A shot from Bhat

by admin on December 17, 2008

Day three of the Berkeley International 2008 saw the grandmasters finally flexing their muscles a little bit. Two of the early surprises, Marc Esserman and Dale Haessel, were taken down by their GM opponents, Izoria and Sharavdorj. Grandmasters Josh Friedel and Vinay Bhat also got up off the mat to record their first victories.

I can see why writers of chess columns and chess blogs like tactical puzzles. The nice thing about tactical sequences is that they have clear outcomes and don’t require a lot of deep thought — for the blog writer, that is. All you do is hand the position to Fritz and let it do the analysis. That’s one reason that the game Pruess-Kraai from yesterday’s entry was an annotator’s dream. One move past the opening, and bam! Pruess sacrifices a piece, and it’s all tactics from there on.

However, as easy as the tactics may seem for the annotator/writer, armed with his invincible computer program and 20-20 hindsight, just remember that they are hard and require incredible alertness for the players.

So with that in mind, here is how the game Kustar-Bhat from round three went, a game that ended quickly due to a nice tactical shot from Bhat. (A shot from Bhat! Hmm, that rhymes!)

Sandor Kustar — Vinay Bhat

Reti Opening

1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 c6 3. Bg2 Bg4 4. b3 Nd7 5. Bb2 e6

A very logical setup by Vinay, placing his bishop outside the pawn chain and then setting up a strong-point defense of d5. Somehow when I do this sort of thing it never seems to work, but Vinay knows what he’s doing and I don’t.

6. d3 Ngf6 7. Nbd2 Bd6 8. h3 Bh5 9. O-O O-O 10. e4 e5

Here’s one key point: Black is not afraid of opening the position up.

11. Qe1 Re8 12. Nh4 Nc5 13. f4 de 14. de ef 15. gf Ne6 16. e5 Bc5+ 17. Kh1 Nd5 18. Ne4 Be7 19. Nf5 Ndxf4 20. Qg3 Ne2

Diagram 1

Sorry about fast-forwarding through the first part of the game, but I wanted to get to the point where the interesting tactics begin. White has sacrificed a pawn for some kingside attacking chances. Black, on the other hand, has very nice, actively developed pieces, and that should make it questionable whether White’s attack can really work. In particular, it looks here as if White’s queen has to leave the g-file. First tactical question: Is that really true? Does White’s queen have to leave the g-file, or can White keep her there by a tactical trick?

The game continued:

21. Qe3 Qb6 22. Nh6+? …

This piece sac turns out to be just a little bit too optimistic. But only because of one tactical flaw. It would be interesting to know whether Bhat already spotted the tactical resource he found at move 24. I think the answer is almost certainly yes. But Kustar must have overlooked it. According to Fritz, White’s best move here is 22. Qf2, allowing the queen trade after 22. … Qxf2 23. Rxf2. Kustar presumably didn’t want this because, having sacrificed a pawn, he wants to keep the queen on for the attack. After the queen trade, we would have a position where White is not really playing for a win, but just playing for a strong enough bind that Black cannot capitalize on his extra pawn.

22. … gh 23. Qxh6 Bg6 24. Rae1 …

Diagram 2 

Kustar probably thought he was close to winning here. If Black plays the obvious retreat 24. … N2d4?, then White is much better after 25. Nf6+! Bxf6 (25. … Kh8? 26. Nxh7! is even worse) 26. ef Qc5 (hoping to trade queens with … Qf8, … Qg5, or … Qh5) 27. Bxd4. Black has to give back the piece, because 27. … Qxd4 is met by 28. Rxe6!, and White has destroyed all the defenders of g7.

Also, White gets a very promising position after 24. … Bxe4? 25. Bxe4 Ng3+ 26. Kh2 Nxe4 27. Rxe4.

What was the tactical trick that Kustar overlooked?

Answer 1:

Here White has the remarkable resource 21. Nh6+! The point is that either 21. … Kf8 or 21. … Kh8 will be met by 22. Qg4! After 21. … Kf8 22. Qg4! the queen is taboo because 22. … Bxg4 23. Rxf7 is checkmate. After 21. … Kh8 22. Qg4! Bxg4 23. Nxf7+ Kg8 24. Nxd8 Raxd8 25. hg White has at least won his pawn back. However, it should be noted here that the computer gives Black a slight edge (=/+), an assessment I would have to agree with because of Black’s active and well centralized pieces and White’s somewhat shaky pawn on g4.

Ironically, Kustar did play Nh6+, but he played it one move too late.

Answer 2:

The shot that Kustar must have overlooked was 24. … Ng3+! Bhat played this and Kustar immediately resigned, because 25. Nxg3 Bg5 traps and wins White’s queen.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

chesstiger December 18, 2008 at 4:52 am

So it’s all in the tempo? I mean one move earlier and it would have got decent winning chances and not like one move later it’s a move to resign.

Thanks for the reports, intresting to read them.


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