Today’s winning 5-second tactics

25 - countdown


Someone showed this to me just yesterday, and I was so impressed that I decided to post it here today on my blog.  From the game played in 2010 at Wijk aam Zee:


gm Short,N


gm Karjakin,S

It has been a tough game so far (from an interesting line in the Spanish Opening) with Karjakin trying very hard to get some sort of momentum rolling.  Finally he seems to be making some progress: if now 31…Qb2 32.d6! Rf7 33.PxP and it will not be easy for Black to stop White’s pawns.



A very creative solution, taking advantage of the pin of the Black Queen against White’s King, that manages to keep Short’s game alive.

 32.Rxd4! Rxe3!


Where should White move the Queen, d2 or f2?

It was later established that White’s best chances of an edge were to be had with 33.Qf2! when after 33…cxd4 34.Qxf4  Black should not rush with 34…d3 (34…R3e7! 35.Qxd4 Nd6 would keep White’s winning chances to a minimum) as after 35.Bxd3! Rxd3 36.Qc7! and White wins!



The natural move, and to be honest, it seems stronger (at first sight) than 33.Qf2: after 33…cxd4(?!) 34.Qxd4 R3e7 35.d6 Rf7 36.b4! White keeps up the pressure; and White can improve with the sly 34.d6! first in this line, when it is indeed not easy to see how Black can keep things together…

33…Re1+! 34.Kh2!


Now if 34…PxR 35.d6! (preventing a Rook to return to e7) followed by Qxd4 is crushing!

34… f3!!


A brilliant and surprising resource that keeps Short in the game! With only a Rook for his Queen, Black has serious threats, in particular 35…Re2 with mating ideas!  Wrong now would be 35.Rf4(?) when Black gets a decisive edge with 35…R8e2! 36.Qxe1 (what else?) 36…Rxe1 37.Rxf3 g6!. Probably best is 35.Qc3!? (35…R8-e2? 36.Rg4!) 35…cxd4 36.Qxf3! (36.Qxd4?! R8-e7! with advantage!) 36…R1-e7 when the game is roughly equal, though I think most would prefer to play White than Black.



Trying to discourage …Re2.

NOW, in the game continuation Short played the obvious move, 35…cxd4(?!), but allowing Karjakin to get the upperhand after 36.Bxf3 Nd6 37.Qxd4 R1e7 38.Qb6 Ne4 39.Nf4 Rb7 40.Qc6 which he eventually converted to a win. Short resigned on the 61st move. HOWEVER, from the above position, Black has a remarkable way to hold the game, infact even forcing White to give perpetual check:



White loses if he tries to immediately escape with his Queen: 36.Qc3?  Rxg2+ 37.Kh1 cxd4! 38.Qxf3 Rd2! 39.Qf1 Nc5! etc, as the reader might easily verify for himself.  Or 36.Qf4??allows mate in two.

The only way for White to save himself is:

36.BxR! PxR!


A remarkable position!  Black has only a Bishop for his Queen, but it is White who must seek salvation…White can not play 37.Qe1 (?) cxd4! and the d-pawn advances decisively.




The saving resource!  White threatens to capture the Rook, forcing Black’s reply.

37…PxN 38.Qxh6!


Perpetual check is inevitable if Black either promotes or takes the Rook. Slightly more complicated is if Black tries to immediately run with his King, trying to avoid the perpetual, starting with 38…Kf7!?, but the reader might have fun trying to verify for himselve the forced draw after 39.Qh5+ (or on h7) Kf8 40.Qh6+ Ke7 41.Qg7+ Kd6! 42.Qxf6+ Be6! 43.PxB+ PxR 44.e7+! etc.

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