Friday, October 26, 2007

Hammer and anvil

Grandmaster Mikhail Gurevich has had a long chess career and many of his impressive wins have found their way into Chess Informant and other publications. Today I would like to show an encounter that did not go so well for him thanks to some imaginative play from his opponent, the Azerbaijani WGM Firuza Velikhanli. It is probably worth remembering that one of her more illustrious countrymen is none other than Garry Kasparov.

Velikhanli F - Gurevich M
Izmir Open 2006
Pirc Defence B09
1.e4 d6 2.d4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.f4 Nf6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Bd3 Na6 7.0-0 c5 8.d5 Nc7 9.a4 Bg4?!
The alternative 9...Rb8 10.Kh1 Bg4 is considered more accurate than the text because the tempo spent on 10.Kh1 slows down White's kingside initiative.
10.h3 Bxf3 11.Qxf3 e6 12.Bd2 exd5 13.exd5 a6 14.a5 Rb8 15.f5!?
A novelty. The game J.Polgar-Todorcevic, Pamplona 1990 went 15.Bc4 Nd7 16.Na4 and White won after a long struggle.
15...Nh5 16.Qg4 Bd4+ 17.Kh1 Be5 18.Rf3!?
Also interesting was 18.Ne4, for example, 18...Bxb2 19.fxg6 hxg6 20.Rab1 Bg7 21.Bg5! and Black is forced to make concessions. The text move 18.Rf3 is the prelude to a very fine positional pawn sacrifice.
18...Nf6 19.Qh4!
Quite inconsistent would be 19.Qc4 b5 20.axb6 Rxb6 with counterplay for Black.
Because of the disappearance of Black's light-squared bishop, capturing White's d-pawn is somewhat risky, to say the least. But it is difficult to suggest a better plan for Black.
20.Bg5! Qd7 21.Nxd5 Nxd5 22.Bc4! Nc7?
Black had to try 22...Nb4 in order to keep White's bishop from returning to d3. But even here White is doing extremely well after 23.fxg6 hxg6 24.Re1 Rbe8 25.Bh6 Qd8 (or 25...Bg7 26.Rxe8 Qxe8 27.Bxg7 Kxg7 28.Qf6+ Kh7 29.Rf4 and wins) 26.Qg4 d5 27.Bxf8 Qc7!? 28.Bh6 dxc4 29.Qxc4.
Yes, another exclamation mark. This is not latter-day Reinfeldism, but a simple reflection of the quality of White's play.
23...Rbe8?! (diagram)
After 23...Ne8 the simplest way is 24.fxg6 hxg6 25.Bd5 with a dominating position for White. The text gives Velikhanli the opportunity to finish the game with a “Baku de grace.”
24.fxg6 hxg6 25.Rxe5! Rxe5 26.Bf6 Rh5 27.Qxh5!
Black ends up a piece down after the forced 27...gxh5 28.Rg3+ Qg4 (since 28...Kh7 29.Bd3+ Kh6 30.Bg7 is a very pretty mate) 29.hxg4, etc., and therefore he resigned.

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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.