A round-robin tournament was held in the middle of July in Denmark which was a
little below the rating of the XIVth category (av. ELO 2596,3). Its organisers gave
it the proud name of the North Sea Cup. Among the main favourites of the event were
surely the three times Russia Champion Piotr Svidler as well as two winners of the
USSR Championships Boris Gulko (1977) and Mikhail Gurevich (1985). The host player
Curt Hansen and the young Russian chess payer Alexander Grischuk were able to
interfere in their struggle too. Piotr Svidler had the hardest start: he had to play
with all the mentioned grandmasters in the first four rounds. There were heavy
struggles, still the result was just four half-points. Neither Gulko nor Grischuk had
a better start. The former lost to C. Hansen in the very first round, and the latter,
after he escaped a defeat from Svidler in the first round, made problems from
nothing, playing with M. Gurevich on the next day.
Gulko - C. Hansen [A29] (round 1)
1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 Nd4 5. Nh4 c6 6. e3
Ne6 7. d4?!
An opening experiment. Usually White plays 7. Bg2 in this
position. So, after 7... g6 8. d4 exd4 9. exd4 d5 10. cxd5 cxd5
11. O-O Bg7 there was an approximately equal position in the game
Huzman - Svidler (Haifa (active), 2000).
7... exd4 8. exd4 d5 9. c5 b6 10. b4 a5 11. Na4 Nd7 12. b5
White’s strategy failed evidently. The far advanced pawns on
the queenside became an object for the play of Black’s pieces.
In case of 13. cxb6 Nxb6 14. bxc6 Bxc6 White’s position would
be especially funny. A knight on each side of the board and other
pieces, absolutely undeveloped.
13... bxc5 14. dxc5 Ndxc5 15. Rc1 Nxa4 16. Bxf8 Kxf8
After 17. Qxa4 White probably would be able to have held for
several more moves, still the result would be the same anyway.
17... Bxc6 18. Rxc6 Qe8!
Now it’s evident that White cannot offer any resistance. Too
many troubles are threatening.
There was no 19. Qxa4 because of 19... Nc5+, winning the
19... Nf4+ 20. Kd2 Qe4 21. gxf4 Qxf4+ 22. Ke1 Qe4+ 23. Kd2
Qb4+ 24. Ke2 Qe4+ 25. Kd2 Qxh4 26. Qf3 Qb4+ 0-1
Svidler - Grischuk (1 round)
In Black’s camp the square c6 is weak, and the white knight
wants to get there without any delay.
A passive defence after 24... Qa6 25. Nc6 does not suit Black,
so he rushes into the labyrinth of complications.
25. Nc6 Bxe3 26. Bxe3 Qxc2 27. Nxb8 Qxe4
Black has already two pawns for the exchange, but his eighth
horizontal is rather vulnerable as there is no air. The bishop
will be bound deadly very soon.
28. Nc6 Nxd5!?
Probably this was the strongest move. The material could have
been kept with 28... Qxd5 29. Qa8 Ne8!?, but after 30. Qxc8 (in
case of 30. Rc1 there was 30... Bd7) 30... Qxc6 31. Rc1 Qa4 32.
Rxc7 the position of Black’s pieces would bee too passive and
29. Qa8 Qf5 30. Na7 Nge7
Looks as if Black managed to defend everything, but it’s no
time for conclusions yet. Black’s queen, bound with the defence
of the bishop, cannot prevent the white rook from getting to the
eighth horizontal through b1. However, White should pay with the
weakening of his king’s position for this opportunity.
31...Qe6 32. Rb1 h6 33. Rb8 Kh7 34. Nxc8
P. Svidler has already as much as an extra rook, but let’s
remember that Black has three pawns instead and White’s pieces
are too far from the residence of their king.
34... Ng6 35. Qa2
Collecting his reserves, White binds up active pieces of his
opponent. 35. Na7 promised nothing at all, for instance because
of 35... Nxe3 36. fxe3 Qa2 37. Nc8 Qe2 38. Qe4 d5!. No better was
also 35. Bc1 e4 36. Na7 because of 36... Nc3!. No 36... Ne5?! to
be followed with 37. Rh8+ Kg6 38. Qg8, because in case of 38...
e3 there was 39. Qh7+ Kf6 40. Rg8, and White’s pieces would get
to the black king, having moved from one corner of the board to
Black’s knights in the centre of the board can make a raid
upon the white king’s camp at any moment.
White sacrifices exchange, decreasing Black’s attacking
potential. In case of a prophylactic 37. Kh1 (there was no 37.
Kg2?? because of 37... Nxe3+) White had to reckon with 37... f5!
(no 37... h5 because of 38. Nb5 hxg4 39. Nd4), and after 38. Rb5
(now in case of 38. Nb5 fxg4 39. Nd4 there was already 39... Qf7
40. Qc2 Qg6, making Black’s threats very real) 38... c5 39.
Bxc5 fxg4 40. Bd4 g3 41. fxg3 Qxh3+ 42. Qh2 Qf1+ 43. Bg1 Qf3+ 44.
Qg2 Qh5+ and the game could have been ended with a perpetual
37...Nf3+ 38. Kh1 Qxe8 39. Qxd5 Qa4
An approximate material balance is maintained again. The
following exchanges won’t change the estimation of the position
in any way.
40. Kg2 Ne5 41. Nb5 c6 42. Nc3 cxd5 43. Nxa4 Nf3 44. Bf4 f5
45. gxf5 Nh4+ 46. Kf1 d4 47. Bxd6 Nxf5 48. Be5 e3 49. Nc5 exf2
50. Kxf2 g5 51. Kf3 h5 52. Ke4 Kg6 53. Ne6 g4 1/2-1/2
Grischuk - M. Gurevich (round 2)
The position was approximately equal. The sacrifice of a
piece, undertaken by White, was incorrect, and M. Gurevich is
going to prove this very convincingly.
23... gxh5 24. Qxh5 Rh8 25. Nxf5+ Bxf5 26. Qxf5 Nxd4 27.
White allows Black to conduct a combination that will decide
27... Rxh2+! 28. Kxh2 Rh8+ 29. Kg3 Bh4+ 30. Kg4 Qh6 0-1
Thus M. Gurevich with 3 points became a single leader of the
tournament after four rounds. Still, a disappointment was waiting
for him in the next round already, he ran out of time in a more
or less equal position in the game with C. Hansen, having failed
to make the last move before the time control, so that the Danish
grandmaster became the single leader. Nevertheless, he was not
able to keep this position for any long too. His main competitors
Gurevich and Svidler gained 100% results on the distance from
sixth to eighth rounds and managed to catch up and then live
behind the Danish grandmaster. Quick draws in the last round were
to fix their joint victory in the tournament. There are three
examples from the games, played by the winners.
Svidler - De Vreugt [C88] (round 6)
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O b5 6. Bb3
Be7 7. Re1 O-O 8. h3
At present this is one of the most popular ways to avoid the
Marshall Attack .
8... Bb7 9. d3 d6 10. a3
White supplies his Ruy-Lopez-like bishop with a job on the
diagonal a2-g8. Considering the fact that the position of its
chief opponent, the bishop on b7, is already defined, so that it
won’t be a serious obstacle, the X-rays of White’s
light-squared bishop have a chance to become very dangerous.
De Vreugt never showed any weakness for the other plans,
neother for 10... Nb8 11. Nbd2 Nbd7, nor for 10... Na5 11. Ba2
11. Nc3 Rae8 12. a4 b4
In case of 12... Na5 the light-squared bishop, waiting in the
ambush, could strike a crafty blow 13. Bxf7+!, ensuring White’s
advantage after 13... Rxf7 14. axb5 Nb3 15. cxb3 axb5 16. b4.
13. Nd5 Nxd5 14. Bxd5 Nd8 15. Bxb7 Nxb7
Black got rid of White’s insidious bishop, still the
influence of his pieces on the centre of the board got weaker for
a while. White made use of this circumstance immediately.
16. d4 exd4
The boundary post which was maintained by Black on e5 with the
first move, goes away from the chess stage, and White becomes
certain freedom for his activities in the centre of the board.
After 16... Bf6, followed with 17. dxe5 Bxe5 18. Nxe5 Rxe5 19. b3
Nc5 20. Bb2 Rxe4 21. Rxe4 Nxe4 22. Qd4 Nf6 23. Qxb4, White got an
advantage in the game J. Polgar - Adams (Wijk aan Zee, 1998).
17. Qxd4 a5 18. Qd5 Qc8 19. Bf4 c6
Reinforcing Black’s own play. After 19... Bf6 20. e5 dxe5
21. Bxe5 Bxe5 22. Rxe5 Rxe5 23. Nxe5 Qf5 24. g4 Qg5 25. Rd1 Nd6
26. Nd7 Black got a non-promising endgame in the game Adams - De
Vreugt (Breda, 1999).
20. Qc4 Bf6 21. Rad1 Re6?!
Very passively. Of course the position to appear after 21...
Bxb2?! 22. Bxd6 Nxd6 23. Rxd6 Re6 24. Red1 was a little pleasure
for Black, but remote consequences of 21... d5!? 22. exd5 cxd5
were quite unclear.
22. Nd4 Bxd4 23. Qxd4
White has a slight but stable advantage. Black is condemned to
a passive defence. It should be mentioned that the weakness of
Black’s queenside pawns, which mostly occupy squares of the
light-squared bishop, will tell as the endgame comes nearer.
A slightest activity, for instance 23... f5, can bring Black
to a very dangerous position after 24. Qc4!? Rf7 25. exf5 Rxe1+
(no 25... d5 because of 26. fxe6) 26. Rxe1 d5 27. Qd4 Qxf5 28.
Re8+ Rf8 29. Rxf8+ Qxf8 30. Bc7.
A very good move. White simply passed the move to his opponent
and made the position of his king a bit better, having removed it
from the first horizontal. Black’s problem is that he has to
hold to a passive play and be very attentive, trying not to allow
his opponent to carry out any crafty manoeuvre.
Black does not want to resign himself to the prescribed role
and opens up the play. White was well prepared to such a turn. We
can suppose rather confidently that Piotr Svidler waited for the
advance d6-d5 namely as he made his 24th move. Really,
a break-through in the centre was no relief for Black, it only
increased the influence of White’s dark-squared bishop. Still,
it’s hard already to recommend something that would be worth
doing. So, in case of 24... Nc5, apart from the quiet 25. b3
there was also a very dangerous break-through 25. e5!?.
25. exd5 Rxd5 26. Qb6 Rxd1 27. Rxd1 h6 28. Qd4 Re7 29. Rd3
A blunder. Black’s position is hard, and he allows a simple
tactical blow. In case of a more persistent 29... c5 with 30. Qd5
Qe8 31. Rg3 all White’s pieces would be more active, and even
exchanges would not help Black as there were such targets on his
queenside as the pawns a5 and c5.
30. Bxh6! f6
No 30... gxh6 because of 31. Rg3+ Kf8 32. Qh8#.
31. Be3 Qe6 32. b3 c5 33. Qf4 Kf7 34. h4 Re8 35. Qf3 Qc8
36. Bf4 Nd8?
Losing immediately. A kind of opposition could have been
showed with 36... Kf8.
37. Qh5+ 1-0 Black resigned. In case of 37... Ke7 or
37... Kf8 the solution was 38. Bd6+.
M. Gurevich - Emms [E32] (round 8)
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6.
Qxc3 b6 7. Bg5 d6
Having played b7-b6, Black suspends with the development of
his light-squared bishop. He is hesitating, what square would
suit him better: b7 or a6.
8. f3 Nbd7
In case of 8... c5 9. dxc5 bxc5 Black had problems with the
development of the queen’s knight after 10. O-O-O or 10. Rd1.
It looks as if Black has not decided about the development of
the bishop still and even forgot to take care of the future
position of the bishop g5. He should have played 9... h6 10. Bh4
before White’s advance e2-e4. If White played e2-e3 one move
earlier, then there was sense in this “forgetfulness”,
because White’s dark-squared bishop sometimes needs to return
to its camp, and the square h4 is more convenient in such cases,
and besides, the standard tactical blow Nf6-e4 is often stronger
with the bishop on g5. After the moves 9... h6 10. Bh4 there were
both 10... Ba6 and 10... c5.
10. e4 h6
Now this move is evidently late, the bishop need not already
stay on the diagonal d8-h4 as there is a better square for it.
11. Be3! Ba6
Black’s affairs were far from brilliant also in case of
11... Qc7. After 12. d5 exd5 13. cxd5 Rb8 14. Be2 Re8 15. Nf2 b5
16. O-O a5 17. b4 Nb6 18. Qd2 White got a considerable advantage
in the game Lazarev - Vehi Bach (Biel, 1997).
12. dxc5 Nxc5?!
Now this is too much. After 12... bxc5 13. Rd1 Qb6 14. b4
White’s position was clearly better, but now Black will suffer
also material problems apart from positional ones.
13. Rd1 Qe7
It’s not easy for Black to keep the material balance. After
13... Rc8 there was 14. e5! Ne8 15. Qd4 Nb7 16. b4 dxe5 17. Qa1
and Black lost the bishop a6.
White pawns begin a headlong spurt.
14...Ncd7 15. c5 Bxf1 16. cxd6 Qd8 17. Rxf1
White got an extra pawn as a result of the forced operation.
14... Rc8 18. Qb2 Rc4 19. Rf2!
The passive king’s rook by White looks not very good. M.
Gurevich gets rid of it in two moves.
19... Qb8 20. Rc2 Rxc2 21. Qxc2 Rc8 22. Qb2 e5
White tries to repeat with his knight the successful trick
which let him activate the rook, but the moment is not very
convenient. As a result, he has to part with the beauty of his
position and with the pawn d6. He should have displayed
vigilance, having played 23. b5!. In this case Black hardly would
be able to find something sensible. So, after 23... Ne8 (in case
of 23... a6 there was 24. a4 Rc4 25. bxa6 Rxa4 26. Ra1 Rxa1+ 27.
Qxa1 Qa7 28. Nf2 Ne8 29. Nd3, and White kept his material
achievements) 24. Qd2 Qa8 (in case of 24... a6 there was 25. bxa6
Qa8 26. Qd3) 25. Qd3 a6 26. bxa6 Rc6 27. Qd5 Nxd6 (if 27... Nef6,
then good was 28. Qb5) White had 28. a7!, and 28... Nf6 was to be
followed with 29. Qxc6! Qxc6 30. Rxd6, leading to a winning
23... Rc6 24. b5
Too late, the pawn cannot be saved. In case of 24. Qd2 there
was 24... Ne8.
Black has maintained the material balance, there is not much
left of White’s former advantage. Just an opportunity to occupy
the weak square c6 in Black’s camp in the distant future. As a
matter of fact, a new game is going to begin now.
25. Nd3 Qe8 26. Qc2 Qe6 27. a4
Black does not fear blows like 27. Qc7 because of 27... Ne8
28. Qxa7 Qb3 29. Qa8 Ndf6 with a counterplay.
Black begins to complicate matters unnecessarily again. There
was a more active play for the knight, for instance 27... Nf8 28.
Rc1 (if 28. Qb2, then 28... Qd7) 28... Rd7 29. Nb4 Qd6 30. Nc6
Ne6 31. Rd1 Qa3 with a good counterplay.
28. Qc7 is risky again because of 28... Nf8 29. Qxa7 (in case
of 29. Nxe5 good was 29... Rxd1+ 30. Kxd1 Qb3+ 31. Ke2 Ne6) 29...
Qb3 30. Ke2 Ne6, and all Black’s pieces begin to play against
the white king.
28... Ng8 29. Nb4 Ne7
White puts more and more pressure. A greedy 30. Qc7 f5 31.
Qxa7? was to be refuted with 31... Qb3.
The endgame after 30... Qxc4 31. Rxc4 Nf8 (in case of 31...
Nb8 there was 32. f4!) 32. Nc6 (after 32. Rc7 Rd7 33. Rxd7 Nxd7
34. Nc6 Nc8 Black covered everything) 32... Nxc6 33. bxc6 Rd8 34.
a5! bxa5 (there was no 34... b5 because of 35. c7 Rc8 36. Rc6 Ne6
37. Bxa7 Rxc7 38. Rxc7 Nxc7 39. Bb8) 35. Bd2 was hopeless for
31. Kf1 f5 32. Qc2 Nc5?
The hypothetical threat of a permanent occupation of the
square c6 proved to be so frightful for Black that he lost just
in several moves. He should have agreed to 32... fxe4 33. Qxe4
(there was no 33. fxe4 because of 33... Nf6) 33... Qxe4 34. fxe4
Nf6, the endgame after 35. Nc6 being evidently not to White’s
33. Bxc5 bxc5 34. Nd3
Of course no 34. Qxc5? because of 34... Rd2.
34... fxe4 35. Nxe5 Qf5 36. Qxe4 Qxe4 37. fxe4 Rd4 38. Rc4
Rd1+ 39. Ke2 Ra1 40. Nd7 Nc8 41. Nxc5 Nb6 42. Rd4 Kg6 43. e5 1-0
Svidler - L-B. Hansen [C96] (round 8)
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1
b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Na5
Black chooses the Chigorin Defence in the Ruy Lopez.
10. Bc2 c5 11. d4 Bb7 12. Nbd2 cxd4 13. cxd4 exd4
Black opens up the play. Otherwise White was threatening to
lock up the centre with the move d4-d5, and then it would be much
harder for Black to justify the position of the bishop on b7.
After the move in the game the bishop can press on the pawn e4
14. Nxd4 Re8 15. b3 g6
Usually Black plays 15... Bf8 16. Bb2 g6 in this position. It
should be noted that Black is not prepared yet to the advantage
15... d5. So, White got a better play after 16. e5 Ne4 17. Nf5 in
the game Mokry - Rubinetti (Manila (ol), 1992).
16. Bb2 Nd7
Something new. The move 16... Bf8 would have reduced the
play to well known positions.
17. Nf1 Bf6
No delay, straight forward! White is ready to sacrifice the
pawn in order to reinforce his influence in the centre.
Black has not ventured to accept the sacrifice. After 18...
Bxe4 19. Ng4 Bxc2 (19... d5 was totally bad because of 20. f3!
Bxc2 21. Rxe8+ Qxe8 22. Nxf6+ Nxf6 23. Nxc2 Qe6 24. Qd4, and an
attack on the diagonal a1-h8 would decide the game in White’s favour) 20. Rxe8+ Qxe8 21. Nxf6+ Nxf6 22. Nxc2 Qe6 White had a
pleasant choice between playing a slightly better endgame after
23. Qd4 Qe5 24. Qxe5 dxe5 25. Bxe5 and continuing with the queens
present after 23. Nb4!?, keeping an excellent compensation for
the pawn in the form of the play on the weakened dark squares
near the opponent’s kingside.
19. Nxc6 Bxc6 20. Bxf6 Nxf6
In case of 20... Qxf6 Black evidently disliked 21. Ng4.
21. Qd4 Re6 22. f3 a5 23. b4!
Another excellent move. White’s Ruy Lopez bishop was somehow
lost without any business. Now it’s time to introduce it into
the attack on the diagonal a2-g8.
Black tries to prevent the white bishop from getting to the
diagonal a2-g8. After 23... axb4 24. Bb3 Black would have to
solve great problems.
24. Rac1 Qe8 25. Red1 Rd8
White does not go for 26. Nd5, as after 26... Bxd5 27. exd5 Re5 28. f4 Re2 29.Qxf6 (the
following is also not so clear: 29. Bd3 Qe3+ 30. Qxe3 Rxe3 31.Bxb5 Rb8 32. Bxa4 Rxb4)
Black has 29... Rxg2!!+ 30. Kxg2 Qe2+ perpetual check.
The advance d6-d5 is being prepared. An immediate 26... d5
would be met with 27. e5, and there would be no 27... Rxe5 as the
bishop on c6 was protected insufficiently.
27. a3 d5 28. Rc7
Black has carried out the planned advance d6-d5, but achieved
no improvement of his position. The activity of all White’s
pieces is too high.
In case of 28... Red6 there was a good opportunity of 29. e5
Re6 30. f4.
29. Ba2 dxe4
Black agrees to play a position with two rooks by White
against Black’s queen. The pressure of the white pieces on the
pawn d5 was so high that Black had simply no choice.
30. Qxd6 Rxd6 31. Rxd6 Qe5
After 31... exf3 32. Bxf7+ Qxf7 33. Rxf7 White’s extra
exchange decides the game in his favour very quickly.
The strongest continuation of the attack. In case of 32. Bxf7+
32... Kg7 33. Bd5+ Kh6 34. Rxf6 Qxc7 35. Ng4+ Kg7 (there was no
35... Kg5 because of 36. Bxa8 exf3 37. Bxf3 h5 38. Rc6) 36. Rf7+
Qxf7 37. Bxf7 Kxf7 38. f4 White had some advantage in a quiet
position, but it was unclear whether he was able to win it.
32... Kg7 33. Rxf7+ Kh6 34. Rxf6 Qa1+
Of course no 34... Qxf6 because of the fork 35. Ng4+.
35. Kh2 exf3 36. Ng4+
Black king had no way back 36... Kg7?? because of 37. Rf7#.
Another opportunity 36... Kh5 looks even weaker. After 37. Bd5
fxg2 38. Bxg2 Bxg2 39. Kxg2 Qxa3 White had 40. Rf7!, involving
the black king into a dangerous adventure. In this case the game
could have ended as follows: 40... Qa2+ (if 40... h6, then 41.
Nf6+ Kg5 42. Rd5+ Kf4 43. Ng4+ Ke4 44. Re5+ Kd4 45. Rf4+, Black
losing his queen) 41. Rf2 Qc4 42. Nf6+ Kh6 (in case of 42... Kh4
the victory was to be achieved with 43. Rd5 a3 44. Rfd2) 43. Rd7
Qxb4 (after 43... Kg5 White would trap the black king into a
mating net with 44. Rd5+ Kh6 45. Ng4+ Kg7 46. Rd7+ Kg8 47. Nh6+
Kh8 48. Rf8+) 44. Rxh7+ Kg5 45. h4+, now Black can destroy the
mating structure at the price of his queen only.
37. Bd5 fxg2 38. Bxg2 Bxg2 39. Kxg2 h5
Allowing White to win easily and simply. It was more
complicated after 39... Qxa3 40. Rf3 Qxb4 41. Rd5+ Kh4, but White
also had a forced win after 42. Ne3!: in case of 42... Qb2+
(after 42... a3 43. Nc2 Qe4 44. Rd4 Black lost the queen, and
after 42... g5 43. Nf5+ Kh5 44. Rd6 g4 he was even worse because
of 45. Rh6+ Kg5 46. h4# ) 43. Rf2 Qb4 44. Kh2! (with the dreadful
threat of 45.Ng2#) 44... g5 45. Rd4+! Qxd4 46. Nf5+ White won the
40. Rd5+ Kh4 41. Rf4 1-0