March 2009

I played recently this game (G/15) on FICS,  had a good attack after sacrificing a bishop, but din’t find the winning move.  Can you see it?  White to move:


Just in case, the solution is in the comment.

I played this Sunday my regular G/90 and my 2-month effort learning/trying online French defense culminated in playing it for the first time OTB. My opponent is rated 100 lower,  I am playing Black.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Bd3 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ngf3 cxd4 8. cxd4 f6,  next move takes me by surprise – 9. O-O ( though, actually, it’s a 3rd choice from the book)


9. … fxe5.   I decide to take the pawn,  not that I knew the stats from – +10-3=2.  Basically, accepting this pawn sacrifice requires precise play, which I don’t demonstrate. 

10. dxe5 Ndxe5 11. Bb5 Bd7 12. Re1 Bd6 – mistake, much better was 12. … Nf7 13. Nb3 Bb4 14. Bxc6 bxc6 15. Bd2 Bd6  –  -0.76. 

Now a forced ( almost ) line follows – 13. Nxe5 Nxe5 14. Bxd7+ Qxd7 15. Rxe5 Bxe5 16. Qh5+ Qf7 17. Qxe5 O-O. Crafty gives here – 0.91. I felt bad at that point and it took me some time to recover.                                                                              
18. Nf3 Rac8 19. Be3 Qg6 20. Nd4 Rce8 21. Rc1 Rf7 22. h3 a6 23. Rc7 23. Rc7 h6 24. Rxf7 Qxf7            
25. a4 Re7 26. b4 Qg6 27. b5 axb5 28. axb5 Qf7 29. Bd2 Kh7 30. b6 Qf6
I had a feeling that without queens my life would be easier.  I just found in the excellent article “The Evaluation of Material Imbalances” by IM Larry Kaufman a solid confirmation of that : “in the case of two minor pieces vs. rook and pawns; the side with the rook wants very much to trade major pieces, even if he is a bit behind in material. Why this should be so is subject to debate; my explanation is that having more than one major piece is somewhat redundant – in many games there may only be time to employ one major piece on an open rank or file. Having at least one major piece (preferably a rook) to bring to an open line may be critical.”                                                                                                                                          
31. f4 Qxe5 32. fxe5 Kg6 33. Kf2 Kf7 34. Ke3 Rd7 35. g4 Rd8 36. Nb5 Ra8 37. Kd4 Ke7                                                                                                                                            
38. h4 – Crafty’s estimate goes here from 2.5 to ~ 1.0.  38. … Kd7 – I want first to secure my pawn, Crafty wants Ra4+, then Kd7, no big difference. I had time advantage at this time, something like 20+/15.  Playing pretty fast, at the same time I tried to “watch my back”.  39. Kc5 Rc8+ 40. Nc7 Rf8 41. h5 Rf2                                                                                                                                                                               
42. Be3 Rc2+ 43. Kb4 – mistake,  much better was 43. Kd4 Rc4+ 44. Kd3 Rxg4 45. Nb5 Rh4 46. Nd6 Kc6 47. Nf7 Kd7 48. Nd6 Kc6 – draw
43. … Rc4+ 44. Ka5 White resigned                                                                                                                                                                                                                
OK, so I survived :), meaning the opening survived too, which is good news because I like it. Good news was also my tournament performance rating, which should get my rating over 1700 for the first time ( I will know exactly in 2 days).

I am reading the book  “Combinations in the Middlegame” written by Igor Bondarevsky,  Soviet Grandmaster in both over-the-board and correspondence chess,  an International Arbiter, a trainer, and an author of chess books.  Bondarevsky shared the 1940 Soviet Championship title, and later coached World Champion Boris Spassky.  In the Chapter II: Combinational Ideas I found an interesting motif that I didn’t see ( and couldn’t find) anywhere else – seizing a point.

Sacrifice with this motif serves  purpose of, as the name says, seizing an important point, then having that point the active side plays some forced line(s).

The first example is from the game Razuvaev-Briem,  Puerto-Rico, 1971:


25. Qg5 – this one move threat forces Black to block his King. 25.  … Rg8 26. Nd6!


The queen is sacrificed to seize the decisive point. The knight creates the final threat, more exactly triple threat – mate on f7, Nxb7 and Nxc8, there is no defense.

Another example is from the game  Fisher-Sofrievsky, Scople, 1967:


The positon of the Black king is weak, it gives an idea to find some tactics to use it.  15. Nd5!  The knight is sacrificed to get for the rook square d5. After 15.. exd5 16. Rxd5


16. … Qa6 ( 16. … Qb4 17. a3 )  17. Rh5 White wins quickly.  

In the game Black didn’t accept the sacrifice, played 15. … Rfe8. Then followed 16.  Nxe7 Rxe7 17. Rxd6 and White got  easily won position.

This Sunday I played in the local club,  my regular G/90.

The game had the final similar to the one that I had with the same opponent 3 months ago ( his rating at that time was about the same as mine, now 130 less),  the opening was the same. The coincidence looked funny, so I decided to showcase both.

I played White, Sicilian, Rossolimo variation.

First game:

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. d3 d5 6. Nc3 Bg4 7. h3 Bh5 8. Bf4 e6 


Crafty wants me to play 9. g4 here with 0.66, my move gets 0.5 less.

9. Qe2 d4 10. Nd1 Nf6 11. b3 c4 12. O-O c3 13. a4 Be7


14. Kh2 O-O 15. Rg1 Bd6 16. Bxd6 Qxd6+ 17. Kh1 Nd7 18. g4 Bg6


19. Nh4 e5 20. f3 Nc5 21. Nf2 Ne6 22. Nf5 Bxf5 23. gxf5 Nf4


24. Qf1 f6 25. Ng4 Kh8 26. Kh2 c5 27. Qf2 a5 28. Rae1 Ra7 29. Qh4 Rb7 30. Nf2 c4 31. bxc4


Crafty thinks, that I made a mistake and 31. dxc4 is much better  ( I agree ) – 31. dxc4 Qa3 32. Ra1 Qc5 33. Rad1 Ne2 34. Rg4 Kg8 35. Nd3 -with estimate  0.75.  I didn’t like 31. dxc4 d3, but White just plays 32. Nxd3 Nxd3 33. Rd1 Qa3 34. Rxd3 – 3.51.

31. bxc4 Rg8 32. Rg4


I am clearly worse and trying this chance.  32. … Rb2  He doesn’t see it. 33. Qxh7+!  


33. … Kxh7 34. Rh4+ 1-0 ( 34. … Nh5 Rxh5#).


Second game:

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. d3 d5 6. Qe2 g6 7. O-O Bg7 8. Nbd2 e6


9. Nb3 Qb6 10. Rb1 Ne7 11. Bg5 a5 12. c3 a4 13. Nbd2 Ba6 14. Rfc1 Ra7 15. b4! – one of the plans in this variation, here it has also tactical ground. My opponent spent quite some time here.


15. … O-O 16. bxc5 Qa5 17. e5 Rc7 18. Be3 Nf5 19. c4 Rd8 20. Bg5 Rdd7 21. cxd5 Rxd5 22. Nc4 Bxc4 23. Rxc4 Rxc5


Crafty says it’s a big mistake  because of 24. Rb8+ Bf8 25. Bd2! Qa7 26. Rxf8+ Kg7 27. Ra8 Qxa8 28. Rxc5 Qf8 29. Rc4 a3 30. Bg5 – score 4.85.

24. Rxc5 – I don’t see it too. 24. …Qxc5 25. Rb8+ Bf8 26. Qb2 h6 27. Bd2 – now I see it. He sees it too and again spends essentual time.


27. Bd2 Qa7 28. g4 Ng7 29. Bxh6 Kh7??


30. Rxf8 Kxh6??  31. Rh8# 1-0


I think the time played it’s role (29minutes/19 minutes), still remembering the first game it all looks like some kind of blindness with regards to that specific vertical/type of mate,  chessloser used an interesting word – “chessblind” when he didn’t see the move.