Chess Notes

Weekly chess column

As Magnus Carlsen repeatedly squeaks out of lost positions in the ongoing Candidates’ matches, we can perhaps understand a bit how he does it by looking at the game below, played in the BCC Haupturnier tournament. However, in this case White turns a lost position (evaluated by the computer at around +3 for Black) into not a draw but a win. The game has a full share of combinations.


Boylston Chess Club Haupturnier

Ted Cross vs. Simon Behm




1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. e4 We have now entered the realm of the Slav-Geller Gambit. An enterprising line in the Modern Slav but one that modern chess theory holds as a little dubious. 5 a4 is the more popular and sounder alternative. 5. … b5 6. e5 Nd5 7. a4 h6 8. axb5Nxc3 9. bxc3 cxb5 10. Qc2 ?! A dubious move if not an outright mistake. White has to be active to justify his pawn sacrifice. Other tries, more to the point that are more to this point are 10.Ba3, 10. Nd2, 10. Be2 and the sudden and strange 10. Ng5, with the idea of hxN, 11. Qf3 winning the piece back — 10… Nc6 11. QxN+ Bd7 10. … e6 With the idea of answering the “threaten” 11. Qe4 with Qd5. Note, that 10. … Bb7 walks into 11. e6 which gives White a fierce attack. 11. Nd2 Bb7 12. Ne4 Qh4 With the idea of exchanging queens after either 13. Nd6+ or 13. Nc5. 13. Ng3 So back goes the knight. The computers all give Black a winning advantage in that with perfect play, they don't see any compensation for the lost pawn. The key word here is “perfect” and as we will see: To err is human. 13. … Bd5 14.Rb1 a6 15. f3 Be7 16. Be2 O-O 17. Be3 Nc6 18. O-O b4 19. cxb4 Nxd4 20. Qd1 Nc6?! The first sign that Black is starting to lose the thread, as we call it. Much better is just the simple 20. … NxB+, with this bishop gone, the extra pawn on c4 is safer and it will be that much harder for White to generate threats against Black. 21. f4 Bxb4 22. f5 Bc3 23. Rf4 Qg5 24. Qc1 Bxe5 25. Rg4 Qe7 26. Bxh6 What should have been a dry, technical win for Black has now, with Black's carelessness, turned into a life and death tactical struggle. Black is still winning but he has to start finding moves, not so easy when you have gone into “cruise control” 26. … Kh7 Should still win but 26. .. Nd4 looks much simpler with the idea of finally getting rid of the bishop. 27. Bxc4 gxh6 28. f6 Qxf6 29. Bd3+ Kh8 30. Nh5 Bf4 31. Nxf4 Qd4+?? (Diagram) After a topsy-turvy affair, Black's back is to the wall. This check loses as the queen is on the same rank as White’s rook and is lost to a discovered check. Much better and still winning is 31. … Ne5!  with the clever idea of if 32. Nh5 Qf2+!! 33. Kf2, NxB+ wins back the queen with a winning material advantage. And if 33. Kh1, then 33. … NxR just wins. Chess is very unforgiving as just like that, Black is lost. 32 Kh1 Rg8 33 Ng6+ RxN 34  RxQ Bxg2+ 35. Kg1 f5 36. Rd6 Ne5 Hoping that Nf3+ might turn into something. 37. Qc3 Guess not as the knight is now pinned and lost; 1-0