15 January 2019

Possibilities

This afternoon was my after school chess club for beginners. "Beginners" in the context of my two after school clubs at the same school references a lack of successful tournament experience. Once a student has scored three points in a five round scholastic tournament, he or she is eligible for the advanced club. That is the standard for qualifying for our state championship, an event that draws one thousand or more elementary children together each spring.

The plan for today was to present them with worksheets from my Essential Tactics set. Essential Tactics are 150 simple exercises with ten pieces or fewer. I composed 130 or so, and a few others are standard endgame positions one finds in many textbooks, a Paul Morphy composition, and one clearly derived from Paul Morphy's composition. These 150 exercises are available at Amazon in two forms: Essential Tactics: The Worksheets (2017) presents the 25 worksheets that I use with my students in reproducible form (permission is granted to purchasers), and Essential Tactics: Building a Foundation for Chess Skill (2017) offers the same exercises with solutions in Kindle Reader format.

When I arrived at school, I made photocopies of worksheets 5-10. Some of the students wanted number six, others chose number five. I also wanted to present a simple tactical exercise on the demo board, but did not prepare one beforehand. On the drive to school, I remembered a blitz game that I played this morning and what seemed like a simple tactic to reach a drawn position. However, once I set it up on the demo board, it became clear that my opponent missed a clear win. The more I looked at the game before and after my intended "instructive position", the more interesting it became.

White to move

The game continued 49.Bb2+ Kd5 50.Bxe5 Kxe5 51.Kc3 and the position is clearly drawn although we played out to move 63 before I was able to claim a draw by repetition.

That simple sequence would have been fine for my beginning students, except that both players blundered on move 49, and Black also had a much better move 48 that wins easily.

If we back up a few moves, we find a position that should result in a draw, although Black has an extra pawn.

White to move

45.Kb3

An error, according to engine analysis, but it seems not yet a fatal one. After 45.Bf4, White has demonstrated the idea to keep the Black king from penetrating and the passed pawn from advancing.

45...Bb6 46.Bc1 Bc7 47.Bd2

White understands the importance of e3 as an entry point for the Black king.

47...f4

White to move

48.Bc1??

The bishop is well placed, White needed to move his king.

48...Be5

Now, we have the first position in this post.

Black could have played 48...d2 and after 49.Bxd2 Kd3 50.Bc1 Ke2, Black has an easy win.

49.Bb2?? Kd5??

49...Ke3 wins. 50.Bxe5 d2 51.Kc2 Ke2 and the pawn promotes.

The game continued as above.

I showed the students the skewer and what happened, then tried to elucidate the possibilities of what might have happened.

10 January 2019

Instructive Positions

Grandmaster games from our era often are too complex for novice players, especially young ones. I coach several players who are relatively strong by local youth standards, but who should still be considered beginners from other perspectives. Their ratings are in the 900-1200 range in a rating system that is regional, rates mostly youth players, and uses the same formula as the US Chess Federation. These young players include the top third grader in my city and a seventh grader who often finishes near the top of middle school players in the area. The school I coach consistently finishes among the top teams.

As I teach these young players, I gravitate towards classic games played by nineteenth century masters. Paul Morphy's eighteen tournament games and another half-dozen or so are among the games that my students will work through if they are with me long enough.

Nonetheless, even games played by strong grandmasters have moments when the tactics and ideas clearly reflect fundamental ideas of tactical and positional play. There are several positions in Quang Liem Le's most recent win that I think will be particularly useful. He is number 32 on the January 2019 rating list and tied for first with Andrey Stukopin in the Bay Area International tournament that took place in San Francisco the first seven days of this year.

In the final round. Le had Black against Hovhannes Gabuzyan.

Gabuzyan,H (2605) -- Le Quang Liem (2714) [A04]
Bay Area Int Open 2019 Burlingame USA (9.2), 07.01.2019

1.Nf3 c5 2.b3 d6 3.c4 e5 4.Nc3 g6 5.e3 Bg7 6.h4 Nc6 7.Bb2 f5 8.Be2 h6

White to move

Black's more advanced pawns give him more space, hence his pieces have greater mobility.

9.Nd5 Nf6 10.Nxf6+ Qxf6 11.d3 Be6 12.a3 0–0

White to move

If White castled now, it would drop the h-pawn and Black might get a strong attack against White's king.

13.Nd2 d5 14.cxd5 Bxd5 15.Qc2 Bxg2 16.Rg1 Bd5 17.Qxc5 Bf7 18.Nc4 Rac8 19.Qb5

Black to move


White has activity on the queenside.

19...Qe7 20.Bf3 Rfd8

White to move

Whose pieces are better coordinated?

21.Rd1 Be8 22.Bxc6

Black to move

How should Black capture the bishop? Why?

22...Rxc6 23.Qb4

White threatens a pawn.

23...Qxh4 24.Qxb7 

Black opts to exchange his b-pawn for White's h-pawn. Who benefits more from this exchange?

24...Re6 25.Qxa7 Qh2 26.Rf1 g5 27.Qc7 Rd7 28.Qc8 Qg2

White to move

What are the plans for both sides? White has an advantage of one pawn, but perhaps Black's position is better in other respects.

29.d4 exd4 30.Bxd4 Ree7

White to move

Observe the pins.

31.Kd2 Bxd4 32.exd4 Rxd4+

Black has restored the material balance.

33.Kc3 Rxd1 34.Rxd1 Qxf2

White to move

Neither king is shielded by pawns, but Black's king is shielded from the side with pieces along the e-file.

35.a4 g4 36.Qd8 Re6

White to move

37.Rd6 Qe1+

Improving the e-file defenses while also keeping up pressure on White's king.

38.Kb2 g3 39.Rd1

Black to move

How should Black respond to the threat on his queen?

39...Qe4 40.Ka3 f4 41.Nd6 Qc6 42.Nxe8 Qxe8 43.Qd5 Qe7+ 44.b4

Black to move

Black's rook is pinned.

44...Qf7 45.Qa8+ Kh7 46.Rd3 Re2

White to move

Black threatens checkmate in one, but this move had a second purpose also.

47.b5 g2 0-1

06 January 2019

Aggression and Objectivity

The positions below all come from an online game characterized by egregious blunders by both players. White played all out for a checkmate that was not there. In the end, Black was threatening checkmate in one, and overlooked a defensive resource for White. With an objective assessment of each position, the correct and only move reveals itself.

White to move

White to move

White to move

Black to move

03 January 2019

Exploiting an Open File

Game of the Week

I am working through Neil McDonald, Chess: The Art of Logical Thinking (2004). This book follows the method made famous by Irving Chernev, Logical Chess: Move by Move (1957), which I reviewed here six years ago. My process for reading this book is slow and deliberate.

First, I play through the game without reference to McDonald's book. I play through the game several times without any resources. While observing the flow of the game, I seek the critical moments. Where was the error that made victory possible for the other player? What alternatives might have been considered? This process usually takes several days with varying amounts of time spent on the game each day.

As questions about the opening form, I check my databases for opening innovations. By this point, I have a pretty good idea where the game became unique.

I record my observations and alternate lines in ChessBase. Sometimes, as in the present game, I will take a quick look at annotations in Chess Informant. Sometimes other historical resources are consulted, as in the first game. Finally, I look through McDonald's annotations. If I use a chess engine, it is only after studying McDonald's comments.

The first two games in Chess: The Art of Logical Thinking concern games in the Spanish Opening, or Ruy Lopez. My study of game 1 resulted in "A Snubbed Handshake" last Thursday.

Huebner,Robert (2620) -- Portisch,Lajos (2605) [C92]
OHRA-A Brussels (9), 12.1986

This game can be found in Informant 42/434

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5

At this point, McDonald addresses my question in the previous game regarding the merits of the Morphy Defense. Black protects c6 from White's light-squared bishop and gains space on the queenside. On the other hand, these moves also slightly weaken Black's queenside pawn structure. In this game, Huebner steadily puts pressure on the queenside until Portisch errs.

7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0–0 9.h3 Bb7 10.d4 Re8 11.Nbd2 Bf8

All more or less main lines to this point. With move 12, the number of games drops below 1000. Four White twelfth moves have been played over 600 times, with Huebner's the most frequent.

White to move

12.a4

Also popular are 12.a3, 12.d5, and 12.Bc2.

12...Qd7

Played by both Svidler and Azarov in 2008, both winning.

12...h6 is the main line, and had been played by Gligoric, Karpov, and others with some frequency prior to this game. Karpov also has played 12...Qd7.

12...Na5 13.Bc2 b4 14.cxb4 Nc6 15.Nb3 Nxb4 is a viable alternative.

13.d5

This move was the novelty according to Huebner's annotations in Informant. It had, however, been played by Efim Geller the previous year in a game that ended as a draw a few moves later.

13...Ne7

13 games in my database reached this position.

13...Na5 14.Bc2 and McDonald highlights the threat of b4, when the knight must go to c4 and White will likely win a pawn. 12...Na5 (see above) has appeared in more than four dozen games.

14.c4

Black to move

I posted this position, which has appeared in five games beginning with the present one, on my Facebook page with questions. What are the plans for both sides? Respondents found Black's position uncomfortable.

14...Ng6

14...c5 seems like a sensible idea to me 15.dxc6 would have been Huebner's move, I suspect, drawing clues from his Informant annotations. 15...Bxc6 (15...Nxc6 16.axb5 axb5 17.Rxa8 Bxa8 18.cxb5 Ne7 19.Bc4) 16.axb5 axb5 17.Rxa8 Bxa8 18.cxb5.

15.Bc2 c6 16.b3 b4

Perhaps partially closing the queenside is not in Black's strategic interests. This pawn is undefended, but not easily attacked. Moreover, Black can quickly play a5 when needed. McDonald thinks this move is well timed.

16...Qc7 17.Nf1 bxc4 18.bxc4 a5 and Black won in 53 moves, Van der Wiel,J (2540) -- Karpov,A (2725) Tilburg 1988.

16...bxc4 seems to me a viable alternative 17.Nxc4 Qc7. Karpov achieved this improvement by changing the move order. In that game, both sides had active piece play and it would seem good chances. Karpov outmaneuvered his opponent to secure the win.

17.Nh2 Qc7 18.Ng4 Be7 19.Nf1

Black to move

19...cxd5

This move may have been the critical error as it opens the c-file, which White was able to control and use. Huebner identified this move as a mistake, suggesting 19...c5 as the alternative. McDonald calls this move a blunder.

McDonald states, "White's knight manoeuvres have unnerved Portisch" (23). Was the error a failure of logic? Did Portisch have concrete reasons for this move? Perhaps he understood the strategic idea of penetration on the c-file and judged his defensive resources to be adequate. If he closes the queenside, as recommended in Huebner's annotations and McDonald's, White still might mount a kingside attack and Black's position remains cramped. I do not dispute that this move was the critical error, but I think the reader would be better served if McDonald had worked harder at finding an explanation for the error grounded in logic, rather than psychological speculation.

20.cxd5 Nxg4

Perhaps Black can contest the c-file 20...Rac8 21.Nfe3.

21.hxg4 Bc8

21...Rac8 22.Ne3 Bg5 23.Nc4 Bxc1 24.Rxc1 White has several potential outposts on the queenside, while the doubled g-pawns offer flexibility and strength, as well as the long-term possibility of building an attack on the h-file after g2–g3.

22.Ne3 Bg5 23.Nf5

McDonald states that White has a "strategically winning position" (23).

23...Bxc1 24.Rxc1 Qd8

24...Qb6 25.Bd3 Bb7 26.Rc2 (26.Re3) 26...Rac8

White to move

Black's lack of mobility is becoming apparent

25.Bd3 Ne7 26.Qd2 Rb8

26...Bxf5 opens up attacking possibilities on the kingside for White, according to McDonald. 27.gxf5 a5 28.Bb5 (28.Qg5 f6 29.Qg4) 28...Rf8 29.f6 gxf6 30.Qh6 Kh8 Perhaps Black can defend.

27.Rc2 Nxf5 28.gxf5 f6

Reducing the queen's mobility, although the queen cannot do much on the kingside alone and now other piece can get there. Now all play will focus on the c-file, which White controls.

28...a5 29.Bb5 seems unpleasant.

McDonald points out some checkmate threats that 28...f6 prevents. 28...Re7 29.f6 gxf6 (29...Rc7 30.Rxc7 Qxc7 31.Qg5) 30.Qh6 Rc7 31.Re3 Rxc2 32.Rg3+

29.Rec1 Re7 30.Rc6

Black to move

30...Ra7

30...a5 31.Bb5 Bd7 32.Rxd6

30...Bb7 31.Bxa6 Bxc6 32.dxc6 was prepared by Huebner, according to McDonald. Indeed, Huebner gives this line in his Informant annotations.

31.Qe2 a5 32.Bb5 Bb7

32...Bd7 33.Rxd6

33.Rc7 Rc8 34.Qc4 Raa8

34...Rxc7 35.Qxc7 Qxc7 36.Rxc7 is also given by McDonald as worse, and it was in my annotations before reading his.

35.f3

McDonald gives this move a double exclam, and the move is also praised in comments on chessgames.com. As Black can do nothing, there is no rush. White has time to improve the position of his king.

35...Kf8

35...Rxc7 36.Qxc7 Qxc7 37.Rxc7 Rb8 38.Bc6 Ba8 39.Kf2

36.Kf2 Rab8 37.Ke3

Black to move

37...g6

37...Rxc7 38.Qxc7 Qxc7 39.Rxc7

38.Bd7 Rxc7 39.Qxc7 Qxc7 40.Rxc7 Ba6 41.Be6 Rb7 42.Rc6 Bf1 43.Rxd6 Bc4

One last trick before resignation.

43...Bxg2 44.Rd8+ Kg7 45.d6

White to move

44.Rd8+

44.bxc4?? b3 and Black will get a queen.

1–0

This game is a good example of White gaining the initiative out of the opening and keeping up the pressure. The most significant error led to a clear strategic plan that White executed well.

28 December 2018

One from Chernev

More than six years ago, I wrote about the importance to me of Irving Chernev's The 1000 Best Short Games of Chess (1955) (see "My First Chess Book"). I still go through the games in this book in small batches from time to time. This one caught my eyes this morning. The entire game has been played at least three times, according to ChessBase's database.

Schuster -- Carls [B15]
Bremen, 1914

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Ng3

5.Nxf6+ is the main line

5...h5

White has a problem. Harry the h-pawn is coming for his knight.

White to move

6.Bg5?

6.h4
6.Bc4

6...h4

Black is winning

7.Bxf6 hxg3 8.Be5 Rxh2 9.Rxh2

Black to move

9...Qa5+

The star move!

10.c3 Qxe5+ 11.dxe5 gxh2 0–1

27 December 2018

A Snubbed Handshake

Game of the Week

After languishing on my shelves for a decade or longer, Chess: The Art of Logical Thinking (2005) by Neil McDonald came off for some serious study. Marginalia on many pages reveals that I have previously worked through the first several games, but have not worked through the whole. I spent half a morning last week creating a database with all thirty games and then racing through all of them for a first look. The next step was to work through the first game carefully before reading what McDonald has to say about it.

The plan is to study each game, then read McDonald's comments. I followed this process with the games in Irving Chernev, Logical Chess: Move by Move (1957). McDonald follows Chernev's classic by commenting on every move.

The first game in McDonald's book is the game that began with Victor Kortschnoj* holding out his hand before the game, only to be snubbed by Anatoly Karpov who said he he would no longer shake hands because of Kortschnoj's behavior. The behavior in question concerned his complaint about the seating in the audience of Dr. Vladimir Zukhar, a parapsychologist who was part of Karpov's team. Kortschnoi wanted Zukhar further back from the stage where the match took place. This game was the eighth in the championship and the first that was not drawn. Karpov went on to win the match, reaching his sixth win in game 32. Kortschnoj won five games.

McDonald does not discuss this historical background, despite his comment in the Introduction:
[P]sychological factors should be considered. ... When there is no obvious right or wrong, the character of the player has a major impact on the decision taken. This can be for both good and bad as the games of even the greatest players are frequently won and lost by impulsive or inspired decisions.
McDonald, Chess: The Art of Logical Thinking (5-6)
Karpov,Anatoly (2725) -- Kortschnoj,Viktor (2665) [C80]
World Championship 29th Baguio City (8), 03.08.1978

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6

What are the merits of the Morphy variation? McDonald does not ponder this question, nor offer much help towards an answer. He does dress the move 3...a6 with an exclamation mark.

4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Nxe4

Black temporarily wins a pawn. The exchange of center pawns shifts the focus towards active piece play. Playing through this game, I game to realize that my understanding of the Open Spanish is somewhat underdeveloped. It's not something I've played as Black, nor often faced as White.

5...Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3

6.d4 b5

6...exd4 seems dubious 7.Re1 f5 8.Nxd4 Be7 9.Nxf5 d5

7.Bb3 d5

7...Na5? invites tactics

a) 8.Bd5 c6 9.Bxe4

b) 8.Bxf7+!? Kxf7 9.Nxe5+ Kg8

b1) 9...Ke6 10.Qg4+ Ke7 11.Qxe4;

b2) 9...Ke8 10.Qh5+ g6 11.Nxg6 hxg6 (11...Nf6 12.Re1+ Be7) 12.Qxg6+ Ke7 13.Bg5+ Nxg5 14.Qxg5+ Kf7 15.Qxd8; 10.Qf3 Qf6 (10...Nf6 11.Qxa8; 10...Qe8 11.Qxe4) 11.Qxe4 Bb7 12.Qd3)

8.dxe5

This pawn will not be easily removed by Black and controls some key dark squares.

8...Be6

White to move

There are things that I don't like about Black's position: the backwards c-pawn, placement of the bishop in the pawn chain, and White's pawn striking at f6 and d6. But, Kortschnoj understood these consequences of his fifth move. This position has been played many thousands of times by top players with many Black wins. White's overall score is strong, but Kortschnoj's wins with Black include such opponents as Tal and Petrosian, and even Karpov later in this match.

My database contains 97 games with this position and Kortschnoj as one of the players, nearly always as Black. The overall score is 50% with 24 wins for each side and the rest draws.

My assessment of this position was skewed by lack of familiarity with the Open Spanish compounded by the tendency to annotate by result. Because Kortschnoj lost, I was looking for defects very early in the game. However, this position is an interesting tableau in the Spanish.

9.Nbd2 Nc5

9...Nxd2 Seems plausible and has been attempted by strong players, but with a score exceeding 75% for White. 10.Bxd2 Be7 (10...Bc5)

10.c3

Is White already slightly better? Black's light-squared bishop is part of a pawn chain, while White's e-pawn puts a clamp on the dark squares. Meanwhile, Black's king remains in the middle of the board. This position has appeared well over 1800 times in the annals of chess with a 58% score for White, but with over 400 Black wins.

Black to move

10...g6?!

This move was criticized by Raymond Keene and others. Keene's criticism appears in a book that I bought about forty years ago, when it was new: Raymond Keene, The World Chess Championship: Korchnoi vs. Karpov (1978), which claims to be the "inside story of the match". Keene was part of Kortschnoj's team. However, another book suggests that Keene was too much focused on journalistic dispatches to England to be an effective team player. Persona Non Grata (Thinkers' Press, 1981) lists as authors Viktor Kortchnoi with Lenny Cavallaro. However, Kortschnoj is consistently referred to in the third person in this book, suggesting that Cavallaro may have had the leading hand as author.

Persona Non Grata offers an account of the snub.
The 8th game. Viktor arrived at the table; Karpov did not get up. Kortchnoi sat down and held out his hand. Karpov replied that from that moment he had no intention of giving him his hand. ... The shot hit home. Kortchnoi played a poor tenth move (among others); Karpov conducted his attack quite well. (39-40)
What were the alternatives? Four moves have been played more often that Kortschnoj's.

a) 10...Nxb3 is fourth most popular 11.Nxb3 Be7
b) 10...Bg4 is third in popularity and Black has done well
c) 10...d4, the second was popular move was played by Kortschnoj later in this match, and three times in the 1981 match.
d) 10...Be7 strikes me as simple. It is the most popular move. There is no rush to castle as the king might find safety on the queenside or be needed for an endgame.
e) 10...Nd3 ihas been played less often than 10...g6, but still appears in more than two dozen games. 11.Qe2 is the usual continuation 11...Nf4 12.Qe3 g5 13.Rd1.

11.Qe2

Kortschnoi repeated his 10...g6 twice in later years, leading to

a) 11.Re1 Nd3 12.Re3 Nxc1 13.Rxc1 Bh6 14.Rd3 0–0 15.Qe2 Ne7 16.Rd1 c5 17.Bc2 Bf5 18.Nf1 Bxd3 19.Bxd3 Qc8 and White won in 87 moves, Fedorchuk,S (2564) -- Kortschnoj,V (2634) Warsaw 2002.
b) 11.Bc2 Bg7 12.Re1 Nd7 13.Nd4 Nxd4 14.cxd4 and drawn in 28 moves, Almasi,Z (2676) -- Kortschnoj,V (2632) Budapest 2003.

11...Bg7 12.Nd4!

Kortschnoj believed this pawn sacrifice was not in Karpov's character, or so Keene claimed.

Black to move

12...Nxe5

12...Nxd4 13.cxd4 Nb7 (After 13...Nxb3 14.Nxb3 0–0 McDonald points out a simple winning plan--moving all the heavy pieces to the c-file to hammer away at the backwards c-pawn.)
12...Qd7 is favored by McDonald and was played by Mihai Marin in 2007: 13.f4 0–0 and Black won in 45 moves, Thesing,M (2393) -- Marin,M (2551) Predeal 2007.

13.f4

I thought that Black was already in deep trouble at this point, but in 2012 Sarunas Sulskis went on from here to win with Black.

13...Nc4

13...Ned3 was Sulskis's choice. 14.f5 (14.Bc2 Nxc1 15.Raxc1 0–0) 14...gxf5 15.Nxf5 Rg8 16.Bc2 Sulskis seems to have taken the weaknesses of Kortschnoj's position and turned them into strengths. 16...Qg5 17.Nxg7+ Rxg7 18.Nf3 Nxc1 19.Raxc1 (19.Nxg5 Nxe2+ 20.Kh1 Rxg5–+) 19...Qg4 There is not much left of White's attack. 20.g3 Ne4 21.Qg2 Qh5 22.Rfe1 0–0–0 and Black went on to win in 71 moves, Azarov,S (2667) -- Sulskis,S (2595) Jurmala LAT 2012.

14.f5 gxf5 15.Nxf5

Black to move

Black has won even from this position, but there was a rating gap over over 400 Elo favoring the second player.

15...Rg8±

I think that Karpov has the upper hand at this point in the game.

15...Bf8 16.Nf3 Ne4 17.N3d4 c5 18.Nxe6 fxe6 19.Qh5+ Kd7 20.Bxc4 bxc4 21.Ne3 Nd6 22.Ng4 Bg7 23.Bg5 Qe8 24.Qh3 h5 25.Nf6+ Bxf6 26.Bxf6 Rf8 27.Rad1 Kc6 A secure king! 28.Rde1 Ne4 29.Be5 Qg6 30.b3 Rf5 31.Rxf5 Qxf5 32.Qxf5 exf5 33.bxc4 dxc4 34.Rf1 Rf8 35.Rf4 Kd5 36.Bg7 Rf7 37.Bh8 Ke6 The bishop is trapped 0–1 De Coverly,R (1992) -- Sarakauskas,G (2415) Bournemouth ENG 2015.

16.Nxc4 dxc4

16...Nxb3 17.axb3 bxc4 18.bxc4 Black's king will suffer.

17.Bc2 Nd3 18.Bh6 Bf8

18...Bxh6 was more stubborn 19.Nxh6 Rg7 (19...Rg6 20.Nxf7) 20.Nf5 Rg6 (20...Rg8 21.Rad1) 21.Rad1

White to move

19.Rad1+–

Black's king is stuck in the middle. All White's pieces are in the attack, while Black's pieces are mostly tied down or watching helplessly.

19...Qd5

19...Bc5+ 20.Kh1 Qd5 21.Bxd3 cxd3 22.Rxd3 Qc6 23.Ng7+ Rxg7 (23...Ke7 24.Bg5+ Kf8 25.Nxe6+ and checkmate is coming soon) 24.Bxg7 Bd6+-

20.Bxd3

White's decisive final attack brings pressure along the three central files d-f. McDonald emphasizes the absence of Black's queen's rook from the battle. This decisive blow had to happen now, or Black would castle queenside and have exceptional counterplay. In such a case, Black's wrecked kingside pawn structure becomes rather an open line against White's monarch.

20...cxd3 21.Rxd3 Qc6 22.Bxf8 Qb6+

This move gains a necessary tempo, but is not enough to save the game barring a blunder from Karpov.

22...Kxf8 23.Nd4 Qb6 24.Qxe6 Kg7 25.Qxb6 cxb6+-

23.Kh1 Kxf8

McDonald points out 23...Rxf8 24.Qf3 Rd8 25.Ng7+ Ke7 26.Qf6#

24.Qf3 Re8 25.Nh6

Wasn't f7 the target when White played 1.e4?

Black to move

25...Rg7

a) 25...Ke7 26.Nxg8+ Rxg8 27.Qf6+ Ke8 28.Rd8#
b) 25...Kg7 26.Qf6+ Kf8 27.Nxf7 Qc6 (27...Qb7 28.Nd8+ Bf7 29.Qxf7#) 28.Ne5+ Bf7 29.Qxf7#
c) 25...Rg6 26.Qxf7+ Bxf7 27.Rxf7#

26.Rd7

All four of White's pieces aim at f7. This move seems obvious in retrospect, but perhaps is not immediately obvious. McDonald gives it a double exclam, calling it "The star move" (17).

26...Rb8

26...Bxd7 27.Qxf7+ Rxf7 28.Rxf7#

27.Nxf7 Bxd7

a) 27...Ke8 28.Ne5 Rg8 (28...Rxd7 29.Qf8#) 29.Qf6 Qd6
     a1) 29...Bxd7 30.Qf7+ Kd8 31.Qxd7#
     a2) 29...Qc5 30.Qxe6+ Qe7 31.Qxe7#
30.Rxd6 cxd6 31.Qxe6+ Kd8 32.Qd7#

b) 27...Bxf7 28.Rxf7+ Kg8 29.Rf8+ Rxf8 30.Qxf8#

28.Nd8+

Black resigned.

28...Bf5 is the only defense against checkmate 29.Qxf5+ Ke7 30.Qf8+ Kd7.

1–0

McDonald's annotations are light, focusing on the essential position elements in the game with a few tactical variations.

*Spelling note: I favor the spelling of Viktor Kortschnoj that is used in Chess Base for this post, but where the name in quotes or front matter of books, I retain the spelling employed in those books.

23 December 2018

Smash Through

Black to move

From Gelfand,B. -- Kramnik,V., Berlin 1996. This game is featured in Neil McDonald, Chess: The Art of Logical Thinking (2004), which I am going through superficially this morning. My intention is to go through the games and then the book more slowly in the coming weeks.

Solve This!

White's pawns are coming. What can Black do?

Black to move

This position arose in Vujosevic,V.--Miljanic,B, Tivat 1997, and I found the game in Chess Informant 69/282.

The label "Solve This" at the bottom of this post and in the index on the margins takes you to 335 posts with diagrams and no solutions. Solutions suggested in comments will be confirmed or challenged as responses.