SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
Several times in his games in the London tournament world champion challenger Boris Gelfand did not castle with the Black pieces. This is rarely seen in top-level chess. Castling is an important part of modern openings…to leave one’s King in the centre carries with it great risks.
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 22nd MOVE:
Here Gelfand definitely did not feel comfortable. His opening has not gone well and he finds himself a pawn down and still not castled. Besides this, there is a sacrifice on e6 hovering over the position.
HOWEVER, things are not as bad. as they at first seem. The presence of opposite-colour Bishops gives Black some hopes of saving the game after the logical 22… O-O! Then after 23. d3 (23.Bxa6?! Rxc2 and Black is even better!) a5!? 24. Rb1 g6 25. h3 Bg7 26. a4 Qc7 few grandmasters would consider Black’s position hopeless and many would rate Black’s chances of drawing reasonable.
BUT, in any case, it is absolutely necessary to castle! INSTEAD, Gelfand took the pawn on d2 (preferring to re-establish the material balance)
Ofcourse, this is suicide! Any club amateur would realize that Black is simply inviting a sacrifice on e6: the only doubt is whether it actually works! (IT WORKS).
An intriguing question is why Gelfand decided not to castle–when he would have had a reasonable chance to survive– and instead take the poison d-pawn? Clearly he saw Grischuk’s next move. The answer could be related to an earlier game in the tournament (a few days ago) against the English star Mickey Adams, where Gelfand also did not castle with the Black pieces:
POSITION AFTER 14 MOVES:
Despite not having castled, Black is not doing so badly here. The Bishop pair offers some compensation, and Black’s position is remarkably resilient. It is very hard for White to break into the Black position and use his superior development. Gelfand even won the game when Adams over pressed. (See the full game below) However, there can be no doubt that White stands somewhat better in the diagram above.
PERHAPS, against Grischuk, Gelfand simply lost his objectivity. Or he refused to entertain the possibility that he could lose against Grischuk. After all, he did not castle against Adams and got away with it! He even won… Wiki writes ”. A person… may refuse to admit the possibility of error or failure, even in the face of complex or intractable problems or difficult or impossible tasks…” This is defined as a God Complex, something that I believe happens quite often with even completely rational and normal chess players such as Gelfand.
The game of chess is so closely tied to the EGO that we players frequently find that our most difficult adversary is not with the human facing us over the board but with ourselves! When we find ourselves in inferior or difficult situations, sometimes we tell ourselves sweet little lies…
BACK TO THE GRISCHUK GAME. THERE FOLLOWED:
23. Bxe6! fxe6 24. Rxe6
Black is completely lost. He has no good move: If 24… Kf7 25. Qh5! g6 26. Qf3 threatens to win the house and will force Black into a lost ending requiring only accurate technique on White’s part; 24… Kf8 25. Rxf6! PxR 26.Qxf6 Kg8 27.Qe6 Kg7 28.Qg4! with a forced mate; 24… Kd8 25. Rd1 wins the Queen. THAT ONLY LEAVES:
The most precise, though 24.Qf5 is also good enough.
White is threatening discovered checks, mates and worse! The c4 and a4 squares are available for the White Queen to further create new threasts…Black soon resigned when faced with inevitable mate.