Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Slaying the Dragon, 1969

Scoones D - Emig M
Victoria Ch Qualifier 1969
Sicilian: Accelerated Dragon B35

Martin Emig, a long-time member of the Victoria Chess Club, was a keen correspondence player. We had many interesting OTB battles as A-Class players in the early 1970s. The game presented here was our first encounter, from a qualifying tournament for the club championship. At the time, Martin was a recent arrival from Germany and a largely unknown quantity. There was little at stake except honour since we were both through to the main event already.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6
He played this a lot. I think the French was his only other defence to 1.e4.
5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4
I had read Fischer, and I was aiming for that "sac... sac... mate" thing that he pulled off against Larsen in 1958. The Yugoslav Attack, we called it at the time, but later on the Batsford Corporation attached the name of the Soviet player Vsevolod Rauzer.
The introduction to a very deep trap...
8.f3?! (D)
...into which White stumbles...
... and which Black in turn misses. The dangerous move is 8...Qb4!? 9.Bb3 Nxe4! 10.Nxc6 (It's better to bail out with 10.fxe4 Bxd4 11.Bxd4 Qxd4 12.Qxd4 Nxd4 13.Nd5 but I don't see White surviving after 13...Rb8. He's a pawn down and Black's position looks pretty solid.) 10...Bxc3+ 11.bxc3 Qxc3+ 12.Ke2 Otherwise Black simply captures on e3. 12...dxc6! The future grandmaster Peter Biyiasas fell into this trap against an American expert, and duly arrived at this miserable position as White. However, I don't have to tell you who failed to win or even draw the game in the end... 13.Bd4 (White cannot recapture the piece since 13.fxe4 loses the queen to 13...Bg4+) 13...e5! 14.Bxc3 Nxc3+ 15.Kd2 Nxd1 16.Raxd1 Ke7 with two extra pawns and an easily winning game for Black. Instead of 9.Bb3 White must find 9.Nxc6! bxc6 10.Bb3. Taking on c6 is usually a serious concession in the Dragon, but in this case it has cost Black several tempi with his queen. I would say White is doing all right here.
9.Qd2 Rd8 10.0-0-0 d6
After this we're back into a regular Dragon formation, except that Black has played the mysterious and probably useless move ...Rfd8. The verdict: better for White.
11.Kb1 a6 12.g4 Ne5 13.Bb3 Bd7 14.h4!
Here too it might be said that instead of ...Rac8 and ...Nc4, Black has played ...Rfd8 and ...a6. He's way behind the eight-ball now.
It looks strange to see Black moving his kingside pawns, but he has a concrete idea: he wants to establish a blockade on the square h5 and thus prevent the opening of the h-file. This would be clever, except that now he won't be able to stop White from blowing open the g-file.
15.gxh5 Nxh5 16.Bh6
A standard device to exchange an important defender. Black should try 16...Bf6.
16...Rac8?! 17.Bxg7 Kxg7 (D) 18.Nf5+!
No points for other moves!
He has to take this way since 18...gxf5 19.Qg5+ Ng6 20.Qxh5 Rh8 21.Qg5 f6 22.Qg2 leaves his king position in ruins with a level piece count.
19.exf5 Ng3
If 19...Nxf3 20.Qg2 Ne5 21.fxg6 fxg6 22.Qg5 Nc6 23.Rd5! shutting out the Black queen, for example, 23...Qb6 24.Rg1 Nf4 25.Ne2! and Black's position collapses.
20.fxg6 Nxh1 21.gxf7 Nxf7?!
Not the best. The only try was 21...Ng6 22.Rxh1 Qh5 but after 23.Rg1 White's attack is very powerful.
22.Rg1+ Kf8 23.Be6?!
A bit of a stumble; correct was the immediate 23.Qg2. With time running short the Dan of 1969 could not see a clear win after 23...e6, when he would be a whole rook down. But the Dan of today sees a simple win with 24.Bxe6 Ke7 25.Bxf7 Kxf7 ( 25...Rxc3 26.bxc3) 26.Qg6+ Ke7 27.Qh7+ Ke6 28.Rg6+ Ke5 29.Qg7+ and mates quickly.
A tougher defence is 23...Qe5 but after 24.Bxc8 Rxc8 25.Rxh1 White has an extra outside passed pawn supported by a rook, which I had probably assessed as winning. I do remember being absolutely certain he would take on c3...
And that, as they say, is all she wrote.
24...Ng5 25.Qxg5 (D) 1-0

One would think that such a game would be a harbinger of things to come. Well, despite this defeat in the last round of the qualifier, Martin Emig went on to win the Victoria Championship itself by a comfortable margin. I never played another Yugoslav Attack, and in fact went on to become a dry 1.d4 player. Sometimes it's not just rook moves that are mysterious!

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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.