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Chess Notes

Weekly chess column

Baadur Jobava is a Georgian national grandmaster, who does not abide conventional moves. Here is an illustration of his technique, playing White in the Tata Steel Chess Challenger section against the 18-year-old Dutch IM Benjamin Bok. Jobava provides an understated opening and an exasperating middle game.

 

2014 Tata Steel Challengers,
Wijk aan Zee
Baadur Jobava (2710)

-Benjamin Bok (2560)

 

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1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Be2!? As always, Jobava goes his own way in the openings! 3...Nf6 4.d3 d5 5.Nbd2 By transposition, we have reached a Philidor's defence in reverse. Normally this is not a very enterprising opening for either white or black but here, Jobava's creativity really puts a jolt into it. Philidor, by the way, was François-André Danican Philidor (1726-1795), a French composer, musician, and the best player in the world for about 50 years. He was even said to have played Benjamin Franklin in Paris. 5...Bc5 6.c3 a5 7.a4 0–0 8.0–0 Re8 9.h3 To prepare 10.Re1 by stopping a possible Ng4 by Black. 9...h6 10.Qc2 b6!? A new move/idea here. The databases all give 10…Be6 as the more popular move and the one that scores very well for Black. 11.Re1 Bb7 12.Nf1 Bd6 13.Ng3 Ne7 14.Nh4 c5 15.Bg4 White’s really determined to take complete control of the strong square f5. Black’s rather slow plan of playing c5 has allowed White to get a little initiative on the king-side. 15...c4 16.dxc4 Nxe4 17.RxN!? Not sure if this is really necessary but it is interesting but certainly not as interesting as White’s next. 17...dxe4 18.Bxh6!? What the. . .? I didn't see this coming. Along with the 17.RxN this is basically adds up to a rook sacrifice. The computer is completely dismissive of it claiming that Black is just winning but over the board it is not so easy to figure it out. My first try to make it work or just to see the point was after 18...gxB was 19.Qd2 but 10…Ng6 seems to hold easily, i.e.; 20.NxN fxN 21.Qxh6 Qf6 22.Nh5 Qf7. The more sophisticated approach 19.Rd1 runs into 19…e3 cutting off the White queen from Black’s king. So, I am really not sure what he had in mind. Maybe this was just a bluff that worked. Jobava’s almost suicidal aggression in this game can be explained, in part, by his need to keep pace with the eventual tournament winner, Ivan Saric. 18...Bc5 The young Bok’s nerves fail him and he looks for a safe solution which should give him an even game but his declining the “rook” seems only to encourage White that much more 19.Rd1 Qc7 20.Qc1 Another White piece heads for the Black’s king. 20...e3 He could even take the bishop now which leads to a draw after 21.Qxh6 Qc6 22.Qg5+ Ng6 23.Nh5 Be7 24.Qh6 Bf8. 21.Bxe3 Now White has two pawns for the exchange. 21...Bxe3 Better is 21...Red8 22.Rxd8+ Rxd8 23.Bxc5 Qxc5 24.Qg5 when Black has one less piece to worry about. 22.Qxe3 Qxc4? Seems to be the fatal mistake as Black is really on the ropes after this. Better seems to be 22…Rad8 with a plus for White but Black is still playing. 23.Nh5 Qe4 24.Qg5 Ng6 25.Kh2?! Not sure why this was played as25.Nxg7 Kxg7 26.Nf5+ Kg8 27.Bf3 just wins. 25...Bc8 26.f3 Qc2 27.Rd6 All of White’s pieces are aimed at g6 and Black’s king. With so many pieces hovering around, you always start looking for combinations.  27…Bxg4 28.hxg4 Kh7 29.Nxg6 fxg6 30.Nf6+! gxf6 31.Rd7+ Kg8 32.Qxf6 No stopping mate now; 1–0

 

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