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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mating Mode

These are very busy days and I'm hardly able to post because writing a piece that satisfies my self-imposed quality standards simply takes considerable time. Surprisingly, despite the lack of time my chess has apparently recovered from the abyss that led to a loss of 70 ELO over a short period of six months.

In the next to last league match against SK Gernsheim I was able to beat an old companion of mine, whom I battled against almost from the beginning of my chess career. As of Sunday, I had never won a game off him under tournament conditions, and I also had to swallow some painstaking defeats, e.g. when he beat me in the next to last round of the Hessian youth championship in 1997 and proceeded to win the title while putting me out of the race.

Understandably I went into Sunday's game with mixed feelings as I feared that playing black against my skillfully attacking nemesis could well be a too heavy burden. Fate plays funny tricks, however, and I was quite surprised when I was able to launch a raging attack after a White inaccuracy right out of the opening.

Müller (2304) - Uwira (2228)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Nc3 Qc7

Kramnik's antidote against the Rossolimo, which was eventually able to cure my inability to play against this system. Part of my problem might have been that I used to employ the Rossolimo very successfully during my youth time when I was still playing 1.e4.

5. O-O Nd4 6. Ba4 e6 7. d3 a6 8. Nxd4 cxd4 9. Ne2 b5 10. Bb3 Bc5

Up until now play appeared to be normal. As far as I know, 6.Re1 is the main move, developing instead of preserving the bishop. I believe the position resulting from 6.Ba4 is equal, but of course Black has to be cautious because it is easy to succumb to a kingside attack once the Black king has arrived there. Right now the Black king still resides in the middle, though, and this is what makes White's next move a serious inaccuracy.

11. Ng3? h5!

Of course, Black takes the opportunity to harrass the White knight. The text move also prevents White from implementing his main idea of Nh5, exchanging the Nf6 and securing squares on the kingside to bring the White queen into action. Now, however, White has to sound the retreat, rather unorderly.

12. Bg5 h4 13. Nh1 Bb7 14. f4 O-O-O?

This is an error, but not because of 15.e5?, which can be met by either 15...Rdg8 when the Nf6 is taboo, or 15...h3 going for the throat directly. The text move allows White to consolidate by means of 15.Nf2! when he has regained some control while the position of course remains unclear. After his next error, I didn't allow White a second chance to save his game.

15.h3? Rdg8 16. Qe1 Nh5

Now White should at least play 17.Bxh4 immediately, when the g-file will stay closed for the time being after 17...Nxf4 18.Bg3 g5.

17. a4?

In his struggle for counterplay White allows a pawn sacrifice that opens all the gates on the kingside.

17...f6 18. Bxh4 g5!

I didn't bother about the pawn because opening attacking lines first has priority.

19. fxg5 fxg5 20. Bg3 Nxg3 21. Nxg3 g4 22. Ne2 Bxe4

Here it was obviously better to play 22...gxh3 first and only after 23.g3 Bxe4. For some reason I rather wanted to allow White to play h3-h4 than blockading with g2-g3 and Kg1-h2. However, a pawn is a pawn, so my text move is inferior, although Black is still winning.

23. Nf4 Bb7 24. Nxe6

White is desperate for counterplay but the position of his king is too weak. Black is able to finish the attack with an elegant queen sacrifice.

24...gxh3 25. Rf8+

If 25.Nxc7 White is mated by 25...h2+ 26.Kf2 (26.Kh1 Bxg2 mate) 26...Rxg2 mate.

25...Bxf8 26. Nxc7 h2+ 0-1

The rook has evacuated f1 for his king but it is still mate because Black promotes his h-pawn after 27.Kf1.

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