SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
The summer has just officially began and already we find ourselves swamped with tournaments all over the place. It is almost impossible to keep up! Summer is also the busiest season for a chessplayer who wants to get in a tournament or two. His vacation can include a tournament, or students can use the time away from school to just travel and play in international events. And organizers are only too happy to exploit this eagerness by offering all sorts of tournaments for all sorts of tastes.
Below are some snap-shots from games played in the recently concluded Premier section of the Capablanca Memorial in Havana and from the in-progress Pula tournament in Croatia. The games I present are not works of art, and certainly contain more than a fair amount of mistakes and errors…but that is what I find so entertaining about them. Enjoy!
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 24th MOVE
White is a bit better (space) , but Black has everything under control. His many pieces in the centre should guarantee his security. If it is Black’s move he will simply double Rooks and then what can White really expect? So White decides to give an exploratory check and see what might come of it…25. Bh6 !?
Where to put his King? Black should now play 25… Kh8! Instead, Nogueiras gives White chances by putting his King on a square that is within the orbit of the Knight on g4.25…Kg8?! 26. Bg5!?
This move must have come as a shock to Nogueiras, for he now makes another inaccuracy and lands into a lot of trouble.
Necessary is 26… fg! and after 27. Nh6! Kg7 28. Nxf7 Rxf7 (28… Kxf7? 29. Rxe6 Rxe6 30. Nxg5) 27. Nxg5 29. Rxe6 Raf8 30. Bd1 White has just a minimal advantage.
26… Nxg5?! 27. Rxe7 Bxe7 28. Rxe7 Kf8
This is the move that Black was counting on. He must have only considered White retreating his Rook…instead a nasty surprise awaits him!29. Nxg5!
White now develops a serious attack. Perhaps Black should now play 29… fg but after 30. Re2! Qd8 31. f4! it is clear that White dominates the game. 29… Kxe7 30. Qe3!
Now the Black King is forced back30… Kf8 31. Nxh7 Kg8
Clearly 31… Kg7 loses immediately to 32. Qh6 . Now the simplest and most direct way to win is to play 32. Qe7! exploiting the fact that the Black Queen is undefended on c7. After 32… Rc8 33. Nh6 Kxh7 34. Qxf7 Kh8 35. Qxg6 the end is within sight.
HOWEVER, WHITE’S MOVE IS GOOD ENOUGH TO WIN:32. Qh6!?
Threatening to take on f6 and forcing Black’s Queen to move32… Qd6 33. Bxg6 !
Black played 33…Qe6 but then resigned without waiting to see White’s reply. There is no defence to taking twice on f6 and then playing Bh7ch winning the Black Queen.
_______________________________________________________________________POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 26th MOVENOGUIERASORTIZ SUAREZ
The opening had been a super-sharp variation of the French Defence, a line that Nogueiras has gained much experience in during the past 25 years. In the position above White appears to be quite ok and even has an extra h-pawn. However, all of Black’s pieces are well coordinated and White has no threats. Adding the fact that it is Black’s move…what can one say other than Black to move and win!26… Rxd3!!
This surprising move rips open the position and allows the Black Queen to infiltrate. Together with the strongly posted Knight on f3 (and Bishop on c6) Black develops a winning attack out of nowhere!
Threatening to win the house with …Qb2ch. Relatively best now is 28. Re1 but after 28… Nxe1 29. Kxe1 Qxd3 30. f5 Bb5! there is no doubt that Black must win.
WHITE’S NEXT MOVE IS UNDERSTANDABLE, BUT ALLOWS A BRILLIANT FINISH!
28. Ra2 ?!
This was supposed to discourage Black’s …Qb2, but …
28… Qb2!! Anyway!
Very pretty! White will not be able to stop the Black pawn from Queening…
29. Rxb2 cb
No matter what White does Black will end up with an extra piece. White tries a desperate last effort to get a perpetual check
30. f5 b1Q 31. Qf4?! (Allowing a quick mate, but there are no good alternatives)
31… Qg1! It is forced mate. White resigns. [0:1]
27. cd Qb5 !
The 24th Pula Open chess tournament is taking place on 19-26th June at the hotel “Histria”, under management of the Croatian Chess Federation and local Chess Club “Pula”. The competition will be held over nine rounds of Swiss system and with time control of 90 min + 30 sec increment.
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 20th MOVE
White has a clear positional advantage. The White Knight dominates the Black Bishop (which is dead wood) and White has chances on the Queen-side as well. However, this is no excuse for Black’s next move which simply loses the Queen!
20…Qxg4???? 21. Nd6ch ouch!
_____________________________________________________________________POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 26th MOVE
The wild,wild west! Here we have a crazy wide open position with both sides attacking. Black’s dangerous Bishop pair should guarantee his security, and his Queen-side attack against the White King is just as dangerous as White’s attack. However, one false slip…and kaput! (That goes for both players)
Here Black should withdraw his Queen (26…Qc6) and follow up with …Na4, if he can. Either side has chances to win this mess! However, Black over-estimated his chances in the game continuation and what takes place is one of the most colourful (and awful!) attacks that I have seen in a while!26… Bxb2?
At first this seems fine, but it is very wrong.
White can now get a winning attack by simply declining the gift:
27. Kb1! Bf7 28. Qxe7 Bg7 29. Rh7! Diagram, right
If Black takes the Rook then the Queen takes the Bishop and soon mates Black, and if he does something else then White will simply take the Bishop off on g7. INSTEAD, WHITE LETS BLACK GET A WINNING GAME BY ACCEPTING THE GIFT:27. Kxb2??
Now the Queen and Knight attack puts White under tremendous pressure
27… Qa3 28. Kb1 Nc4 threatening mate in one move!
White must now give up his Queen to slow down the Black attack. Losing horribly would be 29. c3 Qxb3 30. Kc1 Qa3 31. Kb1 Be4 32. Rhd3 bc and the open b-file is immediately decisive. 29. Qxc4 !?
Not a pretty move to have to play, but the alternative was giving up without a fight. Atleast now White will create some threats along the h-file
29… Bxc4 30. Rdh1
Now probably the simplest win is 30… Bxb3! 31. cb Ra7! (defending e7) 32. Rh8 Kf7 33. R1h7 Ke6 and White just has no more ammunition to attack with. However, Black’s move is not bad either…
Freeing the c-pawn to advance and attacking the White Rook on h1. White’s threats are not very dangerous and Black should have no problem mopping up.
THE GAME CONTINUED:
31. Rh8 Kf7 32. R1h7
White is doing his best, but sometimes checks are only checks…
32… Ke6 33. Rxe7
Now simply 33… Kd6! when the Black King escapes and White can resign with a clear conscience!
33… Kf5?? Unbelievable!! Now Black even loses…
Black must have overlooked that White is not forced to exchange Rooks…now the moves come quickly:
34. Re5 Kg4 35. Rh4 Kg3 36. Rxd5
White has Rook, Bishop and Knight for the Queen (which is sleeping over on a3), PLUS a mating attack against the White majesty! TALK ABOUT TURNING THE TABLES!
36… c4 ?
Stopping Rd3, but do you see the downside?
37. Ra5! Ouch!!
Sometimes chess can be so cruel! Now the Black Queen has no escape. Black played on for a few more moves before throwing in the towel. A truly HORRIBLE game, but thoroughly entertaining!
______________________________________________________________________POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 19th MOVESHALNEVPREDOJEVIC
Something has gone terribly wrong with Black’s opening and his Black majesty finds himself trapped in the centre. White uses great precision (and energy!) to bring home his advantage.
20. Rxe5! de 21. Bxf7! Qxf7
Now comes the coup de grace…
22. Qa4 !
22… Ke7 23. Qd7 Kf6 24. Rf1
Black is getting mated! He throws in the towel here…
________________________________________________________________________POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 24 th MOVE
Another crazy game with both sides attacking like there is no tomorrow. However, here–as is the case in most of this kind of game–he who has the move has the advantage! White does not waste this opportunity and forces an immediate break-thru into Black’s position.25. Rxg4! fg 26. Qxg4
Black loses no matter where he moves his King! The Black Queen is a helpless spectator as White’s Queen, Knight and Rook dominate play. If now Black goes into the corner then he loses a bit slower : 26… Kh8 27. Qd4 Kg8 28. Rg1 Qg2 29. Rxg2 fg 30. Qg4 Kh8 31. Qxg2 etc.26… Kf7
Fearless! However, Black is quickly cut down….27. Ne5 Kf6 28. Rxh6 [1:0] It is mate next move
_______________________________________________________________________POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 33rd MOVE
Black has been a bit imprecise with his play in the middlegame and he spoiled several opportunities to gain the advantage. With Black’s last move (33…f3) Zelcic is trying to simply maintain his head above water. Here White should play the cold-blooded 34. Rxe2! fe 35. h3! when he does not risk losing. Instead, he makes a natural move and finds himself with a lost position!
You have to sympathize with White: he defends against the ‘threat’…but unfortunately, he walks into things that were not threats before g3 was in the position!
34… Rxc4! Ouch!
Black immediately siezes upon the back-rank weakness! If now 35. Rxc4 Qb1! 36. Rc1 Qxc1 37. Bxc1 Re1 38. Rf1 Rxf1#. So the White Queen must move….
35… Rxc1 36. Qxc1
Black is winning. Now the best move is 36… Qe4! , threatening (amongst other things) simply exchanging Rooks and Qe2 mating. However, Black’s second-best move is good enough to win:
White can hardly move, the back rank being such a big problem that simply won’t go away!
37. Qc7? An immediately fatal blunder, but there is no defence.
If instead 37. Be1 (relatively best) then after 37… Qc2 38. Qa1 Qc5! White would have had no good move anyway. Now Black has a crushing move:
37… Qb1! [0:1]
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 17th MOVEFUCAKSARIC
An interesting position. Black should now exchange on d4 and then play Rc8 or first play Rc8. In either case Black would have satisfactory counterplay. Instead, Black tries a different idea trying to drum up counterplay against the White King and falls into a very pretty tactical trap!
17… b5 ?! 18. Ndf5!
Black must have overlooked this very strong move which is based on the undefended state of the Black Rook on a8. If now 18… ef? 19. Rxd5 fg 20. Qg2 Qc7 21. Bxc5 and White wins as he pleases. Or if 18… Bf8 19. Nxg7 wins material while maintaining a strong attack.
Black is lost no matter what he does, so he simply pushes forward and hopes…18… b4!?19. Nxe7 Qxe7 Black has no idea of what is going to happen to him next!
20. Nf5! Very pretty!
It is not often that one sees a Knight sacrifice happening twice on the same square in the same game! Ofcourse Black can not play 20… ef 21. Qxd5 and his position simply collapses. Black can resign, but struggles on for one more brave–but desperate–move.
20… Nxe5 ?!
This simply loses a piece
21. Nxe7! [1:0] Black throws in the towel! A very nice tactical theme!
__________________________________________________________________________POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 23rd MOVEDUDASKOVACEVIC,A
Ofcourse White has a strategically winning position: the Black Knight on b8 has no moves; White controls the c-file ; White has the Bishop pair, White has the 7th rank. What more can one reasonably ask for ?
What I find so curious about this game is how White wins it: he encircles the Black Knight and simply captures it! Surprisingly, Black can not get any meaningful counterplay at all!24. Bh3!
With the very simple plan of en-circling the Black Knight
24… Qe4!? What else? 25. Bc8!25… Qxe2 26. Qxb8
And that is that! White will now simply re-group (Be6ch and Q-moves) and remain with a piece extra. In the game continuation Black tried a few tricks and then resigned on the 34th move when they failed!
If chess could only be so simple more often…especially in my own games!
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS