Friday, 12 March 2010

Puzzles and Games from 2010 European Individual Championship in Rijeka.

Puzzle #1
If you are White in the following game, would you play 33 Qg2?

Position after 32…Rxe3

Puzzle #2
If you are White in the following game,can you play 32 Qxh8?

Position after 31…Kc7

[Answers next week.]

Games for replay

Game #1 Movsesian-Chiril: Look out for White's finish.

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Game #2 Babula-Bologan: For the King's Indian fans.

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Game #3 Nisipeanu-Pelletier: How to catch a Queen.

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Game #4 Motylev-Godena: Back to the Future_19th Century play.

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GM Spraggett's commentary to Motylev-Godena (My apologies but I don't have the time to incorporate these annotations into the game replayer):
A well known position that has occurred in about a hundred master games over the years. Usual now is 7... dc 8. Qxd4 Nf6 9.Nc3 Bg4!? with a more or less balanced position. Not much is happening that is very different from the normal Exchange variation of the Spanish.

However, Godena is a player who goes his own way and likes to surprise his opponent with little known, and even less studied, side variations. Here he played....

7... Qb4 !?

A very sharp check that immediately creates a crisis : White must now play in gambit style if he is to avoid getting the worse right off the bat! 8.Qd2 or 8.Nbd2 simply won't do. On the otherhand, is Black's last move any good? He neglects his development and is for the time being a piece down.

8. c3!?

The only way to play! The complications that result are very difficult to fathom over the board and require precise calculation and accurate evaluation of the resulting positions. According to my database, there are only about a dozen games that have gone this way and theory still has to mention this position in its books!

8... Qxb2 forced

Much worse is 8... dc3 as after 9. bc Qb2 10. Bd5 Qxa1 11. Qb3 the Black Queen will be trapped after White castles and moves his Queen Knight.

As mentioned, there are few games to go by in this little studied position. White has mostly tried either 9. Qxd4 bc 10. O-O Qxa1 11. Qxh8 Kf8 with a messy position (diagram, right) or 9. O-O, with mixed results. Motylev, undoubted taken by surprise by Godena's opening choice, had to re-invent the wheel himself and comes up with a new idea!

9. Ba4!?

This move looks quite strong! White preserves his Bishop and intends to use it later in an attack against the Black King. Black will now have to take the Rook in the corner , being an exchange up, but his problems are just beginning: where to put the Black King? And the Black Queen is always in a danger of being trapped! I don't like Black's position....

9... Qxa1 Worse is 9... dc 10. O-O !

This position reminds me of the type of game that was often seen during the lifetime of Paul Morphy! One of the players (yet to be decided!) is risking too much....Not good now is 10... Ne7 as after 11. Qxd4 O-O 12. Qd2! the Black Queen is trapped. Probably necessary, but hair-raising, is the cold blooded 10... Qxa2!? 11. Bb3 Qa6 12. Qxd4 Qf6 13. e5 Qg7 and atleast the Black Queen is safe. However, it is clear that White has many attractive continuations.

10... b5?! A horrible move!

Black simply drives the White Bishop to a better square while creating a weakness on the Queen-side. Black is now lost almost by force. Probably he was lost anyway...

11. Bb3 ! Setting it's eyes on f7.

Probably equally strong is 11. Qxd4 f6 12. Na3 Qxa2 (12... Qxf1 13. Kxf1 ba 14. e5) 13. Nxb5 (diagram,right) when White has many threats and the Black Queen is still out of play.

11... c5 Black hopes to play ...c4 and shut out the White Bishop

Note that the immediate 11... Qb2 loses immediately to 12. Qxd4 f6 13. Qd5!, exploiting Black's 10th move

12. Nxd4! Ripping open the centre!

If you put your head into the lion's mouth, you should not be surprised if it gets bitten off!

In this kind of position (with the Black Queen out of play and almost trapped, and the Black King still uncastled) material is not such an important factor. Here White realizes that with just his Queen and Bishop he can create serious mating threats against Black. Play proceeded:

12... cd It is too late for the consolidating try 12... a6 as after 13. Qd2 cd 14. Qxd4 f6 15. Qd5 Black's position falls apart.13. Qxd4

A dream position! White threatens the Black Rook on h8 and also (if there is nothing immediately better) Qd5, attacking the other Rook and f7. Something has gone seriously wrong with Godena's opening surprise!

13... f6 At this point, Black has little choice

Now Motylev has a pleasant choice. I would prefer 14. Na3!? Qb2 15. Nxb5 and if 15... Kf8 16. Qd5 Kg7 17. Qf7 Kh6 18. Qf8 when Black should soon get mated. However, Motylev's choice is more sadistic!

14. e5 ! Very thematic: more ripping

There is little that Black can do from White opening up the position, exposing the Black King to mating threats.

14... Bb7 15. Na3 [15. ef is also good]

Now should Black give the Queen with 15... Qxf1 16. Kxf1 Bc6 (what else) simply 17. ef gives White exactly the same attack as in the game.

15... Qb2

16. ef Threatening f7

Taking the pawn on b5 was equally good. If now Black tries to escape to the Queenside he walks into an equally deadly attack: 16... O-O-O 17. Nxb5 Bc6 18. Nxa7 Kb7 19. Nxc6 and Black does not have a single good move.

16... Nh6 At least taking some of the sting out of White's immediate threat...

17. Qe5 ouch!

I am certain that Godena wanted to resign here, but nobody likes to lose in less than 20 moves! So he continues for a couple of moves...Note that if he now moves to f8 he would allow a mate in 1 move. So Godena goes the other direction

17... Kd8 18. Nxb5

I can imagine that a lot of vultures were hovering over the board at this point! Motylev quickly concludes his attack:

18... Qd2 19. Qc7 Ke8 20. Nd6

Godena resigns. It is mate in at most 6 moves! An opening experiment that went bad [1:0]
[My thanks to Chessvibes for the puzzles and games and to GM Kevin Spraggett for the commentary.]

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