09 September 2018

Attack with Simple Moves

The past two days I have been going through games and analysis in Mihail Marin's column in Chess Informant 136, "Attack with Simple Moves" (47-58). The 1967 game Portisch -- Petrosian, in particular, captured my interest.

Portisch,Lajos -- Petrosian,Tigran V [D13]
Moscow 3/584, 1967

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.cxd5 cxd5 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Bf4 e6 7.e3 Bd6 8.Bg3 0–0 9.Bd3 Re8 10.Ne5 Bxe5 11.dxe5 Nd7 12.f4

Black to move


Mikhail Yudovich, who annotated the game for Informant 3, gave this move a question mark. Marin adds, "A curious 'pawn grabbing based' plan with incomplete development" (53). Curiously, the diagram position has occurred in at least 18 games (Portisch -- Petrosian was the second) and 12...Qb6 has been played in 13 of these.

In the one previous game, Max Euwe won from the Black side in 20 moves after 13.Qe2. But White has a healthy 65% score over the 13 game batch.

13.0–0 Qxe3+

Yudovich recommends 13...Nc5, which still remains unplayed in subsequent games.

14.Kh1 Qb6

After 14...a6, Black went on to win in Stobik,D. -- Hoffmann,H., Germany 1977, and also in Pira,D. -- Van Rompu,A., France 2008.

White to move


15.Nb5 was played in the only other game to reach this position, and Black won, Dreyer,M. -- Mohammad,S., Yerevan 1996.


Marin offers two alternatives: 15...h6 and 15...g6. My computer suggests that 15...g6 is Black's only hope for eqauality.

16.Rf3 Ng6 17.Bf2 Qd8 18.Nb5

Marin notes Black's "chronic weaknesses" (54). This position is the sort that I am always in search of to present to my students for illustrating the consequences of pieces that are mere spectators. All of White's pieces are in the battle on the kingside, or will be soon. Most of Black's pieces are doing nothing.

18...Nce7 19.Nd6 Bd7

White to move


20.Nxe8 wins the exchange, but gives Black time to bring the rest of his pieces into the game. It is a grave error to exchange a strong attacking piece for a spectator.

20...Qb6 21.Rh3 h6 22.Bf6 Qxb2 23.Rf1 Nf5 24.Bxf5 1–0

Checkmate comes soon.

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