Author: Alexey Kuzmin
Muzychuk,Anna (2606) - Jobava,Baadur (2730)
ACP Golden Classic Amsterdam NED, 16.07.2012
In the first thirty moves Baadur demonstrated cold-blooded defence, accurate calculation and decisiveness in attack. After sacrificing the exchange on c3 he broke through the defences and had clearly won the clash on the queenside. In search of counterplay on the other part of the board it was necessary for his opponent to give up a pawn and then offer a piece sacrifice, but she still didn’t manage to generate any real threats…
Anna decided to mobilise her last reserves.
I’ve given the capture of the knight a question mark, and that’s the objective evaluation, but…
…But in an encounter with one of the world’s most charming female chess players could a real man retreat with 31…Rb3, rejecting the challenge, even if that path led to a win!?
32.Rf2 g3 33.Rff1 Be3 34.Rf6!
Here as well I’m sure Jobava didn’t even seriously consider the variation 34…Qb6 35.Rdf1 Nd8 36.Rg6+!? Kf8 37.Qh8+ Ke7 38.Rg8 Kd7...
Houdini can flee with his king in such a shameful fashion, but not a warrior! Who can blame Baadur for preferring to lose half a point but maintain his honour!
Moreover, his opponent might have chosen 36.Bf5! Rc1 37.Qh7+ Kf8 38.Bxe6 Rxf1+ 39.Rxf1 Bg5!
After 39...Nxe6 there would follow the spectacular 40.Rxf7+! Bxf7 41.Qxf7+!! – stalemate!
40.Bxd5 Qxd4 41.Bxf7 Nxf7 42.e6 Bf6 43.exf7 Bxf7 44.Qh6+ Ke7 45.Re1+ Kd7 46.Qh7 and the final outcome still isn’t clear…
35.Qh7+ Kf8 36.Bg6 Qc7 37.Qh8+ Ke7
38.Bxf7! Bxf7 39.Qg7 Ke8 40.Qh8+ Ke7
A mutually unavoidable truce – a fitting conclusion to the encounter!
The gallery of mating finales was replenished by the Men’s Dutch Championship.
Reinderman,D (2598) - Ernst,S (2558)
ch-NED 2012 Amsterdam NED (3), 17.07.2012
White has clearly put his trust in his last defensive move, 30.Qf4-d2, but...
30...Bc3! 31.Qxc3 Qxe2# 0–1
Last year Sipke Ernst held his rating at the respectable 2600 mark, but in recent months he’s dropped a little…
Ernst,Sipke (2558) - Smeets,Jan (2620)
ch-NED 2012 Amsterdam NED, 20.07.2012
White’s position didn’t look critical at all.
...and Sipke unexpectedly discovered that he couldn’t capture on e3 because of mate: 18.fxe3 Qxe3+ 19.Kh1 Ng3+ 20.hxg3 Rh5#. But that was only half of his problem. The other half was that it’s also impossible not to capture on e3: 18.Nd4 exf2+ 19.Kh1 Ng3+ 20.hxg3 Rh5#. The result of those sad reflections was that Ernst immediately resigned the game - 0–1
In the next fragment there’s no mating attack, interesting tactics or even a sharp endgame. In a position an exchange up the tournament winner gave up his bishop and won the ending of a rook and two pawns against two pieces. Well, and what of it?
Ivanchuk,Vassily (2769) - Sasikiran,Krishnan (2707)
ACP Golden Classic Amsterdam NED, 20.07.2012
The game stunned me with the means Ivanchuk chose to convert his edge. There’s a psychological paradox: it’s much easier to give up a pawn than it is to decide to give up a piece for two of your opponent’s pawns, although in terms of “nominal values” those are roughly equivalent. If I ended up playing such a position then, like the overwhelming majority of chess players, I’d choose between 29.f3 Rc8 30.Bf2 Rc4 and 29.f4 e4 30.Bf2 Kf7. In both cases the absence of open lines for the rooks would have made converting the edge significantly more complicated.
29...dxe5 30.Rxe5 Nc5 31.a5 Na4 32.Rd2 Rb8 33.Re6
The active rooks easily deal with his opponent’s pieces.
34...Nc4 35.Rxb8 Nxd2 36.Ra8 Ne4 37.Rxa6 Nxc3 38.Rc6 Nb5 39.a6 Be7 40.Kf1 h5 41.Rc8+ Kh7 42.Ke2 f4 43.Kf3 Bd6 44.Rd8 1–0
And now let’s switch to Turkey…
Mamedyarov,S (2726) - Inarkiev,E (2707)
Turkish Bank Chess League Konya TUR, 18.07.2012
Black has just sacrificed the exchange and, by advancing his pawn, has generated dangerous counterplay. It seems as though the worst is already behind him…
The rooks are like piranhas…
…but the pawn is ready to turn into a queen with check.
35.Rfxf7+ Kg8 36.Rg7+ Kh8 37.Rh7+ Kg8 38.Rdg7+ Kf8 39.Rxb7 a1Q+ 40.Kh2
A new queen has appeared, but it also can’t prevent the inevitable.
If you try to defend the last rank 40...Kg8 41.Rhg7+ Kh8 42.Rgc7 Qa8, then White gets a won rook ending: 43.Rh7+ Kg8 44.Rbg7+ Kf8 45.Rh8+ Kxg7 46.Rxa8 Rxb4 47.Re8+-
Now all that was left was to hide from checks.
42.Kf3 Qf6+ 43.Ke2 Qb2+ 44.Kd3 Qb3+ 45.Kd4 Qb2+ 46.Kd5 Qb3+ 47.Kd6 Qg3+ 48.Kd7 Qh3+ 49.Kc7 Qc3+ 50.Kb8 Qe5+ 51.Ka8 Qa1+ 52.Kb8 Qe5+ 53.Rhc7 Qh2 54.b5 Ke8 55.Ka8 Kd8 56.b6 Qa2+ 57.Ra7 Qe2 58.Rc8+ 1–0
If a grandmaster encounter ends decisively without crossing the twentieth move mark it means something went wrong...
Bologan,V (2732) - Mamedov,N (2601) [E06]
Turkish Bank Chess League Konya TUR, 22.07.2012
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Nf3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 0–0 7.0–0 c6 8.Qc2 b6 9.Bf4 Ba6 10.b3 Nbd7 11.Rd1 h6 12.Nc3 b5 13.Ne5 Rc8 14.e4 Bb4 15.Nd3
Either Mamedov “forgot” that the knight had retreated from e5 and the pawn could now advance, or he miscalculated, but the only thing worse than retreating the bishop would have been immediately to leave it en prise!
16.e5 bxc4? 17.bxc4 dxc4
The knight is attacked, but Nidjat has also attacked a piece…
…but Viorel attacks three all at once! 1–0
The roulette-wheel of fate: a couple of days before this game Bologan himself almost ended up in a miniature collection. But it was all more serious there…
Novelties! Nouveautés!! Новинки!!!
Mchedlishvili,M (2656) - Bologan,V (2732) [A43]
Turkish Bank Chess League Konya TUR, 19.07.2012
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c5 3.d5 b5
Formally the novelty was White’s next move. The idea of this pawn sacrifice has already been seen a few times, though in the games of players whose rating hasn’t been above 2200. It definitely came as a surprise to Bologan.
It was more principled, of course, to capture with 4…Nxe4.
5.Bxb5 Qa5+ 6.Nc3 Nxe4 7.Rb1 e6 8.dxe6 fxe6 9.Ne5!
This looks like a signal to attack, but according to Houdini’s evaluation Black’s position is already hopeless!
9... Nf6 10.Bg5 Be7 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.Nxd7 Bxc3+ 13.bxc3 Bc6
If Mchedlishvili had found 14.0–0!! Bxd7 (14...Bxb5 15.Qf3+-) 15.Bxd7+ Nxd7 16.Qd6! the encounter would have ended in a knockout.
an exchange of queens rapidly followed
14...Qxc3+ 15.Qd2 Qxd2+ 16.Kxd2 Nxc6 17.Nxc5 0–0 and, finding himself only a pawn down, Bologan was revived and energetically saved the game...
But I discovered the two most important novelties, in my view, in the battles of the Women’s Grand Prix.
Zhao,Xue (2556) - Kosintseva,Nadezhda (2516) [D38]
FIDE WGP Jermuk ARM, 18.07.2012
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 c5 8.dxc5 Nbd7 9.e3 Qa5 10.Rc1 Ne4 11.Qxd5 Nxc3 12.bxc3 Bxc3+ 13.Kd1 0–0 14.Bc4 Nxc5 15.Be7
I immediately noticed that in contrast to two famous wins for Kramnik the black pawn is standing on h6, but for a long time I couldn’t work out what the principle difference was. Those games saw the move order 5.Bg5 Nbd7 6.cxd5 exd5 7.e3 c5 8.dxc5 Qa5 9.Rc1 Ne4 10.Qxd5 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Bxc3+ 12.Kd1 0–0 13.Bc4. Both Ponomariov at the 2009 Tal Memorial and Mamedyarov in Dortmund in 2010 rejected capturing on c5. Why?
Zhao Xue couldn’t work it out either…
No good is 15...Be6? 16.Qxc5 Qa4+ 17.Bb3± Ushenina,A -Paikidze,N Porto Carras 2011
It turns out that with the pawn on h6 in the line 17.Qd4 Rd8! 18.Bd6 Na4 19.Bxe6 it’s possible to play 19...Rxd6 and there’s no back-rank mate!
You have to retreat the queen to e5.
And now the white king can’t hide on e2 as when exchanging on c4 you have to take with the rook. White’s position is worse.
The Chinese player was so discouraged that she lost the game in four moves.
18.Nd4? Bxc4 19.Rxc4 Qxa2 20.Rxb4 Nd3! 21.Qb5 Nxb4 22.Re1 Nc6 0–1
You get the impression all the best opening novelties were prepared specially for Zhao Xue.
Zhao,Xue (2556) - Lahno,Kateryna (2537) [D70]
FIDE WGP Jermuk ARM, 20.07.2012
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nb6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Be3 0–0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0–0–0 Qd6 10.Kb1 Rd8 11.Nb5 Qd7 12.d5 a6 13.Nc3 Ne5 14.Qe1 Qe8 15.Be2 e6 16.Bxb6 cxb6 17.f4
This position was first seen a month ago at the Tal Memorial. Caruana continued with 17…Nd7 against Aronian, but encountered difficulties.
A very interesting piece sacrifice. Of course the critical position to evaluate would arise after accepting the sacrifice with 18.fxe5 dxe4, but going for the main variation without home analysis was too risky. Zhao Xue made the second best move.
Now in order to seize the initiative Lahno should have found the less than obvious knight manoeuvre 18...Nc6! 19.Bf3 Nd4, preparing to meet 20.Nc7 with 20... Qa4 21.Rd2 Be6.
She made a more natural and perfectly normal move.
But in the end she lost a complex struggle. However, that had nothing whatsoever to do with the opening…
And that, it seems, is that…
Extravaganza in Amsterdam (16 - 22 July, №29)