Friday, January 29, 2010

Ljubojevic vs Beliavsky, Tilburg 1981

The former Soviet champion Alexander Beliavsky scored a memorable victory in the Tilburg 1981 international tournament. The field comprised most of the world's elite, including future world champion Garry Kasparov as well as the former champions Boris Spassky and Tigran Petrosian. In fact, the only leading players who were not present at Tilburg were Anatoly Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi. They were otherwise occupied in a world title match in Italy.

No one wins a tournament of this calibre without some luck. In particular Beliavsky had to survive a mutual time scramble in his game with Ljubomir Ljubojevic before finally achieving a draw. Curiously, Beliavsky's annotations to this game in Informant 32 leave a few unanswered questions. Today we will look at the exciting conclusion of this game, supplementing Beliavsky's annotations with a few extracts from my notebook.

In the first diagrammed position, the time control at move 40 is looming, and things are complicated. Beliavsky as Black has just played 35...Rf6, threatening 36...Bf2. Ljubojevic correctly decides to bail out by offering the exchange of queens.

36.Qg3 Qxg3 37.Nxg3 Nxh3!?

A clever psychological blow. Whenever the opponent puts a piece en prise, it is natural to believe that taking it must be wrong...


White is defending comfortably after 38.gxh3 Rxg3 39.Bg4! Rf2 40.Rxb7 Bc5 41.b4! and now Black has nothing better than 41...Rgg2 and a draw by repetition (Beliavsky).

38...Nf2+ 39.Kh2 (second diagram) 39...d5?

Beliavsky gave 39...Rf4! (threatening 40.Rxb7 Rh4+ 41.Kg1 Nh3+and wins) 40.Nf5 Rg5 41.Bxf7(?) and now 41...Rgxf5 wins immediately since the bishop is also attacked. However, White can defend more stubbornly with 41.Be2! Rgxf5 42.g3! Rg4!? 43.Kg2 Rxa5 44.Rxf2! Rgg5 45.Rxf7 although Black still has the advantage after 45...b5.

More convincing is 39...Rg5! If 40.Rxb7 then 40...Bd4 intending 41...Be5, while if 40.Be2 then 40...Rfg6, with a decisive attack on White's knight in both cases.

Beliavsky gave 39...d5 the question mark. But it might deserve two because it does more than throw away the win.


Fate has given Ljubojevic a chance of his own. He can win the exchange with 40.e5! since the attacked rook is short of squares. Black can recover the material with a counterattack: 40...Bb8! 41.exf6 Ne4 42.Bxf7 Rg4 but after 43.Rxb7 Rh4+ 44.Kg1 Bxg3 45.Rf3 Bh2+ 46.Kf1 Nd2+ 47.Ke2 Nxf3 48.gxf3 White's a-pawn is extremely dangerous and should cost Black the game.


The final mistake, after which the game peters out to a draw. Beliavsky gave 40...Bc5 41.Rxf7 Rxf7 42.Bxf7 Rg7 43.exd5 Bd6 44.Be6 Bxg3+ 45.Kg1 cxd5 46.Rxf2 Bxf2+ 47.Kxf2 Rb7 with a slight edge to Black, but for some he reason he failed to notice the defensive shot 40...Bb8!, winning material. White is practically forced to play 41.Rxb8 Rxb8 42.exd5 cxd5 43.a6 Rxb2 and can make things difficult with the further 44.Ra1 Rb8 45.a7 but it is hard to believe that Black is not winning after 45...Ra8.

After the text move 40...Bd4, Ljubojevic played the simple


forcing off a pair of rooks. The game ended in a draw a few moves later.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Do you know how to analyse?

This complicated position was cited by Alexander Kotov in his well-known book Think Like a Grandmaster. He wrote:

I once analysed in detail the apparently simple, but in fact very tricky position of the diagram. Then I asked the people in the group to study it and in the course of half an hour write down all the variations which they thought should be examined. They were not allowed to move the pieces. Then we examined the position together and so exhausted all the possibilities it contained. It turned out that it was far from simple to discover all the special features of the position. This can be shown by the fact that one strong master in his notes wrote that White would win by 1.e8Q and gave the beautiful variation 1...Rxe8 2.Qxg7+ Bxg7 3.Rxe8+ Qf8 4.Rxf8#. He also took account of the cunning reply 1...Rg1+ which fails to 2.Kh3 Qf5+ 3.Kh4. However, he failed to find the excellent rejoinder 1...Rd2+! and Black draws. Taking the rook is bad – 2.Qxd2 Rxe8 3.Rxe8 Qc6+ and 4...Qxe8. 2.Kf3 (or f1) loses to the reply 2...Qf5+, while after 2.Kh1 there comes 2...Rd1+ with perpetual. Black has a very fine win after 2.Kh3 viz. 2...Qf5+ 3.g4 Qf1+ 4.Kh4 Rxh2+ 5.Kg5 Rc5+ 6.Q(either!)e5 Qf6#.

That is the way to work on the second important factor in developing analytical ability – the ability to find the really important lines.

Good advice, but today we are going to turn the sword on Kotov and demolish his assessment of the test position.

After the initial moves

1.e8Q Rd2+ 2.Kh1

Black is not obliged to settle for perpetual check. He has another, much stronger idea:


For a small price Black destroys a key player in White's attack and transforms his pawn majority into a powerful force. This idea is somewhat counter-intuitive because it allows White to keep two queens on the board. However, it turns out that the “queen pair” is not very effective!


There were many other choices:

a) 3.Qxc8? Qd5+ and mates;

b) 3.Qce5 Rxe8 4.Qxc5 Rd8 5.Qh5 Rdd2 6.Re1 Rxh2+ (6...c3 7.Rc1 Kg8 8.Qh3 Re2 9.Qh5 Rbd2 and White is helpless) 7.Qxh2 Rxh2+ 8.Kxh2 b4 and Black is winning;

c) 3.Qxb2 Rxe8 4.Rxe8 Qc6+ and wins;

d) 3.Qe4 Ra2 4.Qce5 Qxe5 5.Qxe5 b4 and wins;

e) 3.Qee5 Rb3 4.Qe1 Qxa3 and Black is winning.

3...Rf2 4.Qe1

If 4.Qee5 Qb6 5.Qe6 Rc6 6.Qe4 Rcf6 7.Qcd4 Bc5 8.Qa8+ Rf8 9.Re8 Qg6 10.Qxf2 Rxe8 11.Qxe8+ Qxe8 12.Qxc5 Qb8 and White can safely resign.

4...Rf6 5.Qe4 c3

and Black's pawns decide the issue; for example: 6.Kg2 c2 7.Qc1 Rd6 8.Re1 Rcd8 9.Qexc2 Qxc2+ 10.Qxc2 Rd2+ 11.Qxd2 Rxd2+ etc.

The search for important candidate moves has to be relentless!

About Me

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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.