Wednesday, March 07, 2007

White to play - how should the game go?

The solution to the recent Black to play puzzle is given by Ruslan Scherbakov in his current Chess Publishing column (though you'll need to be a subscriber to play through the whole game). The game is Bellon Lopez - Norqvist, Stockholm 2006/7:

White has just played 22.Ra1.

The game is, apparently, a draw with best play. I quote Scherbakov's analysis in full:

After 22. Ra1 Bxc3 23. bxc3 he [Norqvist - ejh] had a fantastic resource 23... c5!! , after which White faced a very difficult task! In fact he had only one move that did not lose the game and it was a rather unexpected one:

24. Ra7+!! [seen by nobody commenting on this blog - ejh] (24. Rxa8? cxd4 25. cxd4 [25. Rxb8 dxc3 26. Rxb5 c2-+] 25... Nc6-/+ was bad for White) 24... Kf6 25. Rxa8 cxd4 26. cxd4 Nc6 27. d5! exd5! Forced. (27... Ne5? 28. d6 Nf7 29. Rf8 c3 30. Kf1 c2 31. Rc8 Nxd6 32. Rxc2+- or 27... Nd4? 28. d6 Nc6 29. Rf8+ Kg7 [29... Ke5 30. d7] 30. Rc8 Ne5 31. d7! Nxd7 32. Rc7+-)

28. Ra6 The point of the check on move 27! 28... b4 29. Rxc6+ Ke5 30. Kf1 c3 31. Ke2 Kd4 and it seems that White is just one tempo too late to win this position.

For example, 32. h3 (or 32. g3 hxg3 33. fxg3 b3 34. Kd1 Kd3 35. Kc1 g4!) 32... b3 33. Kd1 Kd3 34. Kc1 d4 and White could not get a passed pawn on the K-side for free: 35. Rd6 (35. g3?? failed to 35... g4!-+ and Black wins!) 35... Kc4 36. Rd8 d3 37. g4 b2+ 38. Kb1 d2 39. Kc2 Kc5= and White can't make any progress!

No mention of 22...c5, which was the choice of everybody in our comments box: whether this analysis is open to question, it would be interesting to know (as it would to know what check supposedly took place on move 27 - I assume Scherbakov means 24).

However, in the actual game, seeing none of this, but realising that his white-squared bishop was doomed, Black resigned.

The tragedy of the game is in the grades of the respective players. Bellon Lopez, rated 2438, is a Spanish grandmaster, but Black is rated only 2090: lower than the present writer, who has never managed so much as a draw against a GM (although I missed a draw against one at Benasque last year). How many chances does a player of my strength get? But there it was, in his hand - and he missed it.


Jonathan B said...

ah... the tragedy of the missed opportunity - especially when you miss the result in such circumstances.

That sort of thing can seriously dent your psyche if you're not careful.

As for the White to move problem ... I'm going to have a think and I'll let you know!

do you rate chess publishing Justin? I've often thought of subscribing - out of interest rather than practical value (my games are seldom heavily theoretical) - but have never quite got around to it.

ejh said...

Well I use it, but I'm a theory addict.

Anonymous said...

Well, Nb5 and Nd5 look cracking moves to me.

I think I have seen this position somewhere recently but even without prior knowledge those moves are easy to see. In fact, neither was played as I recall.