18 April 2016

Day Of Direct Punches

The middlegame phase of the V.Sergievsky Memorial in the review of Vladimir Barsky.

The Vladimir Sergievsky Memorial  unfolds in an unhurried manner with just four rounds per day and with time control 15 + 10 so that eleven rounds are negotiated within as many as three days. In this way the players are not without free time to take rest and walk around Cheboksary. Even though each round sees a lot of eye-catching games being played, only a small amount of them - 10 out of 78 - is demonstrated live. We can only guess as to how much attention-worthy stuff remains “behind the scenes”.

Following the end of day two Alexander Morozevich has become the sole leader: he consistently defeated such grandmasters as Aleksej Aleksandrov, Alexei Bezgodov and Sergei Volkov and made a draw against IM Azat Sharafiev. The Muscovite has 7 points under his belt, being half a point ahead of Sharafiev, Sergei Rublevsky, Denis Khismatullin and Valentina Gunina.

Morozevich – Aleksandrov

White handled the opening unpretentiously and Black could get an equal play after 16…0-0 or 16...b5 17.Ne3 0–0.  However, the Belorussian grandmaster opted for a strategically risky plan instead. 

16...0–0–0?! 17.a4 Rhe8 18.a5!

White reacts precisely: it is quite possible that it was at this moment that the idea of landing one of his minor pieces on the b6-square sometime in future shaped itself in Morozevich’s mind. Aleksandrov, however, failed to figure out his opponent’s plans.

18…Nef8 19.c3!

For starters, it is a good idea to displace the opponent’s bishop from the а7-g1 diagonal. Meanwhile, covering the d4-square is also likely to come in handy later.

19…Be6 20.Bxe6 Nxe6 21.b4 Bf8 22.Bc1

Everything goes as planned:  the bishop heads for e3.

22…Kb8 23.Be3 Be7

It is unclear as to what advice can be offered to Black.  The 23...c5 desperado would have brought no relief since after 24.b5 at least one file on the queenside would be opened up by White without fail.

24.Rb1 g6 25.Rfd1 Ndf8 26.Nfd2

Black lacks any counterplay and Morozevich takes his time to improve his position.


This move loses by force. More stubborn is 26...Qd7 with the idea of trading off queens on d3 or at least a pair of rooks after 27.Nb3 Qc8.

27.exf5 gxf5


The rifle goes off at last!

28…axb6 29.axb6 Qd7 30.Qxe5+

Now there is more than one way to success. The computer evaluates 30.Nb3 as faring better than all other continuations, although following the text move White will not end up empty-handed as well.

30...Bd6 31.Qa5 Nf4 32.Nf3 Nd5 33.Nxd6 Qxd6 34.c4 f4 35.cxd5 fxg3 36.dxc6 Black resigns.

Volkov – Rublevsky

Rublevsky has just offered the trade of rooks, setting up a minor trap for his opponent along the way. In the case of 25.Nb6 Rxc2 26.Nxd7 Rc1+ 27.Kh2? (correct is 27.Qf1 with rough equality) 27...Rh1+! 28.Kxh1 Nxf2+ Black wins back his queen to end up being up a pawn.  Volkov declined the knight fork in favor of another tactical trick - deflection. 


Even though the move has an effective outer appearance, there has happened nothing terribly wrong for Black just yet.

25...Qd8 26.Qb6

White insists on having it his own way.

26…Qf8 27.Rc7!?

In the case of 27.Rxc8 Qxc8 28.f3 Ng3 29.Nc5 h5 Black has excellent compensation as his queen can infiltrate into the opponent’s back ranks via the open file any moment now.


Black should have never surrendered possession of the open c-file. After 27...Qd8! White’s choice is rather limited: He can either trade rooks to transpose into the line mentioned previously, or simply agree to repetition of moves via 28.Rc2 Qf8, etc.

28.Qxc7 b5 29.Nb6 h5


White’s inroad into the enemy’s ranks is spectacular. Black’s problem is his inability to activate his queen.

30…Nc3 31.Nd6 Nxa2 32.Nxb5 Qe8 33.Nd6 Qf8

Black’s queen could not set herself free as she needs to take care of the f7-pawn.

34.Qa5 Nc1 35.Qxb4 Qa8 36.Qa4! Qb8 37.Qd7 Qf8

The black queen has failed to break out yet another time. After some three dozens of moves White succeeded in bringing his edge home.

 Lysyj - Khismatullin

This episode belongs to the series “sow the wind and to reap the whirlwind”.


This is a very interesting pawn sacrifice as Black attempts to overtake initiative.

14.Bxa7 e5

Cutting our the bishop’s retreat and making it stay on the rim of the board. White dispatches an infantryman to bail his duty officer out.

15. c5 dxc5?

Black had an unexpected trick at his disposal 15...Qa5!? 16.Bb6 Qa8! It suddenly turns out that White is unable to keep the long diagonal blocked: 17.f3 is very unpleasantly met by 17…Bh6, whereas 17.Bf3 would run into 17…e4 18.Be2 Nd7. Perhaps the best move is 17.Bxb5, which after 17...Bxg2 18.Rfe1 Nd5 results in a very double-edged position.


The following line looks very interesting 16.Rfd1 c4!? 17.bxc4 Qa5 18.Bc5! Rxc5 19.Nb3 Qc7 20.Nxc5 Qxc5 21.cxb5. Even though the computer prefers White’s position, this evaluation is not indisputable.


It looks as though the subsequent opponent’s unsophisticated rejoinder  was completely missed by Khismatullin. After16...Rxc5 17.Qxc5 Qxd2 18.Qxb5 Be4 Black is in good shape.


White has untangled himself while remaining up a pawn.  It was followed by a desperado sacrifice which nearly saved Black. 

17…Bxg2 18.Kxg2 Qd5+ 19.e4 Nxe4 20.Nxe4 Qxe4+ 21.Bf3?

This is a careless move. 21.f3 would have thwarted all pending threats.


Denis misses a beautiful opportunity!  After 21...Qxf3+! 22.Kxf3 e4+ White would  need to come up with two rather hard to find moves in order to not let his edge fizzle out completely: 23.Kxe4! Rfe8+ 24.Be7!! However, even in this position the struggle would go on after 24…Bxb2 25.Rxc8 Rxc8 26.Bxb4 because converting an extra pawn is not an easy task from the technical point of view.

22.Bxf8 Rxf8 23.Qe2 Qg5+ 24.Kh1 f5 25.Bd5+

Now White is simply up a rook. Black had to recognize his defeat a couple of moves after.

Evdokimov – Sharafiev

This episode belongs to the series “as lucky as a first winner”, or as a second one, at least.

The great g2-bishop, coupled with space advantage, robust pawn structure, and passive opponent’s pieces - what more could you ask for from the Catalan opening? Alexander Evdokimov gets down to “gathering harvest’ on the queenside.

14.Na5! Rb8 15.b3

Creating the threat of 16.N:b7 (since the b-pawn is hanging no longer). Maintaining material balance proves no longer possible for Black.

15…Nxa5 16.Qxa5 c6 17.Qxa7 e5

As is often the case, Black got an opportunity to activate his pieces as a means of compensation for the missing pawn. Even though the compensation is insufficient, White should be on the alert anyway.

18.Rfd1 Bg4 19.Rd2 Rfd8 20.h3 Bf3 21.Bxf3 Qxf3 22.dxe5 h5 23.Rd4 h4!?

Black has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Azat Sharafiev continues introducing complications into the position disregarding any material losses involved.

24.Rxh4 Ra8

This is the moment of truth: 25.Qb6! would have kept a win in the position (training guns at the d8-rook). White, however, fell for “pawn grabbing”.



If I’m not mistaken, similar shots were delivered as far back as by Bronstein and Kholmov. 

26.Rf1 Rxf2! White resigns.

Below given is yet another miraculous save from the second game day.

Timofeev – Nozdrachev

Black is simply up a piece, and one might ask a question as to what White is doing in this position. Let’s wait and see, however.

38...f5 39.g4 g6

The simplest is 39...fxg4+, since after 40.Kxg4 Black can win nicely after 40…Nd4! (the knight is on the way to b5 while taking the f3-square away from the white king), or simply by: 40...Nc7 41.Kf3 Nd5 42.Ke4 Nxc3+ 43.Kd4 Ne2+ 44.Kxc4 Nxf4 etc.

40.h5 Kg7

40...fxg4+ 41.Kxg4 gxh5+ 42.Kxh5 Nxf4+ was a simple and straightforward win for Black.


Black has reduced his winning position it to almost a study in which the only solution now is 41...Nd4+! As for the position arising after 41...fxg4+ 42.Kxg4 Nd4 43.f5 Nb5 44.Kg5! Nxc3 45.f6+ Kf8 46.Kf4 Nd5+ 47.Ke4 c3 48.Kd3 - it is a positional draw.  Exactly the same result was reached after 

41...Kxg6 42.gxf5+ Kxf5 43.Ke3 It is quite amusing that there is no way for Black to keep the c4-pawn from going down! Draw.