The following game was played in the last round of the Aeroflot tournament. The first 10 moves of the game are quite boring and then the game suddenly becomes very interesting. I really enjoyed playing over the game (it is only 21 moves long!) and I think you will also find it fascinating. Pay special attention to Black’s light-square Bishop.
This is the position after White’s 10th move (10.Nh4). The Black is lagging a bit in development and his King has lost the right to castle. Even so, Black’s position is quite solid and numerous ‘experts’ on this opening system feel that Black is in no great danger of losing.
Kotronias’ last move envisions planting his Knight on f5, something that might make Black uncomfortable. Therefore, Vorobiov’s next move:
It is typical of this opening system that Black often allows his e-pawns to become doubled (something that I find a bit ugly). If White now exchanges Bishops and then retreats his Knight back to f3 he should be a bit better positionally. But to be honest, it is not that much since Black will always have the annoying …Ba5!? in the air.
Kotronias’ next move seems to be an offer of a draw:
So Black, not being adverse to a draw, took the Bishop on c4:
11…Bxc4 12. Nxg7-ch Ke7 (forced) 13. Nf5-ch Ke6 (forced)
So White has a perpetual check with the Knight check on g7 and f5. But now something very strange happened: White decided to ‘play for the win’!!
He played 14.Ne3?!
Kotronias must have thought that Black would be forced to retreat the Bishop to a6 (14…Ba6) , afterwhich he would gain the upperhand with the clever 15.Bxf6! Kxf6 16.Ned5-ch! cxd5 17.Nxd5-ch and 18.Nxc7 and 19.NxR. White would then end in a position where he would have Rook and 2-pawns for Bishop and Knight, but where White would have an undesputed advantage…
However, Black played the unexpected (and brilliant) :
An unexpected move, but very strong. Black now is able to answer White’s 15.b3 with 15…b4!, not only neutralizing White’s threats, but remaining a piece to the good, since the Bishop could then escape to a6.
Ofcourse, the game is not entirely clear since White has a pawn for his investment, and might pick up another pawn later since the Black Bishop on c4 is in an unstable position (White constantly threatens b3–against which Black must be willing to reply …b4 at the right moment.)
But, ”a piece is a piece” as they say and Black certainly has the upperhand!
LATER , after White’s 21st move (21.Rd2) the following position was arrived at:
Actually quite a remarkable position when you think about it for a while. The Black Bishop has been chased to an even more unstable position on e2. How does Black defend this Bishop?
Should he try to escape with 21…b4-ch then after 22.Kxb4 Ba6 White would actually get the advantage after 23.Rhd1!; He creates threats of mate against the Black King and already has 2 pawns for the Bishop. Black would have to part with some material in order to deal with the growing threats…
Ofcourse, Black has a simple way to maintain a slight advantage: 21…Bxf3 and after 22.gf3 Rg3! with threats. After the more or less forced 23.Rd6-ch and then 24.Nf5 and 25. NxR Black could claim a very slight edge…
HOWEVER, Black played an absolutely brilliant move :
White is now completely lost! When I first played over this game I thought that Black’s last move was a mis-print, but infact it was the actual move played in the game and is also the very best move.
If now 22.NxR Black continues 22…Bxf3 23.Re1 (there is nothing better!) 23…Rg8! and the Knight on g2 has no good move! Plus there is always the threat of …Nxe4-ch hanging in the position. White loses decisive amounts of material…
So White instead resigned!