SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
The following example is from yesterday’s round at the European Team Cup in Israel. The players are the Russian woman grandmater B.Kovanova (with the White pieces) and the current women’s world champion Hou Yifan from China.
This example illustrates how some players look more deeply into the position than others and as a result are not only able to avoid subtle traps but also able to set them! Here the Russian grandmaster thinks that she has trapped the world champion, only to later realize that she is infact the one who has been trapped…
POSITION AFTER 25 MOVES:
gm Hou, Yifan
wgm Kovanova,B (elo 2400)
Black stands somewhat better as White’s King position is exposed and compromised. However, Black’s position is not a bed of roses either…White should probably dig in with 26.Qg3!?, which would lead to a complex and difficult game for both sides.
HOWEVER, Kovanova became obsessed with a tactic based on the Knight fork on f6 (a family fork, infact), and she convinced herself after some analysis that she could get away with taking Black’s pawn on e4, thereby breaking Black’s attacking chances on the Kingside:
To be fair to White, this move almost works but for a very subtle point that will become apparent only after Black’s 29th move.
26… Rxe4! 27. Qxe4!
The whole point of White’s play! Now Yifan must avoid 27… Qxe4? 28. Nf6! Kg7 29. Nxe4 Bh3 30. Rfd1 Bg4 31. Nxd6 with advantage for white
The threat of …Nf3 means that White will have to give up her Queen to avoid the mate on h2. HOWEVER, Kovanova had already taken this into account before she played her 26th move.
28. Nf6! Kg7 29. Nxd7
Kovanova thought that she had everything undercontrol. She had forseen 29… Nf3? 30. Qxf3 Qxf3 31. Nxb8 Qb7? (Black should take the perpetual) 32. Rac1 Qxb8 33. c5 and White has the advantage once more.
In White’s mind she was going to make a draw against the world champion. Bitter surprise awaited her:
This move is a cruncher that Hou Yifan must have forseen much earlier!
White can not take the Rook as 30…Nf3 will mate. Relatively best would be moving away with the Queen (30. Qb7) but then Black would have a decisive material and positional advantage after 30… Nf3 31. Qxf3 Qxf3 32. Nb6 Qxf4 33. Nd5 Qg4 34. Kh1 Qxd4 etc.
Probably flustered, White made things worse and resigned the next move
30. Ne5?! dxe5