Active Defense

The other day I was analyzing the recently game played in the Russian Team Championship between Grandmasters Nepomniachtchi and Sjugirov and one variation caught my eye, so I decided to share it with you. The game was a Najdorf Sicilian, namely the Adams Attack, where both sides have been fighting to mate each other’s king. After 27 moves, the game reached the following position:

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GM Nepomniachtchi, I (2714) – GM Sjugirov, S (2669), TCh-RUS Men, Sochi, 2015

In this position, black played 27…Be8, allowing white to play 28. h5, followed by g6. The game ended with a beautiful queen sacrifice by Nepomniachtchi. If you haven’t already seen the game, I recommend you replay it and try to find the final blow.

Having seen what happened in the game, I wondered if black could have played 27… g6 instead of 27…Be8 in this position. The variation I looked into looks like this: 27… g6 28. h5 gxh5 29. Rh1 e5 (freeing the light squares bishop) 30. Rxh5! Bg4

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Position after 30…Bg4

Everything seems to be going in white’s favour, as he again has some nice tactics: 31. Rxh7! 31… Kxh7 is not possible, because of the obvious 32. Qh4 followed by mate. So, black has to continue his idea and play 31… Bxd1, but after 32. Qh4, threatening mate again, it looks like the game is over for black. However, this is not the case, as he still has an unexpected resource in this position. Can you find it?

NepoSjugirov3

Position after 32. Qh4.  Black to move and save the game


Later Edit

In this position, black can draw by perpetual after 32… Qxb2!! 33. Kxb2 – Rxc2

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