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Gruenfeld D85

Wong S.
Grinberg N.

W/EU-ch U20 7677
Groningen, 1977

Millenium Chess Zone

By John Tobisch.

Sheldon Wong in 1977.

               In a chess world dominated by titans such as Kasparov , Anand, Kramnik, Karpov,  Leko , Ivanchuk and Ponomariov as well as many others ,the name Sheldon Wong will not evoke global excitement . However Sheldon Wong was one of the stellar chess talents to emerge from Jamaica's nascent chess culture.For a fleeting meteoric moment ,he captured the chess world's imagination with a fantastic individual performance in the World Junior Championships held in Groningen in 1976/77.In that tournament the amazing Jamaican player ,without the help of a coach, or a second ,took the tournament by storm and shared the lead with Evgenny Vladimirov of the Soviet Union and Ian Rodgers of Australia .He was to achieve two remarkable feats with one game. He won a brilliancy prize with the featured game against Grinberg and the game was published in the Informant volume 23/1977 (Game#614). Sheldon demonstrated in this game that Jamaican players will not be relegated to the footnotes of chess lore . This game is a demonstration of Sheldon Wong's massive potential ,which,unfortunately would not be fulfilled .Here is the masterpiece:

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 This move signals an entry on to the terrain of the Grunfeld Defence .In his lucid and delightfully instructive book entitled "Understanding Chess Move for Move "John Nunn succinctly summarised this opening as follows : "This move introduces the Grunfeld Defence .At first sight , playing ....d5 looks anti-positional because it leads to the exchanged of black's central d-pawn for white's central c-pawn.The upshot is that white gains a 2 to 1 preponderance of pawns in the center .Indeed , if black were to follow up passively and allow white to consolidate his grip in the center , the extra pawn would be a key factor . However black has no intention to continue passively .His main plan is to exert pressure on the pawn at d4 using the half-open d-file and the fianchetoed bishop on g7.In many lines black plays ...c5 to enhance this pressure ".(P.224)


4. Nf3 Although Sheldon eventually opted for the exchange variation ,this move can lead to the Russian variation.Bareev is a leading exponent of this variation. 4... Bg7 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. e4 Nxc3 7. bxc3 O-O 8. Be2 c5 9. O-O b6 This setup was adopted in the game Knaak vs.Mathey DDR 32nd Championships 1983 Cottbus . 10. Be3 cxd4 11. cxd4 Bb7 Black adopts a hypermodern policy of targetting the center with his two bishops ,hoping to provoke the advance of the pawns,and then engage the center with moves such as. ...e6 or even ...f5. 12. Qc2 Nc6 13. Rad1 White bolsters his center with pieces . 13... Rc8 14. Qa4 Na5 15. d5 A crucial move which cuts off the a5 knight . 15... Qd6 16. Bd2! This move forces the exchange of one of blacks most important pieces:the dark squared bishop. After this move ,the trend of the game changes sharply. 16... Bc3 17. Bxc3 Rxc3 18. e5! Sheldon will now be able to switch his queen to h4 , attacking the kingside !!    Sheldon shows how to use the entire board in the game. .It is important to note that this move became very important after the exchange of bishops on c3. 18... Qc5 19. Qh4 Bxd5 20. Ng5 h5 21. Bxh5! At this point Sheldon initiates a series of fine attacking moves.

John Nunn had these pointers about attacking:

"Once the attack has started the attacker must bear in minds the following important attacking ideas :

1)    Momentum :it is important to keep the impetus of the attack going ,in order to give the defender no chance to organize his position and beat of the attacking forces. Thus attacks often operate with direct threats .

2)    Opening lines:the attacking forces must be able to get to grips with the enemy , and this is easier if there are several open lines leading into the enemy position .If these open lines do not exist to begin with ,it may be possible to force them open by appropiate pawn moves or, in extreme cases by a sacrifice.

3)    Remove defenders :the exchange of a key defensive piece may make the difference between success and failure .

4)     Force weaknesses :  if the opponent's position is initially without weaknesses , you may have to induce some before the attack can reallly get under way. This applies particularly in the case of an attack on the king." (Understanding Chess Move for Move by John Nunn,p.39)

21... Kg7 22. Rxd5! Sheldon switches the attack to the center.Such switches can have a disorienting effect on the opponent . 22... Qxd5 23. Bf3! A wonderful multi-functional move 1This move attacks the queen,clears the h-file ,indirectly threatening Qh7#. 23... Qxe5 24. Qh7+ Kf6 25. Ne4+ Ke6 26. Qh3+! This sets up a nice combination .The point of this move will become clear . 26... f5 27. Nxc3 The point of 26.Qh3 becomes very clear:The black queen cannot recapture on c3 because of the discovered chack on d5. 27... Rh8 28. Qg3 Sheldon parries the only meaningful threat from his hapless opponent . 28... Qxg3 29. hxg3 Rc8 30. Re1+ Kf7 31. Nd5 Re8 32. Nc7 Rc8 33. Bd5+ The culmination of a textbook attack.

      The critical lessons of this game are as follows :

1)   Exchanges may appear to be routine and dull.However they form a crucial component of chess.The exchange of the bishops on c3 had a huge impact on the course of the game .18.e5 became possible after that move.

2)  Sheldon demonstrated with the central pawn pushes ,d4-d5 and e4-e5 and the swing of the queen (Qa4-h4) how the entire board can be used .

3)   Sheldon used several tactical motifs to maintain the momentum of the attack. 1-0

[    Written by John Tobisch.   ]

Game(s) in PGN


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