SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
The 9th Aeroflot Open is taking place from February 9th to 18th, 2010, for the fifth year in succession in the tourist complex Izmailovo Hotel Gamma-Delta, where most of the participants also stay. The prize sum is EUR 180,000, including prizes for the World Blitz Qualification Tournament. Four Open Tournaments (A1, A2, B and C) are made up according to the rating of the participants. The A1 tournament has players with a rating of 2550 or higher.
Time controls: for tournament A1 and A2 it is 40 moves in 100 minutes, then 20 moves in 50 minutes, finally 15 minutes for the remaining moves, with an increment of 30 seconds per move from move one. For tournaments B and C: 90 minutes for the whole game with an increment of 30 seconds per move from move one.
The Ukranian grandmaster Alexander Moiseenko is well known to my Canadian readers. One of the very best of the new generation of stars, Alexander is known as a combative player with an uncompromising style. He is willing to take risks in order to win with the Black pieces.
His result in this tournament is seemingly not very impressive, so far, with 6 draws and 1 victory. However, he has been playing some of the most entertaining chess!LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT HIS 4th ROUND GAME
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 23rd MOVE (23.Qc1)
A superficial glance at the position indicates that White will have excellent chances if he can succeed to consolidate in the next few moves: he has the Bishop pair, centralized pieces and Black’s Queen-side pawns are begging to be attacked.
However, things are rarely as simple as they may first appear. The White Queen is (temporarily) offside, and this factor, combined with Black’s ability to create direct threats with …Nf4 as well as doubling on the d-file (…Rad8), allow Moiseenko to prevent White from easily consolidating. Infact, Black has the opportunity to develop a surprisingly strong attack!
Moiseenko should now play the very daring (and strong!) 23… Nxh2!
(Diagram, right). It is not clear how White can save himself! If 24. Nxh2 then …Bxd1 25. Rxd1 Rad8 leaves White in trouble: 26. Bc2 Nf4! 27. Re1 Qg5! 28. g3 Ne2! winning the Queen. And if White recaptures with his King then he falls to direct attack with (24. Kxh2) 24…Bxf3 25. gf Qh4 26. Kg1 Nf4 etc. So it seem White must play 24. Bxe5 and pray: after 24… Nxf3 25. gf Ng5 26. Bxd6 Nxf3 27. Kg2 Qxd6 28. Rh1 Qg6 29. Kf1 Qg4 Black is clearly on top.
INSTEAD, MOISEENKO SACRIFICED HIS KNIGHT ON ANOTHER SQUARE!
This also gives Black attacking chances, but White can save himself with good defence24. Kxf2 Bxf3!
Black removes White’s best defender
25. Kxf3 The only move! Surprisingly, the open position of the White King is not decisive
Note that had White tried 25. Bxe5 he would have got the worse of it after 25… Bxd1 26. Bxd6 Qxd6 27. Rxd1 Qxh2 etc.
Now if Black proceeds with 25… Qf6!? 26. Kg3! Rad8 27. Be2 Nf4 28. Bf3! Rxd1 29. Rxd1 Rd3!? (Diagram,right) a draw by perpetual seems about forced: 30. Qc2 (30. Rxd3 Qg5 wins the White Queen) 30… Rxc3 31. Qxc3 Ne2 32. Bxe2 Qf4 33. Kh3 Qh6 34. Kg3 Qf4 etc
SO MOISEENKO, WANTING TO WIN, PLAYED THE NATURAL
25… Rad8 Threatening to take the White Bishop
White must play with extreme caution
Play proceeded 26. Bf1!? [ It appears that 26. Be2 Qf6 27. Kg3 Nf4 28. Bf3 would transpose into the last note] 26… Qf6 [less good is 26… Qh4 27. Rxd6 Rxd6 28. Ke3] 27. Ke2 Nf4 28. Ke3 Qg5 Threatening something very nasty!
Not a position for the weak of heart! The threatened discovered double check is every chessplayer’s worse knightmare! Amazingly, White has a defence!
29. Rxd6! Rxd6 (there is nothing better) 30. Kf2! Rf6 31. Kg1
White has walked along the edge of a razor and now Black has nothing better than force a draw!
31… Nh3 32. Kh1 Nf2 33. Kg1 Nh3 34. Kh1
And both players agreed to a draw. Some draws are worth more than a half-point!
THEN AGAIN IN ROUND6 FOUND MOISEENKO AGAIN PLAYING FOR THE SPECTATORS WITH THE BLACK PIECES!
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 10th MOVE (10.Bg5)
A sharp variation of the Nimzo-Indian (4.f3), where White has avoided the mainline and instead has played his Bishop to d3. Normally White plays his Knight to f3 before deciding what to do with his King Bishop. This gave Moiseenko an idea: is there some way to try to punish White for not playing book?
An incredible concept! This seems like it loses a piece, but it is infact a profound sacrifice that leads by force to positions that defy exact calculation. I don’t even trust the computer’s analysis here! But I will try to do my best to explain the amazing mess that follows….11. Bxf6!
(Curiously 11. Nf3!? would transpose into a known line, but it appears that White was trying to avoid that!) 11… Qxf6 12. Qxg4 Qf2 13. Kd1 Qxb2 14. Rc1
All apparently forced so far. At first sight it seems that Black will have, at most,a couple of pawns and a few checks for the piece. But Moiseenko’s idea soon appears…after Black’s next move the play becomes forced for White:
14… Be3!? (the whole point of Black’s play) 15. Rc2! Qa1 16. Ke2 Bxg1!
Is Moiseenko crazy? He has established material equality, atleast with respect to the number of minor pieces, but the Rook on h1 has a powerful pin on the Black Queen! All White need do is move his g-pawn and transfer his Queen to g2 (or g3) and win the sorry Bishop.
However, things are not so clear! Again, everything depends on exact move orders. While White will try to hunt down this Bishop, Black will try to created play against the White King in the centre with …Nd7 to …c5 to …b3.
White has nothing better, infact. If instead 17. Qg5 then Black has the nice shot 17… Be3! Now if Black plays 17…Nd7 (or 17…Na6) White will play 18. g4 and 19.Qg2. So what can Black do to prevent this?
Ofcourse! In such positions Black can not worry about pawns! The initiative is his only priority….now White does not have time for 18.g3 because of …fe4, which would allow the Black Rook to come into play with great effect.
18. ef! there is nothing better! 18…Nd7
A critical position. Black has connected his Rooks and got his Knight into action. Furthermore, he might now consider getting the Knight into play with …Nc5 or even …e4 and then …Ne5. White must play precisely here to contain the Black plans. Afterall, for the moment Black is not down any material! And note that 19. g4 allows 19… e4! 20. Nxe4 Qd4 and Black might even be on top!
White must now play the very precise 19. Be4! (blockading the e-pawn) when it appears that he will gain the advantage: 19…Nc5 20. g4! Nb3 21. Qg2 Qxa3 22. Rxg1 Nd4 23. Kd2 Nxc2 24. Kxc2 (Diagram, right)
White’s two minor pieces and are better than the Rook and pawn. Furthermore, White has control of the centre and attacking chances on the King-side.
BUT INSTEAD THE GAME WENT IN ANOTHER DIRECTION:
19. Ne4?! Qd4 !
The Black Queen escapes from the pin by the White Rook on h1 and still defends his Bishop on g1! Now the game is roughly balanced. White should play 20.g4 (defending f5) and threatening to harrass the Bishop on g1. Probably Black would play …Nc5 and prepare to backup the Bishop. It would be anybody’s game…
INSTEAD, WHITE NOW BLUNDERS!
20. c5?! Trying to prevent …Nc5 20… Rxf5! Ouch!
Moiseenko’s risk-taking has given dividends! White clearly underestimated this move, and now it is White who must try to survive…The next few moves are more or less forced.
21. Qxf5 Qe3ch 22. Kd1 Qxd3ch 23. Rd2
For just the exchange Black has many threats. He has atleast a perpetual (if he wants it). On top of this, he will soon play his Rook to the f-file, adding a 4th piece to the attack.
23… Qb3 24. Ke2 Qe3 25. Kd1 Rf8
It is a good thing that White can now give a check!
26. Qe6ch Kh8
Black is now threatening to bring his Rook into play on f1. White’s next is apparently forced.
The irony is that Black’s Bishop on g1 actually wins the White Rook! Now I think that most players would now play 27… Qxg1 28. Kc2 Qe3! with strong attacking chances. (Not 28… Nxc5? because of 29. Qe7)
INSTEAD, MOISEENKO FINDS ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY THE ATTACK!
27… Qxe4!? 28. Re1 Qb1 29. Ke2 Qb5 30. Kd1
Ofcourse, Black has a perpetual whenever he wants. But with the White King wide open and vulnerable, and Black only having invested an exchange, Black has every right to push forward and try to win.
I think that Black should now play 30… Nxc5! and if 31. Qe7 Kg8! with good chances,
INSTEAD, PROBABLY IN MUTUAL TIME TROUBLE, BLACK DID NOT PLAY PRECISELY AND THE GAME WAS EVENTUALLY DRAWN. I LEAVE IT TO THE READERS TO SEE THE REST OF THE GAME IN THE PGN VIEWER.
Not withstanding, Moiseenko deserves full credit for his enterprising and original play!
I will present more interesting snapshots from this great tournament during the week. In the meantime, I leave the readers with some photos from the tournament.
The tournament room and spectators
Now why did I do that silly move?
Spassky reading the newspaper
When will the round begin?
Some days you should just stay in bed!
Atleast my nose is still intact
What would Bobby Fischer do in this position?
Your position looks more interesting than mine!
Maybe if I just hide…