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True sacrifice by Kramnik

March 25, 2013

Vladimir Kramnik played a nice true sacrifice in his beloved Catalan opening game against Ivanchuk last week.

Vassily had permitted Vlad to play 19 Rf6! by his previous moves (17..b5 18 ab Ndb6) and Vlad took the opportunity; I suspect he would have done so anyway, but in addition Vassily had only a very few minutes to reach the 40 move time control. After a few moves we reached the following position.

I saw this position live and concentrated on trying to mate by 'bringing more pieces to the party'. Vlad played 21 Qd2 and after 21…Kg7 22 Bc6! Bc6 23 Nf5+ it turned out that he has no more than taking a perpetual- the game is worth seeing in full. It was annotated in Chess Today CT4517 by Mikhail Golubev and Mikhail mentions the move I would probably have played, 21 Ne4, without analysis (and I would have played it without analysis, on the general principle of bringing pieces over as fast as possible, before black can develop his pieces; but my sloppy thinking was unsure how to proceed after 21…Kg7, even thinking of 22 Nc5; the other mistake being I couldn't work out how to play the move I wanted to play.

The move 'my hand' wanted to play was 21 Ra5 which also looks equal after 21…Rae8! (planning Re5) and black seems to have enough time to organise his defences. I would however rejected 21 Ra5, not seeing how white should progress after 21…Nd5, blocking the 5th rank, whilst discovering an attack by the queen on the rook. Alas, having been intrigued by whether Vlad has enough to justify the sac, and having set out the pieces, it pretty soon became clear that 21…Nd5? loses quite prettily to 22 Bd5! after which black has nothing better than to take the bishop, after which white's rook takes on d5, with a balanced unequal position. The point of 22 Bd5! Is that it pins the f7 pawn, so that if 22…Qa5, the move I feared whilst waiting for Vlad to move, 23 Qg6+ wins easily: take the h6 pawn, and then 25 Ne4 is game over.

It is hard for me to see the true worth of such disruptive, pawn structure breaking, indeterminate, sacrifices. Hopefully analysing positions such as this game will aid my understanding.


From → Chess

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