20 September 2015

A Heart-breaking Finish

The ultimate round dramas of the Junior World Chess Championship reviewed by IM Vladimir Barsky.

Let us recall at first the standings prior to the start of the ultimate decisive round. The Polish grandmaster Jan-Krzysztof Duda was in the lead of the open section with 9.5 out of 12. Although this constitutes a superb achievement, lurking only half a point behind him was the Muscovite Mikhail Antipov. Other players were trailing far behind: the 3-4th places were shared by Matthias Bluebaum (Germany) and Francesco Rambaldi (Italy) with 8 points.

The situation in the women's tournament looked very similar: the table was topped by Nataliya Buksa (Ukraine) with 9.5 points, Zhansaya Abdumalik (Kazakhstan) with 9 points, and Dinara Saduakassova (Kazakhstan) and Alina Bivol (Russia) both with 8.5 points. The first tie-breaker was a result of the individual encounters between the competitors, according to which Abdumalik was happy to share the 1st place with Buksa, whereas the Ukrainian player, who lost the critical game to Zhansaya, was not. And only heavens knew who would become the men’s champion should Duda and Antipov end up sharing the equal amount of points! 

The Dutch junior Benjamin Bok, playing White, obtained a position with a small but stable edge, but let it disappear with his control move. 

Bok – Duda 


Following a rather uncomplicated 40.Nxb5 Bxb5 41.Rxb5 Ra7 42.e5 (refraining from exchanging the e-pawn might even be a better idea: 42.Rb6 Raa3 43.Rdxd6 Rxf3+ 44.Ke5 Ra7 45.Rd1) 42...Rc4+ 43.Kg3 Rc6 44.Rd3 White features an extra pawn in a rook ending and can go on torturing his opponent indefinitely long. 

40...R7c4! 41.Nxb5 Bxb5 42.Rxb5 Rxe4 

Now, however, the material balance is equal. 

43.Rb7+ Ke6 44.Rb6 Ke7 45.Rb7+ Ke6 46.Rb6 Ke7 47.Rbxd6 Rxb4 48.Rd7+ Kf8 49.R7d3 Draw. 

Meanwhile, rather unchildish sort of passions were running high on the second table!

Antipov – Rambaldi

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nd2 e6 5.Nb3 Nd7 6.Nf3 h6 7.Be2 Ne7 8.0–0 g5 9.Ne1 Qc7 10.Nd3 Ng6 11.Bd2 0–0–0 12.a4 f6 13.exf6 Bd6 14.g3 Rdf8 15.Ndc5 Bxc5 16.Nxc5 Nxc5 17.dxc5 Bh3 18.Re1 Rxf6 19.Bg4 Bxg4 20.Qxg4 h5 

Not only has White failed to create any problems for his opponent by his poor handling of the opening, but it is already high time that he started thinking about fighting for equality. 


Following this move, Black’s attack starts to unfold by itself. 21.Qe2 e5 22.Bxg5 Rf5 23.h4 was a better plan; although Black features a full compensation for the missing pawn, White has at least succeeded in building up some sort of defensive barriers. 

21...Qf7 22.Qe3 e5 23.b4 Rf8 24.Rf1 h4 25.Qe2 e4 26.Bc3

More tenacious was 26.Ra3 Ne5 27.f4 Nc4 28.Rb3 hxg3 29.Rxg3, at least hooking up one more piece to the defensive tasks. 

26...Rf3 27.Bd4 Qd7 28.Kh1 Qg4 29.Rfe1

Black has an abundance of tempting options. However, there is only one clear-cut path to a victory: 29...hxg3 30.fxg3 (30.hxg3 Qh3+ 31.Kg1 Nh4! 32.Qf1 Rxg3+ etc.) 30…e3 31.c3 (or 31.Bxe3 Rf1+ 32.Qxf1 Rxf1+ 33.Rxf1 Qe4+ 34.Kg1 Qxe3+) 31...Qe4 32.Qg2 Ne5 33.Bxe5 Qxe5 34.Rac1 Rf2.
29…e3 30.Bxe3 hxg3 31.hxg3 

Neither 31.fxg3 Rf1+, nor 31.Bh6 Qh5 32.fxg3 Qxh6 can to help White.


31...Qh3+ 32.Kg1 Ne5 33.Qf1 (33.Bd4 Rh8; 33.Bh6 Rxf2) 33...Rxg3+ was another winning possibility. 



Black’s shooting touch has suddenly abandoned him! Almost any other move was winning, such as 32...Qh5, 32...Nf5, 32...Qe4… 

33.Bf4 Rxf2+?

This move belongs to the series “mistakes never come alone”, and from now on White takes the game over. It is of course curious to comprehend what it was exactly that Black overlooked when playing 32…d4 since White just had no reasonable alternatives to 33.Bf4 available to him. In his advanced calculations Rambaldi must have intended to play 33...R3xf4 34.Qxg4+ Rxg4 35.gxh4 Rh8, and although White can defend against the back rank mate via 36.Ra3, he still cannot avoid losing his rook: 36…Rgxh4+ 37.Kg2 Rh2+ 38.Kf3 R2h3+ or 38.Kf1 Rh1+ 39.Ke2 Re8+. However, on closer examination of the position the Italian player could have uncovered that instead of the automatic recapture 35.gxh4? White had the cunning 35.Kh3!, when after 35…Rg7 36.gxh4 Rf3+ 37.Kh2 Rxf2+ 38.Kh3 Rxc2 39.h5 White manages to stay in the game. 

Although this surprise might be quite unpleasant, it cannot justify accepting transition to a losing position! 

34.Qxf2 Nf3+ 35.Kg2 Rxf4 36.Re8+

36.Qe2 would have been even stronger in order to meet 36…Nh4+ with 37.Kh1! (after the game Mikhail admitted that he failed to detect this rejoinder) 37…Qh3+ 38.Qh2. Black would then be forced to transpose into a difficult rook ending: 36...Nxe1+ 37.Rxe1 Qxe2+ 38.Rxe2. 

36...Kd7 37.Rae1


37...Rf7 would have been a more tenacious continuation, although after 38.R8e7+ Rxe7 39.Rxe7+ Kxe7 40.Qxf3 White features reasonable chances of prevailing in the resulting queen ending. It should be added, however, that in the case of 38.R1e4 (instead of 38.R8e7+) 38…Nh4+ 39.Kh1 Qxe4+ 40.Rxe4 Rxf2 41.gxh4 Rxc2 42.Rxd4+ Ke6 Black would probably be able to bail out. 

38.Qxe1 Rf7 39.Rb8! Qf3+ 40.Kg1 Rf8 41.Rxb7+ Kc8 42.Rxa7 Kb8 43.Re7 Rd8 44.b5 d3 45.Qe5+ Ka8 

The end of the game is quite spectacular: 46.Ra7+! Kxa7 47.Qc7+ Ka8 48.Qxd8+ Kb7 49.Qd7+ Kb8 50.Qxd3 Black resigns. 

Thus, Mikhail Antipov and Jan-Krzysztof Duda both scored 10 points, and their individual game ended in a draw. A second tie-breaker (the abridged Buchholz score) also returned an equal amount of points – 96. It was only the total points of all players he played against in the tournament, 103 to 102, which allowed Mikhail to gain the lead against his rival! 

What an incredibly intense struggle and a dramatic outcome for that matter! Our congratulations go to Mikhail Antipov, his coach Sergey Dolmatov, and the entire team of "Gostinaja of V.Y.Dvorkovich", where the new World Junior Champion sharpens up his chess skill. 

The women's tournament also used to see the struggle tension running too high, resulting in a great number of missed opportunities in the games of the leaders. 

Buksa – Mammadzada

A one-move blunder took place in this approximately equal position. 

24.Bd1? Rxc4 25.Qg3

25.Qxc4 Nxc4 26.Rxe7 Rxe7 doesn’t work because the d6-pawn is protected. 


Black makes up his mind to test her opponent if the latter is willing to blunder yet another exchange. 25...Nc5 26.b3 Re4 would be a pleasant alternative.


No, she is not willing to cooperate. In general, Nataliya seems to have inherited a strong character so that minor disappointments will invariably fail to have her unsettled. 


26...Bg5 27.Qe2 f5 looks like a more logical continuation in order to grab more space, while the rook is placed rather comfortably on c4. 

27.Qd2 Bg5 28.Qd4 Rc4 29.Qg1 Rec8?

A blunder in return. 29...Nc5 30.b3 Rf4 was necessary. 



Generally speaking, Black could have retained her extra pawn, although the position arising after 30...dxe5 31.d6 Qf8 32.Bb3 Rf4 33.Rxf4 Bxf4 34.Qf2 looks rather iffy for her. 

31.Qxb6 Bd2 32.Qxd6

A natural desire to exchange queens in order to settle down the tension. For the sake of academic interest let’s have a look at the following nice computer line: 32.Nxd6 Bxe1 33.Nxc8 Qh4 34.Qb8 Bg3!? 35.Ne7+ Kg7 36.Qg8+ Kh6 37.Nf5+ gxf5 38.Qxg3 Qxg3 39.hxg3 Kg5, when the resulting endgame remains approximately equal. 

32...Qxd6 33.Nxd6 Bxe1 34.Nxc8 Bb4

In 34...Rxc8 35.Rxe1 Nd3 36.Rf1 Nxb2 (if 36...Rc1, then 37.Kg1 Nxb2 38.Bb3 Rc3 39.Rf3) 37.d6 Nc4 38.d7 Rd8 39.Bb3 Ne5 Black remains a pawn up, thought the game is equal as the rook and bishop are much superior to the rook and knight. 

35.Na7 Rd4 36.Bb3 Rd3 37.Ba2

After 37.Nc6!? Black has to refrain from winning a piece as after 37...Nxc6 38.dxc6 Rxb3 the c-pawn is going to queen inevitably, whereas after 37…Rxb3 38.Nxe5 Rxb2 39.Rd1 the game is equal. However, at that moment Buksa needed to play for a win. 

37...Bc5 38.Nc6 Ng4 39.h3 Nf2+ 40.Kh2 Bd6+ 41.Kg1 Bc5 42.Kh2 Bd6+ 43.Kg1 Bc5 44.Rc1 Ne4+ 45.Kh2 Bd6+ 46.Kg1 Bc5+ 

Well, is it going to end in a draw by the repetition of moves? 


No, White is forced to burn the candle at both ends…


Black could have gained an overwhelming advantage after 47...Re3! 48.Rd1 (48.g4 Nd2+ 49.Kf2 Rc3+ 50.Ke2 Rxc1 is just very bad) 48...Ng3+ 49.Kf2 Ra3+ 50.Ke1 Rxa2 51.d6 Rxb2! (threatening the mate on е2) 52.Rd5 Bxd6 53.Rxd6 Rxg2 54.Nxa5 Re2+ 55.Kd1 Re4 56.Rd3 Rxa4 57.Rxg3 Rxa5, when at the end of the line there arises a rook ending with two extra pawns for Black. 

48.Bb1 Ng3+ 49.Ke1 Re2+?

The evaluation of the position shifts back and forth like a swing! Black would have retained definite winning chances after 49...Rxb2, e.g.: 50.Rxc5 Rxb1+ 51.Kd2 Ne4+ 52.Kc2 Nxc5 53.Kxb1 Nxa4 54.d6 Nc5 55.Nxa5 f6. After this move, however, the advantage is overtaken by White. 

50.Kd1 Bf2 51.Rc3

51.Nxa5 Rxb2 52.Rc8+ Kg7 53.Bc2! was by far stronger


After 51...Re1+ 52.Kc2 Ne4 53.Rc4 Re2+ 54.Kd3 Re3+ 55.Kc2 the game would have ended in a draw by the perpetual check. 

52.Bd3 Rb7 53.d6 Rd7 54.Ne7+ Kg7 55.Nc8 Bd4 56.Rc7 Rd8 


After 57.d7 Kf8 58.Bb5 White would have kept the dangerous pawn alive, which in the heat of the subsequent battle could have chanced to become a queen one day. 

57...Nf5 58.Rxf7+ Kh6 59.Be6 Nxd6 60.Nxd6 Rxd6 61.Bc4 Rf6

Black has got rid of the number 1 enemy and therefore feels free to offer the exchange of rooks. Although the position is dead equal, Buksa avoids the exchange as at that very moment Abdumalik had a decisive advantage in her game. 

62.Rd7 Bc5 63.Rb7 Rf4 64.Bb5 Re4 65.Rc7 Bb4 66.Kc2 Re7 


This is the most awkward square to retreat in order to refuse the exchange of rooks as White commits a one-move pawn blunder for the second time in this game. Objectively speaking, however, the position still remains within the realms of equality. 

67…Re2+ 68.Kb3 Rxg2 69.Rh4+ Kg7 70.Bd7 g5 71.Rg4 Rd2 72.Bb5 Rd5 73.h4 

The game could have petered out to an immediate draw after 73.Rxb4! axb4 74.Kxb4 since Black will have to part ways with her rook in exchange for the passed pawn. 


In a pure opposite-colored bishops ending arising after 73…h5 74.Rxg5+ Rxg5 75.hxg5 Kg6 76.Kc2 Kxg5 77.Kd3 Kf4 78.Ke2 Kg3 79.Kf1 the white king makes it just in time to lend assistance in fighting the passed pawn.

74.hxg5 hxg5 75.Bc6 Rc5 76.Rc4 Re5 77.Re4 Rf5 


Not only did Nataliya succeed in detecting the proper idea, but unlike some spectators also managed to have all the lines carefully calculated and all this upon having played so many hours of intense and nervous struggle.

78…axb4 79.Kxb4 Rf6 80.Kc5 Rxc6+ 81.Kxc6 g4 82.a5 g3 83.a6 g2 84.a7 g1Q 85.Kb7!

White cannot yet promote the pawn in view of the X-ray stab. 

85…Qg2+ 86.Kb8 Qb2+ 87.Ka8 Qe5 88.Kb7 Qb5+ 89.Ka8 Qb6 Draw. 

Makarenko – Abdumalik


Though this is not a bad continuation, the goal is attained a lot quicker via 44...e4!, e.g.: 45.fxe4 dxe4 46.Qa8 e3 47.Qf3+ Nf6 48.Qb7+ Qe7 49.Qxe7+ Kxe7 50.Nd1 Rb1 51.Rg1 Ne4 or 51...Nd5. 

44...Rc2 is also very strong, and if 45.Qa5 (this is the most stubborn reply, although it may not be the case that such a move is ever going to cross a human player’s mind at all), then 45…Qc6. 

45.Rxf2 Qxh3+ 46.Rh2 Qxg3 47.Qxd5+ Kg7 48.Rg2 Qe1+ 49.Kh2 Qh4+ 50.Kg1 Qe7 51.Qxb5 Nd6 52.Qa6 Kh7 53.c4 Bd3

53...Qc7! is simpler, e.g., 54.Rd2 Nxc4, 54.Kh2 or 54.Kh1 – 51…e4. 

54.Qa1 Nxc4 55.Qa8 Qf7 56.Qd8 Bg6 57.Qg5 Qe6 58.Ra2 Nd6 59.Ra6 Nf7 

Black forces the transition into a seemingly winning ending. It turns out, however, that this ending is not without its own latent finesse.  

60.Qxh5+ Bxh5 61.Rxe6 Bxf3 62.Kf2 Bd5 63.Ra6 Kg7 64.Ke3


For complete satisfaction Black only needed to regroup her forces so that her king could approach the pawn, but the king choses the wrong path… 

64...Nh6! with the idea of 65.Ra5 Ng4+ 66.Kd3 Nf6 was winning since the king is able to head for f5 via g6. 67.Rxd5 Nxd5 68.Ke4 fails to help White out in view of 68…Kf6 69.Kxd5 Kf5. 

65.Ra5 Bc6 66.Rc5! Bg2 67.Rc2!

It becomes clear that there is no sheltering the bishop on the long diagonal from the pesky rook. 

67…Bh3 68.Ke4 

Now White only needs to sacrifice his rook for the knight in order to get rid of the last pawn.

68…Ke8 69.Rf2 Nh6 70.Rh2

White avoids stepping into the last trap, although she could have allowed herself to be lured into it since after 70.Kxe5 Ng4+ 71.Kf4 Nxf2 72.Kg3 one of the minor pieces drops inevitably. 

70...Bf5+ 71.Kxe5 Ng4+ 72.Kxf5 Nxh2 

This is a draw that eventually landed Zhansaya in the third rather than the second place as she was overtaken by Alina Bivol. However, what difference does a silver or a bronze make for the player who spurted out to a 7 out of 7 start? Zhansaya Abdumalik is extremely talented, but fighting against her elder opponents she lacked sufficient stamina and a certain drop of luck...

Osmanodja – Bivol

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Be3 a6 5.Qd2 b5 6.0–0–0 Bb7 7.f3 Nd7 8.g4 h6 9.h4 Rc8 10.a4 b4 11.Nce2 c5 12.dxc5?

This is a rather naive move: is it really possible to provide your opponent with so many open lines for attack since your own king is being so unsecure on c1? 


In addition to that the White’s pawn is already on а4…

13.Bd4 Nxc5! 14.Kb1 

It is clear that 14.Bxg7 runs into 14…Nb3+. 

14...Nf6 15.b3 

15…Ncxe4! 16.Qe3 Qc7 17.Rc1 e5 18.Ba1 Qc5 19.Qxc5 Nd2+ 20.Ka2 Rxc5 21.Bg2 Nxg4!, and Black went on to win the game. 

We are pleased to congratulate Nataliya Buksa on her victory! Let the champions, medal winners and all young talented chess players keep enjoying new sports achievements and vivid memorable games!