Apr 25, 2001

Round one

Galkin - Khalifman [C17]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Ba5 6. b4 cxd4 7. Qg4

The rivals go for one of the keenest variations of the French Defence.

7... Ne7 8. bxa5 dxc3 9. Qxg7 Rg8 10. Qxh7 Nbc6 11. Nf3

Another popular continuation in this variation is 11. f4.

11... Qc7 12. Bf4 Bd7 13. Bd3

The move 13. a6 went out of fashion as there was found a very unpleasant resort of 13... O-O-O!. After 14. Bd3 (in case of 14. axb7+ Kb8 15. Qd3 Rg4 16. Be3 Nf5 17. Bc5 Re4+ 18. Kd1 Rc4 19. Qxf5 Rxc5 20. Qxf7 d4 Black had a very strong initiative in the game Ricardi - Forster (Elista (ol), 1998)) 14... f5 15. exf6 Qxf4 16. fxe7 Rde8 17. Bg6 there were horrible complications in the game Dolmatov - S. Ivanov (Kazan, 1995).

13... O-O-O 14. Bg3

In case of 14. O-O White had to reckon with 15... f5, because an incautious 15. exf6? could have brought White to a crushing defeat after 15... Qxf4 16. fxe7 Rxg2+! 17. Kxg2 Qg4+ 18. Kh1 Qxf3+ 19. Kg1 Qg4+ 20. Kh1 Rg8.

14... Qxa5 15. O-O Rh8!?

There are many continuations in this position, but the move 15... Qc5 occurs most often. So, in the archive of games, annotated on our site, you can find the game Shirov - Akopian (Merida, 2000) with this move. The move, made by the FIDE World Champion A. Khalifman, is also not new and was already seen in practice.

16. Qxf7 Rdf8 17. Qg7 Rhg8 18. Qh6

18... Rxf3!

This sacrifice by an exchange is standard for such positions, but still quite efficient. By the way, a refusal to take it in the recent game A. Kovacevic - B. Stanojevic (Vrsac, 2000) brought Black to a difficult position after 18... Qa4 19. Qe3 Be8 20. Ng5 Nd4 21. f4 Bc6 22. Rf2.

19. gxf3 Nd4 20. Qf4 Nef5 21. Kh1 Bb5!

However strange this may seem, all this stuff was seen already until Black’s last move. In the game Lutz - Lyrberg (Katrineholm, 1999) after 21... Qc5 22. Rg1 Rf8 23. Qg4 Bc6 24. Rg2 Bb5 25. Bxb5 Qxb5 26. Bf4 Kb8 27. Bg5 Rc8 28. Rc1 Qe2 Black got an initiative for the sacrificed material. Unlike that game, Alexander Khalifman exchanged the light-squared bishops without delay.

22. Rfd1 Bxd3 23. Rxd3 Qc5

White’s extra pawn and exchange are imperceptible owing to the strong blocking position of the black knights in the centre of the board.

24. Qc1

A passive move, but it’s not easy to suggest an active plan here. So, after 24. Rad1 Black was not obliged to play 24... Nxc2?, because after 25. Rxd5! (25. Rc1 was not so clear because of 25... Nfd4) 25... Qc6 (there was neither 25... exd5 because of 26. Qxf5+ Kb8 27. Qxc2, nor 25... Nxg3+ because of 26. Qxg3! Qf8 27. Qh3) 26. Rd6! Nxd6 27. exd6 Qd7 28. Qc4+ Kb8 29. Qa4!! Qxa4 30. d7+ his position was smashed. Much stronger was 24... Ne2!, now complicating things for White, as even in case of the strongest 25. Qb4 Nfxg3+ 26. fxg3 Qf2 27. Qh4 (the same after 27. Rxc3+ Kb8 28. Rb3 Nxg3+! ) 27... Rxg3! 28. hxg3 Nxg3+ 29. Qxg3 Qxg3 30. Rxc3+ Kb8 he was involved into an unpleasant struggle for a draw. In case of 24. Rb1 Black could have chosen both a prophylactic 24... Kb8!? like in the game and an incautious 24... Nxc2? which allowed White to catch the impudent black knight with 25. Rb3 d4 26. Qc1.

24... Kb8

Despite White’s considerable material advantage Black can afford several prophylactic moves, because it’s not easy for White to reinforce his position as he has to defend his multiple weak pawns.

25. Qd1 Rc8 26. Bf4 Nc6 27. Qe1 Qc4 28. Bg5 Ncd4 29. Qd1 Qa4 30. Ra2

In case of 30. Be3 Black would probably have played 30... Nb5!, all the merits of his position, because the complications to appear after 30... Nc6?! (no 30...Nxc2 because of 31. Ra2)31. Rxc3 d4 32. Rb3 dxe3 33. fxe3 were beneficent for White.

30... Qc4 31. Ra1 Qa4 32. Ra2 Nb5!?

There is a dynamic balance on the board, but Black wants to struggle for an advantage.

33. f4

After 33. Qb1 with the idea Qb1-b4 Black could have maintained the tension of the position with 33... Rg8 34. Bf6 Qc4 35. Ra1 Qc5.

33... Qe4+ 34. f3 Qa4 35. Qe1 d4

Black prepares the square d5 for his b5-knight.

36. h4

After 36. Qe4 Nc7 Black transferred the knight to b5, because there was no 37. Rxc3? because of 37... Qb5! with irresistible threats to White’s rooks (dxc3 and Qb1+) and king (Qf1#) at the same time.

36... Nc7

37. Qe4?? 0-1.

A terrible move which even did not require Black’s evident response 37... Ng3+. For justice it should be mentioned that after a more acceptable queen move, e. g. 37. Qf2, the main struggle was still ahead, though Black’s advantage was evident after he transferred the knight to a strong position with 37... Nd5.

Polgar - Timman [C72]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 d6

Black preferred the Advanced Steinitz Variation in the Ruy Lopez.

5. O-O

White refused from complications to appear after 5. c3 f5.

5... Bd7

Probably J. Polgar was going to meet her adversary in the keen line 5... Bg4 6. h3 h5 which Jan Timman uses sometimes.

6. d4

A break of the pawn chain and considerable simplifications after the move in the game make Black’s task at the equalisation of the play much simpler. 6. c3 led to a more complicated play.

6... Nxd4 7. Bxd7+ Qxd7 8. Nxd4 exd4 9. Qxd4 Nf6 10. Nc3 Be7 11. Bg5 h6

The move 11... Qc6? which occurred previously does not stand up to criticism, as after 12. Nd5 Qd7 13. Bxf6 Bxf6 14. Qxf6 gxf6 15. Nxf6+ Ke7 16. Nxd7 Kxd7 17. Rad1 White got an extra pawn for nothing in the game Hurt - Hlozek (Svetla nad Sazavou, 1998).

12. Bh4 Qg4 13. Bg3 O-O 14. Rad1 Rfe8 15. Qc4 Rac8 16. h3

White is going to begin an advance of his kingside pawns. The move 16. f3 was a more solid continuation.

16... Qg6 17. Bh2 Nd7 18. f4

18... c6

Black could have played much harder if he put pressure upon White’s central pawn e4 with 18... Nb6!? 19. Qd3 Bf6.

19. Qe2 f5 20. Kh1 Nc5

The move 20... fxe4 did not suit Black because of 21. f5.

21. exf5 Qxf5 22. g4 Qf7 23. Qg2 d5 24. Ne2 Ne4 25. c4

25... Bd6 1/2-1/2

The position got strained. Probably Black is no worse, but the opponents preferred not to run risks and agreed to a draw in a position with many opportunities for both sides.

"Chess is so interesting in itself, as not to need the view of gain to induce engaging in it;and thence it is never played for money."

Benjamin Franklin, "Chess made easy", 1802

"It is one of the insights of modern players, and especially of the best ones, that one has toplay the position itself, not some abstract idea of the position."

John Watson, "Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy", 1998

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