Chess Notes

Weekly chess column

In the eighth round of the Tata Steel tournament, Leinier Dominguez-Perez, the leading Cuban player, encountered young Wesley So, 20, of the Philippines and Webster University in St. Louis. So, in an attempt to control Dominguez-Perez’s well known aggression, put forward a Petroff’s defense. Sadly, this was to no avail as Dominguez got an attack along the king’s rook file which featured a startling rook sacrifice.


2014 Tata Steel Chess: Master Group

Leinier Dominguez Perez vs. Wesley So


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 The Petroff’s Defense (or Petrov’s Defense or Russian Defense) is the professional’s approach to getting a draw or keeping a very aggressive opponent in check. It is named after Alexander Petrov (1794–1867) who was considered Russia’s best player in the middle of the 19th century. 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 The Nimzowitsch attack, which is the latest attempt at putting some zip into White’s efforts against the Petroff’s. White has had some success with it of late. The idea is for White to castle queenside and then throw all his pawns along with anything else he has at the Black king. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. 5...Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Be3 0–0 A seemingly safer and thus more boring approach is for Black to also castle queenside, i.e.: 7...Nc6 8.Qd2 Be6 9.0–0–0 Qd7 10.Kb1 a6 11.h4 0–0–0 12.Ng5 Bxg5 13.hxg5 Rdf8 14.Bd4 f6 15.gxf6 gxf6 16.Be3 h5 17.Rh4 Rfg8 with approximate equality, Motylev vs. Rustemov, Bundesliga, 2006. 8.Qd2 b6 A new approach for Black, which seems to be primarily the idea of Hao Wang. It is hoped that the bishop will be a stronger piece on the a8-h1 diagonal. It has had modest results to date. 9.0–0–0 Bb7 10.h4 A new move. Seen recently was 10.Nd4 where one game, Nakamura vs. Wang, Norway Chess, 2013 went: 10.Nc6 11.Nf5 Bf6 12.h4 Re8 13.Bg5 Ne5 14.f4 Ng4 15.Bb5 Re4 16.Ng3 Re6 17.Rde1 Rxe1+ 18.Rxe1 h6 19.Qe2 Qc8 20.Bd3 Qe6 21.Qxe6 fxe6 22.Bxf6 Nxf6 23.Rxe6 Bxg2 24.Re7 Nd5 25.Bc4 Kf8 26.Bxd5 Kxe7 27.Bxg2 and Nakamura went on to win a nice game in 42 moves. 10...Nd7 11.Bd3 Nf6?! The computer prefers the more flexible 11… Nc5 in order to get rid of White’s ever dangerous white square bishop on d3 if necessary. 12.Bd4 c5 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Qf4 The storm clouds are gathering around Black’s king. 14…d5 15.h5 Re8 16.g4 g6?? And fatal oversight, as will become clear shortly. Much better is either 16…d4 or even 16…h6 keeping the king-side files closed. After 16…d4 17.g5 fails to 17…BxN 18.gxB Qxf 18.QxQ gxQ 19.Rh3 Be4 with just an equal position.  17.hxg6 hxg6 18.g5 Bg7 19.Rh7 !! (diagram) Not the type of move you see every day and one that can easily be overlooked in such a sharp position. The idea is just to triple on the h-file, take the g7 bishop and mate Black’s king. A very straight forward plan and one that is very hard to stop. Now if 19…KxR, then 20.Qxf7, with 21.Rh1 mate to follow. d4 20.Bc4 Qe7? The only defense is 20…BxN 21.Rxg7+ KxR 22.Qxf7+ Kf8 23.Qxg6 Re7 24.Qf6 Rg7 25.QxB Qxg5+ with a large advantage to White due to Black’s very exposed king, but at least Black is still playing 21.Qh4 but now with no good defense to 22.R(1)h1 Black gave up. The only attempt is 21…BxN when after 22.RxB+ KxR 23.Qh6+ Kg8 24.Qxg6+ Kf8 25.Qh6+ Kg8 26.g6 and Black is lost; 1–0