31 December 2018

We Are Not Used to Retreating

Final day of the King Salman World Blitz Championship reviewed by Maxim Notkin

Selecting samples for my last review was rather difficult. Players got tired, many errors were unforced and easily punished, which is hardly entertaining.

Let us start with a presentation of the two unquestionable heroes of the day. The play in these fragments is also not perfect, but with occasional brilliancy.




MCarlsen – AGiri



In the opening White prevented Black from castling kingside. Now the black king is in great danger on the queenside.

22.c5! A strong move, but 22.Bxa7! is even better, bearing in mind a nice two-rook fork22...Rxa7 23.Qd4.

22...dxc5 23.Bf3?! The computer suggests 23.Bb5, after which the only reply that keeps Black in the game is a risky 23...Qb7, preventing the white queen from coming to е4. The aforementioned plan quickly decided the outcome of the game.

23...Qd6? 24.Qe4 Rd8. Black position is quite hopeless, and he resigned, not waiting for the simple 25.Rb8+!

“One of the best advises from my first coach: if your piece is attacked, make sure you really need to protect it” – Peter Svidler.

Instead of retreating the queen, Black needed to play23...g5!


This counterpunch leads to trading the strongest pieces: 24.Qe5 f6 25.Qg3 Qd6, and White's advantage is gone.

Black's position isn't hopeless after the less tricky 23...Bd5, too.


A Bunch of Forks


J.-KDuda – GJones



Black just played19...f4. 20.Qe4 gives a significant advantage, but Duda prefers the tempting 20.Nf5. White threatens to give a check from d6, while trading the light-squared bishop is unattractive positionally.

20...Rd8? could be strongly met by 21.Ne4. Two horse powers is a serious force – Black can resign. The less energetic 21.Rfe1 could lead tothe painful 21...Bxf5 22.Qxf5, however, Black preferred a more positionally sound approach. 

21...f3? 22.Ng7+! White gives mate on the next move.

However, after 20...Rc6!



White would have to realize that his threats are parried, and it is time to retreat: 21.Qe1 Rb6 with a complicated game. 

Even in blitz one can handle a position with many pieces perfectly. In order to prove the point I will show you a game of the chess academician.


Model Attack


BGelfand – EInarkiev


Black's development is lagging, his king got stuck in the center. Let us open some files.

16.e6! Bxe6. Recapturing with the pawn is met with the same punch.

17.Ng5 Re7. Trying to keep the h5-e8 diagonal closed, however, blocking the dark-squared bishop in turn.

18.Bd2. Aiming at the knight and planning to attack the c5-pawn. 

18...h6 19.Nxe6 Rxe6 20.Bf5 Re7. 20...Rxe1+ 21.Qxe1+ with a double attack.




21...b4. More tenacious is 21...Rxe1+ 22.Rxe1+ Be7, and the hurried23.Bxa5 Qxa5 24.Qc6+ Kf8 yields nothing. White can retreat with the bishop along the b1-h7 diagonal, ready to set up a battery and preventing castling. His position remains very threatening – 23.Bd3 c4 24.Bb4 or23...b4 24.Qf5.

22.a3! The decisive opening of yet another file.

22...g6 23.Be4 Qb8 24.axb4 Nb7 25.Bc6+ Kd8 26.Rxe7 Bxe7 27.Bxb7, and Black resigned in a few moves.

One should always remember about the safety of one's own king, even during a passionate attack on the enemy base.


Every Citizen Has a Right to Castle


SKarjakin – ISmirin


Ilya Smirin played in his trademark enterprising style, first sacrificing a piece, and then an exchange, which led to a very sharp position with four pawns for a rook. However, at the critical moment Black failed to show composure.

31...Qd5? 32.Rb8+ Kd7 33.Nf3! More practical than33.Rxh8 Qg2+ 34.Ke1 Bb4+ 35.Rd2 Qh1+ 36.Bf1 Nd3+ 37.Ke2, although the computer evaluation of this line is more favorable. After the text move almost all the remaining pieces are under attack, but the situation quickly resolves in White's favor. 

33...Qxd1+ 34.Bxd1 Bxe3 35.Nxe5+ Kc7 36.Rxh8. Black resigns. He needed to resist the temptation for one more move and play 31...0-0!with a completely unclear game.

In the round before that the Israeli grandmaster faced the new World Rapid Champion and created a tactical masterpiece.




ISmirin – DDubov


The bishop did not even think about retreating.

36.Rg1! exd3 37.f6! White prepares to open the g-file, and breaks the link between the black king and queen. Black is helpless.

37...Ne6 38.Rg8+! Rxg8 39.hxg8R+ Kxg8 40.Qg2+ Qg5. It is not quite clear what happened next in this game. I hope Ilya selected the most natural 41.Qxa8+ Nf8, and now either the computer move 42.Rh1 or42.Qh1 secures a win.

The most exciting variations arise when Black tries to stop the f-pawn. 

On36...Nd5 White still plays37.f6! The idea of invasion tog8 decides after both37...Nxf6 38.Bc4 and37...Qxc3+ 38.Qxc3 Nxc3.



39.Rh5!! (preventing Nd5) 39...exd3 40.Rhg5 d2 41.Rg8+! Rxg8 (41...Kxh7 42.R8g7+ Kh6 43.Rh1#) 42.hxg8Q+ Rxg8 43.Rh1#!



I wish everyone who has read the text as far as here to experience many similarly aesthetically pleasing moments in the coming year.