GOTM; July, 2005.     

Welcome to my  "Game of The Month"  feature!  (For July, 2005.)  (Games considered, file.)

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.)  


  Please note that this month's column was unavoidably delayed. Hurricane Dennis hit Pensacola July 10th, our electricity was off for nearly a week. For MANY weeks, my normal work schedule has been completely disrupted.  

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

    Click  HERE  to go to another server ... and go over this game in a (JS) replayable format.   (Not my site!)  

GM Vassily Ivanchuk (2739) - GM Sergei Movsesian (2628) 
6th EICC / Warsaw, POL; (R #8) / 26,06,2005.  

 [A.J. Goldsby I] 

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My "GAME OF THE MONTH," ... for {the period of} July, 2005. 

This contest was from the rather recent  event - The Sixth European {individual} Chess Championships - which was won by GM Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, and was held in Warsaw, Poland. (From June 17th until July 03rd, 2005.) And although Nisipeanu obviously played some great chess, I could not find a game of his that was a "model game" to annotate. (Many were too long or too complicated to be good teaching vehicles for this column.) 

I wound up choosing this game ... for several reasons. Mostly because it was a VERY interesting game ... in the Sicilian ... which I love to study. I also received about 15 e-mails, asking that I take a look at this game. And - of course - I have always been a huge fan of GM Vassily Ivanchuk! 

Be sure to check out the download for this month ... there are quite a few good, well-annotated games in that file as well. 



The game starts off as a Sicilian. 
 1.e4 c5;  2.Nf3 Nc6;  
This is obviously both good and playable. At one time, say the late 1970's, this was rarely seen at the highest levels. However, today, many masters are looking for other paths to a playable middle-game ... and perhaps those that are less analyzed and even overworked, than many of the main lines today. 

     [ After the moves: 2...d63.d4 cxd44.Nxd4 Nf65.Nc3, ("+/=")   
        we have reached a standard position, and one that many masters   
        love to play - some from both sides of the board. 
        ("A Modern {Open} Sicilian.") ]  


 3.d4 cxd4;  4.Nxd4 Qc7;   {See the diagram, just below here.}  
This is the "Lowenthal Sicilian," one of the oldest of all the lines in this hoary system. 



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I will also note that normally Black will play his QRP to the a6-square before playing his Queen  to this particular spot on the board. 

     [ The continuation of:   4...Nf65.Nc3 e5!?;  {Diagram?}  
       (This is very popular today, pushing the Pawn to the d6-square   
        will lead back to regular lines of the Sicilian.) 

        6.Ndb5 d67.Bg5 a68.Na3 b5; {Diagram?}   
         leads to the (highly topical) Lasker/Sveshnikov Sicilian. 
         [ See the columns for: April, 2004; and also February, 2005. ]  


        After the moves of:  (>/=)  4...e65.Nc3 Nf66.Be2 d6  
        7.0-0 Be78.Be3 0-09.f4,  "+/="  (space)  {Diagram?}    
        we transpose back into the main lines of the Scheveningen Sicilian.   

        [ See MCO-14, beginning on page number 287; and running through   
           page # 299. (Inclusive.) ]   

        A good - currently very recent - example of this system would be:   
        K. Asrlan (2611) - A. Sokolov (2603)34th National Champ. Tournament  
        Ermioni, Argolidas; GRE / (Round # 03) / 06,07,2005. {Draw, 1/2-1/2.}  

        For further {opening} research, see my columns for September, 2004;   
        and also April, 2005. ]  


 5.c4!?,  (hmmm)    {See the diagram, given just below.}  
White puts a "big clamp" on the d5-square, but does so at the cost of his development.  
(And there are tactical implications to this move as well, basically - White will be forced to play a gambit ...   
  if Black chooses to try and force play into the very sharpest channels from here.)   



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As this is a very crucial position - for both sides - this would be a good place for a diagram. 

     [ After the moves of:  (>/=)  5.Nc3 e66.Be2 a6 7.0-0 Nf6;   "~"   {Diagram?}   
       we could transpose {back} into the more staid, solid lines of the Scheveningen Sicilian. ]  


 5...Nf6;  6.Nc3 Nxe4!?;   {See the diagram give, just below.}  
An aggressive Pawn grab ... that also leads to some problems for Black from here. 
(I should note, however, that this capture IS the first choice - for Black - of most programs,   
 that I tested this position on.)



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Its hard to say whether or not this variation is any good for Black, as there have been only a handful of games in this whole line.   


     [ Maybe slightly better was:  (>/=)  6...e67.Be2   
       A good developing move.   

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

             ( Or 7.Be3!?, "+/="  7...b6!?; {Diagram?}    
                when White had a fairly substantial edge ... and went on to win a very tough    
                game in 88 grueling moves.  

                Cf. the GM contest:   
                Vassily Ivanchuk - Gata KamskyICT / Super-Master(s) {Inv.}   
                Dortmund, GER; 1992. (1-0)   

                [ See MCO-14; pages # 342-343; columns one through six, (1-6);   
                  and especially note # (r.). ]   

                8.Be2, "+/="  looks good here - and is the first choice of Fritz 8.0   
                (GM Nick de Firmian recommends - instead - that White try  8.Qd2, "+/="   
                 which also looks to be very good for White.) )    

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

        7...a68.0-0 d6 9.Be3 Be710.Rc1, "+/="  {Diagram?}    
        with a small edge for White in this particular position.   

        IM Boris Golubovic (2476)IM Mladen Vucic (2364) 
        ICT / First Masters, (Round # 1) / Rijeka, Croatia; 20,01,2001.   
        {White won a nice game in a total of just 29 moves ... 
          but Black's defense might be improved upon in several different places.}   

        I must note that there has NOT been a ton of "GM-versus-GM" games in this variation, which   
        only means that there is a lot of room for experimentation and also (obviously) plenty of areas 
        for improvement as well. ]   


The next few moves appear to be forced or best.  
 7.Nxe4 Qe5;  8.Be3 Qxe4;  9.Nb5 Qe5;  10.Qd2!?,  (Maybe - '!')   {See the diagram - just below.}  
White goes for pressure on the dark squares and a quick castling on the Queen-side as well.   
(Both Qb3 and {also} Be2 looked attractive for White as well.) 



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This is a deceptive position ... trying to figure out who is better - and why ... is no easy task here. 

     [ 10.Qb3!?,  "--->"  - Fritz 8.0 ]   


Black must play this - and the sooner, the better. 
(White, if given enough time, will play 0-0-0,  then Bf4, to be followed by Nc7+, winning at least the exchange.)  
{So ...} Black cannot afford to procrastinate in this position. 

White immediately forces the Black Queen out of the center.   

     [ 11.Nc3 e612.Be2 Bb4; "~" ]   


Black has to retreat to his Queen to b8, otherwise he drops a Rook to the Knight fork on c7.  
 11...Qb8[];  12.Nc3 e6;  13.0-0-0,  ('!')    {See the diagram given, just below.}    
Once again - the most vigorous option for White, it is not clear if slower methods really yield White any real advantage. 



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White has already castled here, but the first player's lead in development is not really all that <optically> impressive. 

     [ 13.Rd1 Be7; 14.Be2 0-015.0-0, "~" ]  


To me, Black should simply get his King's Bishop out now ... in order to be able to castle as quickly as possible.  
 13...b5!?; ('!?!?!???!')     {See the diagram given ... just below.}   
What am I to make of such a move? 



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Black tries to open lines as quickly as possible. Believe it or not, all this has already been played before ... 
in the contest: IM Robert Fontaine (2369) - IM Laurent Fressinet (2424)ICT / The National Championship Tournament, France; 02.1999. (White won in just over fifty tense moves. Both of these players are GM's today, I have no way of knowing {for sure} exactly what their titles were when this game was actually played ... over six years ago.)   

And - for the sake of fairness and accuracy - I should also point out that this move (of ...Pawn/b7-b5) is recommended by several different computer programs.   


     [ After the moves:  (</=) 13...Be714.Na4 Qc715.Nb6 Rb816.c5,  "~"  {Diagram?}  
        White has a tremendous bind ... in return for the pawn that was sacrificed in the opening. ("comp") ]   


GM V. Ivanchuk does not mess around ... but goes ahead and grabs the bull by his horns!   
(This capture is also the sternest test of Black's idea here.)   

     [ Or   14.c5!? f5!?;  "~"   is unclear ... and perhaps even equal. (- Fritz 8.0) ]   


 14...axb5;  15.Bxb5 Qc7!;    {See the diagram given ... just below here.}   
The computer thinks that it is best to reactivate the BQ as soon as possible, this is one of those rare times that I happen to agree with the box, especially at a relatively early stage of the game.  



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An extremely interesting position ... material equality has been restored. 

If Black can quickly castle, the open files on the Queen-side should tell in favor of the second player. 
So White must perforce act with alacrity, or be smoked by the ensuing counter-attack. 

     [ Was the move:  15...Qb7!?,  "=/+"    playable for Black in this position? ]   


 16.f5!,  (correct!)   
In a manner reminiscent of the great Paul Morphy, White tears open lines as quickly as he possibly can. 
(If White dawdles, he will be in trouble. Black has too many open lines on the Queen-side ...   
 for White to be taking a far slower approach.)  

     [ The slower move of:  16.Kb1 is not all that convincing. ]   


 16...Be7;  (TN)    
Black must develop ... or perish. 
---> Certainly line-opening here, for Black, would be considered terribly foolish.  

As far as I can tell, Black's last move is new to opening theory.   

     [ Of course, Black cannot play:  
        </=  16...exf5??17.Bf4 Qb718.Rhe1+ Be719.Bxc6 Qxc6;   
        This is completely forced.  

             ( </= 19...dxc6??; 20.Qd8#.)   

        20.Qd6,  "+/-"   and White's attack nets a piece.  


        Black has also tried:   
        16...Bb4!?17.fxe6 fxe618.a3 Na519.Kc2!? Be7  
        20.Bf4 Qd821.Rhf1,  "<=>"  {Diagram?}   
        White definitely had excellent play, and went on to win  
         in 52 total moves.  

        R. Fontaine - L. FressinetFRA-chT / (7), 02.1999. ]  


 17.fxe6 fxe6;  18.Rhf1,    
This move is ... "as natural as a baby's smile." 
(Black is prevented from castling, at least until the WR's action on the f-file is blocked off.)   



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While this is not really a simple position, I am quite sure of which side of the board that I would rather play here. 

     [ </= 18.Kb1?! 0-0;  "~"  (Probably - "=/+") ]   


 18...Bf6!?;   (hmmm)    {See the diagram that is given here ... just below.}   
This move looks good, the Rook on f1 is no longer preventing Black from castling, and it also re-posts the Bishop to a much more aggressive-looking square. However, I think the move is dubious ('?!') for several reasons, [Loss of time and the inability to control of key central dark squares, for two.]; and Ivanchuk's eloquent moves seem to demonstrate this quite clearly. (Fritz prefers 18...Ba6; here for Black, which seems to be a more solid try than the one that was actually played in the game here.)   



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Again - this is a good place for (another) diagram - to aid us in trying to determine what is really happening in this wild game.  

     [ Black probably has to play:   >/=  18...Ba619.Kb1 Qb7;  "~"    with a slightly inferior position.   
       (Black probably rejected this ... feeling that he would not be happy with his King stuck in the 
        center for the foreseeable future.) ]    


 19.Bc5,  (Of course!)   
Ivanchuk is determined to keep Black's King in the center of the board ... for as long as possible. 

     [ Or  19.Qd6!? Qxd620.Rxd6,  "+/="   when White owns the dark squares,   
        and keeps a solid bind on the position. ]    


 19...Qe5!?(Urgh!)    {See the diagram given, just below.}   
It would be easy to label this as an error, except for the fact that a close examination of the position reveals that Black was already in a really bad way. (I only had a chance to try this game on a couple of my on-line students ... so far, none have been able to correctly guess what is going to happen from here.) 

Superficially - the Queen move to c5 looks pretty good; the Queen does control a lot of key squares, places the WB on c5 en prise, and the second party also threatens ...Bg5; pinning (and winning) White's Queen. [Note: 19...Na7!?; 20.Rxf6!! would have been very similar to the game, except Black's QN is on a lesser square, and the BQ is still stuck on the 'less-than-impressive' c7-square as well.]   



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This is a very good place for a diagram. What move would you make in this particular position?   

     [ Or   19...Ne7!?20.Ne4!, ''   when White has a very strong -   
        - and probably (a) winning - attack. ("--->")  ]   


Now comes some real fireworks.   
 20.Rxf6!!,  (Wow!!!)   
"Chucky" whips out a sledge hammer, and begins to break down the brick wall of Black's defenses!   

     [ Also good was:  
       20.Bxc6!? Bg521.Bd6 Bxd2+22.Rxd2 Qxc3+23.bxc3 dxc624.Be5,  "+/="  ("")   
       with clearly the better game for White. ]  


Black had to play this move here, but now how does White continue his assault from this position?   

     [ Of course the continuation of:   
        </=  20...gxf6?21.Bxc6 dxc6 22.Qd8+ Kf723.Qxh8 Qxc524.Qxh7+,  ("+/-")   
        was unacceptable for Black. ]  


Ivanchuk continues ... in an extremely forceful fashion. 
 21.Rxe6+! dxe6;  (hmmm)   
And while this is no fun for Black, it may also have been completely forced ("[]") here.  

     [ The positions that arises after the following moves:   
        </=  21...Kf7?22.Qf4+! Kxe6 23.Re1+ Ne524.Bc4+! d5;    
(If the King goes to d6, then just Ne4+, with a fork of the two most   
important pieces.)    25.Rxe5+,  ("+/-")   {Diagram?}  
        were too gross for any serious consideration by Black. ]   


The next few plays are all pretty much best (or forced) for both sides.  
 22.Qd8+ Kf723.Qxh8 Qg5+24.Kb1 Bb725.Qxh7 Qxg2!?;  
{See the diagram given just below here.}  
This loses - and rather quickly too.  ... ... ...  

[Technically speaking, the move is an error ("?") by Black. However, ... ... ... 
  # 1.)  Black was already pretty much busted; and  ... 
  # 2.)  An endgame - being down two Pawns - could not have been   
  all that appealing for GM Sergei Movsesian.]   



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In this complicated position, White's next move should not be all that difficult to discover. 


     [ (>/=)  25...Ne526.Ne4 Bxe4+27.Qxe4 Qg6!?28.Qxg6+ Nxg629.b4!?,  ('' maybe "+/-") ]  


The rest (of this game) is basically ... just  "A King-hunt"  by  GM Vassily Ivanchuk.   
 26.Rf1+!   (Maybe - '!!')    
This rather blatant Rook move, (attacking Black's King); was awarded an exclam - 
because I received several e-mails asking:  ... ... ... 
"Why not the simple and obvious check on the d7-square instead?"   
(This note added  ...  Friday; August 26th, 2005.)  

     [ White could also win with:  (</=)    26.Rd7+ Ne7[]   
        Apparently this is forced.  


                ( Even worse would be: 
                  </= 26...Kf6?; ('??')  27.Ne4+ Ke528.Ng3! Rf8  
                  Best. (Fritz 8.0)  

                      ( After  </=  28...Qg1+?29.Bf1!,  "+/-"     
                          Black is in a near mating web ... and may have to give up his     
                          Queen to try and stop the impending doom. (Black has the    
impossible task of trying to defend both the Bishop on b7,    
the Pawn on g7, and {also} guard against the Queen-check   
                          on e4.)        

                  29.Qxg7+ Rf630.Rd1! Nd4!? 
                  This move, suggested by a former Internet student, is actually a bad mistake ... 
                  ... ('?' or '??');  that leads to mate. Fritz gives 30...Ne7; which drops a piece ... 
                  but at least the King's death has been prevented.  

                 31.Qc7+! Kd532.Bc4#. )    


       27.Qh4 Qg6+ {Diagram?}   
       Black must do something.   

            ( Not  </=  27...g5??;  28.Qh7+,  ("+/-") etc. )     

       28.Kc1 Qg1+29.Kc2 Qg6+30.Kb3 Qf6 {Box?}   
       Fritz gives this as forced ... it no longer matters, as Black    
       cannot defend e7 and b7 simultaneously. 

       31.Qxf6+ gxf632.Rxb7,   "+/-"    {Diagram?}
       White has won a piece, Fritz gives the first player's material advantage   
       as nearly five points, and the attack continues against Black's poor King.   
       This analysis was added:  Friday;  August 26th, 2005.  ]  


 26...Ke7;  27.Qh4+! Kd6;    
If  27...g5;  White has  28.Qh7+,  winning at least a piece, and   27...Kd7?;  28.Rf7+,   
looks just plain nasty for Black.  

     [ With Fritz's able assistance, I was able to work out the following continuation here:   
        </=  27...Kd7?28.Bxc6+! Qxc6;  {Box?}   
        Apparently this is forced, other tries lose even more quickly.   

             ( </= 28...Bxc6?; 29.Rf7+ Kd6; 30.Qb4+ Ke5; 31.Qf4#. )      

        29.Rf7+ Kd630.Qb4+ Qc5 31.Nb5+ Kd532.Rd7+,  "+/-"    
          ... and not only will Black lose the Queen ... Fritz already sees the mate ...   
        in less than 10 moves. ]   


 28.Qf4+ e5;   
This looks to be nearly forced.  

     [ Not:  </= 28...Kc5?!;  as  29.Qc7, "+/-"   
       wins easily for White.  


        Also losing for Black was:   
        </=  28...Kd7?29.Qf7+ Kc8!?;    
        If the Black King goes to d6, then QxB/b7 looks like an easy win.    
        30.Qxe6+ Kb831.Rf8+ Kc732.Rf7+ Kb833.Qd6+ Ka7   
        Of course, playing  " ...King-to-c8??"  allows an instant mate on c7.   

        34.Bxc6! Qg1+35.Kc2 Rb836.Qa3+! Kb637.Qb3+! Kxc6  
        38.Qd5+ Kb639.Qb5+ Ka740.Qa5#. ]    


 29.Rd1+,  (hmmm - '!?')    
This is more than sufficient, however Fritz discovers another play ... that might even be a little better.   

     [ Apparently, the move of:   >/=  29.Qf7! {Diagram?}   
        could be an improvement over the game. (Fritz rates this as 2 or 3 points better   
        than the continuation actually played in this contest, I leave this as an exercise for    
        the avid reader - to work out all of the various details.) ]   


 29...Kc7;  {Box?}   
This looks forced.  

     [ The continuation of:   29...Ke7?!; ('?')   30.Nd5+ Ke6   
        < This is completely forced. >   

             ( Not </= 30...Qxd5??;  31.Qg5+, etc. )     

       31.Nc7+ Ke732.Qf5 Bc8 33.Nd5+ Qxd5[]34.Qg5+ Kd6   
       35.Rxd5+ Kxd536.Qg2+ e437.Bxc6+ Kxc638.Qxe4+,   "+/-"   
       could be even worse than the course of the actual game, if that is even possible.   


        The variation of:  </= 29...Kc5?? 30.Qe3+,  ("+/-")   is just plain suicide.   
        (If 30...Nd4; then simply 31.Qxe5+ wins easily. And 30...Kb4??; 31.Nd5+,   
         leads to a rapid mate.) ]   


 30.Qf7+ Kb8!?  
Most of the time, it is better to run your King back to the rear echelons, than march him to the center of the battlefield.   

     [ Or  30...Kb6!?31.Nd5+ Ka7{Diagram?}   
       This looks to be nearly forced, the alternative is to place the King in greater peril ...   
       or give up the Queen.   

            (Not </=  31...Kxb5?; 32.Qxb7+, etc.)      

        32.Bxc6,  ("+/-")    winning a piece. ]   


 31.Qf8+! Kc7!?;   
Once more ... the unfortunate Black King flees to a square that offers no real salvation for the second party.   

     [ Or Black could play:  ("=")  31...Ka732.Qc5+ Kb833.Qb6! Qg6+34.Ka1 Kc8!?  
        Black really had no good answer to White's assault here. (The box shows Black to be   
        down nearly 15 points ... and recommends that the second party begin to play "give-away"   
         to avoid the mate threats.)  

        35.Bxc6 Qxc636.Rd8#.  ]   


 32.Nd5+! Qxd5[];  
This was fully forced, playing the King to the d7-square allows White to play 33.Qe7+! and mate next move.   

 33.Qxg7+,  "+/-"    (Now Black must lose the Queen.)  {See the final diagram - just below.}  
The position after  33...Kb634.QxB/b7,  is quite hopeless, so Black naturally resigns here.  



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An impressive display of tactics by the player that many once considered to be the natural heir to the WC crown. 


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


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