Saturday, July 21, 2007

Critical moment

There was a sharp finish to the game Rublevsky-Bologan from the 2005 Russian Team Championship. In the diagrammed position it is White to play his 30th move. He is on the verge of recovering an earlier pawn sacrifice and his pieces seem to be more active. As always I recommend that you take a few minutes to study the position and try to work out how the game should continue. There are two initial candidate moves:

A. 30.Nxe4? This loses quickly after 30...Bxe4 31.fxe4 Qc5+! (driving the king to the corner) 32.Kh1 Qxd6! and White cannot recapture because of the mating move ...Rf1.

B. 30.fxe4 As played by Rublevsky. Bologan had a strong reply ready in 30...Qc5+ 31.Kh1 Bg4! Now 32.Nf3 is forced because the attacked rook is chained to its post by the threats against d6 and f1. Black continued the attack with 32...Qf2 33.R6d2 (better was 33.R6d3 but Black is in command after 33...Rc2 34.Rg1 h6) and now there is a forced win: 33...Rxf3! 34.Qxf3 (if 34.Rxf2 Rxb3 35.Rc2 Rf8 and Black is a piece up) 34...Qxd2! 35.Qxg4 (or 35.Rxd2 Rc1+ 36.Rd1 Rxd1+ 37.Qxd1 Bxd1 and wins easily) 35...Rc1! Black's rook attacks and defends at the same time. Rublevsky could not prevent mate or loss of material and he therefore resigned.

Thus in the diagrammed position White cannot immediately recapture on e4. Because of the latent mate threats he must provide a flight square for his king. This can be accomplished with a scrappy move that is our third candidate:

C. 30.g4!? Now there are two variations:
a) 30...Qc5+ 31.Kh1! Black's position suddenly looks critical because White threatens both 32.gxf5 and 32.Nf7+, and 31...Bg6 fails to 32.Rxg6! hxg6 33.fxe4 followed by 34.Qh3. But Black's advanced pawn comes into play with 31...e3! 32.Nf7+ Rxf7 33.Qxf7 Qxd6! 34.Rxd6 e2! Now White has nothing better than 35.Qxf5, when 35...e1Q+ 36.Kg2 Qe2+ followed by ...Rg8 defends successfully for Black.
b) 30...Qe7 31.Qe3 Bg6 and now 32.Rd7 (instead of 32.fxe4 Rcd8 as given by Bologan) 32...Qe8 33.Nxe4 with a position that can only be assessed as equal.

In my opinion Rublevsky's loss can be explained by psychological factors. He had enjoyed some initiative in the play leading up to the diagrammed position but then failed to notice a critical moment when it was time to think about defence for a move or two.

1 comment:

Wally Placebo said...

Hi Dan,
Love the analysis and blog.I was planning to come to chess night with a fat leather bound book with gold embossed lettering called "The Official Chess Games In which I Crushed Dan Scoones (and made him cry)" But it was too heavy to take take on the skytrain. Take a look at my artwork when you get a chance-

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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.