Thursday, November 10, 2005

"Chess Chronicle" sample

Mr. Karim Abdul gave me the permission to post a sample from the latest issue of Chess Chronicle magazine. I have decided to post Peter Leko - Rustam Kasimdzhanov from the last round of the World Chess Championship, with the excellent analyses by young Canadian IM Thomas Roussel-Roozmon. Enjoy

Leko,P (2763)- Kasimdzhanov,R (2670)
WCC (14), 14.10.2005
Comments by IM Roussel-Roozmon Thomas

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 The Kan Sicilian, a slightly surprising opening
choice from the Uzbek GM since he had been cheering for the Najdorf all tournament long (5 games with black!). 5.Bd3 The main line and the most critical move. [5.Nc3 b5!? 6.Bd3 Qb6 is the other sharp variation.] 5...Bc5 6.Nb3 Ba7 [6...Be7 leading to Hedgehog type of position is also very popular.] 7.Qe2 The logical follow-up. White is intending to play a quick Be3 in order to neutralize the black bishop on a7 and therefore to be able to play f4 and 0-0 after. 7...Nc6 8.Be3 d6 9.f4 [9.Nc3 is more popular, in order to keep open the option of queenside castling. 9...Nge7 10.0-0-0 b5 11.f4 b4 12.Na4 0-0 E.Shaposhnikov-A.Iljin/ch-RUS Semi-Final, Kazan 2005] 9...Qc7 That appears to be a novelty, though not a very significant one; 9...Nf6 or 9...Nge7 are the normal moves. [9...Nf6 10.Bxa7 Rxa7 11.c4 0-0 12.Nc3 b6 13.0-0 Nd7 14.Rad1 Nc5 15.Bb1 Rd7 S.Karjakin-S.Rublevsky/Mainz Ordix rpd 2004] 10.0-0 Nf6 11.Bxa7 Rxa7 12.Nc3 b5 13.a4! A deep and very good move. Leko is fixing the queenside structure before regrouping his pieces to start an attack on the other wing. 13...b4 14.Nd1 This knight is heading to g4 in order to be traded for his counterpart on f6. 14...a5 15.Ne3 0-0 16.Kh1 Bb7 17.Ng4! White is starting some concrete actions on the kingside. First of all, Leko trades the main black defender in that area, the Nf6. 17...Nxg4 [17...Nd7!? in order to keep the knights on board was also to be considered, but after 18.f5!‚ white's attack looks very dangerous, with the pawn-ram soon going to f6, and the black king is starting to feel slightly uncomfortable.] 18.Qxg4 Raa8 19.Rae1! This rook is about to join the attack via the 3rd rank. 19...Qe7 20.Re3 [20.e5!? was also interesting, but black could probably neutralize white's initiative with 20...dxe5 21.fxe5 Ba6! trading the dangerous Bd3.] 20...g6 21.Qg3 Rfe8 22.Bb5 A very good square for the white bishop. From there it puts some pressure on black's queenside while keeping the a4-pawn protected. 22...Rac8 23.c3! Once again very good prophylactics move from Leko. He is placing his weak c-pawn on the 3rd rank so that it is strongly protected by his rook and queen. It is interesting to note the accurate defensive pawn moves (13.a4! and 23.c3!) that Leko played on the queenside, making sure his opponent would not have any counterplay,
before starting his attack on the kingside. 23...Red8 24.f5!‚ With this move white is clearly taking over the initiative. The arrival of this pawn on f6 is definitely some bad news for the Uzbek GM. 24...bxc3 25.bxc3 [25.Rxc3 was the other option, but white's plan is clearly to keep a pawn on c3 in order to control the critical b4-d4 squares and to block the c-file from an eventual black rook invasion.] 25...Ra8 Not a very joyful move to play as black, but for the moment he is restricted to passive defence. 26.f6± Now that guy is really a pain in the ass for the black king. 26...Qf8 As if it was not enough, the black queen is now paralyzed on f8 in order to prevent mating threats on g7. 27.Qf4 h6?! A somewhat weakening move played without being forced to. Maybe black should just try to improve his pieces, put some pressure on the c-file and wait to see what white's plan is. Of course that is all very easy to say. But still, as long as the black queen stands f8, it doesn't seem so simple for white to finish it off on the kingside. And if white goes for Rh3 followed by Qh4, then it will always be time to play h6, but with white having lost a few tempos in order to provoke it. [27...Ne5!? might have been a better defensive try. 28.Rh3 (28.c4!? intending c4-c5 to force the knight away from e5 is also interesting) 28...Rdc8 29.Qh4 h6! 30.Qf4 and white had to spend two extra tempos with his queen in order to force the same weakening as in the game.] 28.Rh3 g5 [Forced, since if black tries to protect the pawn with 28...Kh7 then white goes 29.Qg5! threatening a deadly rook lift Rf1-f4-h4. After the subsequent only move 29...e5 white can proceed with the execution: 30.Rh4! followed by Rf3-h3 and black can resign (any...Bc8 try will simply be met by g4).] 29.Qe3 Ne5 30.Rh5! We can now see the consequences of black's inaccuracy on move 27 ; with the newly weakened black kingside, white is able to create strong threats very quickly. For now 31.h4 and 31.Qh3 are the most serious ones. 30...Ng6 31.Qh3! The e4-pawn is not of any significance, white is just focusing on his mating attack. 31...Bxe4 32.Nd2 Bc2 [32...Bf5 wouldn't help black, since after 33.g4! (white is not afraid of weakening his position, as black is nowhere near creating any threats on his king) 33...Bc2 34.Rxh6 Nh4 35.Rh5+- the g5-pawn falls next and black is completely lost.] 33.Rxh6 Rac8! That rook is going to c5 in order to defend the crucial 5th rank. [Black could try to take advantage of the awkward placement of white's rook on h6 by playing 33...g4!? but that wouldn't change much of the result as after 34.Qe3 Rdc8 35.Nc4! (threatening Nb6) 35...Rc7 36.Rc1 Bf5 37.Rh5! (threatening Nxd6 followed by Qh6 with forced mate) 37...Rd8 38.Nxa5+- white is winning.] 34.Rh5 [34.Be2!? is a very interesting move, intending to play Rh7-g7, since with the bishop on e2 there's no g5-g4 problem after the rook moves to h7. 34...Nh4 The only plausible defence, otherwise black would just have to give up his queen in order to avoid mate. A) The exchange sacrifice 35.Rxh4!? is interesting, but most likely not enough. 35...gxh4 36.Qxh4 (36.Rf4? Qh6!-+ followed by ...Kf8 and black wins)) 36...Rxc3 37.Qg5+ Kh8 (37...Bg6?! 38.Ne4! Rc7 39.Bh5!) 38.Rf4!? ( 38.Qh5+ forces a draw.) 38...Bh7 39.Qh5!? (threatening Rh4) 39...Rc5 The only defence, but it is enough for black to survive. 40.Qh3! White still has some pressure, coming with Rh4 and Bd3. 40...Qg8 41.Bd3 Rc1+ 42.Nf1 Rd1! 43.Rh4 Rxd3! 44.Qxd3 d5 and the position is anything but clear.; B) 35.Rh5! The simplest. 35...Rc5 36.Qg4! Bf5 ( 36...Ng6 37.Rh3!+- (followed by Qh5 and white wins)) 37.Qg3! Ng6 38.Nb3! Re5 39.Nd4 Be4 40.Rxg5 Qh6! 41.Rxe5 dxe5 42.Nb3 Qh4 and black is getting some counterplay, although white should still be somehow winning because of his extra pawns on the queenside.] 34...Rc5 35.Rc1 [35.c4!?± Looked more to the point, considering that black could have taken that pawn two moves later. Following: 35...d5 36.Rxg5 dxc4 37.Rxc5 Qxc5 38.Nxc4 Rd4 39.Qh6 Qf8 40.Qc1 Bb3 41.Nb6± white is still enjoying an extra pawn and a strong initiative thanks to his powerful f6-gem.] 35...g4 The only move, otherwise the bishop was lost. [35...Bf5 36.g4+-] 36.Qxg4 36...Bf5? The decisive mistake. [Black could still fight on after the courageous 36...Rxc3! 37.Qd4 Rcc8 38.Ba6 Rc5! amazingly these strange rook moves are just enough to save black from disaster (the rook goes to c5 once the a4-pawn isn't protected anymore). 39.Rxc5 dxc5 40.Qe3 Bxa4 41.Ne4 Bc6 42.Nxc5 Qd6÷ and black is right back in the game.] 37.Qg3+- Now that the c3-pawn is strongly protected, white is just enjoying an extra pawn and a huge positional advantage. From now on it is just a matter of technique, which won't be a problem for the Hungarian GM. 37...d5 [37...Rdc8 38.Nb3+-] 38.Nb3 Rcc8 39.Nd4 [39.Nxa5+- was also an easy win.] 39...Be4 40.Nc6 Winning an exchange and clearly enough to clinch the game, but white could have forced mate with some fritzaccuracy! [40.Rf1!!+- would have won much more elegantly; white is intending Rh3, followed by a queen transfer to h5 and then mate on h7. Strangely enough, Black seems to be completely helpless against this rather slow but powerful threat. The point of playing Rf1 before Rh3 is to keep control over the f4-square and thus to prevent black from defending with the Qd6-f4 manoeuver.] 40...Rxc6 A desperate exchange sacrifice. [40...Rd7 wouldn't help much, though. 41.Ne5! Rdc7 42.Nd7! Qa3 43.Qg5 Qxc1+ 44.Qxc1 Rxc3 45.Qg1 Rc1 46.Bf1 R8c2 ( 46...Rb1 47.h3! Rcc1 48.Kh2 Rxf1 49.Qa7+-) 47.Rg5! Rb2 48.h3! Rbb1 49.Kh2 Rxf1 50.Rxg6+! Bxg6 51.Qc5+-] 41.Bxc6 Qd6 42.Qg5! Threatening 43.Qh6; so white is forcing a queen swap under good conditions for him. 42...Qf4 43.Qxf4 Nxf4 44.Rg5+ Kh7 45.Bb5 The endgame an exchange down is completely hopeless for black. 45...Kh6 46.h4 Nxg2? Kasim has seen enough, and he decides to give up his knight before going back home. [46...Rc8 would allow black to fight a few more moves, but after 47.c4!+- the opening of lines will soon tell with white enjoying an extra exchange.] 47.Rxg2 Rg8 48.Rcc2

A very impressive display of technique and accuracy from the Peter Leko. His opponent
didn't make any obvious mistakes in the middlegame, but Leko just slowly improved his advantage with accurate positional moves and converted convincingly without allowing any counterplay. 1-0

Thank you Thomas and Karim for presenting this nice article. Soon I'll post a part of "Tactical corner", a regular column of GM Alex Finkel.

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