“Time doesn’t age you; experience does.”
― Doug Cooper, Outside In
BEWARE THE POISON PAWN!
How often do our coaches warn us of rashly taking the Queen-Knight pawn with our Queen before considering all of the consequences? Not enough times, apparently! The example below is from the Europen Junior Championship (1995). Position before Black’s 16th move…
Here Black has the choice between playing the safe and solid 16…Re8 ( 17.Rxe8+ Nxe8 18.Bc1 Nac7 with only the slightest of edges for White) and 16…Qxb2 (17.BxN PxB 18.Rb1 Qxa3 19.Rxb7 with an unclear position). After some time, Black opted for the latter:
Courage can be an important quality in a chess player, but one must be wary of confusing this for over-confidence.
17.BxN PxB 18.Bxd5!!
Brilliant and unexpected!
The young Starostits (who would later go on to become a grandmaster and champion of Latvia) had looked deeply into the position and found some remarkable attacking possibilities and ideas. Taking the Bishop is virtually forced as White is threatening to sacrifice it on f7 (!):
If 18…Qxa3 19.Bxf7+!Kxf7 20.Qxh7+ Kf8 21.Ne4 with an unstoppable attack; or if instead 18…Nc7 19.Bxf7+! (again!) 19…Kxf7 ( 19…Kg7 20.Bb3 Re8 21.Rxe8 Nxe8 22.Qc4! ) 20.Qxh7+ Kf8 21.Ne4 etc, as in the previous line.
Finally, if 18…Rf8 19.Bb3! Nc7 20.Qf5 !!
Decisive! White threatens to mate Black using his Rook on the 4th rank. There is no good defence: 21…Re8! (what else?) 22.Qd7! Re7 23.Qc8+! Ne8 24.Rxe7 etc.
BACK TO THE GAME:
What does White have for his sacrifices? Is Black’s shattered Kingside pawns sufficient compensation? Starostits answer is YES!
19.NxP Kg7 20.Qf5!!
Threatening to take of f6, with the Queen or Knight, depending on Black’s next move. If 20…Bf8 then 21.Nxf6 threatens mate in two starting with 22.Qg5+. After 21…h6! 22.Re4! leaves Black helpless.
The Black Queen returns from her fishing expedition on the Queen side to defend the pawn on f6, but it is too late…
Reinforcements! Black’s next moves are forced…
21…Qd1+ 22.Kg2 Be5
Now if 23.Rg4+(?!) Kf8! and Black is still alive!
The crowning moment of White’s attack! The White Queen and Knight are sufficient to put the Black King into a mating net…
23…fxe5 24.Qf6+ Kg8 25.Ne7+ Kf8 26.Nf5!
Black can only delay mate by giving his Queen. A brilliant attacking lesson!