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Weekly chess column

Today we have a game: Andrei Govorets of Belarus v. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France played this month in the European Rapid Chess Championship Tournament. It was won by Vachier-Lagrave for the second year in a row. He played 22 games.

The effort below starts out as an English Opening. Vachier-Lagrave mixed things up with an unorthodox 6…Be6 as Black. Gorovets responded with an enthusiastic attack on move 10, apparently intending to win a pawn. However, when he saw that the pawn might not be worth the loss of time, he decided not to take it. Nevertheless, abandoning his enterprise put him behind in development, and he later erred in neglecting the half open queen’s bishop’s file.  After giving up a pawn, his king was uprooted. Vachier-Lagrave’s queen swept up pawns and forced resignation.

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a) This gives Black easy equality, so 7.Ng5 would seem to be a more critical test.

b) And this seems to lose time that would be better spent developing.

c) Taking the pawn on c6 is definitely ill-advised: after 12.Qxc6 Rc8 Black would have a massive lead in development and initiative for the measly pawn!

d) It’s clear that Black has emerged from the opening with the initiative.

e) It’s possible that White might just be able to bail to equality via 17.Ne4, but it’s understandable that he did not want to risk it: 17.Ne4 Bf5 (17…c4!?) 18.Nxf6+ Qxf6 19.Bxf6 Bxc2 20.Rd2 Bf5 21.Bh4 h6 22.h3 g5 23.g4 Be6 24.Bg3 Bg7 etc. The way he chose, however, lets Black increase his advantage.

f) Necessary but painful, as now Black simply has an extra pawn.

g) Black’s h-pawn crusade is very typical in such positions, and therefore a pattern well worth knowing.

h) Or 29…h3+ 30.Kf1 Qf3 31.Rxe4 Qh1+ 32.Ke2 Qxe4+ 33.Kd1 (33.Kf1 Qg2+ and 34…Bxg3!; 33.Kd2 Qg2), and while Black should win, White still has chances to hold on.

i) Surely White’s only chance was 31.Kg1. Moving the king to f1 creates the h1 check tactic for Black.

j) From here the game is effectively over.

Gorovets — Vachier-Lagrave

European Rapid Chess Championship 2012

English Opening

Gorovets V-Lagrave

Gorovets V-Lagrave

White Black

White Black

1. c4 e5

21. e4 (f) Bxe4

2. g3 Nf6

22. Bxe4 Qxe4

3. Bg2 c6

23. Qc4 Bd6

4. d4 exd4

24. Nd3 h5!

5. Qxd4 d5

25. Re1 Qf5

6. Nf3 Be6!?

26. Kg2 h4! (g)

7. cxd5 (a) cxd5

27. Rxe8+ Rxe8

8. O-O Nc6

28. Re1 Re4

9. Qa4 Bc5

29. Qc2 Rxe1 (h)

10. Ne5 (b) O-O

30. Nxe1 Qd5+

11. Nxc6 bxc6

31. Kf1? (i) c4!

12. Nc3 (c) Rc8

32. Qd1 Qh1+

13. Bf4 Re8

33. Ke2 d3+

14. Qc2 Bf8

34. Ke3 Bc5+

15. Rfd1 c5

35. Kf4 Qxh2 (j)

16. Bg5 d4 (d)

36. Nf3 Qxf2

17. e3? (e) h6!

37. gxh4 Qxb2

18. Bxf6 Qxf6

38. Qa4 Qf6+

19. Nd5 Qe5

39. Ke4 Qe6+

20. Nf4 Bf5

40. Ne5 Bd6 0-1

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