Friday, 29 October 2010

How to Demolish the ...Qd6 Scandinavian courtesy of GM Alexey Shirov

Annotated game with a win by one of my favourite players, GM Alexey Shirov. He demolished fellow Soviet emigre (now Dutch), GM Sergei Tiviakov, in a ...Qd6 Scandinavian. {Fellow club members will know that Josh Christensen essays the Scandinavian at Club games. Here is how to defeat him courtesy of GM Shirov. :) :) :)]

Annotations courtesy of GM Kevin Spraggett:
I have known Alexi since the Paris Open in 1990 when he was just a lanky 17 year old , beginning to compete in ''western'' tournaments. Already at that time he was of GM strength and demonstrated a remarkable talent for complex, messy chess where the initiative is the only thing that really counts.

There are many gifted players who have attacking skills just as pronounced as Shirov's, but what separates him from the crowd is that with Shirov's attacks there is a certain irresistibility involved. Almost as if no matter how well you defend Shirov will always come out on top....his resourcefulness, imagination and tremendous energy never seem to exhaust themselves (they exhaust his opponents first!).

Witness his game yesterday against Sergei Tiviakov, where Shirov takes apart Sergei's favourite opening by simply throwing everything at him and going straight up the board for the jugular....

A topical line of the Scandanavian (1.e4 d5 2.PxP QxP 3.Nc3 Qd6!? ). I have played it once or twice myself--from either side! Tiviakov seems to have made this his main defence against the King Pawn openings. I mean, he seems plays it almost all the time these days!

I have never understood why some very strong grandmasters (and make no doubt: Sergei is one of the best in the world) continually play opening lines that are slightly inferior. But let me qualify myself: the Scandanavian is slightly inferior because it seems that Black always has an uphill battle to achieve an equality that can be more comfortably obtained by playing a more theoretical opening.

But Sergei has quite a reasonable score with it: he loses rarely, wins occasionally and makes a lot of draws. In other words, it has served him well and he obviously feels comfortable with the positions that arise from it. Nevertheless, I wonder if Sergei is not pressing his luck by playing the Scandanavian against whom ever sits down opposite him, regardless of his opponent's last name. Some players simply should not be provoked, and Alexi is one such player...


Here is the Paul Keres game mentioned in GM Spraggett's annotations:

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