Chess24 Sopiko Scotch

7th Howard Staunton Memorial (4)

Netherlands equal the score

The Dutch team exploited the white pieces to win the day 3-2, and thus restore the overall match score to a 10-10 tie.

Netherlands equal the score in Round 4

Round 4 (August 11, 2009) Netherlands 3 UK 2
L'Ami, Erwin - Short, Nigel D ½-½ 28 E08 Catalan
Smeets, Jan - Jones, Gawain C B 1-0 41 B76 Sicilian Modern Dragon
Van Wely, Loek - Howell, David W L 1-0 39 D76 Gruenfeld 3.g3
Sokolov, Ivan - Adams, Michael ½-½ 17 E46 Nimzo Indian Rubinstein
Werle, Jan - McShane, Luke J 0-1 60 E94 King's Indian Classical

It is probably just as well that I chose accountancy as my profession, rather than medicine. Having confidently announced yesterday that whatever alien bodies had invaded my stomach had departed in peace, I discovered the hard way, at about 2.00am on Tuesday morning, that nothing could have been further from the truth. Another day of misery followed, and once again I was forced to rely on the internet to keep me informed of developments at Simpons. As a result, I missed another day of splendid fighting chess, which saw the Dutch team exploit the white pieces to win the day 3-2, and thus restore the overall match score to a 10-10 tie.

The games Sokolov-Adams and L'Ami-Short were both solid, if slightly uninspiring efforts, which were agreed drawn in 17 and 28 moves respectively. Jan Smeets showed yesterday that he is a formidable theoretician, and with Gawain Jones having long evinced a love of the Dragon Sicilian, a theoretical battle was always likely on their board. So it was, with Black employing a well-known exchange sacrifice.

Smeets,J - Jones,G [B76]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Kb1

The main line here is 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 e5 13.Bc5.

10...Nxd4 11.e5

I believe this highly imaginative idea was originally introduced by Ivanchuk.

11...Nf5 12.exf6 exf6 13.Bc5 d4 14.Bxf8 Qxf8 15.Nb5 Ne3

Gawain Jones

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Jan Smeets

Position after 15...Ne3


Apparently a novelty, 16.Re1 having been played in the other games on my database. Black's pawn on d4 will obviously drop off, and he will be left with one pawn for the exchange, plus the powerful Dragon bishop and open c-file. I have seen worse exchange sacrifices (indeed, I have played a few...), but it is not totally clear to me whether Black objectively has quite enough.

16...f5 17.Nxd4 f4 18.c3 Qd6 19.Bd3 Bxd4 20.cxd4 Be6

There seems no obvious objection to 20...Qxd4 21.Qc3 Qd6 (but not 21...Qxc3 22.Rxc3 Nxg2 23.Rc7 when White's piece activity is too great.

21.Be4 Rd8 22.g3

The key idea, undermining the monster knight on e3.

22...Nc4 23.Qc3 b5 24.gxf4 Qxf4 25.Rhd1 b4 26.Qd3 Nb6 27.Qd2

Suddenly it is apparent that Black has no compensation for the exchange. he badly needs an improvement over the previous 7-8 moves, if this line is to remain viable.

27...Qd6 28.Qg5 Re8 29.Qg3 Qd8 30.Qc7 Qf6 31.d5 Bd7 32.d6 Ba4 33.b3 Bb5 34.Qxa7 Nd7 35.Qd4 Qh4 36.Bc6 Qh5 37.Bxb5 Qxb5 38.Qd5 Qa6 39.Re1 Rd8 40.Re7 Kh8 41.Rxf7 1-0

Defeats are of course a fact of life at the chess board, and how one reacts to a defeat is always a key test of a player. Some players tend to be rather cowed by a loss, and take a day or to to recover their confidence. At the risk of committing the sin of lese-majeste, I have to say that the current world champion, Vishy Anand, has always struck me as one such. On the other hand, there are some players who are at their most dangerous when coming off a defeat. Nigel Short is one example, and in this tournament, we have another, in the irrepressibly optimistic Loek van Wely. He bounced back from yesterday's loss against McShane to win the most impressive game of the day:

Van Wely - Howell [D76]

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.cxd5 Nxd5 4.g3 g6 5.Bg2 Nb6 6.Nf3 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.d4

Forsaking English opening paths in favour of a return to the Neo-Grunfeld. This game brought back many sweet memories for Tournament Director Ray Keene, for whom tis position proved a happy hunting ground as White during his own playing career.

8...Nc6 9.d5

The received wisdom in Ray's time was that the text was premature, and White generally preferred 9.e3 Nowadays, the text move is more common.

9...Na5 10.Qc2 c6

This has long been considered the safest equalizer. Instead, 10...Nxd5 11.Rd1 is supposed to give White more of a pull.

11.dxc6 Nxc6 12.Rd1 Bf5 13.e4 Bd7 14.Qe2 Qc8 15.Be3 Bg4 16.Rac1 Qe6 17.h3 Bxf3 18.Bxf3

David Howell

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Loek Van Wely

Position after 18.Bxf3


The text seems to be a new move. 18...Ne5 has been played before, whilst the greedy computer wants to snatch the a-pawn with; 18...Bxc3 19.Rxc3 Qxa2 This is not a decision that most humans would make, as, despite the absence of any concrete refutation, one feels that Black will inevitable miss his dark-squared bishop in the longer term.

19.Bg2 Nc4

Here, too, Fritz 10 prefers to capture on c3. That move does at least have the point that it eliminates the powerful knight jump Nd5, which soon follows with effect in the game. Even so, it seems to me that if such radical steps are necessary, Black must already be in trouble.

20.Bg5 Rad8 21.Nd5 Nxb2 22.Rd2 Na4 23.Qd1!?

Not having been able to speak to the players after the game, I am not sure why Loek rejected the tactical blow 23.Rxc6! It certainly looks very strong; after the forced line 23...bxc6 24.Nxe7+ Kh7 25.Nxg6 fxg6 26.Bxd8 White has an extra pawn and the bishop pair. The text retains very strong pressure, however, and Howell is never able to find an adequate defence.

23...f6 24.Bf4 Nb6 25.Bc7 Rc8 26.Nf4

This, and the immediate follow-up, is much stronger than merely regaining the pawn by capturing twice on b6.

26...Qf7 27.Bxb6 axb6

David Howell

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_ _ R Q _ _ K _

Loek Van Wely

Position after 27...axb6


The point. The threat of Bd5 is deadly.

28...Kh7 29.Bd5

This is strong, but in view of the resource available to Black at move 30, it may not be the most precise. 29.e6 Qe8 30.Rd7 looks pretty crushing.

29...Qe8 30.Ne6 Rh8?!

Black's last hope was the exchange sacrifice 30...Bh6! 31.Nxf8+ Qxf8 32.f4 fxe5 when Black has some counterplay. After the text move, he is buried by the powerful white pieces.

31.exf6 exf6 32.Bb3

Preparing to invade with Rd7.

32...Nb8 33.Rxc8 Qxc8 34.Rd6 Re8 35.Qd5 Bh6 36.Qd4

Curtains, as the f6-pawn cannot be defended.

36...Qc1+ 37.Kg2 Re7 38.Qxf6 Nc6 39.Nf8+ 1-0

Werle,J - McShane,L [E94]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nbd7 8.Be3 Re8 9.d5 Nh5

This move is the beginning of a regrouping idea, originally emanating from the great Moldavian trainer, Chebanenko. It looks highly artificial, but has been quite popular over the past 18 months, after top KID expert Radjabov used it to beat Gelfand at Corus 2008.

10.g3 Bf8 11.Ne1 Ng7 12.Nd3 f5 13.f3 Be7 14.Rc1

The first departure from L'Ami-McShane, two rounds earlier, which continued 14.Qd2.

14...a5 15.Qd2 b6 16.b4 axb4 17.Nxb4 Bb7 18.Nc6 Bxc6 19.dxc6 Nc5 20.Rcd1 Nce6 21.Nd5 Rf8 22.Bd3

Luke McShane

r _ _ q _ r k _
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_ p P p n _ p _
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Jan Werle

Position after 22.Bd3


A thematic King's Indian pawn sacrifice to open the dark squares.

23.gxf4 exf4 24.Nxf4 Nxf4 25.Bxf4 Ne6 26.Be3 Bg5 27.f4?

I can only assume this was an oversight, as Black now regains his pawn and leaves White's king position and pawn structure in ruins.

27...Bxf4 28.Rxf4 Qg5+ 29.Kh1 Rxf4 30.c5 Qh5 31.Bxf4 Qf3+ 32.Kg1 Nxf4 33.Bf1 Qg4+ 34.Kh1 Qf3+ 35.Kg1 bxc5

Luke McShane

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Jan Werle

Position after 35...bxc5

Black's material and positional advantage is overwhelming, and, despite tough resistance by White, McShane eventually brings home the bacon.

36.Re1 Qg4+ 37.Kh1 Qf3+ 38.Kg1 Rf8 39.a4 Qg4+ 40.Kh1 Qf3+ 41.Kg1 Nh3+ 42.Bxh3 Qxh3 43.a5 c4 44.Qe2 Qc3 45.Rd1 Qxa5 46.Qxc4+ Kg7 47.Qd4+ Rf6 48.Kh1 Qb5 49.Qc3 Qe2 50.Re1 Qg4 51.Re3 Qd1+ 52.Re1 Qg4 53.Qd3 Qh4 54.Re3 Re6 55.Re2 Re5 56.Qc3 Qf6 57.Qh3 Rh5 58.Qd7+ Kh6 59.Rg2 Qf1+ 60.Rg1 Qf3+ 0-1

In the all-play-all section, Wells beat Chapman, Davies beat Trent and Hendricks beat Korchnoi, the other games being drawn. Timman retains the overall lead, but once again, it is the remarkable exploits of Victor Korchnoi which catch the eye. His game with Willy Hendricks lasted 75 moves, bringing his average move count for the first four rounds to just over 60 per game!

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