ( There is nothing wrong with 6. Qxd2 c5 7. Qf4 h6 8. Qg3 Nc6 9. Bd3 Be6 10. O-O as in the recent game Jakovenko,D – Gelfand,B , Odessa 2009 3rd ACP World Rapid Cup) 6… c5 7. Bg5 Qa5 8. c3 Be6 9. Bd3 Nc6 10. O-O h6 11. Bd2 Qc7 12. Re1 and White is a bit better , as in the recent game Gashimov,V – Fridman,D , Mainz GER 2009 16th ORDIX Open.
Seen from time to time is 5… Be7 but after 6. c4!? White appears to be on top. And last, but not least, the sharp 5… Bf5!? has never been worked out and is very interesting.
6. Nb3 Do you know this tango?
Ofcourse White must not keep his Queen Bishop buried forever!
6… Ne6 !?
Theory has not yet worked out the best line for Black, but Gelfand’s move has a solid reputation. There are alternatives, depending on your taste and style in chess: the provocative 6… Be6 (7. Ng5!) or the simplifying 6… Nxb3 7. axb3 Be7 or the developing 6… Nc6 (7. Bg5 Qd7 8. Bb5!)
7. Nbd4 I am not a fan of the tango, but it is pretty to watch
I would assume that White deliberately wants to provoke his opponent into complicated lines.
7… Nxd4 Black has had enough of this tango!
Not so good is 7… Be7 as after 8. Nf5!? White builds up pressure on the Black position: … c6 (8… O-O 9. Nxe7 (certainly not 9. Qxd5?? Bb4! winning) 9… Qxe7 10. Qxd5) 9. Bd3
8. Nxd4!? Also known is 8. Qxd4 Be7 9. Bf4 c5 10. Qd2 Be6 with an interesting game
A curious position. White seems to try to deliberately provoke his opponent into playing the natural …c5 move, driving away the Knight. However, things are not so simple…
8… Be7 Gelfand avoids a little trap…
Very dangerous for Black is the immediate 8… c5
9. Bd3 Development
9… c5 Gelfand is tempted to bite…
While not a bad move, it seems more prudent to simply develop: 9… O-O!? when White has nothing better than 10. O-O (10. Qh5 leads nowhere after good moves:… g6 11. Qh6 c5 12. Nf3 Re8) and now Black can consider …c5, but under better circumstances than in the game.
My readers who have paid attention to the previous annotated games on this blog will have learned by now that a Knight on f5 can really annoy your opponent! Gelfand now makes a serious mistake by not taking this Knight off immediately.
10… O-O? Not wanting to give up the two Bishops, Black makes what is probably the decisive error. Everything depends on the evaluation of one line that will be coming up…
Gelfand had to take the Knight off. After 10… Bxf5 11. Bxf5 Nc6 White might be a bit better, but the game is just beginning and a real fight can be made of it! Now, however, a BIG surprise awaits Gelfand….
11. Nxg7 !! It is not often that one has the opportunity to make such a shocking sacrifice against Gelfand. Surprisingly, (or not) it probably wins, if not certainly gives a large edge. One more example of the power of the Knight on f5!
Gashimov rips open the Black kingside , and with the two White Bishops looking in that direction, and the White Queen about to enter the game, Gelfand finds himself with inadequate defence.
11… Kxg7 Resigning himself to his fate…
Did Gelfand not see 11… c4! 12. Nf5 Kh8 13. Nxe7 Qxe7 14. Be2 Qxe5? Black would have recovered the pawn, but with the King side wide open and White having two Bishops, the Black position is probably strategically lost. Some might disagree with this assessment, but I think at the highest levels of play no one would want to play the Black position! But if Gelfand had any intention of putting up some resistance (and avoiding the minature that follows) he had to play this way….
12. Qh5 ! As natural as a baby’s smile….threatening mate in 1 move!
The key idea in Gashimov’s attack, and the move that Gelfand undoubtedly was hoping his opponent would not see! Now Black is really routed….
14… fxe6 [Ofcourse 14… Bxe6 is answered by the powerful 15. Qe5 Bf6 16. Qg3] 15. Qg4
Have you ever seen a 2750 player crying? This position would bring any player to tears!
15… Kf7 16. Qg7
Gelfand loses his Rook with check! Black resigns