SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
The following is a very nice attacking game from yesterday’s round at the strongest open chess tournament in the world this year. Black had a reasonable position after the opening, but at one point he became over confident and underestimated an attacking resource by White. The result was a pleasing finish for the spectators.
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 24th MOVE (24…Nc4)
Black must have felt confident that his Kingside defences were resistance enough to hold any direct attack by White, for otherwise he would have left his strongly posted Knight on e5. No doubt Smirin, a very strong Grandmaster from Israel, had calculated that if White were to now try 25. Bxc4 Qxc4 26. f6!? he would have the very precise 26… Bh8! holding. (Certainly not 26… Bf8?! as after 27. Bh6 White would gain a decisive attack by exchanging off the dark square Bishop.)
But sometimes chess is a funny game: you are prepared for action on one side of the board, but find that it is a move on the other side of the board that gives you unexpected trouble. This is what happened here!
25. Ndb5 ! Surprise!
This clever move is easy to overlook.
25… ab There is no choice here. 26. Nxb5
Now where does the Black Queen go?
The move 26… Qc6 is the same thing after 27. Bxc4
27. Bxc4 Qxc4 28. Nxd6
The position that White had in mind when he played his 25th move. White has many threats, including fg6 and Rf7. What was difficult for White to calculate, no doubt, is that the Black Queen has no satisfactory square to flee to. If 28… Qxc2 (trying to get counterplay based on some …Be4 idea) White is simply winning after 29. fg fg 30. Nxe8 Bxe4 31. Rd2! Qc4 32. Qf2! and Black can not recapture on e8 because of Qf7ch. And 28…Qc6 is answered exactly as in the game (29.fg6 and 30.Rf7), with the difference that White has one more pawn (the a-pawn). Black plays the best of the poor choices:
The Queen defends the Knight on d7. Now White can take the Rook on e8, playing for Rook and pawn for two minor pieces, but this would be what Black wants! White has a very strong alternative that gives him not just the better game, but a very strong attack:
29. fg ! forcing Black’s reply and opening the f-file.
It sometimes happens in the Sicilian defence that you under estimate White’s attack, and when that happens it feels as though the roof is collapsing!
29… fg 30. Rf7 ! A very nasty move!
Probably best now is 30… Bc6 (defending the Knight) and after 31. b3 Qa5 32. Nxe8 Rxe8 33. Rfxd7 Bxd7 34. Rxd7 Qa1 35. Bg1 and while White is a clear pawn up, Black should not be counted out. This kind of position contains many swindling chances…INSTEAD, Smirin tries to avoid this and his next move is a blunder that loses outright
Do you see what is wrong with this move? White to play and win!
31. Rxg7! Kxg7 32. Nxe8 Black resigns
White is mating in most lines. If now 32… Rxe8 33. Rxd7
is mate in a couple of moves, and if instead 32… Kf8
simply 33. Rxd7 with mating threats.
Energetic play by White!