GOTM; August, 2004.  


Welcome to my  ...  "Game of The Month," for August, 2004. 

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This is a fairly well-annotated game, from recent GM practice. This is a contest that is primarily aimed at players rated approximately 1000-to-1650 in (USCF) rating strength. There is lots of repetitive stuff, and explanations; but before you get offended and write me a letter, please remember who I started this feature for.  (Lower-rated players!)  And while this feature is aimed at less experienced players ... and you will often find the simplest idea or variation explained ... it is my sincere hope that even the exalted MASTER class of player would find this work of some value. (At least I truly hope so.)  

I have tried to consult ECO, NCO, MCO, etc. I key this work ... for the most part - to  MCO-14  ... because this is the most popular and current reference work on the market today. (You can still easily find this book on any commercial web site, like Amazon.)  When some other - more popular or more current work - replaces MCO-14, then I will use that work instead. 

******

My methods remain reasonably constant. This game is the work of  MANY  hours of work and analysis. I also have consulted nearly every book in my library on the Ruy Lopez ... and I have done dozens of database searches. I have also attempted to use the computer to analyze this game every step of the way. (Please read earlier installments of my columns if you wish to know more.) 

This month, I have instituted a new feature. You can click  here  to see the games that I looked at - some very closely - that were seriously considered for this month's  "GOTM"  feature. These games are  NOT  annotated ... however I spent many hours looking at this small group of games. (Some were simply too long, others were decided by a simple blunder. In others, the openings were too similar to games I have done previously. I have also tried to avoid doing the games of the same player over and over and over again.) In the end, I chose this one. Good or bad, I thought this had to be one of the best games of the whole month. I thought that many people might be interested to see the games that I had seriously considered. You decide!! Tell me, did I choose the best game? 


   This is basically a text-based page. (With just a few diagrams.)   
  I strongly suggest that you use a chess set.  

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   Click  HERE  to see this game on a  java-script re-play  board.   

     Click  HERE  to see an explanation of the symbols I use.    


  GM Alexander Morozevich (2743) - GM Krishnan Sasikiran (2666) 
 [C95] 
   It Biel SUI (Rd. # 08);  27,07,2004.   

 [A.J. Goldsby I] 

  The CB Medal for this game.  (gotm_aug04-med.gif, 02 KB)


A.J.'s "Game of The Month" for August, 2004.  (From TWIC # 508.) 
[My website for this feature is {now} located at: http://www.geocities.com/TheGOTMman/index.html.] 
(Also - this page represents the third {# 3.} installment of  ... MY OPENING SCHOOL.)  

Here the fiery player Morozevich, who won the  event  that this contest was played in - with a near 2900  
performance rating - outplays his strong opponent, in a very sharp clash of ideas and tactics.  

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  This game was played at the recent  Super Tournament  in the city/town of Biel, Switzerland. 

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***  

{The ratings are accurate and are these player's current ELO values. They were the ratings that were assigned 
  to this game when I downloaded it from TWIC ... of course it was completely UN-annotated then.}


 1.e4 e5;  {Diagram?}   
Probably the best way to meet White's opening move ... Black simply mirrors his opponent's pawn play, 
and gets control of the vital d4-square.  

Some other good things that the Pawn move of ...e7-e5; will do for Black is:
# 1.)  Open the e7-square for Black's pieces;
# 2.)  Clear the diagonals of the of both Black's Queen and Bishop;  
# 3.)  Fix White's KP and make the f6-square safer for Black's Knight;
# 4.)  Because of all the above factors, Black has facilitated a very rapid King-side development.  

The method of initially occupying the center with Pawns represents the Classical School of thought here.
(The "hyper-moderns" believed that most such advances should be held back until it was clear what the 
 best Pawn Formations were going to be.)  

     [ Of course, many top GM's also play the Sicilian in this position.  
        After  1...c5!?;  {Diagram?}  which also controls the d4-square, 
        but Black's K-side development is much slower.  

        [ A fairly recent annotated  game  where the Sicilian is used. ]  ]   

 

 2.Nf3,  (Maybe - '!')  {Diagram?}  

For the beginner, this is the best way to play. 

White plays one move that adheres to ALL the four (of my) basic Principles of The Opening

****************************************************************************
[   The four basic concepts, {Principles of the openings.}; are:  

  # 1.)  Control the Center.  
 
# 2.)  Rapid development.  
 
# 3.)  Protect the King and castle early. (If at possible.)  
 
# 4.)  Maintain the material balance, (SQUARE CONTROL!); unless you are playing 
           an intentional gambit. ]  

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***  

{These principles should be applied - very systematically - every single move, during the opening phase.}   

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Note how White's move does all of these things - hits key center squares, develops a piece, attacks 
the button on e5, and also prepares K-side castling.  [ more (on this topic) ]   

 

 ************** 

     [  In the 17th and 18th Century, most masters opened with the flashy and somewhat risky  
        move of:  2.f4!?{Diagram?}  While, strictly speaking, this move is  NOT  unsound, few 
        top GM's play this move today. (I have always been a big fan of the King's Gambit.  But 
        when I was coming up in chess, VERY long periods ... like 3-4 years ... would go by, 
        and you would not see a single, decent KG encounter in any issue of the INFORMANT.)  

        Needless to say, the King's Gambit has  NOT  been refuted ... and many of the world's best 
        players, (Fischer, Spassky and many others!); have used this enterprising line. However, it 
        has been my experience that when an inexperienced player tries this opening, it often leads 
        to a complete disaster for White.  

       [ A  game  where this opening is analyzed in some depth. ]  ]    

 ************** 

 

 2...Nc6;  {Diagram?}     
The most sensible reply ... and one that also adheres to  ALL 4  of the basic opening principles.  
(Although Black rarely castles on the Q-side in KP openings!!)   

     [ A move like the one:   2...d6{Diagram?}    
       (The Philidor's Defense.); will protect Black's KP. The drawbacks are that it hems in 
       Black's KB, the move does not develop a piece, and it also severely curtails the second 
       player's options.  

       This opening is both extremely solid, and playable. But is also dull, and a little drawish as well. 
       For these reasons - and those outlined above - this opening has never had much of a following 
       at the master level. (GM Bent Larsen, in his prime, being one happy, very notable exception.);   

   **************************************************************************  

       The other possible move for Black in this position is the try:   
       2...Nf6;  (counter-attack)  {Diagram?}   
       which, of course, is the  Petroff's Defense  here for Black. [more]   

 

 3.Bb5,  (Maybe - '!')   {Diagram?}   
Here it is, one of the oldest and most respected of all openings.  
>>>  The RUY LOPEZ.  <<<
(The Spanish Priest - for whom this opening is named for - called this a "very old" move ... 
 several hundred years ago!!!)  

The Ruy Lopez is also one of the most-played opening systems at the "master-plus" level, it was 
featured in several of the games between GM Michael Adams and GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov.  
(The FIDE Final Match of the K.O. Tournament in Tripoli, Libya; 2004.)  
{There are literally thousands and thousands of games of this system in the databases today.}   

But when I have taught many lower-rated players this opening, they almost always object! 
(The move)  Bb5 DOES develop a piece and prepare to get the King to safety ... but it does  
NOT (directly) influence any key central squares! So why play it?  

The simplest answer is that this is more of a POSITIONAL move, than a truly TACTICAL one 
like Bc4. The first player plays to UNDERMINE Black's hold on the center ... and also immediately 
threatens the second player's defense of his KP. And if play continues: 3...a6; 4.Ba4, 4...b5!?; 5.Bb3, 
White gets his Bishop to the key a2-g8 diagonal and hits the f7-square ... but does so from a SAFER 
distance! (On c4, Black often has tactics like NxP/e4; followed by ...d7-d5; regaining the material 
because he forks the WB on c4 and the WN on e4.)  

I interpret this opening as a struggle to dominate the center ... most importantly the d4-square!  
--->  THE PLAYER WHO WINS THE FIGHT OVER THE CENTER  ... 
WILL OFTEN WIN THE GAME!!!!!  {Or at least come out of the opening phase with some 
type of advantage.}
  

 

     [  The beginner always prefers to play a {seemingly} much more aggressive move like: 
         3.Bc4!?{Diagram?}   immediately eyeing the sensitive f7-square. 
         (Not a bad idea.)  

         I know quite a bit about this  opening  ...  it was my number one opening in tournaments 
         for over thirty years!!  (I even have a line in this opening named after me.)  

         Beginners are always taught this opening, and interest remains very high in this method of 
         development. (GM Andy Soltis wrote at least two books on this opening weapon, and  
         renowned  New Orleans Master - Jude Acers,  has recently released a brand-new  
         book  in this variation.)  

        [ See a good reference book like MCO-14, for more details on how to {correctly} play 
          this often wild and complex system. ]  ]   

 

 3...a6!;  (The best!)   {Diagram?}   
This is the famous and very well-known  ...  "Morphy Defense."  
{Morphy did not originate this line, however, he was the first player to play this move on a regular  
 basis ... and he was also the first person to clearly demonstrate the strengths and advantages of  
 this particular defensive system for Black.}  

In my opinion, this is absolutely the best move here. (This does not mean the other systems are not 
fully playable! They certainly are!) But it seems to give Black the best chances - and statistically - it 
also has the best results at the GM level. It also seems to greatly increase Black's options ... and even 
the energy of the position for the  second player here as well.  

  *********************  

     [  Black can also play:  ("=")  3...Nf6!?4.0-0 Nxe4!?5.d4! Nd6!?6.Bxc6 dxc6  
        7.dxe5 Nf58.Qxd8+ Kxd8;  "~"  {Diagram?}  
        when Black's position ... despite its seemingly ugly and anti-positional nature ... 
        has withstood near all attempts by the first player to refute Black's set-up here.  

        Probably the best game - and one of the most memorable - would be the 
        following encounter:   GM G. Kasparov - GM V. Kramnik"The Brain-Games" ...  
        Chess World's Championships. / London, England; (UK) 2000.  

        This was played in the very first game of the match ... and Garry was unable to break 
        down Black's iron-willed defense.  

        This stood the world of chess opening theory on its ear  ...  "The Berlin Defense,"  
        was always viewed as a grossly inferior opening line. As a result, many players have 
        taken up the banner; and today play this line on a very regular basis.   

       [ See MCO-14, page # 45; column # 08, and all applicable notes for this line. ]   

      *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***    

       {My objections to this line are:  
         # 1.)  It is boring - the Queens are traded very early on.   
         # 2.)  It is a line that ONLY aspires to draw - Black does NOT attempt to win 
                   with this variation.} ]   

  *********************  

 

 4.Ba4!?,  (Maybe - '!')  {Diagram?}   
One of the best lines ... White maintains the tension, as well as all the threats.   

Of course White could play the "Exchange Variation," (Bxc6)  which is a system that is completely 
different than the one chosen by White here. (It also poses an entirely different set of unique problems
for the second player - see any good or reliable reference work for more information here.)  

     [ White was  not  yet threatening to win a Pawn. For example:  
        </=  4.Bxc6!? dxc65.Nxe5?! Qd4!6.Nf3 Qxe4+;  ("=/+")  {D?}  
        and Black regains the Pawn with a very slight advantage. ]   

 

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Both sides continue to develop - in a fairly normal manner. (Black plays to hold the e5 point - whereas the 
move of capturing on e4 with the Black Knight on move five - greatly clears the lines in the center ... and 
is the beginning of,  "The Open Variation."  This is a completely different system than the one used in this 
particular encounter.)  

 4...Nf6;  5.0-0 Be7!?;  ('!')   {Diagram?}     
The most solid choice here for the second player here.
("The Closed System" for Black - in the Ruy Lopez.)  

With this continuation, Black simply develops a piece ... and maintains his Pawn on the e5-square. 
The second player is also now ready to castle next move.  

     [ For the continuation of:  5...Nxe4!?{Diagram?}   
       This move marks the beginning of the so-called  "Open System"  for Black. 
       (Some GM's like it, and some don't. According to my books - which run from 
        a book that is very recent, all the way back to a book printed in the late 1960's -  
        this opening line has always been under a cloud. {Theoretically speaking!}  

        Personally, I feel the variation is OK, but I will also be the first to admit I am NOT 
        an expert on this particular sub-system of the Ruy Lopez!)  

        6.d4 b57.Bb3 d58.dxe5, "+/="   8...Be6; "~"  {Diagram?}    
        The current position strikes me as unclear. Nevertheless, the second player's results 
        with this particular line have been dismal, especially at the World Championship level. 
        (See the FIDE World Championship Matches of the 1950's, Korchnoi's failures against 
         Karpov, and finally Anand's loss against Kasparov in the WCS Match in 1995.)  

         See MCO-14. (Or any other good, opening reference book.) ]    

 

 6.Re1,  ('!')  {Diagram?}   
The simplest move, and the play that is most consistent with White's overall strategy of trying dominate 
the center with the foot soldiers. {And now that White's KP is protected, the first player is really threatening   
to play BxN/c6, followed by NxP/e5 ... winning a Pawn.}  

     [ Interesting is:  6.Nc3!?,  "+/="  {Diagram?}  
        but White can no longer play c3, followed by d2-d4. ]  

 

Black's next move is specifically designed to meet the threats against Black's e5-square.  
 6...b5!;  7.Bb3 d6;  {Diagram?}   
The most solid line. Black protects his Pawn on the e5-square, and also threatens to play   
 ... N/c6-a5;  gaining the Bishop pair.   

 ********************* 

     [ After the following moves:   7...0-0!?8.c3 d5!?; ('!!?!')  9.exd5 Nxd5  
        10.Nxe5 Nxe511.Rxe5 c6!;  "~"  {Diagram?}    
         we reach the modern lines of Black counter-attack known as  
          ...  "The Marshall Gambit."   

       I strongly advise any player who is seriously considering to play these sharp lines, 
       to consult a chess coach; and also purchase a book completely dedicated to the 
       ideas of this very sharp line.  [more]   

       [ See also MCO-14, pg. # 91.]  ]    

 ********************* 

 

******************************************************************************   
White next move accomplishes  MANY  different things! (It covers both the d4 and the b4-squares,
it prepares a general Pawn advance in the middle of the chess board, {d2-d4};  and it also gives the 
White light-squared Bishop a ... "hidey-hole" ... on the c2-square.)  

 

 8.c3! 0-0;  9.h3!,   {See the diagram ... just below.}      
Absolutely the best and the most positional treatment. (White prevents the pin and exchanges - but most 
importantly, the d4 square is a key part of White's plan. Without the Knight on f3, White cannot win the 
fight for this crucial square!)  

Of course d2-d4 IS OK ... and is fully playable for White ... but is the starting point for a completely  
different system!!    

 

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gotm_08-04mn_pos1.gif, 47 KB

  {The actual position on the chess board, after White plays 9.h3.}  

  ************************************************  

 

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***   

Black now has many different responses to White's last move; each one initiates an entirely 
different (sub) - system of the Ruy Lopez!! (Tchigorin, Zaitzev, Keres, etc.)   


     [ After the moves of:   9.d4!? Bg410.Be3!?{Diagram?}   
        This is the move almost universally recommended by most opening books 
         in this particular position.  

           ( Also possible is: 10.d5!?, "="  {Diagram?}      
             which seems to be about equal ... maybe, just       
             maybe ... White is a little better. )     

        10...exd411.cxd4 Na512.Bc2 c5; "~"  {Diagram?}     
        White may have a TINY edge, however I evaluate this position as being somewhat unclear.   

        Haba - Foisor ICT / Masters {open?} /  Bad Worishofen, GER; 1992.   

        [ See MCO-14, page # 79; columns four, (# 04); through column five, (# 5); 
          and all applicable notes. ]   

      *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***   

        See {also} the following clash: 
        GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov - GM Michael Adams 
        ICT/ FIDE World Championships {A Knock-Out event.} (Game # 7)   
        Tripoli, Libya; / June 19th, 2004.    
        {This game was drawn after some very wild and rather strange adventures.}  

        I have deeply annotated ALL the games of this match ... this e-book is available 
        on my  "downloads" web-site,   now - at no charge!  

        (However, you  MUST  have a current  ChessBase  program ... 
          in order to be able to read this file!!) ]    


**************************************************************************   
Black's next move looks almost like a beginner's play ... ... ...   
 9...Nb8;  ('!?')   {See the diagram - - - just below here.}    
This 'strategic retreat' is the beginning of  ...  "The Breyer System."    

 

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 gotm_08-04mn_pos2.gif, 47 KB

  ***************************************  

 

{Julius} Breyer was one of the members of the "Hyper-Modern School." 
(Although this is not technically a real hyper-modern type of opening, this school of thought brought 
 new ideas to many of the older opening lines.)  

 ******* 

    The  main ideas  of this variation are:  
    A.)  Free Black's Queen-side Pawn majority to advance; ('!!')    
    B.)  Clear the long diagonal for possible use by the Black QB;  
    C.)  Re-position the Black Knight on the d7-square ...  where it is much more flexible,    
           (and also not unprotected!);  supports is 'brother' on f6, and can even be rushed to 
           the defense of the King - should the situation on the chessboard require it. 
           (In some lines, if White should play the pawn push of d4-d5, a BN on d7 can also 
            utilize the handy c5-square.)  

  *********************  

 

     [ The older move here is:  9...Na5!?{Diagram?}   
        which leads to the lines of   ...  "The Tchigorin System."  
       {See any good reference book.}  

       [ See also MCO-14, beginning on page # 81. (All columns.) ]  ]    

 

We continue with the actual game ... both sides continue to travel a well-known main line.   
 10.d4,  (lever)   {Diagram?}   
Note how this move is basically a moral victory for White. The first player has achieved   
 the objective of dominating the center with pawns.  


  *********************  

     [ A very interesting game was:  10.a4!? Bb711.d3!?{Diagram?}   
        Much too slow a treatment to be effective here.   

            ( Better was:  >/= 11.d4!; "~"  )    

       11...Nbd712.Bc2 Re813.Nbd2 Bf814.Nf1 c515.Ng3 g6{Diagram?}   
       This is good - very solid and sensible. (Fritz likes ...d6-d5; in this position, I am 
        not sure if Black is ready for this advance.)  

       16.Bg5 Qc717.Nh2!?{Diagram?}   
       White has no time for such a maneuver ... his first priority should have been to 
       control the center of the chess board.   

            ( Better was:  >/=  17.Qe2, "="  {Diagram?}  or even the try, c3-c4!? here. )     

       Black now offers to (possibly) sacrifice a Pawn ... simply to allow his pieces more play.   

       (It is strange to see this idea played in this game. I get the eerie feeling that 
        Garry Kasparov might have played the same move in this particular position!!)      
       17...d5!;  ('!!')  18.Qf3 Bg719.h4?!{Diagram?}   
       This is too ambitious ... and is not merited by the current position.   

            ( >/=  19.Ng4 Nxg4; "~"  ("=/+") )    

       Black now gains space ... a very important basic element of chess. Meanwhile, the first  
       player continues on his merry way ... with his ... "attack."   
       19...d4!{Diagram?}    
       This is good ... and several annotators praised this move.   
       (Fritz likes this idea, but prefers to play ...h6; and then ...d4.)   

       20.h5!? c4!21.Rac1!? Qb622.axb5 axb523.Bb1!?,  (Maybe - '?!')  {Diag?}    
       This could be less than best, but it is difficult to be sure.   

            ( Maybe slightly better was:  23.h6!? Bf8;  24.Qe2!? dxc3!?;      
              25.bxc3 Ra3!; "=/+"  (The a-file.) (and) Black holds a small edge. )       

       Black continues to work on the idea of holding extra space ... and maybe just trying to 
       smother White. (It is fairly instructive how Spassky just overwhelms White on d3 and c3.)   

       23...Rac824.Ba2!? Ba6!25.hxg6!? hxg626.Red1 Nh7!?27.Bd2!? Nc5!   
       28.dxc4 bxc429.cxd4 Nd3!30.Rb1?!{Diagram?}    
       This is - again - too passive.  

       (White seems to be fiddling ... while Rome burns!)  

    ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** 

            ( It seems that White had to try and play:       
               >/=  30.Rc3 Nb4;  31.Bb1 exd4;  "/+"  {Diagram?}       
              but Black remains solidly better. )        

    ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **   

       30...exd431.Ng4 Ne5!?{Diagram?}    
       It is very nice to play only thirty moves ... against a very strong master ... 
       and have such a favorable position.  

            ( Several different strong programs, like Fritz, DJ, CM9000 ...     
              all prefer to play: (>/=)  = 31...Bb5!;  "/+"  {Diagram?}       
              with a big plus for Black. )     

       32.Nxe5 Rxe533.Rdc1 Ng534.Qg4!? Nxe4!{Diagram?}   
       GM Andy Soltis calls this  ...  "The final shot in the positional struggle." He goes on to say,   
       "All that Black needs now to win ... is a little King safety."  

       35.Nxe4 f536.Qe2 Rxe437.Qf1!? Qe6!38.b4 Bb5{Diagram?}   
       Black is probably winning here.   

       But now Qd3 was worth a try ...   
       39.Qd1?! Kf8!{Diagram?}   
       This wins  ...  playing the Black Rook to the e2-square!  ...  was also decisive here.  

 

  *************************************************  

 Analysis diagram!  (gotm_08-04_an-diag01.gif, 11 KB)

 (An analysis diagram, the position after   39...Kf8;  in the quoted game.) 

  *************************************************  

 

       40.Qf3 d341.Rc3!?{Diagram?}     
       This is equivalent to resignation. No further  comment is required.  

            ( Or 41.Be3 Ra8; ("-/+") )     

       Now ...Ra8; might be best. 
       41...Qc6!?42.Ra1 Re243.Qf4 Qf6!?44.Rd1{Diagram?}  
       Stop squirming!  [ (>/=) Bxc4 ]   

            ( 44.Rac1 g5!; "-/+"  - A. Soltis. )     

       44...Rxd2!45.Rxd2 Qxc346.Qd6+ Kg847.Rd1 Kh748.Qh2+ Bh6  
       49.Qd6 Re850.Qc7+ Qg751.Qc5 d2!;  ("-/+)  {Diagram?}      
       and  ...  WHITE RESIGNED(0-1)   

       "When White loses in a Ruy Lopez, it is often due to a tactical error or a dangerous     
         counter-attack. But rarely is he so completely squashed positionally ... as in this game!"    
         - Andrew Soltis     

       Borislav Milic (YUG) - (future) GM Boris Spassky (USSR); 
       The (FIDE?) Student Olympiade / Lyons, France; 1955.   
       {Many databases give this game as being played in 1952.}    

       [ See the excellent book:  "The Best Chess Games of Boris Spassky," by A. Soltis.    
         Copyright (c) 1973. Published by David McKay. (Of New York City, NY; USA.)   
         Library of Congress card catalog number: # 72-95165 ]    

        ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **   

           ( Now if White takes the Pawn on d2 ... he is quickly mated.   
             For example:   51...d2!52.Rxd2?, {Ugh!} {Diagram?}   
             This is a mistake ... the box says Rf1 was forced here for White. 
             (I would prefer to throw in the towel before making such a silly move as Rf1!)  

                 ( After the moves:  52.Qxb5 Re1+;  53.Rxe1 dxe1Q+;  ("-/+")  {D?}  
                    Black is also winning. )     

             52...Re1+53.Kh2 Bf4+54.g3 Qh6+;  ("-/+")  {Diagram?}      
             and mate - on h1 - next. )  ]   

  ******************************************************************************  
  ******************************************************************************  


Returning now to the actual game that we are attempting to analyze -- for this month.)   
 10...Nbd7;  11.Nbd2,   {Diagram?}     
As in just about all the variations of the Ruy Lopez, White maneuvers his QN to-d2-f1-g3, (or e3);  
in order to activate this piece. (Many times this Knight is a useful component if the first player decides 
to launch an all-out King-side attack.)   

     [ The move of:   11.Bg5!?{Diagram?}    
        looks very playable to me  ...  but is generally thought 
        to be ineffective by opening theory. ]   

 

Now Black continues with his development ... forcing White to defend the e4-square.    
 11...Bb7;  12.Bc2 Re8;   {Diagram?}    
Here is another useful maneuver for the second player in the Ruy Lopez. Black plays ...Re8; to be  
followed by ...Bf8. Then Black has the option of ...g6; and ...Bg7; re-deploying the KB to a much  
more useful diagonal. (Another point is that ...g7-g6; is often very useful to Black, who wishes to  
prevent White from sinking his QN into the f5-square, via the d2-f1-g3 route.)   

 

 13.a4!?,  (Q-side lever!)   {Diagram?}    
White seeks to break down the pawn structure on the Q-side, and possibly open the a-file for his QR. 
This move also softens up b5, making a hanging Pawn on that square a problem that Black must keep 
constant watch over.   

The most often played move is Nf1. Naturally - depending on what both parties play here ... 
play can often transpose from one line to another.  

  **************  

     [ I think the main line here is the move Nf1.   

       For example:  13.Nf1 Bf814.Ng3 g6{Diagram?}   
       Just in time to prevent White from playing Nf5!  

       15.a4!?{Diagram?}  
       There's that move again!  

           ( Possible was: 15.Bd2!? )    

       15...c5{Diagram?}   
       There are 739 games in the CB database ... with this position!!  

       16.d5,  (block)   {Diagram?}   
       This move attempts to make the Black QB ineffective on the b7-square.  

           ( Or 16.dxc5!? dxc5!?;  "~" )      

       16...c417.Bg5 h6{Diagram?}   
       The end of the column here.  

       18.Be3 Nc519.Qd2 h5!?{Diagram?}  
       Putting the King on h7 looks to be a little better or saner here.  

       20.Bg5 Be721.Ra3!?, "+/=" {Diagram?}   
       And now White's move of Ra3 ... 
       "leaves White slightly better in a complex, multifaceted position."  
         - GM Nick de Firmian  (In MCO.)  

       GM Alexey Shirov (2710) - GM Paul van der Sterren (2555);   
       ICT / Hoogoven's Masters (A) / Wijk aan Zee, NED; 1998.   
      (A pretty long and interesting contest ... that was drawn.)  

      {1/2 - 1/2; 61 moves.}  

       [ See MCO-14, page # 85; column # 19, and also note # (f.) ]   

    **********************************************************  

       For a model attacking game, (from this particular position); see:  
       GM Michael Adams - GM Giorgi Giorgadze;    
       FIDE World Championships (knock-out) / Groningen, NED; 1997. ]   

  **************  

 

Black's next move clears the e-file for his Rook, and strengthens his grip on the e5-square.
 13...Bf8;  (re-deploy)   {Diagram?}     
This is an extremely common Ruy Lopez maneuver. 
(Very often this piece is ... "reborn" ... on the long diagonal, and finds new vistas to gaze at.)  

     [ Possibly better was:  >/=  13...c5!?,  ('!')  {Diagram?}   
       with good play for Black. ("=") ]   

 

 14.Bd3,  ('!?' or '!')  {Diagram?}   
Placing the Bishop on a slightly better square here - and also attacking the b5-square. 
(I told you to watch out for this!)  

     [ Also possible was: 14.b4!? ]  

 

Black now protects b5. (But Black could have considered the pawn advance, ...d6-d5.)  

 14...c6; ('!?')  {Diagram?}   
I spent a great deal of time ... and many different sessions trying to decide whether or not the move  
...d5;  was a substantial improvement over the game.  (I am still not completely sure.) 

     [ After the following moves:   (</=) 14...d5!?; ('?!')  15.axb5 dxe416.Nxe4 Nxe4  
       17.Bxe4 Bxe418.Rxe4 axb519.Rxa8 Qxa820.Qe2, "+/="  ('')  {Diag?}   
       White has a very solid edge.  (But this is only one variation, are many more 
        and literally hundreds of side-lines.) ]   

 

 15.b3!?,  ('!')  {Diagram?}   
To me, this is sort of a high-class waiting move. White protects his a-pawn, and gives himself a few  
more squares on the Q-side to work with. Meanwhile, the first player has adopted a sort of  ...   
"wait-and-see" attitude here.  

     [ Also a very good and a logical move was the simple: 
        15.Qc2!?{Diagram?}   
        maintaining a small edge   ("+/=")  for White here. ]  

 

 15...g6!?;  (hmmm)   {Diagram?}    
The book move here ... Black continues with the plan of getting his KB to a slightly better square.  

Is it possible ... that this extremely logical-looking move ... is dubious? If so, then Black must have 
went very badly astray earlier in this contest. Where did Black miss the best line?  

     [ Another possibility here is:  (>/=)  15...b4!?; ('!')  "~"  {Diag?}   
         with play against White's Q-side Pawn chain. ]   

 

 16.Bb2 Qb6!?;   {Diagram?}   
This looks somewhat inconsistent. 
(This might have worked just a little better last move.)  

Having already played ...g6; the second player should go ahead and play his Bishop to ...g7.  
{The move of ...Qc7; also looked a little better here than Q-to-b6.}   

     [ (>/=) 16...Bg717.Qc2, "+/=" ]  

 

White {now} finds a somewhat surprising - and a very energetic reply in this position.   
 17.c4!,  (b5 - again!)   {Diagram?}   
White increases the tension in the position.   

When looking for the best GM game for the month, I often play through many games on the computer.  
{Sometimes 50-100 a week!} I do this in the program, ChessBase 8.0.  {Most of the time, I use the  
 "TRAINING" tab in the program, which means you cannot see the next move in the game.}  

White's vigorous reply here - which I failed to even seriously consider - was the main reason that I 
chose to feature this particular game. (And there are more good, {and also unexpected} moves that  
are coming!!!)  

 *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***   

Oh ... by the way ... apparently this move is also brand-new to master -level play. (TN)  {Previously 
White had always played Qc2 here. I also found one example of Rb1 in the on-line database.}   

I guess the only question left I had,  (... ... ...) 
"Was this idea prepared in advance, or was it discovered at the board?"  

 *** 

     [  Much less effective would be:  
         </= 17.dxe5 dxe518.Qc2 Nc519.Bf1 Rad8; "~"  {Diag?}   
         when I feel that Black is no worse than White in this position.  

     ****************************************************  
     *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***   

        Mostly - White has played Qc2 in this position. For example:  
        17.Qc2!? Nh518.Bf1 exd419.cxd4 d5!?20.Qc3!? Nf4  
        21.a5 Qd822.b4 Nf623.e5, "+/="  {Diagram?}    
        White is very solidly better in this position ... but the game was 
         eventually drawn in just 37 total, overall moves.   

         GM Sergei Dolmatov (2565) - GM Bartosz Socko (2435);    
         ICT / Euro. Cup (Final-Rd. #3) / Kazan, RUS; 28,12,1997. ]     

  *** 

 

 17...Nh5!?  (Hmmmm.)   {Diagram?}   
Black heads for the outpost on the f4-square. Surprisingly, and without any really visibly faulty moves, 
Sasikiran has drifted into a distinctly inferior position here.   

 ******* 

     [  Variation # 17B01.)  

         The other alternative for Black was to try the continuation:  
         17...exd4!?18.Bxd4 c5{Diagram?}   
         This is more-or-less forced here, otherwise Black drops a Pawn on b5.  

             ( Not to be recommended was the following line:       
               </=  18...Qd8?!;  19.axb5 axb5;  20.cxb5 c5;       
               21.Bc3,  ('')  {Diagram?}  and Black does not have     
               sufficient compensation for the Pawn in this position. )     

         19.Bxf6 Nxf620.cxb5, "+/="  ('')  {Diagram?}   
          Black loses a Pawn, but does have some limited compensation in the form 
          of the two Bishops. {Since Sasikiran rejected this line, we can only assume 
          that he felt it was inadequate for Black.}  

     *************************************************************************   

        Variation # 17B02.)   

         Black could also try:  (</=)  17...bxa4!?; ('?!')  18.c5 dxc5!?;  (Probably - '?!')  {D?}   
         This move is the first reaction of several computer programs that I tested this line on ... 
         but  (the move of)  ...Qc7;  might be a much safer try for Black in this position.   

             ( After the following moves:  >/=  18...Qc7[];  19.cxd6 Bxd6;    
                20.Rxa4, "+/="  ('')  {Diagram?}     
                White is markedly better  ...     
                 but this still looks like a solid improvement for Black. )     

         19.dxe5 Nh520.Rxa4 Nf421.Nc4 Qc722.Bf1,  ''  {Diagram?}   
          but White is hugely better in this {final} position. ]    

 ******* 

 

 18.b4!?,  (Maybe - '!!!??!?!?')   {See the diagram - just below.}    
An extremely violent, creative and imaginative move by Morozevich.
(With a very high shock value!!)  

My initial reaction  was that this had to be an error ... someone was playing a prank on me ... 
this could not possibly be the correct move, the one that was actually played in the [real] game. 
{ONLY after I had verified this through several different sources did I begin to take this 
  move seriously.}
  

 

  ***************************************  

gotm_08-04mn_pos3.gif, 48 KB

  ***************************************  

 

The point of this move - is mainly to gain space on the Q-side.  

 

     [ Another (good) alternative here for White was the following continuation:   
        (>/=) 18.cxb5!? axb5; 19.axb5 cxb520.Rxa8 Bxa8{Diagram?}  
        This is forced here.   

            ( After the moves:  </= 20...Rxa8?;  21.dxe5, ''  {D?}   
               Black is losing a Pawn. )    

       21.Bf1, "+/="  (Maybe - '')  {Diagram?}    
        White seems to be very much better here ... but is it enough to actually   
         win the game? ]    

 

 18...Bg7;  {Diagram?}    
Having placed his Knight on the edge of the board, it would seem to be more logical to 
take possession of the f4-outpost-square. (Maybe Saskiran thought he could play the 
move ...Nf4; at any time that he so pleased?)   

     [  Maybe slightly better than the game was the continuation of:   
        (>/=)  18...Nf419.Bf1 Bg720.a5!?{Diagram?}   
        A suggestion of an FM that I sent this game to.   

            ( Probably better is: >/= 20.cxb5, ''  {Diagram?}    
               which appears to win a Pawn. )   

        20...Qd821.g3!? Ne622.d5!? cxd523.cxb5, "+/="  {Diag?}  
        White seems to be better, but this is a very sloppy, complex, and a   
         mostly unclear position. (To me.)  ]   

 

 19.c5!?,  ('!')   (hmmm)   {Diagram?}    
Either this is very good, or more than a little inaccurate. (And after analyzing this game - with   
the help of several strong computer programs - I am really unable to determine the real truth!)  

White ignores the win of a pawn to:  dominate the Q-side, get a grip on the dark squares,   
increase his space advantage, and also achieve a very favorable end-game.   

     [ In this position, the box greatly prefers the move:  19.cxb5, "+/="  {Diagram?}   
        with a very solid edge to White.  {However, I spent most of one morning trying 
        to  "prove"  an advantage for White ... and I was completely unable to find  ...  
         ... "the big bust"  for White.} ]   

 

Now we enter a fairly long sequence of moves. Black's replies look to be relatively forced ...   
but White has all the options in this line.   
 19...Qc7;  20.cxd6!? Qxd6;  21.dxe5!,  (Maybe - '!!')   {Diagram?}   
This appears to be the most forcing move here. (And also the correct move for White in this position.)  

But when I allowed the computer to automatically annotate this game for me, {while I was sleeping};   
the nefarious box chose Nb3 instead.  

     [ Or 21.Nb3 exd422.Qd2 Nf4; "~" ]   

 

 21...Qxb4;  {BOX???}   {See the diagram - - - just below.}    
I allowed Fritz 8.0 to think while I ate my evening meal ... the box was therefore able to 'cogitate' for over 30 
minutes in this position. The move, ...Qb4; appears to be the correct, indicated play for Black in this position. 
(Of course, if Black captures the B on d3, he will regret it in very short order!!)   

 

  ***************************************  

 gotm_08-04mn_pos4.gif, 49 KB

  ***************************************  

 

This is a good place for a diagram ... and also to take a deep breath, and take a long, slow look around. 

 

     [  Not  </=  21...Qxd3?22.Re3!,  "+/-"  {Diagram?}   
         as Black's Queen is trapped.   

    *********************************************   

        The following continuation is inferior for Black:    
        </=  21...Qe7?!;   22.Qb3,  "+/="  ('')  {Diagram?}   
        and White has a fairly sizeable advantage in this position. ]   

 

Now White could play Rb1 here, but chooses a more devious and trappy move instead. 
And once more ... all of Black's moves appear to be best or forced.   

 22.Ba3!? Qc3;  23.Bd6! Nxe5;  {Diagram?}   
Continuing as before.  

     [ If  </= 23...Qxd3?!;  then  24.Ra3, "+/="  {Dm?}  
        etc. (Black loses the Queen.) ]   

 

 24.Ra3 Qb2;  {Box?}   {Diagram?}   
This move - at first glance - appears to be 100% forced.  

However, the machine may have come up with a very sharp and playable alternative 
here for Black.  

     [  Fritz 8.0  prefers:  (>/=)  "="  24...Qxa3!;  ('!!')  {Diagram?}   
        I gave a small, almost involuntary shudder in this position. 
        (The move was very "Tal-like" to me.)  

        25.Bxa3 Nxd326.Re3 Nhf4;  "~"   {Diagram?}   
        Black appears to have tremendous piece play and also good "comp"  
        for the material sacrificed here.  {Actually White won Black's Queen,   
        but the second player has Rook, Bishop, and a Pawn for the lady.} ]   

 

 25.Rb3 Qa2!?;  (Probably - '?!')   {See the diagram ... just below here.}    
Many weaker programs do not notice it, but this move could be the losing move. 
(Although when this game is analyzed on the CB web site, they fail to point this out.)  

 

  ***************************************  

 gotm_08-04mn_pos5.gif, 49 KB

  ***************************************  

 

Common sense would tell you that Black's Queen is in trouble, and the second player will probably 
benefit the exchange of pieces on f3.   

 ******* 

     [  Variation # 25B01.)  

         After the following moves:  >/=  25...Nxf3+26.Nxf3 Qa2;  "~"   {Diagram?}   
           never  found a forced win for White from this position.    

         (And I looked ... during many different sessions - that spanned many different 
          days. And - as always - the computer was always running in the background.)  

    *****************************************************************   

        Variation # 25B02.)  

         Another reasonable try for Black would have to be:   
         (>/=)  25...Nxd3!?26.Rxb2 Nxe127.Ra2;  "~"  {Diagram?}    
         The computer says this is equal, I prefer ... VERY unclear!  ]   

 ******* 

 

Now White find an interesting and exciting combination:   
 26.Nxe5! Bxe5;  27.Bxe5 Rxe5;   {See the diagram, just below.}    
Black is hanging in there.   

 

***************************************  

 gotm_08-04mn_pos6.gif, 48 KB

   The position after Black plays his move, 27...Rxe5.   

  ***************************************  

 

White to move here ... what move would you play in this position?  

**********************************************************************************   

White's next move may have induced what Tarrasch called:  "Sacrificial shock." 
(A fear that seems to completely paralyze normal thought processes.)  

At any rate, it was nearly forced. 

If White plays 28.Qc1, ('?') then Black plays  ...Nf4; "=/+"  with a small - but clear - advantage.   

 28.Nc4!! Re7?;  (Maybe - '??')  {Diagram?}    
Absolutely, positively the losing move here ... and most programs will see an almost instant change  
in their evaluations of this position after this very errant play.  (In some cases the change in the  
'scores' of the game changes by close to four points!!)   

I was very glad to find this move ... for a long time - when analyzing this game without the aid of a  
computer - Morozevich's winning technique looked almost like witchcraft to me. (Understanding  
that this move was a lemon, did much to dispel the mental notion ... that the first player's winning   
technique was something that I would never be able to grasp.)  

  ***********************************  

(Editor's note - Yet another reason that I became deeply involved in this game, was the extremely  
 poor analysis that  several different websites, 
(and even newspaper columns);  did of this game.   
 
 See the CB web site for just one small  example  of what I am talking about here.
   

  ***********************************  

To be fair, one website reported that this mistake might have been the result of severe time pressure ... 
apparently Sasikiran was very short of 'clock time' at this point in the game.   

  ***  

     [ Maybe  GM K. Sasikiran  was seeing {time pressure} ghosts here. 

       But after the following moves: >/=  28...bxc4[]29.Bxc4 Qxa4!   
       30.Bxf7+! Kh8!31.Rxb7 Qxd132.Rxd1 Rxe4;  "~"   {Dm?}     
       Black is a Pawn ahead  ...  and I see  NO  forced win for White.  

       (It is true that White may eventually double the Rooks on the 7th rank  
        here, but Black's position would not be without some counter- 
        chances against the White King.) ]    

  ***  

 

Black now loses his Queen ... {It gets trapped on a3.}; and no further comment 
is really required.   
 29.Ra3 bxc4;  30.Rxa2 Rd8;  31.Rd2 Red7;  32.Qf3 Rxd3;  33.Rxd3 Rxd3;      
 34.Re3 Rd7;  35.Qe2,  ("+/-")  {Diagram?}     
 Black Resigns.  (1-0)     

There was no good reason for Black to play on from here.  

An astounding game from Morozevich  ...  who walked to the very edge of the precipice ...   
but it was his opponent who fell in to the yawning chasm!  

[It took well over two weeks to properly analyze this game!!! (08/15/04) 

The tactical complications of this game were almost off the end of the chart ...  
 it definitely pegged the meter on my scale!!]  

 

 ******* 

  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby I.  

  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 2004.  All rights reserved.  

  *******  

 

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  ************  

  This page was  first  posted on:  Tuesday;  August 17th, 2004.   (But the game was not really formatted at this point!)  
   Final format completed:  Tuesday; August 24, 2004.   This page was last updated on 03/18/15 .  


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