Monday, July 9, 2007

End of Round 2

Board 3 of the second round also provided a great illustrative effort. Swiss GM Vadim Milov effectively defused an aggressive opening line by Ukranian IM Alexander Reprintsev, and turned a small material plus into a convincing win with apparent ease:

Milov - Reprintsev: Queen's Gambit, Tarrasch

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4!?

The Hennig-Schara Gambit, a violent attempt to wrest the early initiative at the cost of a pawn through superior piece development. Canadian IM Brian Hartman, of Hamilton, Ontario, used to play this line with some regularity at one point during his peak activity in the 1980s.

5.Qa4+! Bd7 6.Qxd4

A nice sequence to avoid Black's intended 5.Qxd4 Nc6! Now, of course, ...Nc6 is rather less effective!

6...exd5 7.Nf3 Nc6 8.Qxd5 Nf6 9.Qd1

White had little choice but to except the pawn offer, and Black has succeeded in gaining some edge in devopment (as hoped) by playing against White's exposed Queen. It may seem odd to retreat the Queen to her starting square, but there are few places on the board that are not subject to further harrassment. White's job for the next few moves will be simply to consolidate, be aware of the need for King safety, and ideally, to simplify through piece exchanges and alleviate pressure.

9...Qa5 10.Bd2 0–0–0! 11.e3 Bg4 12.Be2 Bb4

I liked the way that Black was playing this during the game. All of his pieces are ready to fight, R/h8 is ready to join the battle on e8, and White has still not castled. Yes, Black is down a pawn, but that is part of the whole variation, is it not?

13.Qc2 Bf5 14.Qc1 Ne4 **D**

Black would like to play moves like ...Kb8, ...Rc8 and ....Rhd8!? perhaps, really forcing White's Queen to struggle in her quest to find a safe home, but White's simple threat of a2-a3, driving back Black's pieces or forcing exchanges, seems too quick an antidote. Black decides on a more direct approach, but the same reply seems too powerful here as well.


This innocent pawn advance seems to cast doubt on Black's whole set-up! I was more hopeful of Black's chances for compensation a few moves ago, but the text seems to force a long series of exchanges, when Black has lost the bulk of his attacking forces. Perhaps putting Black's Queen on a5 was not so wise in hindsight, as a2-a3 creates serious tactics against her on this square.

15...Bxc3 16.Bxc3 Nxc3 17.Qxc3 Qxc3+ 18.bxc3 Rhe8

Those trades were played with a heavy heart I am sure. Black's only hope now is to develop enough pressure against White's split Q-side to hold the balance, but Milov plays beautifully over the next dozen moves, demonstrating the hopelessness of realizing this idea.

19.Nd4! Bd7 20.Rb1 Re5! 21.0–0 Ra5 22.Rfc1!!

A high-level move. Firstly noting that 22...Rxa3? 23.Nb5!, when 24.Nd6+, forking b7 and f7, is too strong to allow, means that the a-pawn is currently taboo, and secondly anticipating the importance of a rook on the c-file to enable the advance of the c3-pawn.

22...a6 23.Rb3 Ra4 24.c4!

Guarding against ...N/c6-a5, when the c4-square could have conceivably become a problem for White. Also, leaves the 3rd rank open for the b3-rook.

24...Kc7 25.Bf3 b6 **D**


The knight is coming to d6 via this square anyways! Again, an example of strong GM's finding themselves "lucky" enough to have their pieces on the right squares. 22.Rfc1 was truly a star move, and a great example of Milov in his best form.

26...Kb8 27.Nd6 Ne5 28.Rxb6+ Kc7 29.c5

With the loss of the 2nd pawn, Black's game has become a hopeless task. The rest is, as they say, technique (or silence, or something else trite....depending on which chess author you are reading!)

29...Nxf3+ 30.gxf3 Bc6 31.Nxf7 Rd5 32.e4 Rxc5 33.Rxc5 Kxb6

Winning back a pawn, but Black is still 2 down.

34.Rc3 Rd4 35.Kg2 Bb5 36.e5 Rf4 37.Nd6 Bd7 38.Kg3 g5 39.Ne4 Rf5 40.Rd3 Bb5 41.Rd6+ Ka5 42.Rd5 Ka4 43.Nd6 Rf8 44.e6

This one is going to decide the game.

44...Bc6 45.Rc5 Rxf3+ 46.Kg4 h5+ 47.Kxg5 1–0

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