Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Round 5: A Real Gem

Mikhalevski - Sambuev: Queen's Gambit, Tarrasch

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 c5

Black eschews the typical Catalan setups and offers to transpose to the QGD, Tarrasch.

5.Nf3 Nc6 6.0–0 Be7 7.cxd5 exd5 8.Nc3 0–0 9.Bg5 cxd4 10.Nxd4 h6 11.Be3 Re8 12.Rc1 Bf8

All very theoretical so far. It is amazing how many IQP positions I have had in the commentary room so far in this tournament. Either it makes an appearance much more often than I imagined at the GM level, or it just happens to belong to the repertoire of a surprising number of players at this particular event.


Connecting Black's pawns but creating a valuable strategic outpost for pieces on c5. And naturally there is still concrete play against the now backward c6-pawn in many lines. I have always found these positions much easier to play as White, but of course, Black's position can spring to life quickly if one is lax, so it pays to be vigilant at all times against players who wield the initiative well.

13...bxc6 14.Bd4 Bg4 15.f3 Bd7 16.Na4 g6 17.Nc5 Bf5 18.g4 Bc8

Several people were not impressed with White's bishop at this point, but its imprisonment is merely temporary.

19.Qa4 Qd6 20.e3 h5!?

From what I have seen of Black's games, he is not a guy who just likes to sit around! Still, this aggression did not really achieve what I think he had been hoping for.

21.g5 Nh7 22.f4 h4 23.e4 h3 24.e5 Qd8 25.Bf3 Bxc5?!

This hands the dark squares over to White for good. Agreed, Black does not have a very comfortable game, and the c6-pawn is a major nuisance, but I think here we have a case of "the cure is worse than the disease".

26.Rxc5 Bd7

27.e6!! Rxe6 28.Bc3

Opening up the long diagonal is not such a difficult concept on its own, but recognizing that it is worth a small investment in material without the ability to state a forced line of play is where Mikhalevsky's judgment really shines. Indeed, by the end of the game, he throws another two pawns into the mix for further line opening opportunities.

28...Kf8 29.Qd4 Ke8 30.Ba5 Qb8 31.Rcc1!

Retreating moves are often the most difficult to find. This clears the a3-f8 diagonal for the bishop, and reconnects White's rooks.

31...Nf8 32.Bb4 Qb7 33.Bc5 Rc8 34.f5! gxf5 35.Qh8 Re7


Beautiful and elegant. In the commentary room, we only considered 36.Bh5 (threatening g5-g6) Be6 37.Rce1 Kd7 38.Bxe7 Kxe7, which is also very good for White, but the text ends the game instantly. Another example of what I think of as move order permutations (probably a throwback to my degree in Mathematics) - in fact, we were using some of the same moves and themes, but simply in a less effective manner.

36...fxg6 37.Rfe1 1–0.

Absolutely crushing. 37...Be6 runs into 38.Rxe6! now, so Black simply has no options but to resign.

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