SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
The following game was played in the Baku International Open in September. The game features a very instructive attacking middlegame that also contatins some very pretty tactical moments. I especially like how White completely ignores Black’s threats on the Queenside. ENJOY!
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 23rd MOVE (23.Qf4):
A sharp position that has many of the typical characteristics of those battles that arise from the French Defence. EXCEPT that Black’s Kingside appears to have been compromised. Especially, the White pawn on f6 is very dangerous for the Black monarch. Another unusual thing is the presence of the Black Queen on f8: normally the Queen is busy conducting the counter attack over on the other side of the board.
Putting these factors together, with the awareness that Black’s Queenside counter attack is still in the preparation stage, I think the assessment of the above position is not very promising for the Black pieces. Perhaps Black is already lost!
If Black now follows a prudent course with 23…Kh7!?, trying to exchange Queens by …Qh6, then 24.g4! is hard to meet: 24…Qh6 could be met with 25.g5! Qf8 26. Rh3! followed by Ng3 and an impending sacrifice on h5 should yield a winning attack.
SO BLACK PUTS HIS FAITH IN HIS QUEENSIDE PLAY:
It is necessary to open files! Black wants to play …a4 and …b3
White does not hesitate to do the same! In such races (opposite-side castling) he who strikes first usually comes out on top. White will now simply play gxh5 opening up the Black Kingside. THE next moves are more or less all forced:
24… hxg4 25. Rg1! a4 26. Rxg4 b3
The climax is quickly approaching! Give Black a move or two and he will expose the White monarch to the battery of Rooks waiting downhill (d8 and c8). White, therefore, does not hesitate:
Effectively the winning idea! White will double along the h-file and try to mate Black on h8! The beautiful execution of White’s Kingside attack–combined by his total disregard for Black’s Queenside threats–makes a big impression on the spectators!
THERE FOLLOWED QUICKLY:
27…bxa2 28. Reh3!
An extra Queen (or two!) will not save Black!
28…a1=Q 29. Kd2 Ne4
Black has only a handful of harmless checks that White easily handles.
30. Qxe4! Ofcourse! 30… Qb4 31. Nc3
Black throws in the towel. It is a forced mate along the h-file.