The Limits of Risk

Время публикации: 15.02.2012 02:14 | Последнее обновление: 15.02.2012 02:14

The game of the day: Negi - Shomoev (Polugaevsky variant) 

The 7th round of the Aeroflot Open was marked by several risky "Sicilians". As long as Polugaevsky variant is rarely used on Grandmaster-level, each case can be noted, especially if Black win...

Parimarjan NEGI - Anton SHOMOEV
Aeroflot Open 2012, Round 7
Sicilian defence
(Mikhail Golubev's commentary).
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 b5

8.e5! dxe5 9.fxe5 Qc7! 10.exf6
Even the theorist of the famous variant Lev Polugaevsky (1934-1995) wasn't sure what is more dangerous for Black - this taking or another important continuation 10.Qe2 Nfd7 11.0-0-0. 
10...Qe5+ 11.Be2 Qxg5

The alternative 12.Qd3!? \was practised in Bronstein - Polugaevsky of USSR Championship,1961. It took 
Polugaevsky more than 10 years to admit 12...Qxf6 as teh strongest response. Nowadays, Houdini needs 10 seconds for the same decision. As far as I know, the main line was  13.Rf1 Qe5 14.Rd1 Ra7 15.Nf3 Qc7 16.Ng5 f5 (17...h5 18.Rxf5! exf5 19.Nd5 Tal - Pugaevsky, Candidate's match 1980) 17.Qd4 Qe7 18.Bh5+ g6 19.Qxh8 Qxg5 20.Bf3 with a better, but complicated position for White (Hellers - Polugaevsky, Haninge 1989).

The continuation which was gradually refused by the pioneer in favour of 12...Qe5!?.
13.Qd3 Rd7 14.Ne4 Qe5


After 15...Rxd3 16.Nxe5 White stay with an extra pawn in the endgame. 
But 15...Qc7 16.Qe3 (Novopashin -Polugaevsky, Vilinius1960), didn't suit Grandmaster. After 16...Bb7 White has at least better position. It's not quite clear if 17.Nfg5 mentioned in the "Birth of the Variant" 17.Nfg5 (Murray - Feldman, match Moscow - Leningrad 1965).
16.Qe3 Bb7

Polugaevsky noted that after this move Black "is facing some difficulties". The main line is 17.a4 - Leko - Haem Mahami, Erevan 2001 is one of the examples of 21st century .
Now White has a wide range of opportunities. 
After 17...Qxc2.18.Nfg5 is worse for Black 18...g6? 19.Rbc1! (from Estrin - Vitolinsh, semifinal of USSR Championship 1963, to Negi  - Hermansson, Malmo 2007), that's why 18...Qc7 should be played (which took place in a recent game Solak - Van Wely, Porto Carras 2011), but Polugaevsky believed that it is still "in White's favour". This evaluation is, perhaps, supported by 19.a4 which was played by Jolanta Zawadzka, where 
19...Qe5?! is followed by  20.Bxb5!.

It's possible that White has something stronger: 18.Bxb5?! axb5 19. Rxb5 Nc6 20.Rxb7 Rxb7 21.fxg7 Bxg7 22.Nd6+ Ke7 (Lambrechts - Rietveld, Groningen 2011) с идеей 23.Nxb7 Qa7! 24.Nc5 Rd8 25.Ng5 Bd4.
The endgame that comes out of 18.Ne5 Qd5 19.Nxd7 Nxd7 20.Bf3 Qe5 21.Kh1 Bxe4 22.Qxe4 Qxe4 23.Bxe4 Nxf6 24.Bc6+ Kd8 25.Ra1 Bc5 26.Rxa6 Ke7 can also be analyzed. Another line - 18.fxg7 Bxg7 19.Qg5 Bxe4 20.Qxg7 Rf8.
18...Bxe4 19.fxg7
It seems that 19.Qxe4!? is also interesting.
19...Bxg7 20.Qxe4

This kind of moves are "created" because 20...0-0 21.Ng5 f5 22.Qxe6+ Kh8 23.cxb5! is quite inaccurate.
20...h6 21.Ne5 is quite sentimental for Black (another example 21.Rf2!?) 21...Bxe5 22.Qxe5 0-0 23.Rb2 Qa3 24.Rf3 Qa1+, however White couldn't win in last year's encounter of Chinese league played by email. 25.Bf1 Kh7 26.Rg3 f6 27.Qe4+ Kh8 28.Rf2 could be tried with an initiative.
White can hardly claim an advantage after 21.Qf4 Qa3! 22.Rb3 Qc5+ (Black shouldn't run the risk of 22...Qxb3? 23.Qxd6) 23.Kh1.
21.cxb5 0-0 22.b6 is more serious (in 22.Ng5 f5 23.Bc4 fxe4 24.Bxa2 Bd4+ 25.Kh1 Rxf1+ 26.Rxf1 Bf6! Black, seemingly, can expect a draw) 22...Qd5, and Black held the endgame quite confidently in Simmelink - Neascu, 2009.

Tempting - and fundamentally wrong. After 22.Qf3 Black can risk: 22...0-0!.
But easier is 22.Qe3!?, and now 22...0-0? is 
unsatisfactory because of 23.Nxf7! Rxf7 24.Qxe6 with further Bh5. Остается 22...Qd2 23.Qxd2 Rxd2 24.Bh5!.

White is still without two pawns.

In the case of 23.Bh5 White would face an unpleasant 23...Rf4! 24.cxb5 Rxf1+! 25.Rxf1 Qc4! 26.Bxf7+ Kh8 27.Nf3.

Or 24.Bxh7+ Kh8 25.Nf3 Qe3+ 26.Kh1 Rd7 27.Qe4 Qh6. Maybe, 24.Nxh7!? should have been tried as a practical chance for a draw.
24...Qxg5 25.Rxf8+ Kxf8 26.Rf1+ Ke8
But not 26...Kg8?? 27.Qf7+ Kh8 28.Qe8+ with a checkmate. And now the attack is unproductive and White stay without material. 

or 27.Qxb8+ Rd8, taking d3-bishop.
Black consolidated and stand to win. The victory came quite quickly.
28.Qxa6 Qe3+ 29.Kh1 Ke7 30.cxb5 Rh4 31.Bg8

32.Kxh2 Be5+ 33.Kh1 Qh6+ 34.Kg1 Bh2+! 35.Kf2 Qd2+ 0-1
White resigned because of 36.Kf3 Ne5+ 37.Ke4 Qd3#.


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