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A.J.'s TS; Game # 11

  GM Veselin Topalov (2804) - GM Ruslan Ponomariov (2738);  
ICT, 2nd M-Tel Masters  
Sofia, BUL; (R8) / 11,05,2006.  

tac-sch_g11-medal.gif, 02 KB


  (Tactical School, Game # 11.)  

An astounding game ...  [replay]   
but I am beginning to wonder if White should have won this one at all. 

This variation will be the focus of my May (2006) "Game of The Month," so I do not try to analyze 
the opening here.  (To go to my "Game of The Month" website, please click here.) 


1.e4 e5;  2.Nf3 Nc6;  3.Bb5 a6;  4.Ba4 Nf6;  5.0-0 Be7;  6.Re1 b5;  7.Bb3 0-0;  8.h3 Bb7;   
 9.d3 d6;  10.a4 Na5;  11.Ba2 c5;  12.Nbd2 Nd7;  13.Nf1 Nb6;  14.Bd2 b4;  15.c3 bxc3;  
 16.Bxc3 Nc6;  17.a5 Nc8; 18.Ne3 N8a7;   19.Nf5, "+/="  19...Bc8;  20.Nd2 Rb8;  
 21.f4 Bxf5;  22.exf5 exf4;  23.Qg4 Nd4;  24.Ne4 Nab5;  25.Bd2!? Nc2!?;  26.Bxf4 Kh8!?;  
I don't know about this.  

     [ Maybe (>/=) 26...Bf6; here? ]  


 27.Qh5 Nxe1;   
This is good, yet ... 

     [ Possibly the continuation of: 27...Nxa1;  28.Rxa1 Nd4;  "/+"  
        deserved serious consideration, when Black is clearly much better.   
        (Fritz shows "-/+") ]  


 28.Rxe1 Qxa5;   
After almost a minute, Fritz 9 considers Black to be winning ... by around two points.  

(Some pundits actually condemned this move, yet analysis shows that this is not where Black went astray.) 

     [ </= 28...g6?!;  29.Qh6 Nd4;   30.fxg6 fxg6;  31.Ng5 Bxg5;  32.Bxg5 Nf5;   
       33.Bxd8 Nxh6;  34.Be7 Nf5;  35.Bxf8 Rxf8;  36.Re6, "~" ]  


White's next move is forced, yet GM M. Marin awards it two exclams. 
 29.Ra1[]  Rbd8!?;   [(>/=) 29...f6!?)]     
The computer likes 29...Qa4, but this move does not look bad, in fact it appears logical to protect the d6-square here. (It could be inferior, however.) 


White's next move is thematic, (although 30.Kh2 was a thought).   
 30.f6! gxf6[];  (Absolutely forced.)   
Now Black has no choice.   

     [ </=  30...Bxf6?31.Nxf6 gxf632.Qh6!,  "--->"   with a winning attack.  
        ( 32.Qh6 Qb4;  33.Qxf6+ Kg8;  34.Bc4 Nd4;  35.Bh6 Ne6;  36.Rf1! d5;  37.Rf5, "+/-")  ]   


White's next move is very profound, but I am no longer convinced that it is winning by force.  
 (But "31...Kh2!!" - GM Mihail Marin)  
 31.Kh2! d5?;   (A blunder?)   {See the diagram below.}  
This looks very strong, but there is an astounding refutation.  

Amazingly, one move turns a winning position ... into a LOSING one. 
(However, the refutation is light years away from being simple or easy to find!)  


tac-sch_gm11_pos01.gif, 11 KB

  3r1r1k/4bp1p/p4p2/qnpp3Q/4NB2/3P3P/BP4PK/R7 w  


Now the game has become a chess problem, White to move win - from this position.  

     [ The fairly obvious move of:   >/=  31...Rg8;  ("-/+")   is apparently winning for Black.   
        (A full day of analysis failed to reveal a win for White, I looked at many different   
         lines, but I never found anything that was even remotely promising.) ]  


 32.Nxf6!! Bxf6[];  33.d4!! Qxa2[];  
Now Fritz confirms that this move is probably Black's only try.  

     [ </= 33...cxd4??;  34.Bb1! Qxa1?!;  35.Qxh7#. ]   


 34.Rxa2 Nxd4;  35.b4!!,   
This wins by force ... as does the obvious 35.RxP/a6!  ('!' - GM M. Marin)   

     [ 35.Rxa6 Ne6;  36.Bd6 Ng7;  37.Qxd5 Rfe8;  38.Qxc5; "+/-" ]   


 35...Ne6;  36.Be5 Bg7;  37.bxc5 Rc8;  38.Bd6 Rfd8;  39.Ra5 Kg8;  40.Rxa6! Rd7;   

     [ Or 40...Nxc5;  41.Ra7,  "+/-" ]  


 41.Qxd5 Bf8;  42.Qf3,   White has a won game.  


 42...Bxd6+;  43.cxd6 Rcd8;   44.Qd5 Ng7;  45.Ra8 Ne6;   46.Rxd8+ Rxd8;  47.g4 h6;   
 48.h4 Rb8;  49.Kg3 Re8;  50.Kf3 Nf8;  51.Qd2 Kg7;  52.Qd4+ Kg8;  53.Qf6 Re6;    
 54.Qe7! Kg7;    
If now 54...RxQ/e7?? then White takes ... ... ...   
and Black cannot stop the promotion of the pawn, with Topalov getting a new Queen.  


 55.Qc7 Kg8;  56.d7 Nxd7;  57.Qxd7 Kg7;    {See the diagram below.}   
Black has a partial fortress ... indeed, without White's g-Pawn, Black might be able to draw.  


tac-sch_gm11_pos02.gif, 10 KB

  8/3Q1pk1/4r2p/8/6PP/5K2/8/8 w  


However, Topalov shows great technique in breaking down Mr. Ponomariov's position.  


 58.Qd4+ Kg8;  59.Kf4 Rg6;  60.Kf5 Re6;  61.Qd7 Rg6;   62.h5 Rg5+;  63.Kf6 Kh8;    
 64.Qe8+ Rg8;  65.Kxf7!,   "+/-"   Black resigns.   


Please see the CB article,


  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 2006. All rights reserved.   


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