Chess Notes

Weekly chess column

The German Bundesliga, one of the strongest chess leagues in the world (because many players are generously subsidized) is a sanctuary for many remarkable games. Here is one of them between Ruud Janssen, an active Netherlands grandmaster and the higher-ranking Latvian player Alexey Shirov. This game is as wild as a loose asteroid, with an English Opening that features knights flying all over the board. In the end, Janssen’s queen faces a severe problem.


2012-2013 German Bundesliga

Ruud Janssen (2483) vs. Alexei Shirov (2718)

SK Turm Emsdetten vs. OSG Baden-Baden



1. c4 e5 2. g3 Nc6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. e4 d6 6. Nge2 The Botvinnik

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variation of the English. A flexible approach by White, where he puts a

clamp on d5 with both the c and e pawns. Such a solid approach must really drive aggressive players like Shirov mad. Shirov is known for his many great tactical encounters. His two volume game collection is, not surprisingly, called “Fire on Board.” 6. … f5 7. d3 Nf6 8. O-O O-O 9. Nd5 Nh5 Shirov has chosen one of the more aggressive approaches for Black. 10. exf5 Bxf5 11. h3 Be6 12. Rb1 A novelty that seems too slow. The main line goes 12. g4 Nf6 13. Bg5 Qd7 14. Qd2 where Black has been pushed back. As played, Black becomes very active. Qd7 13. g4 Nf6 14. b4 Consistent but rather pointless based on Black’s reply. 14. …Bxd5! 15. cxd5 Ne7 Not only does White have to worry about his d-pawn but also about his king-side after Black plays the inevitable h5. 16. Qb3 h5 17. g5 Nh7 f5 is now available to Black and his knight will get there as soon as possible. 18. Bd2 Nf5 Black now has the advantage based on his play on the king-side and in the center along with the fact that White is not doing much but defending. 19. Qc4 As will be seen not a good square for White’s queen. The idea is to put some pressure on the backward c-pawn and at the same time defend against the threat of Qd8 winning the white g-pawn.  19. …Qd8 20. h4 e4!? Out of the blue, Shirov, as is his nature, has injected tactical energy. Now, White, who was probably hoping for a quiet, positional struggle, has to calculate for his life. 21. Nf4?  I think White is just asking for trouble. Clearer and safer to me was 21. dxe (21. Qxe Re8 or 21. dxe Nxh4) Nxh4 22. f4 where after 22. … NxB 23. KxN Qe7 24. Rae1 White can keep Black’s activity to a minimum. 21... Nxg5!? Here we go. (Diagram) 22. Nxg6?!  It seems that after 22. hxN Qxg 23. Qxe4! White defends and may have a winning advantage: 22. hxN Qxg5 23. Qxe4 Rae8  24. Qf3 Nd4 25 Qg3 Ne2+ 26. NxN QxB 27. Nc1. By ducking the complications, White allows Black his way on the king-side. 22. … Nf3+ 23. Bxf3 exf3 Now White has to constantly worry about being mated on g2.  24. Nxf8 Nd4 25. Ng6 Missing the threat.25. Bg5 is White’s best chance to keep playing. 25. … b5 Winning White’s queen as she has no good squares to move to. See, I told you that this was a bad square 26. Bg5 Qd7 27. Qxd4 Bxd4 28. Nf4 Be5 29. Ne6 Qf7 With the idea of Qf5 and Qg4+ mating. So, White gave up. 0-1