Sunday, January 21, 2007


I was impressed with White's imaginative play in the game Jakovenko-Illescas, played at Pamplona in December 2006. In the position shown in the first diagam, Illescas has just played the new move 12...a6!? Previously handlers of the Black pieces had chosen to block things up with 12...e5, leading to a typical closed King's Indian/Benoni structure and a heavy manoeuvring struggle. Had Illescas played that way, the game might still be going on!

Illescas's novelty was obviously intended to support the advance ...b7-b5, creating counterplay for Black. Unfortunately for him, Jakovenko got in first with a powerful idea of his own:

13.e5! dxe5 14.d6 Qxd6 15.Bxf6 Bxf6 16.Ne4 Qe7 17.Nxf6+ Qxf6 18.Nxe5

The resulting position is shown in the second diagram. White has given up a pawn, but his positional compensation is tremendous. Black's active pieces have been exchanged, and his remaining ones will struggle to find good squares. Meanwhile, White's centralized pieces will generate multiple threats, giving him a strong initiative for some time to come.

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Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada
National master (Canada) since 1984. B.C. Champion 1977 and 1984. Runner-up 1991 and 2002. B.C. Open Champion 1972 and 1982. B.C. U/14 Champion 1964-65-66. Mikhail Botvinnik once wrote that publishing your analytical work forces you to be accurate because it exposes you to criticism. Hence this blog.