Sunday, September 30, 2007

Quiet please

Playing White in a recent blitz game I reached the position shown in the first diagram. This is a Classical French with the extra moves h4 and ...h6 thrown in, a small detail that will improve White's attacking chances should Black decide to castle kingside. On the reasonable assumption that his king would soon go the other way, I repositioned my queen in order to create some attacking chances.

13.Qe3!? 0-0-0 14.f5!?
It was objectively stronger to maintain positional pressure with 14.Kb1 Kb8 15.a3 Bc8 16.h5, but one cannot apply tournament standards to a blitz game.
14...d4 15.Nxd4 Nxd4?
The correct defence was 15...exf5 16.Nd5 Qxe5 17.Nb6+ Kc7 18.Nd5+ Kc8 and neither side can advantageously avoid the draw by repetition; for example, the cheeky 18...Kd6!? is met by 19.Qc3.
16.Rxd4 Bc6 (second diagram)
I suspect Black was quite satisfied here since it looks like he is exchanging my active rook and taking over the d-file. But the unfortunate grouping of pieces on the c-file means that it's suddenly White to play and win!
17.Rc4! Nd7
No better is 17...b6 18.b4 Bd5 19.Rd4 Nd7 20.Nxd5 exd5 21.Bxa6+ Kb8 22.Rxd5.
18.Rxc6+ bxc6
The exchange sacrifice was obvious enough, but now White should not rush to take the a-pawn with check. Instead there is a quiet move available that transforms the capture into a deadly threat:
Black's next move is the only defensive try but it is not enough to save the game.
19...Rde8 20.Bxa6+ Kd8 21.Qa8+ 1-0
Black resigned
here since he is mated after 21...Nb8 22.Qxb8+ Kd7 23.Rd1+.

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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.