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23 August 2017

Winning a Puck Dump

Classical Game Six of the Gelfand – Inarkiev match in the Review of Vladimir Barsky

The grandmasters bid farewell to Nazran as it was their last encounter at the stage of a cozy Palace of Culture, which feels like home already, to move to Magas’s "Concord Tower” for a Sunday series of rapid games. That day Nazran gave start to the North Caucasian Federal District’s Rapid Chess Cup so that it was crowdy in the Palace of Culture: local players would peep in for the Gelfand – Inarkiev matchup in between their own encounters. Despite the Friday failure, Ernesto retained an overall lead. However, he was going down in the classical section and was definitely after avenging himself. Although he was in an aggressive mindset, it was yet another occasion of running up against his opponent’s powerful opening preparation.

Boris Gelfand:

– The latest classical game was another Sveshnikov mainline, but slightly modified from that of game four. I think I was better prepared today: 17…Re8 18.g3 f4 – looks like a novelty. Ernesto’s reaction 19.gxf4 was underwhelming since after 19…Ng6 White is in a tight situation already. After that the game was of a semi-forced nature, and it seems to me that I managed to come up with rather subtle moves: 28…Qh5!, 29…Rg5! However, when I was winning in the queen ending up a pawn to my good, I started erring. Now I find it difficult to explain how I failed to execute 39…Qxb3+ and 40…bxa4. The game after the second time control was a fight, but I managed to get the upper hand. White should have had some tougher defensive moves at his disposal, but it looks like I never missed my win.

 Inarkiev – Gelfand

Sicilian Defense


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Nd5 f5 11.Bd3 Be6 12.0-0 Bxd5 13.exd5 Ne7 14.c3

White ended up advantageous in game four after 14.Re1 Bg7 15.c3 0-0 16.Qh5 e4 17.Bf1 Re8 18.Nc2 Nxd5 19.Qxf5 Re5 20.Qh3 Qf6 21.a4 Rd8 22.axb5 Nf4 23.Qe3 axb5 24.Qb6, as in Inarkiev – Gelfand, Nazran 2017. Ernesto is the first to sidestep.

14...Bg7 15.Qh5 e4 16.Be2 0-0 17.Nc2 Re8

Here is a fresh example from this line: 17...f4 18.f3 Qb6+ 19.Kh1 e3 20.Rad1 Ng6 with a complex struggle ahead, as in Paravyan – Tregubov, Sochi 2016.

18.g3 f4!?

Borrowing the page from the hockey: the pawn is dumped into the opponent’s zone.



The engine promises White an edge after 19.Bg4, but Gelfand is likely to have something to say about it.

19...Ng6 20.f5

Worthy of attention was 20.Qg4 to keep the knight away from f4 (20…Bh6? 21.f5).

20...Nf4 21.Qg4 Nxe2+ 22.Qxe2 Qh4 23.Kh1

White is of course willing to do away with the е4-pawn and open the second rank for his queen – 23.f3!?, but after 23…Kh8 24.Kh1 exf3 25.Qxf3 Be5 26.Qf2 Qc4 Black goes on retaining an unpleasant pressure.

23...Kh8 24.Rg1 Be5 25.Rg2 Rg8 26.Rag1 Rxg2 27.Rxg2 Rg8

The black pieces arrive to the kingside to a strict schedule. The theater of action gives less and less room to operate: each White's move comes as a challenge now.

28.Qf1 Qh5!


Tougher is 29.Rxg8+ Kxg8 30.Qg2+, although Gelfand was of the opinion that Black’s prospects are clearly higher after 30…Kf8. “It is important for me that the king has made it out of the corner and f5-f6 comes a big threat no longer. For example: 31.Ne3 Bf4 32.f6 Bxe3 33.fxe3 (33.Qg7+ Ke8 34.Qg8+ Kd7, and the f7-pawn is defended by the queen) 33...Qd1+ 34.Qg1 Qf3+ 35.Qg2 Qxf6 36.Kg1 Qf5. White’s position is difficult, and in a practical game it is not critical to know the exact extent of this difficulty“(B.Gelfand).

29...Rg5! 30.c4

White is in dire straights after 30.Qg1 Qf3 31.Qf1 Bf4 32.Qg1 Rh5.

Nothing is changed by 30.a4 Qf3 31.axb5 axb5 32.f6!?  h6! (to safeguard the king and defend the rook in one go) 33.Kg1 Qh3 34.Kh1 Bf4 35.Qg1 Qf3 36.Nc2 Be5, and White loses the f6-pawn: 37.Ne3 Bxf6 or 37.Ne1 Qxf6.


Also good is 30...bxc4 31.Nxc4 (31.Qxc4 Rxg2 32.Kxg2 Qxh2+ 33.Kf1 Qh1+ 34.Ke2 Qf3+ 35.Kf1 Kg7 is hopeless) 31...Bf4 32.Ne3 Qf3, etc.

31.cxb5 axb5 32.b3 Bf4

Black had time to play 32...b4 to have both opponent’s pawns immobilized. White will never break free after 33.Kg1 Qh3 34.Kh1 h6.

33.Kg1 Bxe3 34.fxe3 Qxe3+ 35.Kh1

There is no solace in 35.Qf2 Qc1+ 36.Qf1 Rxg2+ 37.Kxg2 Qd2+.

35...Rxg2 36.Kxg2 Qd2+ 37.Kh3 Qxd5 38.Qf4 f6 39.a4

This is an attempt to deflect attention, gambling on a potential liquidation into a pawn ending. Hopeless is 39.Kh4 b4 40.Qh6 Qf7 41.Qe3 Qe7.



Easier is 39...Qxb3+ 40.Kh4 bxa4 41.Qxe4 (41.Qxd6 Qf7) 41...a3.

40.Kg2 e3 41.Qf3

41.Qh6 is decisively met by 41…Qe4+ 42.Kg3 Qe7! – from here the queen does a double duty of defending the back rank and promoting own passer.

41...bxa4 42.bxa4




Winning nicely was 42...e2! 43.Qa8+ (43.Qxd3 e1N+ 44.Kf2 Nxd3+ 45.Ke3 Nb2! 46.a5 Nc4+ or 45.Ke2 Nc5) 43...Kg7 44.Kf2 Qd2 45.Qg2+ Kh6 46.Qh3+ Kg5. White has many more checks at his disposal, but Black will gradually take the f5 and a4 pawns and tuck his king away from further checks.

43.Kg3 Qxa4 44.Qxe3 Qb5 45.Kg4

45.Qh6 Qe5+ 46.Kg2 Kg8 fails to be of help either.

45...Qe5 46.Qf3 d5 47.Kh3

A nice trap was shown by an international master G.Nagibin, who came to Nazran to root for his friend. 47.h4 Kg7 48.Qg2! (rather than 48.Kh5 Qe8+)



Trading queens with 48...Qe4+? looks like an option, but then 49.Kh5+!, and the queen is not to be captured due to the stalemate, while 49…Kf7 enables the the white queen to show its madness after 50.Qg7+!! 

While it is not to be captured because of a stalemate, White is also out of the woods after 50…Ke8 51.Qxf6.

Leading to the goal in the above diagram is 48...d4!, e.g. 49.Kh5+ Kf8 50.Qf3 (50.Qa8+ Qe8+! Or 50.Kh6 Qf4+) 50...Qe8+ 51.Kg4 Qd8, and Black is winning.





The pawn ending is hopeless. 48.Qxe4 dxe4 49.Kg4 Kg7 50.Kf4 Kh6 51.Kxe4 Kg5 52.Kf3 Kxf5, while 48.Qf2 is answered by 48…d4.

48...Qe3+ 49.Kh4 d4 50.Qd1

Or 50.Qf7 Qf4+ 51.Kh3 Qxf5+.

50...d3 51.Qb3 Qf4+ 52.Kh3 Qxf5+ 53.Kh4 d2 54.Qd1 h5 White resigns.

* * *

Thus, the match score has become 10.5:9.5 in Gelfand’s favor (8:4 in his favor in the classical section and 5.5:2.5 in Inarkiev’s in that of the rapid).  Let keep in mind that a classical game brings two points for a victory and one for a draw, whereas a rapid game brings one and half a point respectively.

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