Chess Notes

Weekly chess column

Playing in the first round of the World Cup, Ray Robson, US, no doubt was prepared to go home as soon as he was paired against Andrei Volokitin, a higher-rated Ukrainian player.  However, as White, facing a Russian defense, known in this country as the Petroff’s, he caught his opponent napping and prevailed against desperate counterplay. In the second round, however, Robson turned in his glove after losing a couple of games to the formidable Vassily Ivanchuk, also of the Ukraine.

2013 FIDE World Cup

Tromso, Norway

Ray Robson (2623) — Andrei Volokitin (2688)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 The old and wise Petroff Defense is named after Alexander Petrov (1794–1867), Russia’s best player at age 15 and author of its first chess book in 1824. This solid, if somewhat boring, opening has long been in the repertoire of many top-level players. 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Or the always entertaining Cochrane's Gambit: 4.Nxf7, which from time to time shows up on the club level. For his piece, White gets two pawns, a large center, an exposed Black king and probably a lost position! 4...Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.0–0 Be7 8.c4 The Classical Attack, Jaenisch Variation 8...Nb4 9.Be2 0–0 10.Nc3 Bf5 11.a3 Nxc3 12.bxc3 Nc6 13.Re1 Re8 14.cxd5 Qxd5 15.Bf4 Rac8 All this has been seen before. The best example I can find is the Anand vs. Kramnik, Corus, 2010 game: 16.h3 Be4 17.Qc1 Na5 18.Qe3 Bf8 19.c4 Qd8 20.Ne5 Bf5 21.Qc3 b6 22.Rad1 Qf6 23.Qg3 Nc6 24.Ng4 Qg6 25.d5 Na5 26.Bxc7 Bc2 27.Rc1 Nb3 28.Rxc2 Qxc2 29.Nh6+ Kh8 30.Nxf7+ Kg8 31.Nh6+ Kh8 32.Nf7+ Kg8 33.Nh6+ Kh8 34.Be5 Qg6 35.Bg4 Rxc4 36.Qxb3 Rxe5 37.Rxe5 Rc1+ 38.Kh2 Bd6 39.f4 Bxe5 40.fxe5 gxh6 41.Qe3 Qb1 42.d6 Rh1+ 43.Kg3 Re1 44.Qf4 Rf1 45.Bf3; 1-0 A fine win by the World Champion. 16.Qc1 A new move. The point of which is possibly to reach the Anand-Kramnik game without wasting a tempo on h3. 16...Bf6 17.Qb2 Na5 18.Ne5 Bxe5 19.Bxe5 Qb3 20.Qd2 Nc4 21.Qg5 Nxe5 22.Qxf5 Nc4 23.Qc5 White is making inroads into Black’s position. He has the better minor piece, a nice center, and a very active queen but Black has no real weaknesses, so it will require some technique to make headway. 23... Nd6 23...Nb6 is a better choice, Keeping White’s advantage to a minimum. 24.Bg4 Rxe1+ 25.Rxe1 b6 25...Re8 may be better but then after 26.Rxe8+ Nxe8 27g3 g6 28.Qe7 Nd6 29.Qxc7 Qxa3 30.Bf3 White is still better. 26.Qc6 f5? A mistake. Probably the only move to hold the position is 26...Rf8, i.e.; 26...Rf8 27.a4 (27. Qxc7 Nb5) f5 28.Be2 Qf7 29.Bf3 Re8 30.Re5 Kf8 31.g3 Rd8 White is still better but it will take a lot work to make progress.27.Bxf5! (Diagram) A bolt from the blue. I guess Volokitin can be forgiven for missing it. The point of this sacrifice eluded me until the very end. 27...Nxf5 28.Re8+ Now, Black's king goes for a little walk but I still didn’t see what White was up to. 28...Kf7 29.Qd7+ Kf6 30.Re1! Amazing. Retreating when you are attacking is rare. Now, where should Black put his rook? 30...Qg8 If 30…Rf8, then 31.g4 should win and if 30…Rg8, 31.g4 g6 32.Qxc7 Qf7 33.Qe5+ Kg5 34.gxN again should win. Also, 30…Qxc3 loses to 31.Qe6+ Kg5 32.h4+! Kxh 33.QxN! QxR+ 34.Kh2 should win. 31.g4! Finally, the point. Black’s terrible king position dooms him. 31…g6 or 31...Nd6 32.Qe7+ Kg6 33.Re6+ Qxe6 34.Qxe6+ should win. 32.f4 Threatening mate 32…h6 33.h4 Mate again is threaten. Qf7 34.Qxc8; 1–0