Irina Krush comments her games at Millennium Masters Oakham
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Norris,A (2301) - Krush,I (2399) [D11]
Millennium Masters Oakham ENG (7), 17.04.2000
At the recent Category VII invitational tournament in Oakham, England, I was faced with the task of winning my final three games to achieve my
second IM norm. Here is the first of those games.
Offering White the opportunity to transpose to a Slav (2.d4) or a Panov Attack (2.e4).
2.d4 d5 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nf3 a6 5.c5
White expands on the queenside, but such a plan is suspect when the White dark-squared bishop is trapped behind the
e3-d4-c5 pawn chain.
Also possible is 5...Bf5.
Black could now play a solid move like 6...e6, but why not the more energetic response!?
Unfortunately for White, the continuation 7.dxe5 leads to his pawn structure becoming drastically undermined after 7...Nfd7
A) 8.Bb2 a5 (8...b6 is also nice for Black) 9.a3 axb4 10.axb4 Rxa1 11.Bxa1 b6 12.cxb6 Bxb4+ 13.Bc3 Qxb6, favors Black.
B) 8.h3 Bxf3 9.Qxf3 a5! and Black is better.
C) 8.Nbd2 a5 9.Qa4 b5! and Black has the advantage.
D) 8.Qd4 8...Bxf3 9.gxf3 a5 10.a3 axb4 11.axb4 Rxa1 12.Qxa1 b6 13.cxb6 Bxb4+ 14.Bd2 Qxb6 15.e6 Nf6 16.Rg1 Rg8 (not 16...0-0? 17.Qxf6, White
wins) 17.Qe5 Ke7 18.exf7+ Kxf7, and Black's chances are better.
Black takes the opportunity to grab space on the kingside.
The exchange of light squared bishops favors Black as her pawn chain is all on light squares. White is playing an inferior
French Defense (Reversed).
9.Qxe2 g6 10.Nb3 Nh5!
Planning further expansion on the kingside.
11.Nc3 f5 12.g3 Ng7
With White weakening the f3-square, Black redirects the knight to e6 where it will support an f5-f4 pawn break and from where the knight may
later invade with Ne6-g5-f3. Expansion with g6-g5 also becomes feasible.
13.h4 Ne6 14.a4
If 14.h5 g5 (14...Bg7 15.hxg6 hxg6 16.Rxh8+ Bxh8 is slightly better for Black) 15.a4 Bh6 looks good for Black who will
soon be able to break with f5-f4.
14...Bg7 15.Ba3 0-0
More accurate is 15...h6!? or 15...Nd7.
After 16.h5 g5 is not so clear, so Black should probably have delayed a decision to castle to make a more useful move (see
16...axb5 17.axb5 Nd7 18.Kd2 Nf6 19.Bb4 Rc8!?
I wanted to keep material on the board, hoping to make a central breakthrough with f5-f4. This plan takes some time for Black to
organize, so White should now have tried to make something of the a-file. Instead 19...Qe7 is about equal.
As indicated in the previous note, a better try for White would be 20.Ra7 Rf7 21.Rha1, taking over the a-file.
20...Qe7 21.Na4 Nh5 22.Nb6 Rce8
Now all of Black's pieces are ready for me to "pull the trigger" with f5-f4, while White's minor pieces are misplaced and
poorly coordinated on the queenside.
This is the only sure way to break into White's position.
24.gxf4 Nhxf4 25.exf4 Nxf4 26.Qe3
White tries to prevent Black's further breakthrough with e4-e3. However, the queen is a not a good blockading piece as
demonstrated by Black's next move. If 26.Qd1 then 26...e3+ is very powerful, for example:
A) 27.fxe3 Qxe3+ 28.Kc2 Ne2! 29.Qd2 Nxc3 30.Qxe3 (30.Qxc3 Rf2+ 31.Nd2 Bxd4 wins for Black) 30...Rxe3 and Black is winning.
B) 27.Kc1 exf2 28.Kb2 Qe2+ 29.Qxe2 Rxe2+ 30.Ka3 Rc2 31.Bb4 Ne2! is winning for Black.
Or 27.Qg3 Rxf2+! 28.Kd1 (28.Qxf2 e3+, Black wins) 28...e3, and Black wins as the passed e-pawn advances decisively.
28.Kd1 Bf6 29.Qg3 e3 is similar to the previous note - Black is winning.
This loses immediately, but also hopeless was 29.Nd2 e3 30.Nb3 e2, and Black wins.
Black threatens 30...Qd3+ 31.Kc1 Qc2 mate and the loose bishop on c3. Faced with the collapse of his position, my
Ward,C (2509) - Krush,I (2399) [D31]
Millennium Masters Oakham ENG (8), 18.04.2000
In round 8 at the Oakham tournament, I had to play the former British Champion GM Chris Ward. I found myself in a line
that I did not know very well, and frankly found myself in a very dubious position out of
the opening. At a critical moment, my opponent lost his sense of danger and I was able to create some dangerous counterplay. Fighting back from
standing on the precipice of defeat, I kept my chances for an IM norm alive by breaking through to my opponent's king.
1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 d5 3.d4 c6 4.e3 f5 5.g4!?
I must admit my knowledge of this variation was sketchy.
An alternative for Black is to capture the g-pawn: 5...fxg4 6.Qxg4 Nf6.
Instead 6.g5 is also possible.
6...exf5 7.Qb3 dxc4 8.Bxc4 Qe7
Here 8...Bd6!? is the theoretical alternative - and probably better than the move I played.
After the game, I found the following reference in my database: 9.Nh3 b5 10.Bd3 g6 11.Nf4 Bh6 12.Nce2! g5 13.Ng2 Be6
14.Qc2, and White stood better in Portisch-Haba, Yerevan 1996.
9...b5 10.Be2 Be6 11.Qc2 g6 12.Ng5 Bg8
This poor bishop does have a future, but only thanks to my opponent's later mistake in the middlegame.
13.Bf3 h6 14.Nh3 g5?!
Bad error, as Black is losing a pawn without compensation. Better was 14...b4 15.Ne2 Bd5 16.Bxd5 Nxd5 17.Bd2, although White holds a clear
15.Nxb5 Qd7 16.Ng1
Instead 16.Bg2 is possible and keeps a plus for White.
16...Bb4+ 17.Bd2 Bxd2+ 18.Kxd2
Better is 18.Qxd2. Leaving the White king in the center is an unnecessary risk.
Looking to activate the bishop and to get castled.
Better is 19.Qc5! with a big advantage for White, as Black cannot castle.
Now I could see real possibilities for activity and counterplay for Black.
20.Ne2 f4 21.Qc4+ Kg7 22.Nbc3 Qh3!
Without this move, Black would still have problems, but now the precarious position of the White king is highlighted.
23.Bxc6 Nxc6 24.Qxc6 Rae8
Suddenly all of my pieces are focussed on White's weak e3-point which affords only flimsy protection to the White king.
My opponent tries to neutralize my initiative by giving up a piece for some pawns. However, Black's attack remains very strong. Instead 25.exf4
loses to 25...Qd3+ (25...Rxe2+ 26.Nxe2 Qd3+ 27.Ke1 Re8 transposes) 26.Ke1 Rxe2+ 27.Nxe2
Re8 28.Qxe8 Nxe8 29.fxg5 Be4! for example: 30.gxh6+ Kxh6 31.Rg1 Bf3 32.Nc3 Qxd4 33.Rg3 Qf4 34.Rc2, White is
unable to coordinate his rooks, and will pay a price after 34...Nf6! 35.Rd2 (35.Rh3+ Nh5! and White has trapped his own
rook on h3!) 35...Ne4 36.Nxe4 Qxe4+ 37.Kf1 Qb1+ and mate next move.
25...fxg3 26.hxg3 Qf5!
Now Black's bishop on h7 is playing a wonderful role in the game. White's position collapses.
Black's attack is very strong.
If 28.Rf1 then 28…Nxe3! wins for Black.
Or 29.Qg2 Qa5+ 30.Kf1 (30.Nc3 Rxf2 and Black wins, while 30.Rc3 Be4 and White is badly pinned and skewered)
30...Bd3+ 31.Kg1 Qe1+, and mate next move.
A mistake which immediately loses material, but I do not see how White could save his position.