30 April 2016

Two Steps Ahead of the Finishing Line

The penultimate round of the Russian Junior Championship in the review of Vladimir Barsky.

It is only before long that we are about to know the names of all Russian Junior champions in the most prestigious chess discipline - classical chess. However, two of them emerged already the day before even ahead of the tournament end: Valery Skatchkov (from the Samara Region) triumphed in the U13 boys group, whereas Dinara Dordzhieva (from the Republic of Kalmykia) has become champion in the U21 girls group, and we congratulate them both on their success!

Conversely, in a group of junior boys the situation has become rather unclear after GM Kirill Alekseenko's sudden loss as White to the youngest participant of this group Andrey Esipenko of the Rostov region after having been confidently in the lead right from round one and having increased his margin over his pursuers up to a whole point at that. At first sight, Black's opening preparation proved superior. 

Alekseenko – Esipenko
Ruy Lopez

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. 0-0 Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 0-0 8. c3 d5 9. d4 

It seems like a logical way to combat the Marshall attack. The only problem is that it fails to work against prepared opponents. 

9…exd4 10. e5 Ne4 11. cxd4 Bf5 12. Nbd2 Nb4! 13. Nf1 c5!

It is essential that Black get rid of his backward c7-pawn, just as in the Open Ruy Lopez.

14. a3 Nc6 15. dxc5 Bxc5 

16. Be3?!

Now the Black's central passed pawn develops a sprinter's speed. White was obviously unwilling to make the ugly-looking 16.Re2, but there was no real alternative to it. However, even in this case after 16...Qb6 17. Ne3 Be6 the initiative would have been with Black anyway. 

16...d4 17. Bd2 d3 18. Be3 Nd4! 19. Nxd4 Bxd4 20. Qf3 Bg6 21. h4 h5 22. Rad1

Better was 22. Bxd4 Qxd4 23. Qe3 Qxe3 24. Nxe3 Rfd8, because defending this ending for White was not out of the question yet. 

22... Bxb2 23. Ng3 


Black had a very promising exchange sacrifice at his disposal 23...Qxh4 24. Bd5 Bxe5! 25. Bxa8 Nxg3 26. fxg3 Bxg3 27. Bd5 Re8 with great winning chances. 

24. Bxd2 Nxd2 25. Qe3 Bc1 26. Ba2 

Although 26. Ne2 Nxb3 27. Nxc1 Qe7 28. Qxb3 Qxh4 was also to Black's advantage, it was perhaps the most stubborn resistance. 

26... Nc4 27. Qxc1 Qxh4 28. Qc3 Rad8 29. a4 Qg4 30. Rxd8 Rxd8 31. axb5 axb5 32. Nf1 Rd3 33. Qc1 Be4 34. Ng3 

Black clouds over the white king have thickened so much that there was simply no avoiding the first spring thunder!

34…Bxg2! 35. Qc2 Rd2 36. Qc3 Rxa2 37. e6 fxe6 38. Kxg2 h4 39. Qd3 Qxg3+ White resigns.

Alekseenko, despite having suffered a defeat, has retained a clear first place in the tournament standings. Prior to that he was ahead of his closest pursuers by a whole point, and one of them, Saveliy Golubov, ended his game in a draw, whereas the second pursuer, Maxim Chigaev was outplayed in turbulent combinational complications. 

Eliseev – Chigaev

Let us omit the opening part of the game as we are not going to find our way through it anyway. Looking at the diagram position, one is likely to easily guess that the young opponents have been playing in an offbeat and adventurous style. Although White is up a pawn, his king's position is exposed to a certain degree. Urii Eliseev begins by challenging the most active piece of his opponent.

23. Ng1! Nh4?

Now the knight gets into an unpleasant pin. He should have opted for 23... Nxg1 24. fxe5 Qxe5 25. Rxg1, and Black has definite compensation in the form of exposed position of the white king. 

24. Qg4+ Nf5 25. Rh5 Rdf8 26. Nf3 Kb8

26... Rhg8 27. Qh3 Kb8 28. Nxe5 is obviously unacceptable. Black has a tactical blow in store for his opponent. 

27. Nxe5 


This is the prepared blow. However, Eliseev's insight into the position proved deeper. 

28. fxe5 Ne3+ 29. Ke2 Nxg4 30. f3 

This is a funny-looking position as the knight is trapped almost in the center of the board! As a result, White wins back his piece and ends up being up a pawn. 

30…Rhg8 31. Rf1 Rf4 32. fxg4 Rgxg4 33. Rxf4 Rxf4 34. Kd3 Re4 

35. c4! Rxc4 36. Rxh7 Re4 37. Re7 Kc8 38. e6 Rh4 39. Rf7 Re4 40. e7 Kd7 41. e8Q+ Kxe8 42. Rxb7 Rh4 43. Ra7 Rh3+ 44. Kd4 Rxa3 

White wraps up the encounter in the style of the Capablanca - Tartakower game by sheltering his king behind the enemy's pawn. 

45. c6! Kd8 46. Kc5 Black resigns. 

Daniil Yuffa scored his first victory over Dmitry Gordievsky in a sharp struggle.

Gordievsky – Yuffa

Black has two pawns as a compensation for the exchange, while the e5-bishop is only slightly, if at all, inferior to either of the opponent's rooks since the dark squares around the white king are extremely weakened. 

33…f5 34. Rf3 Bb2 

34... fxe4? is obviously a bad idea because of 35. Rxe4 Rb5 36. Rfe3, but stronger was 34... Bb8 35. Qc3+ Kh7 36. Nd2 Qd6, lining up a superpower battery against the white king.

35. g4 fxg4 36. hxg4 Nf6 

37. Rf1 

White was likely to bail out should he have found 37. Rf2! Now 37…Nxg4 runs into 38. Rxb2! Rxb2 39. Qc3+ Qe5 40. Rc7+ Kf8 41. Rc8+ Ke7 42. Rc7+ Kd8 43. Rc8+, and Black has to put up with a perpetual since after 43…Kd7?? 44. Qc6+ he is even getting mated.

37... Nxg4 38. Qg3 h5 39. Nc5 Be5 40. Qe1 Rb2 41. Nd3

41…Rb1! 42. Nc1 Rxc1! White resigns. 

As the moment of truth is near, we are looking forward to getting to know the ultimate standings!