Though I could not make it this year, my heart is in Cappelle this week as the 28th edition of France’s most famous (and biggest) Open tournament gets underway. Just a shade under 500 players braved the cold weather along the channel separating France and Britain.
As you can see, not less than 10% of the participants are female! This must be a record, no doubt. A total of 169 titled players, of which 88 hold the grandmaster order (74 male and 14 female). I suggest the reader take a look at the link given above for more information, including wonderful photos and live games.
POSITION AFTER 30 MOVES:
WHITE TO PLAY AND WIN!
White has an obvious advantage as Black’s Queenside counterplay is slow to get any real threats started. Meanwhile, the Black King must feel lonely over on the other side of the board! This inspires a brutal break-thru: 31.Bxg6!! winning in every line.
Black, flustered, took the Knight on e6 and resigned after 32.f7! as he gets mated in short order. No better would have been 31…Bxg6 32.f7! or 31…hxg6 32.h7 Kh8 33.Qh6! etc.
The toughest defence would have been 31…Qa7, but after 32.Bxf7 QxB 33.Qxg4 it is all over after either 33…Qg6 34.f7! or 33…Kh8 34.Qg7! as the reader can easily verify for himself.
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 20th MOVE (20.Ne2?):
BLACK TO PLAY AND WIN!
White’s sense of danger slipped for a moment as he sought to exchange Queens to prevent Black from building up any pressure along the b-file. Black’s next move must have come as a shocker and wins by force!
20…Bxb2 !! 21.KxB (no choice here as 21.Kb1 goes off to 21…Qxa3) 21…Rb8 22.Ka2 (ditto previous comment) 22…Nb4!
White must now give up his Queen but resigning was a good alternative.
23.QxR RxQ 24.Bd2 Rh-b8 0-1
POSITION AFTER 25 MOVES:
Black has been playing with fire trying to gain the initiative while allowing the White Queen to infiltrate the Kingside. White’s next move makes it clear who is in charge…
26. Bxh6 ! Sooner or later this was going to be played…
If now 26… gxh6 then 27. Qxh6 Kg8 28. Re3 is the end of the game as the coming Rook check on g3 is too strong
26…Qxc2 27. Rc1!
Precise. Black was hoping to get back into the game after 27. Bg5 Kg8 28. Bxe7 e3!
27… Qxb2! when 28. Rxc6 Kg8 29. e6 fxe6 30.Qg4 leaves White still without a knock-out blow. Instead, Black can not afford the next imprecision:
Now Black should keep his problems to a minimum with
27… Qa4? 28. Bg5 Kg8 29. Bxe7
Now Black is lost. White has a very simple (but effective!) plan to use his Bishop and Queen to create mating threats. Black’s next just accelerates the inevitable….
29…Rd5 30. Qg5! Kh7 31. Bf8
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 20th MOVE (20.Qxe4):
Lalic is one of those grandmasters who is not impressed with the Benko Gambit, having already notched up an impressive score against this speculative opening. Here White simply stands better, perhaps clearly better. Rather than defend with the passive 20…Bc8 (the e6-square is of great concern) , Vorobiov decides to play a bit of poker….
Pins and counterpins! The Bishop on b2 is undefended; this is Black’s motif…the next couple of moves come quickly…
21. Qe6 Kh8 22. Nxd5! Bxb2
Vorobiov seems to be holding things together, as after 23.Qxe7 (threatening mate) he has 23…Bxd5 defending everything. The next 2 moves are a cold shower to Black’s dreams…
23. Nc7! Qd8 Clearly 23… Qc8 is met by 24. Qxe7
Material is even but White has 2 pieces enprise (Knight on c7 and Exchange on a1). If now 24.Nf7 RxN (forced) 25.QxR Bc6! the game is not so clear….
Beautiful and unexpected! Black is totally busted and the game soon ended