SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
The 11th annual Poikovsky Tournament is being held between June 2 and June 13. The participants are Karjakin, Jakovenko, Jobava, Vitugov, Motylev, Rublevsky, Onischuk, Naiditsch, Ryasantsev, Bologan, Sutovsky, Ivan Sokolov.
The tournament is named after Anatoly Karpov. Poikovsky is located in the Nefteyugansk region of the Khanty-Mansiysk autonomous area. It’s about 150km eastern of Khanty-Mansiysk. Its name comes from the nearby river Poyka. The population is close to 30,000 people and the main economic drive is the extraction of oil and gas.
Karpov is the guest of honour
The cross table after 5 rounds of play
There is some very interesting chess in this tournament so far. The game I present below is between the Israeli grandmaster Sutovsky and the American grandmaster Onischuk. The opening is a rarely played line of the Spanish, and this game should do much to keep it that way! Apparently Sutovsky was well prepared for this encounter (his opponent had played this line once before) and after only 12 moves Black already has an unpleasant defence.
This game is an excellent example of the kind of damage a pin can do to your position. Onischuk must have underestimated the power of the White Bishop, and the middlegame revolves around White’s attempts at exploiting the pin.
Sutovsky, E – Onischuk, Al
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 12th MOVE (12.Nbd2)
The pin of the White Bishop is very annoying. Black’s risky opening has the downside that e5 is a constant threat that Black must watch out for. With White’s last move e5 is now a real threat. If now 12… Bg4 13. e5 de 14. de Bxf3 15. Nxf3! (15. Qxf3 is not so clear after 15… Qxd2 16. ef g5 17. Bg3 Qxb2 18. h4 Rae8) 15… Qxd1 16. Rfxd1 Ne4 17. Rac1 when the ending is very unpleasant because of the Queen-side pawn weaknesses.
Black therefore decides to take the bull by the horns
Sharpest! White risks very little with this sacrifice as he not only gets two pawns and opens up the Black King position, but also maintains the same threats as before.
13…hg 14. Bxg5
Still threatening e5
Relatively best is now 14… Bxd4 though Black still has problems: 15. Nf3! Bxb2 (worse is 15… c5 16. Nxd4 cd 17. Qf3 Kg7 18. e5 de 19. Qxa8) 16. Rb1 (16. e5?! is met simply with 16… de) 16… Bc3 17. Rb3! (Diagram,below right)
This Rook often threatens to go to g3 and join in the attack against the Black King (17. e5 allows Black to simplify after … Bxe5 18. Nxe5 de 19. Qxd8 Rxd8 20. Bxf6 Rd2) 17… Qd7!? Probably best 18.Rxc3 Nxe4 19. Re3 f5 20. Rfe1 Qg7 21. Bf4 Rf6 (Diagram, below right)
22. Ng5! (22. Qb3 is less clear after … Be6 23. Qb7 Raf8 24. Qxc6 Rg6 although White is still on top after 25. g3) 22… Rg6 23. h4 Be6 24. f3 and Blacks position is very difficult.
RETURNING TO THE GAME CONTINUATION:
This natural move does not really have the desired effect of preventing e5 and should be seen as a loss of tempo for the defence.
Here Sutovsky must have thought a long while before rejecting the natural (and strong) 15.e5. After the forced 15…de 16. Ne4!
(Diagram,right) 16… Nxe4 forced as 16… Re6? 17. Bxf6 Rxf6 18. de! wins material 17. Bxd8 Rxd8 (Diagram,below right)
We have an interesting position where Black has 3 minor pieces for his Queen. Perhaps Sutovsky felt that Black could put up stiff resistance here and therefore he chose to avoid this. However, White is much better in this position: the Black pieces lack coordination , his King position is wide open and the Black pawns are weak and vulnerable to attack. After 18. Qh5! ed (18… Bxd4?? 19. Rae1 Nc5 20. Qg5) 19. Qe5 Blacks position is simply depressing.
A very interesting move that poses Black with some new problems. Black still has to worry about the constant e5-theme (immediately or prepared with f4 first) and now he will have to watch out for a later transfer of the White Queen to h4 intensifying the pin.
Wrong now would be 15… Bd7? 16. e5! de 17. Ne4 Nxe4 18. Bxd8 Raxd8 19. de Rxe5 20. Rad1 andBlack hás na even worse version of the previous variation because of the unpleasant pin along the d-line.
The toughest defence is 15… Re6! (Diagram, right) after which White would have to play very precisely to get the upper hand. For instance, wrong would be 16. e5? de 17. Ne4 ed! and Black is better!
And if instead 16. d5 then Black has 16…Re5! (Diagram, below right)
17. Nf3 (17. Qxc6 Rxg5 18. Qxa8 Rxg2!) 17… Rxg5! 18. Nxg5 cd and again Black is better.
Relatively better than the previous two lines is 16. Qxc6 Bd7 17. Qc3 (with threats on f6) but after 17… Qe8! (Diagram,right)
18. Qg3!? Nh5! (18… Nxe4?! 19. Nxe4 Rxe4 20. Rae1!) 19. Qh4 f6! White would have nothing better than to retreat 20. Be3 and hope to later re-group. Or if 18.Bf4 Nh5! and …Rg6 is similar.
However, White has a strong continuation at his disposal: 16. f4!? which sets Black real problems. After 16… Rb8! (not 16… Bd7 17. e5!) 17. f5 (Diagram,right) 17…Re8 18. Kh1! Renewing the e5 theme 18… Rxb2 ( much worse is 18… Bd7 19. e5 de 20. de Rxe5 21. Qh4! with a winning attack) 19. e5! de 20. Ne4 (20. de Rxe5 21. Qh4 Qd4! allows Black to turn the tables) 20… Nxe4 21. Bxd8 Rxd8 22. de
The position is very sharp. White must constantly worry about the …Nf2ch theme. 22…Bd4 (22… Nf2? 23. Rxf2 Rxf2 24. Qg4 Kf8 25. Qh4 Rfd2 26. Rf1 Rd1 27. Qh8 Ke7 28. f6 Ke6 29. Qh3) 23. Qd1! Nf2 (23… c5 24. Qg4 Kf8 25. Qh4! (25. Qxe4?! Bb7) 25… Ke8 26. Rae1 Nf2 27. Rxf2 Rxf2 28. e6 appears to be a winning attack) Diagram,below right
24. Rxf2 Rxf2 25. Qg4 Kf8 26. Qg5 Rd5 27. Qh6 Ke8 28. Qxc6 Bd7 29. Qa8 Bc8 30. Qxd5 Bxa1 31. g4 (Diagram,right) and while the material count is almost even, Black can not easily get his pieces coordinated. Black is definitely struggling.
RETURNING TO THE ACTUAL GAME CONTINUATION
After this move White finds it less difficult to find the right moves
Here Sutovsky once more rejected the idea of winning the Black Queen for 3 minor pieces: 16. e5!? de 17. Ne4 Nxe4 18. Bxd8 Rxd8
19. Qxc6 Bb7 20. Qxc7 Bxd4 21. Rad1 Ba8 22. Rd3
(Diagram, below right)
A move that is difficult to see over the board. The Rook threatens to switch to the King-side and, together with the White Queen, create mating threats.
22… Rbc8 23. Qe7 Re8 24. Qd7 Red8 25. Qg4 Kf8 26. Qh4! and White is clearly on top. (Diagram, below right)
The open position of the Black King and the exposed position of the Black pieces makes life difficult for Black. The Black pieces look active but can not create any real threats.
RETURNING TO THE GAME CONTINUATION:
Sutovsky is not interested in the Queen. He simply completes his development and threatens e5.
Now 16… Rxb2 is met by 17. e5! Rxd2 18. Bxf6 Rxd4 19. Qa3 Qd7 (Diagram, right) Here Black is hoping for 20. Qg3? Qg4!. However, White can proceed strongly with 20. e6! and the attack pays dividends 20… fe 21. Qg3 Kf8 22. Bxd4 Bxd4 23. Qf4 picking up the Bishop and keeping a clear advantage.
It is remarkable how useless the Rook is on the e-file!
Finally Sutovsky gets to play this move
17…de 18. de!
The whole point of Sutovskys play.
If Black tries to simplify with 18… Qd4 White still maintains strong chances against the Black King in the ending: 19. Qxd4 Bxd4 20. Bxf6 Rxb2 21. Nf3 (21. Rd1 is worth consideration) 21… c5 22. Re4 ! and this Rook will worry the Black King for quite some time.
There is really nothing better. Black must try to create threats himself.
If now 19… Rxf6 20. ef Rxd2 21. Qh4 wins. The f-pawn will help mate Black. (Diagram, right)
A very fine move. The White Queen will transfer over to the King-side. Wrong now would be 20… Rxd2 as after 21. Qg3! Black is getting mated in just a few moves.
The White Bishop had to go! But now the e-file gets open for White’s Rook…but what to do? Sometimes the defender must choose the lesser of 2 evils!
Black’s tragedy is that he can not build enough threats to distract White from his attack.
21…Rxd2 What else?
Now White’s final wave of attack is about to strike
22. Re8! Kh7
Here Sutovsky does not fall for the transparent trap: 23. Rxc8?? Qxf2!! and Black mates White!
A neat move that forces the Black King forward– into the open, since capturing the Rook will give White mate in 2 moves.
Both sides have active pieces, but it is White to play and this is the decisive factor.
Relatively best is 24… Bg4 though after 25. h3 White should win easily enough
A minor imprecision that changes nothing….
Good enough, but a bit more precise is 25. Rh6! Ke7 26. Qxc7 Bd7 27. Re1 and the end is near: 27… Kf8 28. Qd8 Kg7 29. Qh8#
25… Rd3 26. Qg8
Black resigns. There is little to do about the combined attack of the White Queen and Rook. Black can not defend the many threats. Tempting might seem 26…Qf2ch and 27…Rd1 mate, but unfortunately when White captures the Black Queen he is giving check!
A well played attack by the Israeli grandmaster (left)
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS