13 September 2019

Kick Shot as a Remedy for Sudden Attack

Maxim Notkin reviews Round 1 of the FIDE World Cup.

After a first couple of days the tournament is already missing several favorites. One must give the underdogs their due: luck did not play any role in those games. Christiansen from Norway, Huschenbeth from Germany, and Yuffa from Russia, facing Wojtaszek, Naidisch, and Navara respectively, played strong and inspired chess. I feel uneasy and apologize to the readers for omitting their games in my review. The problem is that you cannot find a fitting fragment to illustrate them. Christiansen-Wojtaszek, Huschenbeth-Naiditsch, and Navara-Yuffa deserve to be examined from start to finish in much detail, which is not really our format, especially at this early stage with its abundance of colorful material. All I can do is recommend those games for individual work. One can also add Nihal-Cori to the list, as the Indian junior handled it splendidly.

We will turn our attention to more sparkling and easily digested fragments. For a warm-up, take a look at this simple tactical shot.





Ten moves back the Columbian grandmaster made a correct piece sacrifice and had a chance to equalize the match score, but did not manage to find the strongest moves and ended up in a lost position. White just pinned a rook by 39.Rb1-f1, but the pin hasn't lasted long.

39...Qh6+! White resigns, in view of40.Qxh6 Rxf1#.

Three leading Russian players produced nice examples of a direct attack. Queenside, kingside, or center – they covered them all!


Gan-Erdene - Nepomniachtchi


23...b3! A typical but always stimulating pawn punch signals a kickoff. The black knight is opting for the b4-square and eventually gets there despite the enemy efforts.

24.c3 bxa2+ 25.Kxa2? As Ian pointed out, White has to play 25.Ka1, and after, say, 25...Rcd8 26.Bc5, it is still far from over. 

25...Bxd6 26.Qxd6 Nb4+! 27.cxb4. If the king retreats, Black continues by 27...Qc4 as well.

27...Qc4+ 28.Ka1. The computer does not find a forced mate after the fearless 28.b3 Qc2+ 29.Ka3 axb4+ 30.Ka4, but its evaluation after the strongest reply 30...Rc3! can not console White.

28...axb4 29.Qd5. Indirectly protecting on а2. 29.Qd3 is refuted simply by29...Ra8+ 30.Kb1 Qa2+ 31.Kc2 Rfc8+ 32.Kd2 Rd8.


29...Qc2! An accurate move, blocking the white king in the corner.

30.Qa5 Ra8 31.Ba7 b3! 32.Qa3. On 32.Rc1 Black needs to react fast and furious: 32...Qxf2! 33.Bxf2 Rxa5+ 34.Kb1 Rfa8, and it turns out that the rook is blocking an escape route for the king. After the text move there is no need to rush: back rank weakness and a pin on the a-file leave White paralyzed.

32...Rfc8 33.Rge1 h6 34.f3 Rc7 35.Bc5 Rxa3+ 36.Bxa3 Ra7 37.Rd8+ Kh7. White resigns.




White uses his pawn as battering rams, smashing black king's cover.

24.g4! hxg4. Here and on the next move Black makes a wrong choice between the recaptures. The engines prefer 24...Nxg4 25.Bxg4 hxg4 26.h5 Ne5 27.hxg6 Rxh1 28.Rxh1 Nxg6 29.Qxg4, and29...Qc4, temporary denying the knight access to f5. 

25.h5! gxh5. 25...Rxh5 is stronger: 26.Rxh5 gxh5 27.Qg5+ Ng6, andif28.Ne6!, then28...Qa5! 29.Qh6 Rxe6 30.dxe6 Qf5+ 31.Bd3 Qxe6 32.Qxh5 Nf6 with some fighting chances.

26.Ne6! Qb6. 26...fxe6leads to a mating finale: 27.Qg5+ Kf8 28.Rdf1+ Nf7 29.Rxf7+! Kxf7 30.Rf1+.

27.Qg5+ Ng6



28.Bxg4! White utilizes the rooks opposition on the h-file: Black cannot take the bishop 28...hxg4 because of29.Rxh8+ Kxh8 30.Qh6+ Kg8 31.Qg7#.

28...Nde5 29.Qf6. Dmitry keeps playing for a checkmate and misses a quick win: 29.Bxh5 followed by taking on g6.

29...fxe6 30.Bxe6+ Rxe6 31.dxe6 Qc6. In order not to spoil the overall impression from this game, let us agree on a five-second rule, okay?

32.Rhe1? After 32.e7 Qe4+ 33.Ka1 Ng4 34.Qg5 White retains a decisive advantage.

32...Kh7? And after 32...Qf3 33.Qg5 (33.Qxf3? Nxf3 34.e7 Kf7) 33...Qg4 34.Qd8+ Kh7 35.e7 Qf5+ 36.Ka1 Qf7 there is still everything to play for.

33.e7. With the pawn standing on e7, Black is doomed.

33...d5 34.Qf5 Qd6 35.Qxh5+ Kg7 36.Qxh8+. Black resigns.





12.e6. Vasily Papin, playing the World U16 Championship in 2004, pushed the f-pawn– 12.f4 g6 13.f5 Ng7 14.f6 and eventually celebrated a highly valuable these days victory against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The 8-time Russian pushes another pawn.

12...g6. Bu Xiangzhi, playing against Yu Yangyi in 2011, took on e6 at once.

13.Nc3 f5. A correspondence game of 2006 saw13...Ng7. The most natural is still13...Bg7, aiming at quick development. Black takes big risks by not dealing with the white pawn, which seriously restricts his forces.

14.Qb3! Nxd4 15.Qxb7 Rb8. Precarious king position does not allow Black to enjoy a material advantage after 15...Nxf3+ 16.Kh1 Bg7 17.Nxd5 Nxe1 (17...0-0 is very bad – 18.Nxe7+ Kh8 19.Nxg6+ hxg6 20.e7), and now18.Nc7+leads to a double-edged game, but 18.Bg5! is a lot stronger.

Once again15...Bg7 deserved attention. 

16.Qxa6 Nxf3+ 17.Kh1 Qc7? Tempted by mating threats, Black misses his last chance to develop the bishop and vacate an escape square for the king: 17...Bg7 18.Qc6+ Kf8 19.Rd1. White's chances are higher, but there is still a lot of play left.

18.Qa4+ Kd8



19.Bf4! Brilliant refutation of an ill-prepared attack – a textbook example, basically.

19...Nxf4 20.Nb5 Qb6. If 20...Qb7, keeping an eye on d7, White wins by21.Na7! Nxe1 22.Nc6+ Kc7 (22...Kc8 23.Ba6) 23.Qxf4+ Kxc6 24.Rc1+ with a quick mate.

Giving back material does not help either. After 20...Rxb5 21.Bxb5 White threatens to place a rook on с1. If the knight moves away fromf4, White delivers the bricole Qa8-d5. 

The point of the combination is 21...Nxe1 22.Bd7!!


Checkmate is inevitable.

With the move in the text Black prepares to meet 21.Na7 by 21...Nxe6, however, White finds his pawn another defender.

21.Nd4! Due to devastating threats of Qd7# and Nc6+, the Cuban grandmaster gave up.

The following finale is yet another reminder to pay attention to the opponent's major pieces.




White just played 37.Re2-d2, committing a decisive error.

37...Qf3! 38.Rf2. 38.Bf2 loses at once to38...Qh3.

38...Qg4+ 39.Rg2. If 39.Kh1, then 39...Rdd1.

39...Rxf1+! 40.Kxf1 Rd1+ 41.Kf2 Qf4+ 42.Ke2 Rc1! The correct move order. After 42...Qf1+ 43.Ke3 Rc1 44.Qb2 Black cannot win. 

43.Qb3. Any other retreat is problematic, as it either loses a rook, a queen, or a king: 43.Qd3 Qf1+ 44.Ke3 Qxg2, or43.Qd2 Qe4+ 44.Kf2 Rc2, or43.Qa4 Qe4+ 44.Kd2 Qe1+ 45.Kd3 Rc3+ 46.Kd4 Qe5#.

43...Qe4+ 44.Kd2 Rb1. White resigns, as he cannot protect the queen and the rook at once: 45.Qg3 Rb2+ 46.Kc3 Rxg2 or 45.Re2 Qxe2+ 46.Kxe2 Rxb3.


Let us now turn to missed chances and instructive errors.





It went on 49.Nh8+? Kg8 50.Ng6 Rxb4 51.Re3 Rd4+ 52.Kc6 Rxa4, and White resigned in a few moves.

49.Re3! could save the day. After 49...Rd2+ 50.Kc6, both white pawns on the queenside are alive and not under attack, as it was in the game.

After 49...Rh2 a draw is achieved by 50.Nh8+ Kg8 51.Re8+ Kh7 52.Ng6 Rxh5 53.Nf8+ Kg8 54.Ne6+, and Black should accept the perpetual, as after 54...Kf7?! 55.Rf8+ Kg6 56.Nf4+ he loses an exchange.

The most critical is49...Rxb4 50.Nh8+ Kg8 51.Re8+ Kh7 52.Ng6 (the black king is in a mating net, but the rescue squad arrives on time) 52...Rd4+ 53.Kc7 Rd8 54.Rxd8 Bxd8+ 55.Kxd8 b5, and now the simplest yet elegant solution is 56.axb5 axb5 57.Ke7 b4 58.Kf7 b3 59.Nf8+ Kh8 60.Ng6+ with the perpetual.




After23...g6 24.d4 h5 White transposed to an endgame by 25.Qh4! Qxh4 26.Nxh4 and eventually drew the game. 

The immediate 23...h5! 24.Qxh5 g6 25.Nh6+ Kg7 or24.Qxf4 g5! (a move that is hard to spot) would net Black a whole pieces.





It was time for Black to think safety: 51...Bxg5 52.Kxg5 Qa3, planning Qe7 andb5-b4. His material advantage remains intact, as 53.Bxb5 is met by53...Nxd4! 54.exd4 Bxb5 with the idea55.Qxb5? Qg3#. 

However, he went for 51...Nb4?, which turned out very unsuccessful, as it blocked an escape route for his own queen.

52.Qh2 Bxg5 53.Kxg5 Kf8. Or53...Nxd3 54.Qh6+ Kg8 55.Kf6, and the king cannot be saved.

54.Kf6. Black resigns.


Tie-breaks were dramatic as usual, and “The most absurd mistake” category received many worthy nominations. Here is a typical example.


Gelfand-Lu Shanglei


Black has an extra pawn, but with such an exposed king he cannot convert it into anything useful. One could move the rook anywhere on the a-file (except for a1, of course), or give a check with a queen and come back, or push the h-pawn – everything is a draw.

The Chinese champion, however, fell into 29...Rc5?? After 30.Rd1 it turned out that the rook cannot cover the back rank, and an attempt to trade the rooks by 30...Rc1is refuted by 31.Qg5+.


Our last fragment features an opening disaster. Poor knowledge or a temporary blackout cost the former European champion dearly.





This position of the Anti-Moscow Gambit was tested in many correspondence events. Black can choose between 19...Qxa2 and19...Nc5. Everything else is bad. Ivan commits two errors in quick succession.

19...Bxf3? 20.gxf3 Ne5? 21.Qc3! Now if Black trades the queens, he gets mated in process. Avoiding this scenario costs him a piece.

21...Qc7 22.Rxd8+ Qxd8 23.Nxg7 Kxg7 24.Qxe5+ Qf6 25.Qxb5. In Shankland-Bhat, San Fransisco 2012 (rapid) Black resigned here. Saric made a few more useless moves.