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Can losing be fun!?

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Can losing be fun!?

Postby energy » Mon Oct 25, 2010 6:31 pm

I played a really fun game in the ECC 2010 just recently. I was black against IM Mikel Huerga Leache, and the first moves were well known theory in the Ruy Lopez (Chigorin variation).

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. d4 Qc7 12. Nbd2 Nc6 13. d5 Nd8 14. a4 Rb8 15. axb5 axb5 16. b4 Bd7 17. bxc5 Qxc5


Here white often has played 18. Re3 and then 19. Ba3 next, but the move my opponent chose is more critical and may be better.

18. Ba3 Qxc3 19. Re3 Qc7

Now in a book by Michal Martin, Kortchnoi is said to have claimed that this pawn sacrifice is bad, because 20. Nxe5 doesn't win back the pawn. (We'll see why further down.) However, on another site a very strong player showed me that this position is very difficult for black after 20.Bb4!


The reason is that it's very hard for black to find anything better than 20...Re8, but then 21. Rc3 followed by 22. Rca3 is incredibly uncomfortable to defend against.

Back to my game. My opponent knew nothing of this, and trusted his Rybka-based evaluation of the next few moves.

20. Nxe5 Bxh3 (Kortchnoi's point) 21. Rxh3 dxe5 22. Bxe7 Qxe7 23. Rb3


This position seems very promising for white, the black pawn on b5 is doomed and the black knight on d8 is rather pathetic. Realizing that trying to defend the b5 pawn would necessitate placing more of my pieces badly, the solution was easy to find.

23...Nb7! 24. Rxb5 Nd6 25. Rxb8 Rxb8


So by giving the doomed pawn back at once, black has regrouped all his pieces to about as good a placement as is possible. And white has to start worrying about having a bad bishop. Here my opponent took a long think, almost an hour, and in the next few moves showed why he's an IM.

26. Ra6! g6?! 27. Qa1


Not only have white created an unpleasant threat of Qa3, but also tied the black queen to covering the e5 pawn. Now 27...Nd7 probably was a better move, but I had two principles for this tournament. Firstly I wanted to have fun, secondly I wanted to make as much trouble as possible for my opponents. So seeing a slightly weakened white king-side I chose to attack rather than defend. Had I seen the reply, I might have chosen differently.

27...Ng4?! 28. Bd1!


Allowing Bxg4 in any form seems bad, and retreating would have lost a whole tempo and allowed the previously mentioned plan of Qa3 and Ba4. I did however notice a few interesting possibilities, and with principle #1 firmly in mind, I went for it. :twisted:

28...Nxf2!? 29. Kxf2 Qh4+


I had seen 30. Kg1?? Sxe4 with a draw, because white can't do 31. Qxe5 Qf2+ 32. Kh1 Qh4+ 33. Qh2?? because of the pretty 33...Ng3+ 34. Kg1 Qd4 mate!

White finds the best move, however.

30. Ke3

Now when taking on f2 I had seen another pretty finish here. After 30...Qe1+ 31. Be2?? Nc4!!+ white has the choice of losing painfully after 32. Kd3 Qxd2+ 33. Kxc4 Qc2+ 34. Qc3 Qxe2+ 34. Qd3 Qb2 or quickly with another beautiful mate after 32. Nxc4 Rb3+


Unfortunately nothing like that was ever to happen, because of the simple alternative 31. Kd3 (instead of 31. Be2??) and there's no more fun to be had. Not wanting to end the fun this quickly, I found the only alternative that still had some fight left.

30...Qf4+ 31. Kd3 Rb4!? 32. Ra8+ (32. Rxd6 Rd4+ 33. Qxd4 exd4 34. Rc6 Qe3+ is much harder to win.) 32...Kg7 33. Ra4 and everything seems lost.


But with everything lost, there's nothing more to lose! So...

33...Nxe4!? 34. Rxb4 Qxd2+ 35. Kc4 (35. Kxe4 Qxb4+ 36. Kxe5 f6+ 37. Ke6 Qe4+ 38. Kd6 Qxg2 returns more material, but is of course also won for white.) 35...Nd6+ 36. Kc5 Qe1!


A nasty move to meet when time is short. Of course, this is still a completely won position for white. He just has to find the right moves. Quickly...

37. g4?! (37. Qb2) Ne4+ 38. Kb5?! (38. Rxe4) Nc3+ 39. Kc6 Nxd5! (39...Nxd1 40. Rb1! Qc3+ 41. Qxc3 Nxc3 is tempting, but the d5 pawn is unstoppable here.) 40. Rb3 Qe4 and with a rook up and a fresh half hour on the clock, white expects it should all be over now.

41. Kd6! Ne3! 42. Bf3! (42. Qxe5+ Qxe5 43. Kxe5 Nxd1 is not clear at all, it seems the knight escapes either over f2-g4 or b2.)


Now I had one last trap, but unfortunately I did not try it. After the fantastic 42...Nc4+ 43. Kc5?? Nd2! it's white that suddenly risk losing!


Even though my opponent had planned to play 43. Kc5, I think it's very likely he would have seen the trap in time. After the much better 43. Kd7 Qf4 there's still possibilities for more fun and troublemaking, though. Instead I misjudged an endgame with rook against pawns and lost trivially after

42...Qxf3 43. Qxe5+
Qf6+ 44. Qxf6+ Kxf6 45. Rxe3 Kg5 46. Re4 f5 47. gxf5 gxf5 48. Ra4 h5 49. Ke5 h4 50. Kd4 f4 51. Kd3 Kg4 52. Ke2 Kg3 53. Kf1 h3 54. Ra8 1-0

This game gave me more pleasure than any game I've won in a long time. Sometimes losing can be rather fun! :D
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