18 October 2020

Golden Rule of Gulchatai

Dmitry Kryakvin’s report about rounds 6-7 of the Russian Higher League

Let me immediately correct my earlier mistake in that among the participants not only Dinara Dordzhieva, but also Polina Shuvalova was awarded the international title, hers being that of men's international master. My congratulations to Polina!

In the women's tournament, Valentina Gunina continues her confident lead by having scored six out of seven, and so far, there seems no one who can stop Valentina.

Pursuing Gunina and sharing the second place are Leia Garifullina, Ekaterina Goltseva and Tatiana Getman, followed by the already experienced Margarita Schepetkova with her deadly white serve forged over the years in collaboration the mighty theoretician Alexey Kornev. Trailing half a point behind the latter group are the titleholders Ekaterina Kovalevskaya, Marina Guseva, Baira Kovanova, Anastasia Paramzina and the revelation of the last Higher League, a starlet from Tatarstan Zarina Shafigullina. And many of those who were ranked as main favorites going into the tournament are now in the 4 point. They need two wins in a row, a high Buchholz mixed with a lot of luck more than anything else.


Voit – Getman

Ragozin Defense


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Qa4+ Nc6 6.e3 0–0 7.Bd2 dc 8.B:c4 Bd6

This is a trendy setup. Thus, one of the world rapid championship games made a lot of splash that went on as follows: 9.Qc2 e5 10.de N:e5 11.N:e5 B:e5 12.f4 B:c3 13.B:c3 Ng4 14.Bd4 c5 15.B:c5 Re8 16.0–0 N:e3 17.B:e3 R:e3 18.Qf2 Re8 (18...Re4!? 19.Rad1 Qf6 suggested by Sasikiran is perhaps more precise) 19.Rad1 Qc7 20.Rc1 Qd6 21.f5 Qf6 22.Bb3, as in Andreikin vs. Carlsen, 2019, and the Russian GM went on to stifle Black's position in a cool-headed style. By the way, this defeat was the only one that Magnus suffered at that tournament.

9.0–0 e5 10.h3 e4

One of the recent Title Tuesday tournaments on chess.com witnessed 10...a6!? 11.Qc2 e:d4 12.ed Nb4! 13.Qb1 b5 14.Bb3 Bb7 15.Qd1 c5 16.dc B:c5, with a great game for Black in Ponkratov – Grischuk, 2020.

Alexander must have known that the central pawn push could backfire.


In some Ragozin lines the knight is known to move to the rim to protect the king and gear up for f2-f3(f4). There was a lot of power in 11.Ng5! Bf5 12.Qc2 Bb4 13.Rad1 Na5 (Black's difficulties are obvious after 13...B:c3 14.B:c3 h6 15.d5 or 13...h6 14.Ng:e4 N:e4 15.N:e4) 14.B:f7+! R:f7 15.N:f7 K:f7 16.f3, with initiative.

11...a6 12.Qc2

If White only knew what would happen next, he would have opted for 12.f3 ef 13.K:f3 Cf5 instead, although Black is in good shape and enjoys great game along the central squares.

12...Bf5 13.f4

Getman has a great game in the center in any case: 13.f3 Nb4 14.Qb1 c5.

13...Nb4 14.Qb1?

Such a queen will never allow Voit to have her king protected. White does not lose immediately after 14.Qd1 c5 15.g4 cd 16.gf dc 17.B:c3.

14...b5 15.Bb3 c5 16.dc

16.g4 cd 17.gf dc 18.B:c3 Nd3 works no longer as the black pieces start crushing the opponent's lines similar to what happened in the game.

16...B:c5 17.Rd1 Qb6 18.Nf1 Rad8 19.g4 Bc8

19...R:d2 20.R:d2 B:e3+ 21.N:e3 Q:e3+ 22.Rf2 Nd3 was also wining, but Tatiana shows her aesthetic taste.

20.Ne2 Nd3 21.Kg2


Following the sacrifice, Getman's forces come crushing on White's poorly coordinated defensive formations.

22.hg B:g4 23.Neg3

The white rook joins the fray with a significant effect after 23.Ng1 Rd6.

23...Qh6 24.Qc2 N:f4+! 25.Kf2

Black checkmates after 25.ef R:d2+ 26.R:d2 Qh3#, but in the game the white king did not survive either.

25...Nd3+ 26.Kg1 Rc8 27.N:e4 Bf3 28.Neg3

Winning the game after a more stubborn 28.Q:d3 Qh1+ 29.Kf2 B:e4 30.Qe2 Be7 is only a matter of time.

28...Qh3 29.Bc3 B:e3+ 30.N:e3 Q:g3+ 31.Kf1 Qh3+ 32.Kg1 Qh1#

The game shows the potential of a young Stavropol chess player who is a university student in Saint Petersburg now.

Belenkaya –Schepetkova


In one of Maxim Notkin's brilliant reviews of the women's world knockout championship in Iran (where people played wearing hijabs), there was a wonderful selection of positions dedicated to the theme "Gulchatai, open up the file". It later made a separate chapter of the excellent book "My Queens' Swift Departures" authored by the editor-in-chief of the "64" chess magazine. On reading this book, I have realized the following. There is simply no cure to Gulchatai's opening up the file. If Gulchatai has an open file, checkmate is inevitable. Now, during the masked tournaments, Notkin's recipe might come in very handy.


What is the computer's first line here, by the way? It runs 24.a4! Q:h4 25.a5 – and the engine cannot care less about the pawns because Black is a goner as soon as White opens up the file.

24...N:f4 25.Qe4 Nd5 26.a4 f5 27.Qf3?

This is a blunder. White is after the exchange, but what he actually needed to do was open up the file with 27.Qd3 Q:h4 28.a5. This is a grave violation of Maxim Notkin's commandment.

27...Q:h4 28.Nd6+ R:d6 29.e:d6 Bd4


The black bishop is so powerful that no amount of firepower will suffice to take it down: 30.Qe2 Kd7 31.B:d5 ed 32.R:d4 cd 33.Qe5 Re8 34.Q:d5 Qg4+ 35.Kf1 Qe4 – and White is down material.

30...Kd7 31.ab ab 32.Ra6 K:d6 33.Qe2 Rb8 34.B:d5 ed 35.Re1 Qg4+ 36.Q:g4 fg 37.b3

37.Kg2 c4 brings no relief as the king heads for c5. However, the text 37...g3 did not pose Schepetkova any problems in the way of prosecuting her advantage.

Maxim Notkin's golden rule did influence the outcomes of other games as well.


Dordzhieva – Bodnaruk



It was high time to break up the fortress that Black has built so meticulously: 80.R:e5+! de 81.K:e5 Kh6 (81...b5 82.ab a4 83.d6 a3 84.Bf7) 82.Kf6! Kh7 83.Kf7! Bd6 84.Bb5 Bc5 85.Ke6 Kg7 86.d6 Kf8 87.Kd7 Kf7 88.Kc7 Ke6 89.d7, winning. However, some dozen moves later White received yet another opportunity to sacrifice the exchange, which she did not fail to miss this time around.

80...Ng4 81.Bc6 Nf2+ 82.Kf3 Nd3 83.Re8 Kf5 84.Bd7+ Kg5 85.Bb5 Ne5+ 86.Ke4 Kf6 87.Re6+ Kg5 88.R:e5+ de 89.K:e5 Kg6 90.Ke6 Kg7 91.d6 Be3 92.d7 Bg5 93.Kd6 Bd8 

94.Kc6 Kf6

This well-known position is part of textbooks by Mark Dvoretsky – a recognized expert of opposite-colored bishops endings. White should remove the bishop first to interfere with black's last opportunity: 95.Bc4! Ke7 96.Bb3 Kf8 97.Kb7 Ke7 98.Kc8 b5 99.ab Bb6 100.Kb7 Bd8 101.Kc6, winning.


What an upset, but Dordzhieva is not the only person to commit such blunders. Suffice it to turn to Dvoretzky’s chess legacy!

95...Kf7 96.Kb8

Alas, 96.Kc8 Ke7 97.Bc4 can be met with 97…b5! 98.B:b5 (98.ab a4, and the black bishop can retreat to а5, where the white king has no access to) 98...Bb6, and Black holds his ground.

96...Ke6 97.Kc8 Ke7 98.Kb7 Kd6 99.Bc6 b5! 100.ab a4 101.Kc8 Ke7 102.Bd5 a3 103.Ba2 Ba5 104.Bb3 Bd8 Draw.


Paramzina – Grigorieva


Paramzina has delivered the opening part superbly, but then played hesitation and did not convert her extra piece.

31.Rh1 R:h1 32.R:h1 Nc5 33.Bc4?

You cannot but feel sorry for the pawn. Why not 33.Bc2?

33...N:a4 34.Ba1 Kg6,  with three pawns for the piece that soon became even as many as four, and it was White who had to come up with precise play to make a draw.

And the diagram position is simplest solved using the Gulchatai approach: 31.d6+! Kf8 (31...Kf6 32.Bc1!) 32.Bc1 R:d6 33.Ba3. Black is immediately in bad shape now that the diagonals for the mighty bishops have opened.

If you think that the Gulchatai rule is about women's tournament only, you are very much mistaken!

Rakhmanov – Khismatullin



This is Rakhmanov's ram in action! In the case of 12...d6 13.Rg1 Be6 14.Be3 c6 15.h4 White castles long and generates a dangerous offensive. We must pay tribute to Denis Khismatullin for showing a perfect reaction.

12…d5! 13.g5 Ng4 14.h3

The knight is trapped, but Black never intended to retreat anyway.

14…N:f2 15.K:f2 e3+! 16.B:e3 R:e3 17.K:e3 Q:g5+ 18.Kf2

So, all the files have opened up and the white king is in the open, but it is not as simple as that yet.


It was a draw after 18...Bf5! 19.Bd3 (19.Qc1 Qh4+ 20.Ke3 (White's persistence may even backfire after 20.Kg2? Be4+ 21.Bf3 Ra6 with a decisive joining of the rook into the fray) 20...Qg5+ 21.Kf2 Qh4+) 19...Qf4+ 20.Kg2 Qg5+.

19.Kg2 Ra6 20.Rh2! Rh6 21.Kh1 B:h3 22.Bf1

Black resigned.

Riazantsev – Sviridov

1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c5 4.d5 B:c3+ 5.bc f5

You should know by now what to do. The file should be opened up without any delay before Black gets to White's doubled pawn.

6.h4!? Nf6 7.h5 gh

Sviridov sidesteps from the time-honored 7...Rg8.

8.Nh3 d6

They played 8...Qa5 to discourage White from checking.

9.Qa4+! Nbd7 10.Nf4 0–0 11.N:h5 N:h5 12.R:h5 Nf6 13.Rh3

This is no longer a simple position.

13.Rh4!? is more subtle a move.


13...f4 looked interesting for Black.




By the way, Black could have also opened the files with 14...f4! 15.Rh4 Ne4 16.B:f4 e5! 17.B:e5+ d:e5 18.R:e4 Qf6, enjoying great compensation for the material sacrificed. Now the Russian national team coach finally grabs the initiative.

15.B:f6+ e:f6 16.Qc2 Bd7 17.e3 Qe7 18.f4 a6 19.Bd3 b5

It is noteworthy that White used to press along the h-file for the entire(!) game, but in the end he delivered a decisive blow just where the opponent opened the file himself. 

20.Kf2 bc 21.B:f5 B:f5 22.Q:f5 Rab8 23.Rah1 Rg7 24.Kf3 Re8 25.e4 Rb8 26.Rh6 Rf7 27.Qe6 Qf8 28.Qf5 Qe7 29.g3 a5 30.Qe6 Qf8 31.Qf5 Qe7 32.a4 Rg8 33.Rb1 Rff8 34.g4 Rg7 35.Rb5 Qd8 36.Rb2 Rgf7 37.Rb1 Rg7 38.Rh2 Qe7 39.Rb5 Qd8 40.Rhb2 Rfg8



White trades his rooks for the opponent's queen first, then eliminates the f6- and d6-pawns and starts queening his pawns. Black resigned.

Let me show you a couple more examples to support our piece of chess theory.


Lugovskoy – Sarana



25.Qe2 is more precise, whereas the text sets the mechanism of our rule in motion.

25...d5! 26.ed Nb:d5?!

26...B:d5! is more precise, while the text gives Sarana's opponent an interesting opportunity.


The rule applies to opening up the diagonals to the same extent as to the files: 27.N:f7! K:f7 (27...Q:f7 28.R:e5; 27...N:e3? 28.N:d8) 28.Rde1, – and White suddenly gets a superb compensation for the missing piece because the pins are extremely dangerous.

27...Nb4 28.Qc4 N:a2 29.N:a2 Qb7 30.R:d8 R:d8 31.Nc3 Rc8 32.R:e5 h6

It is all over now that Lugovskoy has dropped his knight.


Ponkratov – Sakaev


13...h4 14.f4?!

Black's classic plan in such Najdorf positions is to contest the f4-square after 14.g4 Bb7 15.Qd1 Nc5 16.Nc3 Ne6. Ponkratov ignored the opponent's threat in a creative style.

14...hg 15.Qb3 Bf6 16.Q:g3 Bb7 17.f5 Rc8 18.Rd1?

After 18.Nc3 Rc4, White is worse, but he decided to sac a pawn in Tal-like style instead.

18...R:c2 19.Qd3 Rc6 20.Ng3 a5 21.Qf3 Ba6

Tell me, how come that Black did everything right, opened up all the files, has won a pawn and the game still ended in a draw? Well, this is only because a real filibuster is immune to any Gulchatai spells.

As for the tournament standings, Maxim Chigaev is ahead with 5.5 out of 7. Vladimir Fedoseev, Mikhail Antipov, and Alexey Goganov are half a point behind. However, keeping their chins up is a vast group with 4.5 points. This group includes some "jokers," such as Vladislav Artemiev, Andrey Esipenko; Swiss tournament heroes Aleksandr Rakhmanov and Pavel Ponkratov; Russian champions Igor Lysyj, Alexander Riazantsev, and Evgeny Alekseev; Olympic champion Konstantin Sakaev and people's favorite Alexei Pridorozhni.

It will surely be a very interesting finish!