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Aug 16,2002
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Playing the Rossolimo Aggressively
By Edwin Lam

It is a great honor to be given the opportunity to write a guest article for the GMChess web site. Before proceeding further, let me introduce myself first. I am not a titled player much less a Grandmaster. I am simply a chess lover who plays occasionally in tournaments in Malaysia, my home country. I am also an author. I have a column called 'The Lam Connection' in Chess Asia, a chess magazine published in the Philippines.

Now that you all know who I am, let's get down to business. My article today will revolve around the Rossolimo. This anti-Sicilian weapon has gained popularity in recent years following the solid successes of English GM Michael Adams. This opening was also discussed in the famed online chess game "The World v Kasparov". And, most recently in the Astana GM tourney, Sadvakasov also played it against Kasparov. Other than Adams and Sadvakasov, Bronstein, Stean and Fischer are also among the supporters of the system.

What is the inherent quality of the opening that attracts so many top GMs? Shamkovich best describes the answer to this in his book The Modern Chess Sacrifice. He said that it is a continuation employed as a rule to avoid well-known variations. That's right! With the saturation of variations and lines in the Sicilian defenses, more and more White players are switching to anti-Sicilian weapons such as the Rossolimo.

I myself have also played the Rossolimo a couple of times and the results have been pretty encouraging. Many attacking players have been turned off by the quiet nature of the opening. Their argument is that the Rossolimo is more suited to the temperament of positional players such as Michael Adams, who plays the opening in a very solid way. While I respect this argument, I do not agree with this 'blanket' judgment. Let's go back to the 50s and 60s and look at the way the Rossolimo was played in Bronstein - Geller, Goteborg 1955. Also, try looking at the game Stean - Geller, Moscow 1975. These games were played with so much passion and aggression. Pawns were sacrificed in pursuit of the Black monarch.

Before that, let's take a look at a miniature game, which was partly created by me. It occurred in an Asian level inter-university chess tournament in Kuala Lumpur two years ago. One further point before proceeding to the game: This game is my first attempt at playing the Rossolimo. Alright, no more stories, let's go straight into the game:

Edwin Lam Choong Wai - Mohd Azizul [B52]
Grand Asian Chess Challenge 1999 (2), 24.10.1999
[Edwin Lam Choong Wai]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.0-0 Nc6 6.c3 d5 7.exd5

Alternatively, 7.e5 and then:
A) 7...e6 8.d4 A position with certain similarities to the Advanced variation in the Frenchdefence. However, Black's French bishop has been exchanged and the Black Queen is placed on d7 instead of the usual b6. On White's part, the King has been sent to a safe place and the central pawn chain is not really threatened by Black. By taking into accountall these, my conclusion is that this position is level for both sides. 8...Nge7
A1) 9.dxc5?! Ng6 10.Re1 Bxc5 11.b4 Bb6 12.b5 Nce7 13.Qb3 Rc8 14.Na3 Qc7 15.Bd2 0-0 16.Nc2 Qc4 17.Qxc4 (17.Qb2 Nf4 18.Bxf4 Otherwise, the Black Knight invades into square d3. 18...Qxf4 19.Ncd4 Ng6 White's weak c3 and e5 pawns provide easy targets to the Black pieces.) 17...dxc4 (Alternatively, keep the c-file half-open and pressure the c3 pawn with the Rooks and Bishop. 17...Rxc4 18.Ncd4 Rfc8 19.Rac1 Ba5 20.Re3 Nf4 21.g3 Nf5) 18.Ncd4 Rfd8 19.Be3 Rd5 20.Bc1 Bxd4 21.cxd4 Rxb5 With a passed pawn.;
A2) 9.Bf4 9...Ng6 10.Bg3 c4 11.a4 To prevent the immediate 11...b5. 11...Na5 12.Nbd2 Be7 13.h3 0-0 14.Nh2 a6 15.f4 b5? A little hasty. (Better would be 15...Rfb8 to allow the g6 Knight to move back to f8 after White pushes f5.) 16.axb5 axb5 17.f5! Now, this is decisive. 17...Nh8 (17...Nh4 18.f6 Black loses a piece.) 18.f6 gxf6 19.exf6 Bd6 20.Qg4+ Ng6 21.Qg5 And, White wins.;
B) 7...d4 The idea of this move is to cut the White e-pawn away from the support of the White pawns. Black would strive to win the pawn sooner or later. 8.cxd4 cxd4 The counter argument that Black's d4 pawn is also a little bit far advanced is irrelevant as it helps to fix White's d-pawn to d3. 9.d3 e6 10.Bf4 Nge7 11.Nbd2 (11.Na3 Ng6 12.Bg3 Bxa3 13.bxa3) 11...Ng6 12.Bg3 Qd5 13.Re1 Nb4 14.Nb3 Rc8 15.Re2 Be7 (15...Bc5 16.a3 Nc6 17.Rc1 Bb6 18.Rc4) 16.Nbxd4 (16.Nfxd4 a5) 16...0-0 17.a3 Na6 Or else, 18...Nc5 18.b4 Rc3 19.Rc2 Rfc8 In this position, White's minor pieces are tied up protecting the weak d3 and e5 pawns.

7...Qxd5 8.d4?!

Perhaps better is 8.Na3 and now 8...c4?! Sacrificing the c-pawn. (8...Rd8 9.Nb5 Qd7 Black's position looks solid. The only drawback is the poor development of Black's pieces. 10.d4 a6 11.Na3) 9.Qa4 e6 10.Qxc4 Bxa3 11.Qxd5 exd5 12.bxa3 0-0-0 13.d4 Things do not look too bright for White due to the defective pawn structure. However, things will change drastically withinthe next few moves. 13...Nf6 14.Bb2 Ne4 15.c4 dxc4 16.d5
A) 16...Rxd5 17.Bxg7 Rg8;
B) 16...c3 17.dxc6 cxb2 18.cxb7+ Kb8 (18...Kxb7 19.Rab1 Ka8 20.Rxb2 f6) 19.Rab1 Nd2 20.Nxd2 Rxd2;
C) 16...Na5 17.Ne5 Rhe8

8...Rd8 9.Be3 e5?!

My opponent just loves to go pawn hunting.

10.c4!?

Sacrificing a second pawn. Is this right or wrong?

10...Qxc4

The best hope. Other alternatives will leave Black with a cramped position. 10...Qe4 11.Nc3 Qg6 12.d5; 10...Qd7 11.d5 Qc7 12.Qe2

11.Na3 Qa6

Black's Queen is offside and White should take full advantage of this to launch an attack.

12.d5 Nf6 13.Bg5 Rxd5?!

Black is now two pawns up. Quite an achievement considering the point that this game is just 13 moves old! However, it would have been better to bring the Black King to safety first before grabbing the d5 pawn. This is the right plan. After this, Black should have no problem transposing into a won ending. 13...Be7! 14.Qb3 Nd4 15.Nxd4 cxd4 16.Nb5 Qb6 17.Rac1 0-0 18.Rc7
A) 18...Bd6 19.Nxd6 Qxc7 20.Bxf6 Qxd6 (Not 20...gxf6 21.Nf5 e4 22.d6 Qc5 23.Qg3+ Kh8 24.Qg7#) 21.Bxd8 Rxd8 22.Rc1 g6 23.Qxb7 Qxd5
A1) 24.Qxd5 Rxd5 25.Kf1 d3 26.Rd1 Rb5 27.b3 (27.Rxd3 Rxb2 28.a3 a5!?) 27...e4 (27...Ra5 28.Rxd3 Rxa2 29.Re3 With a defensible position.) 28.Ke1 Rc5 29.Rd2 f5 30.g3 g5 31.Rb2 f4 32.gxf4 gxf4 33.Kd2 Rh5;
A2) 24.Qxa7 24...d3! This pawn will prove too strong for White to handle.
A2a) 25.Qe3!? d2 26.Rd1 Rc8! 27.a4 Rc1 28.Qe2 (28.Rxc1?? d1Q+ 29.Qe1 Qxe1+ 30.Rxe1 Qa5) 28...Qd3! wins.;
A2b) 25.b4?! 25...d2 26.Rd1 Rc8 (26...Qc4 27.Qa4 Qe2) 27.Qe3 Rc1 28.Qe2 Qxa2;
B) 18...Nxd5 19.Rxe7 Nxe7 20.Bxe7 Rc8 21.Bxf8

14.Qb3 Rd3 15.Qc2 Nd4?! 16.Nxd4 Rxd4 17.Qf5!

Both players agreed that this is the turning point in White's game.

17...Nd7 18.Rfe1 f6

Of course not 18...Qe6? 19.Nb5 Qb6 (19...Qxf5 20.Nc7#) 20.Nxd4 cxd4 21.Rac1 with a strong attack.

19.Be3 Rd5 20.f4! Kf7

This move is aimed at securing the square e6 first before bringing the Black Queen back into the game via d3. The immediate 20...Qd3!? 21.Qe6+ Kd8 22.Nb5 fails as the King istrapped in an open d-file.

21.Rad1 Qe6

Now, it will be a draw.

22.Qxe6+ Kxe6 23.f5+ Kd6 24.Nc4+ Kc6

Both players surprisingly agreed to a draw here. To my dissappointment, I found out later that White actually wins the game here! White can win material here by the maneuvre Na5-b7-d8-f7!˙Sadly, I missed the "knight tour" during the game. What a miss!





"He who fears an isolated queen's pawn should give up chess". Siegbert Tarrasch











"The most powerful weapon in chess is to have the next move"! David Bronstein.











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