Saturday, July 7, 2007

RBS, part 2

No moves availalble from GM Nigel Short's win on board 2 (neither player used MonRoi devices, I am speculating?), so on to board 3:

Board 3) Mikanovic,G (2303) - Milov,V (2665): King's Indian

1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.e4 0–0 6.Be2 Na6!?

By transposition, the trusty KID has been reached. Black's 6th is a modern alternative to the more usual 6...e5 lines. Tends to be flexible and creative.

7.0–0 e5 8.Re1 Qe8!?

In the commentary room, I admitted to a lack of experience in this line, and pointed out that all would undoubtedly become clear in the later middlegame (this did in fact happen!) The more natural 8...Qe7 may run into N/c3-d5 in some positions. The Q on the e-line puts pressure against e4, and forces a White reaction.

9.Bf1 Bg4 10.d5

Pressure was mounting on the White centre, and this resolution tends to favour Black in some ways. For one, his R/f8 no longer need move to find a purpose - a future ...f5 advance will find it very well posted indeed. There is a problem on Black's Q-side, however, as the N/a6 cannot easily enter the game - 10...Nc5? 11.b4 just forces a retreat. Milov finds an interesting attempt to solve the Q-side issues, but the computer in the commentary room didn't care much for the idea.

10...Nb4!?? (DIAGRAM) 11.Be2

A human response to the positional threat of 11...Bxf3 12.gxf3 (12.Qxf3?? Nc2), but the greedy 11.Qb3!? might be superior. The amount of gamescore I had to work with in the commentary room included this position, and after 11.Qb3, we couldn't find anything clear for Black.

a) 11...Bxf3 12.Qxb4 Bg4 13.Qxb7 has Black scrambling for compensation
b) 11...c5 12.a3 Bxf3 13.axb4 and 14.bxc5 gives White a clear advantage
c) 11...a5 12.a3 Bxf3 13.gxf3 (13.axb4 axb4! 14.Rxa8 Qxa8 looks OK for Black) 13...Na6 14.Qxb7 looked better for White to me, though Black may get some positional compensation later with play against White's compromised K-side, and with ideas of ...Nc5 and ...a4 to bind the Q-side. Still, a pawn is a pawn, and the comp doesn't look completely clear to me. Comments?

This was my biggest analytical headache of the day - not so terrible, really, but when White plays otherwise and ends up losing, I inevitably get asked, "But didn't 11.Qb3 just win a pawn?" Well maybe, in fact probably, but humans are not machines, and grabbing pawns on N7 (old algebraic-speak) has often been associated with poison.... We may all have to wait for a future game with 11.Qb3 and see what happens!

11...a5 12.h3 Bd7 13.a3 Na6 14.b3

Avoiding a bind with ...a5-a4. Notice how Black's Q supports the a4-square (important here), and also supports the h5-square to support an f5-advance (important when Black's knight arrives on h5 shortly). See, I knew ...Qe8 would eventually be vindicated!

14...Nh5 15.Rb1 Nc5 16.b4 axb4 17.axb4 Na4 18.Qc2

This was where my moves abandoned me this afternoon - we (spectators + yours truly) concluded that White was slightly worse as Black had an active position with several clear plans on the K-side: ...f7-f5, ...N/h5-f4. Meanwhile White's reactive Q-side play is considerably behind.
Milov eventually won in another 53 moves!

18...Nf4 19.Bxf4 exf4 20.Nxa4 Rxa4 21.Bd3 Qe7 22.Qd2 Ra3! 23.Rec1 g5 24.c5 h5

This looks a bit loose, but Black's pawns are aiming for a serious target, and the N/f3 doesn't have a lot of useful retreat squares at the moment.

25.cxd6 cxd6 26.Rc7 Qd8 (DIAGRAM) 27.Rxd7!?

Mikanovic tries to make a fight of it, but this is probably insufficient. Still, something like 27.Rxb7 g4! looks much scarier. Sacking the Ex has the practical advantage of shutting down most of Black's immediate attack for a bit of material.

27...Qxd7 28.Nxg5 Qe7 29.Nf3 Rc8 30.Rd1 Be5! 31.Qe2 Rcc3 32.h4! Qf6 33.Ng5 Qg6 34.Qf1

A bit mysterious, but g2 can be weak in some lines, and an ...f4-f3 advance will not come with tempo now. I toyed with fantasy here - B/d3-b5-e8! was one dream, or B/d3-e2-f3, and Q/f1-e2, but these ideas are either too time-consuming or too unlikely. Black's material is simply starting to count for too much now.

34...Rab3 35.Kh1 f6 36.Nf3

36.Ne6 looks nice, but 37...Qg4 picks off the h-pawn for no return. White simply doesn't have active pieces to give up further material.

36...Rxb4 37.Rb1 Rxb1 38.Qxb1 Qf7 39.Qb5 Kf8 40.Be2 Rc5 41.Qa4 Qe8 42.Qa7 Qc8 43.Kh2 Bc3 44.Qa3 Ke7 45.Qa4 Ra5 46.Qb3 Qc7 47.Qc2 Kd8 48.e5!?

An interesting try - White's pieces gain some scope on the light squares once this pawn disappears - but it is all rather desparate looking in the long run.

48...Bxe5 49.Qg6 Qe7 50.Qxh5 Ra2 51.Bd3 Rxf2 52.Qg6 Kc7 (DIAGRAM) 53.h5

Maybe 53.Bf5!? is a last attempt to deny Black's bishop defence of the h8-square. Black should be able to simply recycle his rook for defence: R/f2-a2-a8, but it may cause Black a few moments of concern. Black's 53rd addresses this issue at the cost of one of his f-pawns.

53...f5! 54.h6 Bc3! 55.Bxf5 Qf6 56.Kh3 Qxg6

The rest is wrapping up. Black's b-pawn proves to be a touchdown.

57.Bxg6 b5 58.h7 b4 59.Ng5 Rf1 60.Bc2 Rc1 61.Ba4 Bf6 62.Kg4 Rh1 63.Bc2 Kd8 64.Ne6+ Ke7 65.Nxf4 Bg7 66.Kf3 Rc1 67.Bd3 b3 68.Ng6+ Kf6 69.h8Q Bxh8 70.Nxh8 b2 71.Ng6 Rc3! 0–1.

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