19 August 2015

An Attacking Inspiration

Review of rounds 4-6 of the Superfinal prepared by grandmaster Sergei Rublevsky.

Svidler – Khismatullin
Round Four

White invested two moves for the maneuver Nc3-d1-e3 in a position that features an opposite-side castling, so now a logical knight centralization 19.Nd5 does not bring White even as much as equality. For example, 19...Nxd5 20.Bxg7 Kxg7 21.exd5 Na7 22.Nd4 Nb5 23.Nxb5 Bxb5 24.Re1 axb3 25.cxb3 Rfc8 with an obvious edge for White. 

Svidler attempts to launch an offensive in the center in order to divert his opponent’s attention from the queenside. Khismatullin, however, goes on with his attack, not being in the least put off by the sacrifice of an exchange.

19.e5 dxe5 20.fxe5 Nxe5 21.Bxa8 Rxa8 22.Rf4

Of course, White could have grabbed the pawn on b4, but it would not have allowed him to find solution to all of his problems: 22.Qxb4 Bc6 23.Rhg1 axb3 24.axb3 Qa7, and now

1) 25.Nd4 is followed by 25…Ne4 with very dangerous threats;

2) 25.Bxe5 runs into a rather spectacular refutation 25…Nd5! 26.Nxd5 (26.Qd4 Bxe5 27.Qxe5 Nxe3 does not allow to bail out either) 26...Qa1+ 27.Bxa1 Rxa1#;

3) the most stubborn defence is 25.Qd4, but even in this case after 25...Qa6 26.Nc3 Nf3 27.Rxf3 Bxf3 the Black’s advantage cannot be thrown any doubt upon.

22...axb3 23.axb3

23.cxb3 is most convincingly met by 23…Bh6. 

23...Qa7 24.Nd4

In the case of 24.Bxe5 White would have been mated along the same lines as we have already seen before: 24…Ne4! 25.Rxe4 (or 25.Qd4 Nc3+!) 25...Qa1+ 26.Bxa1 Rxa1#. 


Black gets through to the opponent’s king by removing his pieces from the long diagonal. 

25.Nd5 Bc6! 26.Nxc6 Qa2+ 27.Kc1 Qa1+ 28.Bxa1 Rxa1+ 29.Kb2 Nc4#.

Pogonina – Kosteniuk
Round Four

Black features a very strong attack; in such positions, as Vladimir Kramnik likes to put it, "it is more than your eyes can take in." The most straightforward path to the goal is, perhaps, 32...exf3!? 33.Qxf3 (33.gxf3 runs into 33... Qh3, when it becomes impossible to ward off two concurrent mating threats on g2 or f1) 33...Nd5 34.g4 Rxf3 35.gxh5 Rf1+ 36.Kg2 Ne3+ 37.Kh3 Nxd1, winning.

However, after 32...Ne2 Black also has strong threats.  

33.cxb6 exf3 34.b7

This stab in unpleasant, especially when you are short on time.

In the case of 34.Rd3 Black’s attack develops in a pretty uncomplicated manner. Below are some exemplary lines: 34…fxg2+ 35.Kxg2 Rae8 36.Rf3 (or 36.Rad1 Nd4 37.Rxd4 Re2+ 38.Kg3 Qxh2+ 39.Kg4 h5+ 40.Kg5 Re5+ 41.Kg6 Rf6#) 36...Nd4 37.Rxf8+ Rxf8 38.Qe3 Rf3 39.Qxd4 Qh3+ 40.Kh1 Rf1+ 41.Qg1 Qf3#. 

34...fxg2+ 35.Kxg2 Nf4+ 36.Kg1

36.Kh1 is decisively met by 36…Qe2 37.Qg3 Qf1+ 38.Qg1 Qf3+. 

36...Ne2+ 37.Kg2

After 37.Kh1 the fate of the game is once again sealed by the transfer of the queen to the light-squared long diagonal: 37…Qg6 38.Bg3 Qe4+. 

37...Nf4+ 38.Kg1 

Having gained some thinking time via repetition of moves, Alexandra uses it to find a clear path to victory. 

38…Qg4+ 39.Qg3

Natalija defends with a lot of imagination. In the case of 39.Bg3 Nh3+ 40.Kg2 Rf2+ 41.Kh1 Qe4+ Black’s task would have been simplified to a great extent. 

39...Ne2+ 40.Kg2 Qe4+ 41.Kh3 Qf5+ 

Once the time trouble was over, Black calculated all lines without any hurry. 


The king cannot retreat to g2 in view of the mate on f1, while 42.Kh4 is answered by 42…g5+ 43.Kh5 g4+ 44.Kh4 Qg5#. 


White resigns in view of 43.Qg2 Nf4+ or 43.Kh4 g5+ 44.Kh5 Qf7+ 45.Kxh6 Qh7+ 46.Kxg5 Rg8+ 47.Kf6 Raf8+ 48.Ke5 Rxg4. 

Bukavshin – Khairullin
Round Five

Being in a difficult position, Black attempts to muddy the waters, but his attempt runs into a tactical refutation. 


Generally speaking, 55.Rxd5 Nxd5 56.Qxa2 should be enough for a win, but it meant a lot of subsequent fight to achieve this goal. 


55...Kg7 is followed by 56.Ne5, and White gets to win the f7-pawn.  


Bukavshin gets around a smart trap. It may seem that 56.Ng5+ hxg5 57.Rxf7+ Kh6 58.Rxf6 should be an easy win because the rook has managed to come around to defend the f2-pawn. However, Black responds to it not by capturing the knight, but by retreating the king: 56... Kg8!, and it turns out that White has nothing better than resorting to a perpetual check: 57.Rb8 + Kg7 58.Ne6 + Kh7 (losing is 58... fxe6? 59.Qb7+) 59.Nf8+ Kg7 60.Ne6+ Kh7 61.Nf8+, etc.


It is obvious that 56...Qxd2 is followed by 57.Rxf7+ Kg8 58.Rxf6. 



Capturing another pawn would have been a lot more stubborn continuation – 57...Nxg4!? Now, in the case of 58.hxg4? Qxg4+ Black gives a perpetual check, therefore 58.Rxf7 Nxe3+ 59.Kh1! (the only, but sufficient continuation to win the game) 59…Kxf7 60.fxe3 Qe1+ 61.Kg2 Qe2+ 62.Kg3 Qxe3+ (or 62...Qe1+ 63.Kf3 Qh1+ 64.Ke2, and the white king escapes from further checks) 63.Nf3, – and White should prevail. 

58.Rxf7! Nxd2 59.Qxd5 Black resigns. 

Kovalevskaya – Guseva
Round Five

The opening battle ended in White’s favor as she features a pair of bishops coupled with the advantage in space and development. Kovalevskaya opens lines to expose her opponent’s king. However, the margin of safety of Black’s position is pretty large.

21.f4 exf4

This is a forced decision as 21...0-0 runs into a very unpleasant 22.f5 with subsequent attack. 

22.Rbe1+ Be5 23.Bxf4 0-0 24.Bh6 Rfe8 25.Qf3 Bd4+?

This is a decisive mistake. Correct is 25... Bf6!?, and in the case of 26.Rxe8+ Rxe8 27.Bg5 Bd4+ 28.Kh1 Ne5 29.Qg3 Qd6 Black is able to hold his position together.

26.Kh1 Ne5

The fight following 26...Bf6 was to be finished after 27.Rxe8+ Rxe8 28.Bg5, getting to f7.

27.Qg3 Qb7 

The d4-bishop does a great job of cementing Black's defensive formations, but White manages to smoke him out.

28.c3! Bxc3 29.Bxg6! hxg6 30.Qxc3 Kh7 31.Rxe5 Kxh6

After 31...Rxe5 32.Qxe5 Kxh6 33.Rf4 the mate is inevitable, whereas now White wins a rook. 

32.Qe3+ Black resigns. 

Dubov – Jakovenko
Round Six

It has turned out to be one of the most dramatic games of the championship. Dubov developed a ferocious attack against the position of his opponent’s king, but then his aiming touch would suddenly abandon him.

White has already missed a couple of appealing opportunities, and now it was his last chance to squeeze the win out of the position: 45.Qe5+! Kg8 46.Rc1 Qc6 47.Qf5 Rf8 48.Rxc5 Rxf5 49.Rxc6 Rd5 50.Re7 Rd8 51.Rcc7 – this ending should be winning for White.

A careless 45.Rde1? was played instead, and after 45…Re8! it suddenly became clear that the White’s king position was not so safe. 


Why line up your king into the pinning position voluntarily? Simpler is 46.f3 Rxe4 47.fxe4 Qb2 48.Qe5+ Kg6 49.Qf5+ Kg7 50.Qe5+, and the game ends in a perpetual check. Dubov obviously found it hard to put up with a similar outcome of the game, but the advantage had already evaporated.



The picture of the battle has drastically changed and White has failed to readjust accordingly. 47.f3! would have allowed White to bail out, for example:

1) 47...Qb2+ 48.R1e2 Qxe2+ (or 48...dxe2 49.Qd7+ Kh6 50.Qc6+ Kh7 51.Qd7+=) 49.Rxe2 Rxe2+ 50.Kg1 – although this position may look suspicious, Houdini shows a perpetual check in all lines;

2) 47…Rxe4 48.fxe4 Qb2+ 49.Kf3 Qf6 50.Qxf6+ Kxf6 51.Ke3 Rh3 52.Kxd3 Rxg3+ 53.Kc4 Rxa3 54.Kxc5 Ke5 55.Rg1 Kxe4 56.Kb4!, and White will succeed in eliminating the last of his opponent’s pawns remaining on the board.

47...d2 48.Qc3+

The other moves are decisively met by promoting the pawn to a knight with check: 48.Rxe8 dxe1N+! 49.Rxe1 Rh2+ 50.Kxh2 Qxf3 or 48.Qxh5 dxe1N+! 49.Kg1 Qxe4 50.Qxg5+ Kf7. 


White resigns as after 49.Qc4+ Kh7 he has run out of checks. 

Gunina – Lagno
Round Six

Black emerged with a disastrous setup out of the opening. Valentina Gunina is known to be especially strong in positions that feature initiative, even more so when the material balance is equal! 

18.d5! cxd5 19.exd5 Qg6

In the position after 19...Qd7 20.Rxf7 Bf6 21.Bxf6 Nxf6 22.Rxf6 exf6 23.a3! Na6 (or 23...Nxd5 24.Rd1) 24.Ne4 Black is not to be envied either. 

20.Bxe7 Nc2 21.Rg5! Qb6 22.Bxd8 Rxd8 23.Rc1 Qxb2 24.Qe4 Black resigns (24...Na3 25.Qe7 Ra8 26.Rf1, etc.).