Today we will have a look at my game from Round 7 in Cappelle La Grande. I had white against Yovann Gatineau (2092), a young talent from France who in the previous round had defeated (!) the legendary master Kamran Shirazi. I was aware that my opponent was not going to be easy despite the 400 points rating difference.
He played the Kan variation of the Sicilian defense. It was a pleasant surprise for me because it’s one of the openings I play as black. So I was familiar with the positions and the fears of getting suprised by any opening preparation dissapeared very early. After 26 moves we reached the following position:
Here the position is just slightly better for white but only because it’s his move. If it was black to move then he would seize the initiative and put white on the defensive side by playing b6-b5 or Rc8. Therefore, I knew I had to continue playing intensely in order not to hand my opponent the initiative.
I played 27.f4! Creating central tension and ”shaking” the stability of black’s knight on d4. See the next diagram:
My opponent immediately sunk in thought and after a while he replied with 27…Nf5!? 28.Qe4 exf4 and here we reached this critical position:
I was happy with my position up to this point. Here white should just play 29.Qxf4 and go on with the game enjoying a small edge.
- Pawn Structure: += [White has a slightly better pawn structure]
- Position of the pieces: += [White’s pieces are more active than his opponents]
- Security of the Kings: += [Black’s king looks easier to attack than white’s]
However, I had already analysed a different (dubious) continuation and played 29.Nf6+!? I give it an ”interesting” mark because the move is cute, however it’s not the strongest move in the position. See the next diagram:
Black cannot take the knight with the rook because the queen on b7 is hanging. Taking with the pawn 29…gf6 leads to a very bad position, after 30.Qf5 and getting the piece back. This was what I had in mind when I played 29.Nf6. Luckily for me, my opponent replied instantly with 29…Kh8?? The move took me by surprise, a complete shock. I didn’t even consider that after my move black could also move the king. I kept my calm and soon discovered the flaw on my opponent’s move. He had found the right idea but he miscalculated the line. Instead of playing so quick his last secuence of moves he should have stopped to think here and he would have found 29…Kf8!. After this move white would have to repeat moves by 30.Nh7+ Kg8 31.Nf6+ or play 30.Nd5 back to which he can reply with 30…Re8 31.Qxf4 Re5 or even 30….g5. Black is IN the game either way.
Now back to the game. After 29…Kh8? black’s position falls apart immediately. Tactics alert!
30.Rxd6! Black can’t take any piece (31…Nxd6 32.Qh7# ; 31…Rxd6 32.Qe8+ ; 31…Qxe4 32.Rxd8+) he continued with 30…Rdf8 31.Qxf5 gf6 (sad, but 31…Rxf6 32.Rxf6 Rxf6? 33.Rd8 wins 32.Qxf4 + – And my opponent soon resigned.
What to learn from this?
- Double check before you move (39…Kh8 was thought in advance but played instantly)
- Try to analyse all the candidates moves before you move, don’t settle for the first idea you see. (I did not consider anything else apart from 29.Nf6+ and 29.Qxf4 or 29.Re1 were very interesting moves as well)
Solution to Monday’s Exercise:
The position is kind of tricky, there is no direct win for any side. Black should just play 1…Bh6 and resist the temptation of playing:
1…Nxg2+? 2.Qxg2 Bxc1 and now: 3.Qxg7+! Kxg7 4.Nf5+ Kg6 5.Rg1+ Kh5 6.Ng7+ Kxh4 (6…Kh6 7.Bxc1#) 7.Rg4#
An example of how sometimes cute tactics can back fire at us if we don’t think deep enough.