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Recent GM games (#12)

 GM Peter Leko (2736) - GM T. Radjabov (2624) 
[C12]
  XX SuperGM Linares ESP (8), 02.03.2003  

[A.J.G.]

    The CB medal for this game, you can tell at a glance the main features of this contest.  (alaf2_rec-gm12_med.gif, 02 KB)


A good game by the eventual winner of the tournament.
(This might be the best game of the entire tournament.)

A note on opening references: 
I have close to 100 CD-ROM's, {chess stuff}  and many of these are chess DB's.
(data-bases) I always try to use a fairly recent/current game to illustrate any 
opening line I comment on.

***

Note:
The analysis and annotation, (and preparation of the html code); took almost 2 weeks to complete. 

Many of the comments I made on the Internet ... WHILE THE GAME WAS ACTUALLY BEING 
PLAYED! ...  turned out to be correct and accurate. 
 (I suggested Nf5 at one point, and no on else seemed to grasp the point of this move!) 


 Click  HERE  to see some of the more common symbols that I employ while annotating a game. 


1.e4 e6;  2.d4 d5;  3.Nc3!?, {Diagram?}  

This is not a bad move, in fact it is quite good. It is just that for many years 
a lot of GM's shied away from this and played Nd2, instead.  

     [  The move,    3.Nd2!?,  {Diagram?}  
         leads to the line called:  "The Tarrasch Variation."
         (This line was dormant for a long time, but resuscitated by none other 
          than GM A. Karpov ... when he was the {reigning} World Champion.)  ]  

 

3...Nf6;  {Diagram?}  

Again, this is a straight-forward developing move, and therefore there 
can be nothing wrong with it. 

It is just it is a rather infrequent guest at the GM-level, ... and this game will 
do nothing to improve its reputation, either! 

     [  The  main line  would have to be:  3...Bb44.e5 c55.a3 Bxc3+;  
         6.bxc3,   {Diagram?}   which is called the  "Winawer Variation."  
         (Dozens of books have been written about the various lines 
          that arise from this one variation.)  ]   

 

4.Bg5,  {Diagram?}  

This pin is pretty much the main line here and normally leads to the lines known as ... 
"The French Defence, Main-Line/Classical Variation." 
 (The title of a book I have.) 

     [  Another possibility is:  4.e5!? Nfd75.f4 c56.Nf3 Nc6;  
        7.Be3 cxd48.Nxd4, "+/="  {Diagram?}  
        White has maintained a very small advantage. 
        (Over 3,500 games have been played in this position, according 
          to one DB I have on CD-ROM.) 
          {Some of these are computer and Internet games.} 

        See the interesting encounter: 
        GM G. Timoschenko - B. Itkis;  Romanian Championship, 
        Herculane, ROM. 1996.  
        (White won in 29 sharp moves.)  ]  

 

4...Bb4!?;  {Diagram?}  

Another VERY infrequent guest at the GM level ...  
 "The MacCutcheon Variation." 

This was very popular during the nineteen-thirties, and saw (a little) 
 use in several U.S. Championships. 

 (Bobby Fischer crushed Nicholas Rossolimo when he used this line  
  in the U.S. Championship in New York in 1965.)  

It has had several brief flurries of limited popularity since ... but never 
has really seen much use at the highest levels of master play. 

{I think Panno once played it against Spassky, in the Amsterdam Candidates 
 Tournament in 1956. Petrosian would use it occasionally - mainly as a surprise 
 weapon against lower-rated players.} 

     [  The continuation of:  4...dxe45.Nxe4{Diagram?}  
         is a modified form of the  Rubinstein Variation. 
          ("The Burn Variation," I believe.)  

***

        The  MAIN LINE  of the  Classical Variation  runs something like
         4...Be75.e5 Nfd76.Bxe7 Qxe77.f4 0-08.Nf3 c5; 
         9.Qd2, "+/="  {Diagram?}  
         and White maintains a small but clear advantage.  

         There have been literally HUNDREDS of master-level games in this line.
          (Almost 600 according to the  ChessBase  on-line  data-base.)  
           {One of the very first games was the historic encounter: 
            A. Rubinstein - G. Levenfish;  Karlsbad/GER/1911.} 

         See the exciting contest: 
         GM Sergey Dolmatov (2588) - IM Rufat Bagirov (2470);  
         Aeroflot Open, Moscow/RUS/2002. 
         (White won a very nice game in only 31 moves.)  ]   

 

Both players march down main line for quite a few moves ...  
(until move 11). 
5.e5 h6;  6.Bd2! Bxc3;  7.bxc3 Ne4;  8.Qg4! g6;  {Diagram?}  

The main line. The only other real choice here is ...Kf8. 

     [  Maybe  8...Kf8!?; "~" {Diagram?}  
         This avoids the weakness on the dark squares, but gives the 
          second player problems with his King-side. 

***

        But not: </=  8...Rg8?9.Bxh6, "+/=   {Diagram?}  
        or   </=  8...0-0??9.Bxh6, "+/-"  {Diagram?}  ]  

 

9.Bd3, "+/="   9...Nxd2;  10.Kxd2 c5;  11.h4!?,  {Diagram?}  

This is not the main line - so far as I know, but it is not a new move either. 

Does this mean Leko has a new idea, or at least a new way of handling 
this whole variation? 

     [  I believe the main line is:  11.Nf3 Nc612.h4!?{Diagram?}  
        The line that is now most often played, at least according to the 
        many data-bases I have. 

         (MCO gives the line here of:  12.Qf4 Qa5; 13.dxc5 Qxc5; {Diagram?}    
          The end of the column.  14.Nd4 Nxd4;  15.Qxd4!? Qxd4; 16.cxd4 Bd7;    
          17.a4 Bc6; 18.a5, "+/="  {Diagram?}  ... "with a distinctly better     
          endgame for White here." - GM Nick de Firmian.    

          Tischbierek -Stock;  Munich/GER/1992.    

          [ See  MCO-14;  page # 206, column # 13, and also note # (h.). ])      

        12...Qa5!?13.Qf4 b6!?; 14.h5 gxh515.Rxh5, "+/="  {Diagram?}   
         when White maintains a very distinct and persistent advantage in 
         this position.  

        A. Kovalev - I. Glek;  National league (Bundesliga 9394),  
        Germany, 1993.  (Drawn in under 30 moves.)  

***

        White could also play:  11.Qf4 Nc612.Nf3 Bd713.Rab1 c4!?;  
        14.Be2 b615.h4! Qe7!?16.h5, "+/="   {Diagram?}   
        White has a small edge, and won a solid game in a little less 
        than fifty moves here. 

        Uusi - Christiakov;  Moscow/RUS/1956.  

        [ See the book:  "The French Defence,"  by Gligoric and Uhlmann
          Chapter # 7,  beginning on page # 153. ]  ]   

 

Now Black develops - albeit a tad passively, while the first player 
continues to try and make inroads on the King-side. 

11...Bd7!?;  {Diagram?} 

This leaves a strange impression, I think more usual for Black is 
a Queen sortie to a5.  

     [  Black could try to close the position with: 11...c4!?12.Be2 Nc6;
        13.Qf4, "+/="  {Diagram?}  but White maintains a slight edge. ]   

 

12.h5! g5!?;  13.f4! Nc6!?;  14.fxg5 Qa5!?;  {Diagram?}  

Did  'Rady'  suddenly have second thoughts? Or was 
this whole line a part of his opening preparation? 

     [  In any case, the ending after the continuation of: 
       14...Qxg5+15.Qxg5 hxg516.Ke3, "+/="  {Diagram?} 
        is clearly in White's favor.  ]  

 

15.dxc5 d4;  16.Nf3 0-0-0!?;  {See the diagram just below.}     

Black decides to evacuate his King to a place of reasonable safety. 

    This is the actual game position just after Black's 16th move. (16...0-0-0)  Who do you think is better here?  (alaf2_rec-gm12_pos1.jpg, 24 KB)

The position just after Black castled on the Queen-side.

***

     [  After the moves:  16...Qxc3+17.Ke2 Qxc5; 18.gxh6, ""  {Diag?}  
         White is still (much) better.  ]  

 

17.Rab1 dxc3+!?;  18.Ke2 Rhg8!?;  {Diagram?}  

I am not sure about this. 

Maybe  ...hxg5 was better? 

     [ 18...hxg5!?19.Qc4, "~" ]  

 

19.Qe4 Qc7!?;  {Diagram?}  

This retreat gives me the impression that (maybe) Black had one plan, 
and suddenly switched to another idea. In any case, it looks somewhat 
passive and timid.  

     [  It would appear that Black had to play:  19...hxg5!?;  {Diagram?}  
         in this position.  ]  

 

Now White continues to improve his position. Most notable is the quick use 
that Leko makes of the half-open b-file.  

20.g4! Ne7!?;  21.Bb5!? hxg5;  22.Rb3 Nd5;  23.Rhb1 Bc6!?;  
 (Maybe / probably  - '?!')  {Diagram?}  

This looks very one-dimensional, and several annotators ... 
 {like IM Malcolm Pein} ... have labeled this as the losing move.  ('?')    
(But this looks  rather knee-jerk  to me, I think White was already 
 much better.  MUCH better!) 

     [  The only hope of defense may have been the continuation:  
         23...f524.exf6 Nxf625.Qe5 Bxb5+26.Rxb5 Qxe5+;  
         27.Nxe5 Rd2+28.Kf3 Rg729.Nc4 Rxc2,  {Diagram?}  
         This is probably forced.  

           (29...Ne8??;  30.Nxd2, "+/-")    

         30.Nd6+ Kd831.Nxb7+ Ke732.Nd6, ""  (Maybe  "+/-")  {Diag?} 
         but this still might have been a little better than the game.  
         (At least Black has some chances, especially if White were to make 
          an error.)  ]  

 

24.Bxc6 Qxc6;  25.Nd4,   {See the diagram just below.}    

White centralizes his Knight ... with a gain of time. 

 

    White just played his Knight ... strongly to the center of the board. How should Black respond?  (alaf2_rec-gm12_pos2.jpg, 23 KB)

The position after Nd4, White's edge is already very large. ("+/") 

***

25...Qa6+!?;  {Diagram?}  
After this Black is pretty much losing.  

     [  Was  25...Qxc5!?{Diagram?}  
         worth a try? 
        (Maybe ... and then again, maybe not.)  ]  

 

Now Leko wraps things up. 
26.Ke1 Rd7!?(Maybe - '?!')  {Diagram?} 

IM Malcolm Pein criticizes this as the losing move ...  
(and assigns a whole question mark here.); ... but ANY good chess 
 analysis engine will reveal that Black already has a lost position.  

     [  Maybe better is:   26...Rgf8!?; {Diagram?}  
        (The emphasis here is on the word, "maybe.")  ]  

 

27.c6 Rc7;   28.Rxb7 Rxb7;  29.Rxb7 Nb6;  30.Qh7! Rf8;  
31.Qg7,  {Diagram?}  

This is strong, (maybe - '!') but did Grand-Master Leko miss 
 something even better here? 

     [  Probably a big improvement is the continuation: 
        >/=  31.Nf5!! Qxb7;  {Diagram?}  
        This could be forced.  

          (The alternatives are clearly worse.)   

***

           a).  31...exf5?32.Qxf5+ Kd833.c7+ Ke734.c8Q+ Qxb7;  
                  35.Qf6#;  

           b).  31...Qa3?32.Nd6+ Qxd6{Diagram?} 
                  This is forced.  

                    (32...Kd8??; 33.c7+ Ke7; 34.c8Q+ Nd7;  35.Qxd7#)     

                  33.exd6"+/-"  {Diagram?}  
                  White has an obviously won position here.  

           c).  </=  31...Rd8??{Diagram?}  
                  This stops Nd6+, but ...   32.Ne7#

***

        32.Nd6+ Kb833.cxb7, "+/-"  {Diagram?}  
        with an easy win for White from this position.  

        (Everyone seems to have missed this line here, and the fact  
         that White could have played Nf5 on the previous move as well.)  ]  

 

31...Qa3;  {Box?}   {See the diagram just below.}   

Black is just barely hanging on (to the edge of a cliff), ... 
by only his fingertips. 

 

    It is White to play and make his thrity-second (32nd) move, what move would you make here?  (alaf2_rec-gm12_pos2.jpg, 22 KB)

The actual game position just after Black played ...Qa3.

***

32.Qxf8+,  {Diagram?}  
(Several annotators gave this move an exclam.) 

Black Resigns.  

If Black captures the Queen, White has a fairly simple win.  

An extremely smooth and impressive win by Mr. Leko. He played nearly 
flawless and very accurate chess ...  and pursued his initiative with great 
energy. Well done! 

(IM M. Pein's analysis of this game, in LCC's "Chess Express," leaves 
 a lot to be desired - at least, IMOHO.)  
 {See the link below, if you would like to go over his analysis of this game.}   

    Copyright (c)  A.J. Goldsby I.  Copyright (c)  A.J.G;  2003.  

 

     [  After the continuation:  32.Qxf8+ Qxf833.Nb5 Qc5[];  
         34.Nd6+ Kd835.c7+ Qxc7{Diagram?}  
        
This is forced. 

          ( 35...Ke7??;  36.c8Q+, ("+/-") )    

        36.Rxc7 Kxc7;  37.h6,  ("+/-")  {Diagram?}  
        it appears that Black cannot catch the wayward White h-pawn.  

***

        White could also win with:  >/=  32.Rc7+! Kb8{Diagram?}  
        This might be best.  

         ( </=  32...Kd8?!; 33.Qxg5+ Kxc7; 34.Nb5+ Kxc6;    
           35.Nxa3, "+/-"  {Diagram?}  with a relatively easy    
           win for White here. )    

        33.Rxf7 Rxf734.Qxf7 Qa635.h6!,  ("+/-")  {Diagram?}  
        with a totally won game for the first player here.   
        (This line looks a little better than the game continuation.) 

        (Leko probably did not play this line because it is much more  
         complicated and allows the second player a greater amount 
         of counter-play.)  

***

        Probably also winning for White was the continuation of: 
        =  32.Qxg5!? Qc533.Qg7 Nc434.Rxa7 "+/-"  {Diagram?}  
        with the obviously better game (winning) for White.  ]   

     Copyright, () A.J. Goldsby I.   Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 2003 & 2004.   

 

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(All games - Code initially generated with the program,  ChessBase 8.0.) 


If you would like to see  the analysis of this game by the  London Chess Center 
 commentator,  IM Malcolm Pein  ...   please click  here  

 Click  HERE  to go to (or return) to my  re-play page  for this game. 


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