GOTM; December, 2005.   

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Welcome to my  "Game of The Month"  feature!  (For December, 2005.)  (Games considered, file.)  
(To let you in on a small secret, the  "games considered"  file for this month  ...  and the last two months   ...  
 has many annotated games, and is my Christmas-time gift  ...  to chess-players everywhere.)

This is a game, that is annotated in at least <light-to-medium> fashion. Hopefully it is done in a way that is both entertaining and {also} informative. The main purpose {and thrust} of this column is to try and educate the general chess public. [Read why this feature was eventually scaled back ... from the initial scope that I intended for this column, and the general thrust that it was launched with.]  

This is a feature where I will try to pick a game that was played in a recent event ... usually at the GM level. Then I will annotate it and try to basically explain what happened. ---> This column is aimed primarily at lower-rated players. (Say 1600 & below.) However, I normally do many hours of work and database searches, to insure that all bases are covered. Even the exalted Master class player might find this feature useful. It is my HOPE that any true chess enthusiast will enjoy my work, regardless of their rating.  

I hope that you enjoy this game ... feedback is both encouraged and welcome. (Please respect my copyright.) 

    Click  HERE  to see an explanation of the symbols I commonly use - when annotating a chess game.     

    Click  HERE  to go to another server ... where you can search for this game in a "re-playable" format.    

  The World Cup Tournament  

The (FIDE) World Cup {challenge} Championship (k.o.) Tournament took place in Khanty Mansyisk, Russia. (Nov.-Dec.) 

"The FIDE World Chess Cup is being stage from November 26th to December 18th, 2005, in Khanty-Mansyisk, Russia. This the 128-player event replaces what was known as the "FIDE Knockout World Championship" and serves as a qualifier for the Candidates stage of the world championship. The prize fund is US $1.5 million, with President Ilyumzhinov providing $300,000 for organizational costs."   (From the Internet.) 

It started off with a bang ... and surely provided the chess world with some memorable moments. GM Vassily Ivanchuk was ousted early, young Magnus Carlsen continued to impress a world-wide audience with his ever-increasing prowess, Ruslan Ponomariov proved he could still play, the U.S.'s Gata Kamsky continues to play very fine chess - despite a lay-off of several years, there were many exciting moments during the various tie-break matches; and I could go on forever. Of course, the eventual winner was something of a surprise as well!  (Armenia's GM Levon Aronian.)  [Read more.]  

   [ The CB  ...  first report  ...  and the final(?) story. ]     [ The TWIC report. ]     [ The official website. ]   

  GM Pedrag Nikolic (2584) - GM David Navara (2646) 
  The (FIDE) World Cup (Champ.) Tournament, (WCC)  
  Khanty Mansyisk, RUS; (Round # 1.2)  /  27,11,2005.  

 [A.J. Goldsby I] 

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  My  "Game of The Month"  for the period for December, 2005; (Cf. TWIC # 577).  


At one time, Nikolic was one of the best players in the world. (Once # 8 in the world, according to Jeff Sonas and his "Chess Metrics" website.) GM D. Navara is not well-known in the west, but is something of a prodigy. (An IM in Czechoslovakia ... well before he was out of his teens.) Today, at just twenty years old, Navara is a very solid 2600+ GM ... and ranked # 58 in the world. (And he is the top player for his country, as well.) 

For a while, Nikolic dropped out of chess, I heard he was doing a lot of coaching. Here - he clearly shows that he has not forgotten how to play!  

I also chose this game because it is a very interesting Benoni, and I don't think I have featured this opening for my column prior to this game. 

 (I went to great lengths to give at least one variation for each of the major White systems in this opening.)  

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

{The ratings are those of FIDE, and were assigned to this game when it was downloaded off the Internet.}  

 1.d4 Nf62.Nf3,   
A favorite move among many GM's today, the first party can play for an advantage without having to even consider the possibility of allowing the dreaded "Nimzo-Indian Defense." (E.g. - 2.c4 e6; 3.Nc3, Bb4.)  


     [ One of the sharpest lines that White can play here would be:   
        2.c4 e63.Nc3 c54.d5 exd55.cxd5 d6;   
        This is the most popular - and the most common - move order for reaching the main lines of ...   
        The Modern Benoni (opening).  

         The move that has probably been played the most.  

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

              ( For the currently popular lines that involve the following plan of development for White:     
                6.Nf3 g67.h3!? Bg78.e4 0-09.Bd3, "+/="   see any good opening manual.     

                See (also) the GM clash:  
                A. Karpov (2775) - V. Topalov (2750); / ICT / Super-Masters (Draw {1/2}, 70 moves.)    
                Las Palmas, ESP; (R8) 1996.    

                [ See also  MCO-14,  page # 642; columns # 07 through # 09, and all associated notes. ] )    

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

         6...g67.f4 Bg78.Bb5+!,    {See the analysis diagram given here, in the box just below.}  
         The Taimanov System.   

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         Once this line was thought to be the virtual refutation of the Benoni, today this is seen as just one (of several)   
         variations that the first player can choose to gain the upper hand.  

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

              ( After the moves:  
                 8.Nf3 0-09.Be2 Bg4!?10.0-0 Nbd711.Re1 Re812.h3 Bxf3;     
                 13.Bxf3 Qa514.Be3, "+/="  14...b5!;  "~"  (Fritz PowerBook)    

                 White maintains a slight edge in this position, yet the outcome remains unclear ...     
                 I consider Black's position to be fully and completely playable.   

                 GM Z. Kozul - GM J. Nunn; / Wijk aan Zee, NED; 1991{Black won, 0-1, 37 moves.}   

                 [ See  MCO-14,  page # 646;  columns 19-22, and all notes that are associated to the actual   
                   columns considered. ] )  

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

         (Returning to the analysis of the Taimanov Variation.)   

         This is virtually forced.   

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

              ( After the moves:  </=  8...Nbd7?!; ('?')  9.e5 dxe510.fxe5 Nh511.e6,  ''   
                 Black is losing a piece, theory shows that he has inadequate compensation for it.   

                 GM I. Sokolov - GM V. Topalov;  /  Wijk aan Zee, NED; 1996. (1-0) )    

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

         (Returning - again - to the analysis of the lines of the main lines of the Taimanov System.)  

         9.a4 0-010.Nf3 Na6;   
         The main line.  

         11.0-0 Nc712.Bc4! a6;  ('!')    
         I find this move to be the most consistent from a strategical point of view.   

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

              ( For the lines that branch off with the move of:  12...Nb6;  here ...   

                See MCO-14,  page # 646;  column # 23, and all notes. )     

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

         13.Re1 Re814.e5 Nb6;     
         This might be best, taking on e5 allows the immediate d5-d6.  

         15.Ba2 Bg4!?16.a5 Nc817.e6!?,  "+/="  (Perhaps unclear?)      
          with continuing complications.   

          This is a line directly from the new  (2005)  "Fritz Power-Book,"  and I could not find    
          any master-level/GM games with this position in any of the various databases. ]   


 2...e6;  3.c4 c5;  4.d5 exd5;  5.cxd5 d6;  6.Nc3 g6;  7.g3,   {See the diagram just below.}   
A common favorite amongst higher-rated players, White strives for an advantage, but at the same time ...  
does not risk too much.  



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White has a huge number of different moves at his disposal at this point ...  
it would be impossible to look at them all. But it is safe to say that most yield White at least a small (but solid) advantage.  

On the White side of any Benoni, White must play opportunistically, and be ready to grab the initiative on either side of the board. Meanwhile, Black must be quick to respond, playing energetically in any sector that the first party allows him play.  
(Normally, White wins in the center ... or even on the King-side, while Black wins with Q-side play and with tactics. The reason for this is
the very unbalanced Pawn structure, White has a majority in the center, while Black's majority lies on the Queen-side. See GM Andy Soltis's book, "Pawn Structure Chess," for more details.)  

     [ White can also play Bg5 here, for example:   
        7.Bg5!? h6!?;    
        Black goes "a-hunting" for the White Bishop, more popular at the master level is 7...Bg7.   

       [ See MCO-14, page # 644; and columns # 13 - 14. ]   

        8.Bh4 g59.Bg3 Nh510.e3 a611.a4 Bg712.Nd2 Nxg313.hxg3 Bf5!?;    
       This is all book ... believe it or not.   

       I decide to challenge the diagonal, so that my King is never vulnerable to a Q+B battery on the light squares. {Esp. h7.}  

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

            ( More often played would be:  (>/=) 13...Nd714.Be2 0-015.Nc4 Nb6;   
              16.Na3!? Bd717.a5 Nc818.Nc4, "+/="  18...Bb5{Diagram?}     
               when Black  <seemingly>  has a fair amount of play.    

               GM A. Lein - NM C. AdelmanICT / The New York Open / (R1);     
               New York City, NY (USA) / 1994. 0-1, 61. {Black won a tough one.} )    

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

        14.Be2 0-015.Nc4 Qc716.a5 Nd717.f4 gxf4!?;    
         Opening lines.  

             ( (>/=) 17...b5; "~"  /  "="  - Fritz 8.0 )    

        18.gxf4 b519.axb6 Nxb620.Na5 Rfe821.Qd2 Nd7!?;    
         This is OK, but Fritz prefers the play  21...Qc8;  in this position.  

        22.g4 Bh723.g5?!,    
        Forcing Black to open the key h-file, but Black seems to benefit more from this - 
        especially in the long run - than White does.  

             ( Better was:  >/=  23.Rh2,  "+/="  (Fritz) )     

        23...hxg524.fxg5 Qd825.Ra4?,  hmmm   
        White gambits a Pawn to open lines ... but it turns out badly for him the way the game goes.    

             ( >/=  25.Rg1 Qe7;  "~"  Maybe "=/+" )      

        25...Qxg526.Rg4 Qxe327.Rhg1 Bg628.Nc4 Qe729.Ne4 Ne530.Nxe5,    
        Taking the Black d-Pawn, (with the KN); loses the Queen to Nf3+.  

             ( After the moves:  
               </=  30.Ncxd6? Nxg431.Rxg4 Reb8;  ("-/+")    
               White finds himself in an even deeper hole than before. )    

        White has inadequate "comp" for his two-pawn deficit here.  

        31.Kd1!? Rab832.Nc3 Rb4!;    
        I saw 32...Qxc3; but felt like it took some of the pressure off of White.   

        33.Rxb4 cxb434.Na4 Qh2;    
        The most prudent move, I was running short of time here.   

             ( >/=  34...Bh6!;  "-/+" )    

        The rest needs no comment here.   
        35.Re1!? a5!?36.Bb5 Bh5+37.Be2 Bh6!38.Qc2 Rxe2!39.Rxe2!? Qg1#.   

        John Daughterty (1950) - NM A.J. Goldsby I (2200); / 22nd Annual "Queen of Hearts" /     
        Site - "The University of Alabama," (at Montgomery); (R2), 12,02,1994.   


       The (old) main line involves sticking a Pawn in the center:  

       7.e4 Bg78.Be2 0-09.0-0 Re8;   {Diagram?}  
       Black does a lot of good things with this move, most importantly hitting the White e-Pawn   
       and forcing White to tie down his forces to defend it. (This gives the second player needed   
       time to complete the development of his forces.)  

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

            (Also popular is the move: 9...a6;  See  MCO-14,  page # 640, and column # 01 & also col. # 02.)     

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

       10.Nd2 Nbd711.a4 a6;   
       The (new) modern main line, and the most popular move for Black at this point.  

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

            (A reliable reference work gives:  11...Ne5!?12.Ra3!? g513.Re1 Ng6;      
             14.Bb5 Re715.Nf1 a6!?16.Bc4 h6;  The end of the column.     

             17.Ng3 Bd718.Bd2 Qc719.Qc2 Rae8;  "="   with roughly equal chances.   

             IM P. Stempin - GM M. Suba; / (FIDE) Zonal Tournament (zt)       
             Prague, CZE (R4); 1985.  (0-1)  {Black won in fifty moves.}      

             [ See  MCO-14,  page # 640; column # 03, and note # (n.). ] )   

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

       12.f4 c4!?;   
       An important decision, this is by far the most popular move in the database for Black.  

             (Two fair alternatives here were  12...Rb8;  and  12...Qc7.)     

       Taking the Pawn on c4 yields Black counterplay against the important White Central Pawn on e4.  

            (Or 13.Bxc4!? Nc5;  "<=>")    

       13...Nc514.e5 dxe515.fxe5 Rxe516.Nxc4,  "+/="     
       White is slightly better, due to more space, good squares/play for most of his pieces, and the liberation 
        of the foot soldier who occupies the d5-square. (Which is now a passed pawn and represents a definite   
        threat to Black.)   

       See the GM contest  A. Beliavsky - D. Velimirovic;  /  (FIDE)  Interzonal Tournament. (izt) /     
       Moscow, U.S.S.R; 1982.  (1-0)    /  {White won a miniature, 25 moves, however - Black made    
       several questionable moves, and his play on his nineteenth turn ... could be classified as a blunder.}   


       The lines with an early Bf4 in the Benoni were once thought to hold a lot of venom for Black.  

       Yet today, this system is nearly defanged. For example:   
        7.Bf4!? a6!8.a4!? Qe7!9.h3 Nbd710.Nd2 Ne511.e4 Bg712.Be2 0-013.0-0 Nfd7;    
        The end of the column.  

        14.Bh2!? g5!?15.f4 gxf416.Bxf4 Ng617.Bh2 Kh8;  (Maybe "=")   {Diagram?}   
        The authors of MCO consider this an equal position for Black, the second player has few (if any)   
        real problems here.  

        See the GM contest G. Timoshenko - N. de Firmian; / (FIDE) Men's Olympiad (tt)   
        Yerevan, RUS; 1996.   

        [ For the correct reference, see  MCO-14,  page # 644; column # 15, and note # (k.). ]  ]    


Both sides continue developing their pieces in a fairly consistent manner (from) here.   
 7...Bg7;  8.Bg2 0-0;  9.0-0 Nbd7;   
One of Black's most popular moves at this point.   

 For 9...Na6; see any good, reliable reference work, like MCO-14. (Pg. # 642, col. # 12.)     


 10.Nd2 a6;  11.a4,  ('!')  [space]    
Normally (at the master-level) the first player will prevent Black from playing the advance to b5. 
(It is generally thought that this gives the second player equality, see the discussion after 11...Rb8.)  

       [ </= 11.e4!? b5;  "=" ]   


 11...Rb8!?;    {See the diagram just below.}   
A perfectly reasonable move, Black - since he has a Q.side majority in this position - quite naturally would enjoy getting in the advance of ...b7-b5. (Gains space, creates natural counterplay for Black.)  



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I usually teach my students that they should stop after ten (or so) moves, stop, take a look around, and try to assess the position.  

     [  Black has also tried:   11...Re812.Nc4  
        The most straight-forward move, but White can also prepare this idea as well.  

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

             ( Another  VERY  complex line would be:   
               12.h3!? Rb813.Nc4 Ne514.Na3 Nh515.e4 f5!?;    
               Black weakens his King-side in return for play and even some counter-chances against the WK.   
               (Often times Black will sack a whole piece in these variations.)   

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

                  ( Black can also play:  15...Rf8!?16.Kh2 f517.f4 b5!!18.axb5 axb5     
                    19.Naxb5 fxe420.Bxe4 Bd721.Qe2 Qb622.Na3 Rbe8;  "<=>"     

                    GM Vicktor Kortschnoj (2665) - GM Garik Kasparov (2595);      
                    (FIDE) Men's Olympiad (tt) / Lucerne, SUI (R10); 29,10,1982. )      

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

             16.exf5 Bxf5!?17.g4 Bxg418.hxg4 Qh419.gxh5 Rf8!20.h6! Bh8!;   
            21.Nc4 Ng422.Qxg4 Qxg423.Nxd6 Be524.Nde4"~"  {Diagram?}   
             with an unbalanced position.  (White has three minor pieces for the lost Queen.)   

             GM V. Kovacevic - GM I. Nemet;  /  Karlovac, YUG; (R9) / 1979.   
             {White won an interesting game in 38 total, hard-fought moves.}   

             [ See the most excellent book,  "The Modern Benoni,"  by  IM Andrew Kinsman
                Chapter # 08, page 100, and esp. game # 47. ]  )   

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

        12...Ne513.Nxe5 Rxe514.e4 Re8   The end of the column.  

        15.Rb1 b5!16.axb5 axb517.b4,   (Fixing Black's Pawn.)   
        Taking on b5 is foolish here.  

             ( Not  </= 17.Nxb5? Ba6!;  "/+"  and Black is clearly better. )     

        17...c418.h3 Bd7;  "="   {about equal}   
        Black had good play, and went on to draw the game. (45 moves.)  

        GM Anatoly Karpov (2745) - GM Utut Adianto (2610);  
        Fourth Match Game (G #4) / Jakarta, Indonesia; 1997.  

        [ See (also)  MCO-14,  page # 642; columns # 10 - 12, and all notes. 
          Especially study col. # 10, & note # (n.). ]  ]   

 12.Nc4 Ne8;   
A solid move.  

     [ Black could also play:  
       12...Qe7!?13.Qb3 Ne514.Nxe5 Qxe515.Bf4 Qe716.Qb6,  "+/="    "/\"    
        but White might have the initiative in this position. ]  


Now White tries to create a bind on the Q-side and try to discourage, if not completely prevent, the second player from getting in too much play on the King-side.   
 13.a5 Ne5;   
The Knight on c4 should be exchanged off as soon as Black has castled. 
(To wait is to run the risk of allowing White a permanent advantage.)   


 14.Nb6 Nc7;  15.f4!?,    {See the diagram given, just below.}   
This seems like a sudden decision, perhaps White was trying to get his opponent out of book.  
(Normally the first party prepares this idea just a little more than this.)  



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Nikolic may have intentionally played this way ... for many different possible reasons. Perhaps he thought to take his younger (and less experienced) opponent into a slow type of game, where a protracted fight for squares was not suited to his opponent's temperament? Perhaps. In any event, the young man handles everything the wily veteran throws at him ... and very nearly comes out on top.  

     [ I would prefer to play:   
       (>/=)  15.h3!,  "+/="    first, and Fritz also indicates this as well.   
       (The idea is to play e4, and only f2-f4 when the BN has no access to the g4-square.) ]   


 15...Ng4;  16.e3!?,   
White obviously has to beware the threat of ...Bd4+; but this may not be the best way to go about it. But the problems (in getting his center rolling) that White experiences mostly stem from his 15th move.   

     [ Or 16.Bf3 Bd4+17.Kg2 f5!;  "~"  with decent play for Black. ]   


Now White begins careful and meticulous preparations for the e3-e4 advance ... liberating his center majority. 
(Naturally, Black strives to prevent this, or at the very least, make it as difficult as is {humanly} possible for White to execute this vital freeing pawn-break/maneuver.)
 16...f5!;  17.h3 Nf6;  18.Bd2,  (TN?)    
This is possibly a new move  ...  18.Kh2  was the try that was played previously.  

See the game:  Milan Vukic - Dragoljub Janosevic; / YUG-ch 23th / Cateske Toplice (R12), 01,03,1968.   

     [ 18.Qc2!? - Fritz 8.0 ]   


 18...Bd7;  19.Qc2 Bb5!;   
A common motif in this opening. (White will not take, as after Black plays ...axb5!; and then follow this with ...b4; the change in the pawn
structure and the half-open a-file will yield Black more play than in the actual game.)  


 20.Rfe1,  "+/="  20...Re8;    {See the diagram just below.}   
This is almost always a good idea for Black in the Benoni, Rooks belong on half-open files anyway.  



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Some players might consider Black to have equalized in this position.  

However, hard experience in this opening will reveal that as long as White has more space and the very real possibility of e3-e4, then the
first player retains the upper hand. 


 21.Nd1 Nd7;  
Black finally rids himself of the annoying intruder. (The N on b6.)  


Now this is positionally forced for White in this position.  

     [ </= 22.Nc4?! Bxc4!23.Qxc4 b5!24.axb6 Nxb625.Qa2 Qd7!;  "<=>" ]   


 22...Bxd7;  23.Bc3!,  
Generally when Black loses his vital KB, (or it is exchanged off); the Black King loses a measure of its security and is more vulnerable to a possible attack. (All the dark squares on the King-side are now open to possible occupation by the first player, and Black must be on a constant vigil to prevent his Royal Highness from meeting a bad end from a surprise attack by White.)  

     [ Or 23.Kh2!?, with unclear play. ]  


 23...Bf8!?; ('!')    
Black decides that it is better if he does not allow the loss of the sole guardian of his dark squares.  

     [ Or  23...b624.axb6 Rxb625.Bxg7 Kxg726.Nc3, "~"   
        when Black's dark-square weakness is slightly offset by the   
        vulnerability of the White QNP in the half-open file. ]   


Both sides continue to maneuver, probing the other side for mistakes  ...  and also preparing to find better squares for their pieces.  
 24.Nf2 Nb5;   
The Knight eyes the d4-square as a potential outpost, (if White ever plays e3-e4 before doing something about the N on b5).   


 25.Bd2 Bg7;  26.Bf1 Nc7!;   
The Knight still has hopes of landing on the vital d4-square.  

     [ Less effective would be:  
       </=  26...Qf6!?27.Bxb5! Bxb528.Bc3 Qf729.e4,  "+/="  {D?}   
       when White has real play. (Threats of e4-e5, and/or NxP/e4, and then   
       Ng5, if Black chooses to take on e4.) ]   


 27.Bc4 Bb5;  28.Ba2!,   
White must retain some pieces on the board if he is to have any pressure or benefit from his edge in space here.  

     [ </= 28.e4? Bxc429.Qxc4 Bxb2;  "=/+" ]   


 28...Re7;  29.Bc3 Qf8!;    {See the diagram just below.}   
Not only to guard the King, but the Queen will have slightly better opportunities from this post. It also gives both of his Rooks a tad more
"elbow room." (Sometimes it is the little things, that - when added together - make the difference in really close game.)   



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  1r3qk1/1pn1r1bp/p2p2p1/PbpP1p2/5P2/2B1P1PP/BPQ2N2/R3R1K1 w  


It is time for a look at the position, the battle seems evenly balanced in the present situation.  

 30.Qd2 Bd7;   
Now this piece simply interferes with Black's possible counterplay, White's sober maneuvering has not allowed the second player any real opportunities for any advantage in this struggle.  


 31.Rac1 b5!;   
Navara decides that he must now play this, otherwise his QR is pretty much out of play.  


 32.axb6 Rxb6;  33.Kh2,  (Maybe - '!')   
Nikolic decides that the White King should seek a safer haven before he opens the center.  

     [ 33.Nd3 Bxc334.Qxc3 Re4; "~" ]   


Navara's Knight - having been frustrated in its attempt to reach an outpost on d4 - now seeks to play ...Nf6; to <possibly> reach the e4-square instead.  


Better late than never ... I guess.  
(All joking aside, White had to try this now or risk getting a permanent disadvantage from this position.)   

     [ </= 34.Bb1!? Bxc335.bxc3 Nf6; "=" ]   


 34...fxe4;  35.Nxe4 Bxc3!;  36.bxc3,    {See the diagram just below.}   
The correct recapture, leaving the Pawn in the b-file is to willingly keep a weak button that is a permanent target in the half-open file. 
(With this many pieces on the board, the advance of the Black a-Pawn is not an immediate threat by Black.)  



gotm_12-05_pos06.gif, 13 KB

  4nqk1/3br2p/pr1p2p1/2pP4/4NP2/2P3PP/B2Q3K/2R1R3 b  


It is time for a close inspection of the position, see if you can detect some of the coming tactical strokes and tricks that are going to occur.  

     [ Definitely not:  </= 36.Rxc3? Bxh3!;  "=/+"   when White has problems on two different fronts. (Maybe - "/+") ]  


Now - typical for the Benoni - White's less compact position has left him vulnerable to a tactical device that completely levels the playing field.  

This clever motif is based on a fork involving pieces e4 and h3.  


 37.Nxc5!,  (counterplay)   
White foils the plans of his opponent, who fails to willingly go along with Black's insidious scheme.  

     [ After the continuation:  </= 37.Kxh3?!(Probably - '?')   
       (This is obviously inaccurate.)  

       37...Rxe4!38.Rxe4 Qf5+39.Kh2 Qxe4;  "/+"   
       Black is clearly on top, and may be on the road to winning.   
       (The second player has an extra Pawn and the better game.) ]    


This is OK, but by playing this piece to f5, Black snuffs out any ideas of White's Knight ever returning to the e4-square.  
(Also, by leaving the g4-square open, Black's Knight might be able to generate serious threats to the White King on that spot.)  

     [ After the moves:   
        (>/=)  37...Bf5; (Maybe - '!')  38.Rxe7,  This looks to be best.   

             (The line of: 38.Ne6!? Qh6+; could be dangerous for White.)     

       38...Qxe739.Na4 Rb840.Re1 Qg7 41.Bc4, "~"  ("=/+")   
       the resulting position seems to hold a fair amount of chances for both sides, although Fritz   
       seems to 'think' that Black's chances are a little better than White's here. (White's King does   
       seem a bit more exposed.) ]  


Now Fritz likes:  38.Rxe7, Qxe7;  and then  39.Na4,  (or Ne6);  with probably an equal position.  
However, Nikolic chooses a different line.  
 38.Nd3 Nf6;  39.Kg1!?,   {See the diagram just below.}   
The situation has changed rather significantly since White played his Monarch to the h2-square (as a precautionary measure).  



gotm_12-05_pos07.gif, 13 KB

  5qk1/4r2p/pr1p1np1/3P4/5Pb1/2PN2P1/B2Q4/2R1R1K1 b  


Now Nikolic decides that his King is slightly exposed and decides to retreat the most important piece to a square that looks a little safer.  

     [  (>/=)  39.Nf2;  "~"  (Maybe "=") ]   


Black to move.   
 39...Bf3??;  (Oh no!)   {See the diagram given, just below.}   
At this level, this is a blunder of incredible proportions, one must assume that it was caused by problems with the clock.  



gotm_12-05_pos08.gif, 13 KB

  5qk1/4r2p/pr1p1np1/3P4/5P2/2PN1bP1/B2Q4/2R1R1K1 w  


This is sad, Black played the whole of his positional battle in an original and creative manner ... 
and throws everything away with one single mis-step ... but such are the realities of life. (And modern chess practice!)  

     [ An obvious improvement is:   
       >/=  39...Bf540.Rxe7 Qxe741.Nb4 a542.Nc6 Qe443.Qf2 Rb7;  "~"  (Maybe "=/+")   
       would seem to be an unclear (at worst) position for Black. ]  


Now everything is decided by a fairly simple fork, the rest really needs no comment.
 40.Qf2 Bxd5[];  41.c4! Rb8;  42.cxd5 Ne4;  43.Qg2 Qe8;  44.Rc2 Qa4?!;  (Maybe - '?')   
This nearly doubles White's plus in points - in the eyes of the box - but it might have been intentional.  
(If Black doesn't try to mix it up, he will soon have to resign.)  

     [ Or  (>/=)  44...Nf645.Re6, "+/-"  with a fairly easy win for White. ]  


 45.Rc4 Qa3!?;  46.Rcxe4 Rxe4;  47.Qxe4 ,  "+/-"   Black Resigns.  
(The current position is hopeless.)

An excellent game by both parties, without the blunder (on move # 39) by Black, Navara still had a very good (and quite playable!) position.  

Theoretically, Black's results from the opening were more than satisfactory, and I hope that modern opening praxis will judge Black's
handling of the opening phase favorably. (His loss resulted almost entirely from a single mistake that occurred late in the middle-game of this struggle.)  


  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 2005.  All rights reserved.  


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