Today’s winning 5-second tactics
“Hate them more than you hate yourself, and you’ll stay free!”
― Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time
The following example is taken from the Monte-Carlo Grand Prix taking place right now in Monaco.
From today’s round. Position after White’s 16th move (16.Nc4). A sharp and complex struggle is taking place between the two former world champions. Black has sacrificed a pawn in the opening and followed it up with Queen-side castling…amongst the interesting options at her disposal is 16…Ne5!?, and after 17.Nxe5 ( 17.Bf4 Nfd7 ) Qxe5 18.Bf4 Qxb2 and it is anybody’s game!
Stefanova (l) and Kosteniuk. Beauty and brains!
INSTEAD, the Russian overestimated her chances and played
A very clever idea that Kosteniuk thought she had calculated thoroughly…but there is a very subtle refutation as we shall soon see. Note that 17.Qxe4?! Bxg5 is just better for Black, and that 17.Bxe7 Nxg3+ 18.Kg1 Ne2+ 19.Kh1 Ng3+ is a perpetual check.
This move, too, Kosteniuk had forseen. Note that Black should not now play 17…e5 ?18.Qxe4 Bxh4 19.Nxe5! with a winning position: 19..Rde8 20.Nxc6 Rxe4 21.Nxa7+ Kb8 22.Bxc7+ Kxc7 23.Bxe4Bxg3 24.Nb5+ etc.
This is what Kosteniuk had been counting on! Truth be told, there is no direct or obvious way for White to exploit the pin of the Knight: Rd1 is impossible because of the Bishop on h5, and Qd2 is refuted by the simple …Nxc4. The next move Black intends the consolidating …Nb6, with a strong position.
The refutation of Black’s little combination started several moves ago! To be fair to the Russian, this move is very easy to overlook…NOW, however, the game is all over. Black must lose lots of material. In the game continuation Black decided to give up her Queen for two pieces with 18…exf5 19.Qxe7 Nxc4 20.Bxc7 Kxc7 21.Rae1 , but White had little difficulty in winning the game. Black resigned on the 37th move.
Round I. Kirsan in centre. John Galvani (Casino Director) on the far right. Jean-Michele Rapaire (2nd from left) is the Grand Prix organizer. The game is Mariya Muczychuk vs Stefanova.