Weekly chess column

Today’s game, David Harris v. Denys Shmelov played at Metrowest, is a good example of the tension that chess can generate. As White picks up pawns and Black counterattacks, the crisis undoubtedly occurs when both players are in time trouble. The struggle calls for swift instincts to find the coveted moves. Here White prevails in a dramatic ending.

David Harris (2097) vs. Denys Shmelov (2499)

MetroWest CC Thanksgiving Swiss,

Nov. 13, 2012

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 The Advanced Variation which is the latest and most popular White approach against the Caro-Kann these days. 3… c5 The so-called Botvinnik - Carls’ defense. Botvinnik introduced this line in his 1961 rematch vs. M. Tal. More usual these days is 3... Bf5. 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. c4 A rare variation that can lead to some exciting chess, cxd4 6. Nxd4 e6 7. Nc3 Bb4 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9. cxd5!? Strangely, I can’t find any master games with this obvious continuation. 9.Bd3 or 9. Qg4 are more common. 9… Bxc3+ 10. bxc3 cxd5 The computer suggests that 10. exd is the best continuation leading to a small plus for White. 11. Qg4 Now, how does black defend g7? 11… Qc7 In this game, Black decides to counter attack c3 and e5. 12. Bb5+ An obvious move but one that really puts some big questions to black. 12… Bd7 12… Kf8 looks terrible after 13. Ba3 Now, after Bd7, Black’s king is stuck in the center. 13. Bxd7+ Kxd7 13... QxB loses material to 14. Qxg7. 14. O-O There is nothing like a safe king. Now if 14… Qxc3 15 Rb1 generates many threats against Black’s king. 14… Ne7 15. Qxg7 Rhg8 16. Qxf7 Raf8 17. Qh5 The dust has cleared somewhat and White has won 2 pawns at the cost of opening files against his king. 17… Qc4 I think that Denys is playing for the combination played in the game. Sadly for him, it is only good enough for a draw. 18. Ba3 Rf5 Setting up his combination by luring white’s queen away from g4. 19. Qxh7 Rxg2+!

It gets very sharp from now on out, as black has burned all his bridges. White can’t take the rook as that leads to mate - 20. KxR Qg4+ 21.Kh1 Qf3+ 22. Kg1 Rg4. but he does not have to take the rook. 20. Kh1 Kc6 A bit of a bluff as White can take the Knight (BxN) and hold on but, again, time pressure (which I am sure both players were already in) makes cowards of us all. Also, amazingly enough, 20...Rf7 pretty much forces a draw as White’s queen has no real good retreats and 21. QxR leads to a Black perpetual check with 21... Rxh2+ 22.KxR Qh4+ 23. Kg2 Qg4+. 21. f3 Rxa2 After this tricky move, Black is basically lost as he has no good way to save both his knight and his king. 22. Rae1 To keep Black’s queen off of e2. 22… Nc8 If 22… RxB then 23. QxN with the idea of QxR and Qxe6+ 23. Rb1 The beginning of the end as mate is threaten on b7. 23… Nb6 24. Bd6 Mate’s on c7 now. 24… Nd7 25. Qh8 c8 is now the mating square. 25… Nb6 26.Qd8 Now, it’s c7. 26… Kb7 27. Qb8+ Ka6 28. Rxb6+; Winning lots of material as 28… axR 29. Qa8+ Kb5 30. Rb1+ forces 30...Qb3 31. RxQ Kc4 31. QxR +- So Black gave up. 1-0