SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
What makes the eagle so feared a predator is its uniquely keen eyesight. This allows it to spot its prey from a far distance and go in for the kill without warning. Similary, in chess tactical vision can not be under rated. The player who has the ‘eagle-eye’ will almost always emerge victorious.
Today’s example is taken from the game Rodshtein vs Zhou, played earlier today (!) at the prestigious Aeroflot tournament in Moscow.
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 26th MOVE
The outstanding feature of this position: almost all of Black’s pieces are stuck on the Queenside, far away from the Black King. White’s pieces, on the other hand, are finely centralized and his pawn on f5 is a powerful lever threatening to break open the King’s pawn defences.
Most GMs would now probably play the straight forward piece sac 27.fxg6!? cxd4 28.Rxd4 Qe7 29.gxf7 Rxf7 ( 29…Rad8 30.Rf4 ) 30.Rd6 with a dangerous and probably winning attack.
However, GM Rodshtein’s ‘eagle-eye’ vision spots a very clever and brilliant idea!
A very creative solution to White’s ambitions. Rodshtein tears open the Black Kingside defences. In the game continuation Black’s exposed King becomes an easy target.
The ‘eagle-eye’ move! Rodshtein had seen that now 28…Kh7 29.Rd7 is forced mate! Or if 28…Kg8 29.Qh6 Rf7 (forced) 30.Qg6-ch Kf8 31.Qh6-ch and 32.Rf4 is curtains.
Black has no choice but to take on f6 and hope!
28…Rxf6!? 29.Rxf6 Kxf6 30.Qxh6!
A picturesque position! Black’s entire armada is over on the Queenside, unable to come to the Black King’s rescue! White threatens to deliver mate starting with 31.e5-ch. If now 30…e5 (stopping the threat) then 31.Rf3-ch is mate in 3 moves!
Black has only desperate moves at his disposal, none of which can stop the inevitable for very long…
30…Nc2!? 31.e5-ch! Kf5! 32.Qg7!?
The most consistent, though 32.a3 would have been just as effective. The Black monarch is curiously helpless inside the giant spider-web of pawns…Black tries a desperate check to see if White will go astray:
32…Ne1-ch 33.Kf1! Nxd3 34.Qf6-ch Kg4
35.Qxg6-ch Kf3 36.Qxd3-ch Kg4 37.Kg2!
White threatens Qg6-ch mate! If now 37…Rg8 38.h4! with unstoppable mate threats. So Black tries a final desperate run for it…
There is nothing to be done about White’s coming h4 sealing the mating net.
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS