Chess notes

The annual Aeroflot Chess Festival in Moscow is one of Europe’s biggest and strongest open Swisses. Though it essentially caters to Russian and Eastern European players, it still draws a very strong field. This is the tournament’s 16th year, and it has 60 grandmasters in the 92-player field. The sole American is Gata Kamsky who is playing his first event since late last year. The winner will get about $22,000 and an invitation to the Dortmund “Super” tournament this coming July.

 Today’s game is between one of the world’s and Russia’s best female players, Natalija Pogonina, and one of Germany’s best young players, Rasmus Svane. In the game Pogonina makes a rather dubious positional decision, which leaves her with a difficult game, and then a careless move decided the game as it gave Svane a winning bishop sacrifice.

 2018 Aeroflot Open, Moscow, Russia

Natalija Pogonina (2478) - Rasmus Svane (2586)


 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.Bd3 0–0 8.0–0 dxc4 9.Bxc4 e5 A typical freeing maneuver for Black in these types of positions. 10.Bb3 h6 11.h3 Re8 12.a3 Bc7 13.Rd1 e4 14.Nd2 Qe7 15.Nf1?! A little too passive. The computer gives a very interesting pawn sac that takes advantage of Black’s slow development: 15.f3 exf3 16.Nxf3 Nb6 17.e4 Nxe4 18.Nxe4 Qxe4 19.Re1 Qxe1+ 20.Nxe1 Rxe1+ 21.Kf2 Re7 22.Bxh6 gxh6 23.Re1! Be6 24.Rxe6 fxe6 25.Qg6+ Kf8 (25...Kh8 26.Qxh6+ Rh7 27.Qf6+ is a draw) 26.Bxe6 Rxe6 27.Qxe6 Re8 28.Qf6+ is a draw by perpetual check. 15…Nb6 16.Ba2 Nfd5 17.Nxd5?! This seems dubious to me. It helps Black protect his e4 pawn and from now to nearly the end of the game his bishop on a2 is a mere spectator and While hoped for counterplay on the c-file never materialized Better was just 17.Bd2 or 17.Ng3 17…cxd5 Now White has to be very careful about her king side as Black’s c2 bishop is aimed there and Black’s queen has such easy access. 18.Bd2? Very careless. She needed to examine every capture twice if not three times, especially Bxh3, and she doesn’t. 18. Ng3 was essential. 18...Bxh3! Of course. You don’t have to think very long to see that this is very strong 19.gxh3 Qg5+ 20.Kh1 Rac8 21.Rdc1 or 21.f4 when after 21...exf3 22.Be1 Re6 23.Qf2 Rg6 24.Rd2 Qh5 25.Nh2 Rg2 26.Qf1 Rxd2 27.Bxd2 Bxh2 28.Kxh2 Rc2 29.Qf2 Rxb2 Black is still winning. 21...Qh5 22.Qd1 The computers think that White’s situation is so dire that it requires 22.Qxc7 already. Though in the long run, White won’t be saved: 22.Qxc7 Rxc7 23.Rxc7 Re6 24.Nh2 Qe2 25.Bc3 Rf6 26.Re1 Qxf2 27.Ng4 Qf3+ 28.Kh2 Rg6 29.Bb3 h5 30.Bd1 Qf5 31.Kg2 Nc4 22...Qxh3+ 23.Kg1 Re6 Everyone loves rooks lifts! 24.Rxc7 24.Be1 Bh2+ 25.Kh1 Rg6 26.Rxc8+ Nxc8 27.Qg4 Rxg4 28.Ng3 Bxg3+ 29.Kg1 Bh4# 24...Rg6+ 25.Ng3 Rxc7 Now it’s a rook and 2 pawns for the two pieces. And don’t forget Black’s raging assault on White’s king. 26.Rc1 Rxc1 27.Qxc1 h5 28.Qf1 Qg4 29.Kh2 Qf3 29...h4 30.Ne2 30.Bb3 Nc4 31.Bxc4 dxc4 It’s just too hard to escape Black’s constant king-side pressure - 32.Qg2 Qxg2+ 33.Kxg2 h4; 32.Qe2 Rxg3 32.Ne2 Rg4 With the idea of Rh4+ and Rh1 mate. 33.Nf4 Rh4+ 34.Nh3 g5 35.Qg2 g4 Winning material. The end is near for White. 36.Qxf3 exf3 37.Kg1 Rxh3 38.e4 h4 39.d5 g3 40.Bf4 Rh1+! Very cute. After the forced 41.Kxh1 gxf2  there is no stopping Black from queening. So...;0–1      

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Chris Chase can be reached at