21 August 2016

An Ivanov Miniature

One of the ways that I am enjoying Tadic and Arsovic, Encyclopedia of Chess Miniatures (2015) is working through the games in which Black played the French Defense. The French is my primary response to 1.e4, so it behooves me to be well aware of the pitfalls. Last week, a miniature won by Alexander Ivanov in 2002 caught my eye.* His opponent was Jarod J. Bryan, who had been Maine State Champion in 1988 and 1998, and has won that title five more times since his quick loss to Ivanov at the 2002 Bradley Open.

In this miniature, Ivanov applied strong pressure after some slight inaccuracies by Bryan. Black's position collapsed quickly. The game is notable in the Encyclopedia for the presence of two diagrams. Most games have one.

Ivanov,Alexander (2645) -- Bryan,Jarod J (2218) [C00]
Windsor Bradley op 7th Windsor Locks (3), 20.07.2002

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 Nf6 4.Qe2 d5 5.d3 Be7 6.Bg2 Nc6 7.0–0 0–0 8.e5 Nd7 9.c4

Black to move

Already, Black's position seems difficult. ChessBase database indicates that White scores over 70% in most lines.


Tadic and Arsovic offer as better 9...d4 10.h4 b6 11.Bf4, but even here the statistics favor White by a significant margin.

The relatively untested 9...b5 offers hope for Black if statistics have merit. 10.cxb5 Na5.

10.dxc4 Qc7 11.Bf4 a6 12.Rd1

Black to move


12...Rd8 13.Nc3 Nf8 is worth filing away for possible exploration later. The line appears untested, at least in the sort of games that work their way into the database.


As I played through this game in the North Spokane Library repeatedly, I kept looking at this knight. First, it seems a little tardy to enter the action, and thus easy to overlook. Second, once it enters the battle, Black seems busted.

13...Rd8 14.Ne4 Nd4?

14...h6 is offered as an improvement in the Encyclopedia. Stockfish prefers 14...Bf8, which strikes me as sensible given the tactics centered on f6.

15.Nxd4 Rxd4

White to move

The Encyclopedia has this diagram.

16.Nf6+!+- Bxf6

16...gxf6 17.Rxd4 cxd4 18.Qg4+ Kf8 19.exf6+-.

17.exf6 Rxf4

17...Qd8 was the last chance to suffer longer.

The second diagram in the Encyclopedia appears here.


18.Qe5 Qxe5 (18...Qd7 19.Rxd7 Nxd7 20.Qxf4+-) 19.Rd8#.


*Alexander Ivanov should not be confused with Boris Ivanov, who was banned from competition by the Bulgarian Chess Federation due to suspicions of cheating. Alexander Ivanov lives in Boston, Massachusetts and shared the 1995 U.S. Championship. He was awarded the Grand Master title in 1991.

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