There has long been a battle in the chess world between those with romantic/creative styles, who are really interested in brilliant attacks and startling sacrifices and those who are just cold, hard technicians, built with technical excellence and machine-like attitudes. I would consider former world champion Mikhail Botvinnik and even the current world champion Magnus Carlsen as being members of this camp. The leaders in the romantic camp would have to include former world champion Mikhail Tal and David Bronstein. So, it is fitting that the following game was played in the recently concluded Bronstein Memorial Tournament, in Minsk, Belarus. Minsk is where Bronstein died in 2006 and is buried. Baadur Jobava is clearly one of our era’s great proponents of creative, romantic chess, with his offbeat openings and endless imaginative sacrifices.
2014 Bronstein Memorial Open,
Baadur Jobava (2706)
— Boris Savchenko (2556)
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bf4 a6 4.e3 g6?! This is probably a mistake already. The only other games that went this way saw c6, Bf5 or e6. 4....g6 allows White to be “creative,” something he has no trouble doing. 5.h4!? Bg7 Oblivious to the coming assault as 6.h5 can't be any good, can it? 5...h6 or 5...h5 would seem to be better choices.6.h5!? Nxh5 “Hey, a free pawn!” 7.Rxh5 Not quite free. 7...gxh5 8.Qxh5 This is a pure positional sacrifice with far from clear consequences. For the exchange, White has the better pawn structure, the better pieces and the safer king. While, Black is left to figure how to develop and how to safeguard his king all with the clock ticking. Not easy at all. It would seem with one swell swoop, White has completely taken Black out of his comfort zone and thrown him out into the cold, cruel world of the unclear. 8...c6 9.Nf3 h6 10.0–0–0 Nd7 11.Qh2 Quiet, maybe he won't see the threat of Bc7 winning his queen. 11...Nf8 Oh, well. 12.Bc7 Further discombobulating Black's pieces. 12...Qd7 13.Be2 Ne6 14.Be5 b5 15.Rh1 15.BxB also leads to a good position for White after 15…NxN 16.Ne5. Throughout this whole game, Black is left with the problem for where to put his pieces and his king. 15...f6 Further weakening his kingside but he can’t really castle without it. 16.Bg3 Ng5 17.Ne1 0–0 Out of the pan and into the fire. 18.Nd3 Qf5 19.Bf4 With the idea of g4, further restricting Black. 19...a5 Black tries to be active but maybe better was just finishing his development with 19...Be6, for example: 20.Nc5 Bf7 21.Bd3 Qc8 22.Ne2 Qe8 23.Ng3 Bg6 24.Nf5 Bxf5 25.Bxf5 e5 26.Bg3 Ra7 27.Qh4 exd4 28.exd4 with a plus for White but there is still a game to be played. 20.Nc5 Qh7 21.g4 Now Black's bishop is “buried alive.” 21...Qg6 22.Bc7 With the idea of 23.f4 Ne4 24.NxN dxN 25.f5 Qg5? 26.Bf4 or 26.Nxe4 22...b4 23.N3a4 Now White's knight start to hop around Black's queenside. 23...e5 24.Nb6 Ra7 25.Bd6 Re8 26.f4 or 26.Nxc8 Rxc8 27.dxe5 fxe5 28.Bxe5 Bxe5 29.Qxe5 Nf7 30.Qf4 Qg5 31.Qf3 26...Nf7 27.g5! Nxd6? Seems to be the fatal mistake as Black does not survive the forthcoming complications. 27…fxg seems to keep White's advantage to a minimum. 28.Bh5 Qf5 28...Qh7 29.Bxe8 Nxe8 30.Qh5 should win 29.gxh6 Ree7 30.hxg7 Rxg7 31.fxe5 fxe5 32.Nxc8 Nxc8 33.Bg6! A really nice move. Threatens mate on h8 and attacks Black’s queen. If 33…RxB the Black is mated after 34.Qh8+ and 35.Rh7 33...Qxg6 34.Qh8+ Kf7 35.Rf1+ Winnings Black’s queen and knight as 35…Ke7 leads to mate after Qf8; 1–0 A very nice, creative game.