THE KING WALK!
4th Al Ain Chess Classic Al-Ain 2015.12.23 GM Kulaots, Kaido–(2350) Aradhya, Garg. Position after Black’s 15th move (15…g6). Had the talented Indian youngster foreseen what kind of trouble can happen when your King is stuck in the centre of the board, he would have played the more cautious 15…Rf8. But part of the learning process is acquiring experience..
The Estonian grandmaster is especially well known for his attacking prowess, numerous of his attacking gems having already appeared on this blog. Black has little choice but to take the Bishop as 16…Kg7 would be answered by 17.Qh6+ when he would have to take the Bishop anyway, transposing into the game continuation.
16… Kxf7 17. Qxh7+
Obviously the King can not go backward (17…Kf8? 18.Bh6++). So the choice is between e6 or f6? Actually, both are unappealing: 17… Ke6 18. Ne2! Ra4 19. b3! Rxe4 20. Nd4+ Kd5 21. Rxe4 Kxe4 22. Nxc6 etc. Black decides to try his luck with the alternative…
Black hopes to get in …Rh8
Now 18…Rh8 would be answered with the spectacular 19.Bg5+! Ke6 (taking the Bishop would lead to a mate in 5 starting with 20.Rg3+) 20.Qxg6+ Nf6 21.e5! PxP 22.RxP+! etc. As 19.Bg5+ is the threat, Black must defend his g-pawn…
Certainly not the only way to execute the attack, but the discovered check virtually forces Black’s reply…
19… Ke6 20. Ne2!
Threatening, amongst other things, a mate in three starting with 21.Nd4+. If now 20…Ra4 then White has 21.Bg5! with unanswerable threats Qf7+,Qh3+ or Nf4+. Black would be able to defend against one of them, but not all of them!
Threatening mate in 6 starting with 22.Nd4+! BxN 23.Qh3+ Ke5 24.Rf5+! etc. Insufficient would be 21…Rg7: 22.RxB+! NxR (22…QxR 23.Qh3+!) 23.QxR etc. And, finally, should Black take the Bishop another mate awaits him: 21… Bxg5 22. Qf7+ Ke5 23. Rf5+ Kxe4 24. Ng3+ Kd3 25. Qb3+ Kd2 26. Qc3++ (see diagram)
Shades of Paul Morphy! I seem to recall seeing similar finishes from the 19th century genius where his opponent’s King would literally march down the board before being mated…
Given the analysis above, this is about the only other option. Even so, White has his choice of how to win. The computer likes 22.Nf4+ and after 22…Ke5 23. Qf7! Qe8 24. Nd3+ Bxd3 25. Bf4+ Kd4 26. Rxd3+ etc. Also pretty good is 22.RxB+ NxR 23.Nd4+ Kd5 24.Qf7+ etc.
Good enough! Now taking the Knight allows a mate in two starting with 23.Qf7+, so the Black King must bravely press forward…
22… Ke5 23. Rxf6!
The energetic style of the Estonian grandmaster reminds one of the youthful Paul Keres–another Estonian star!
23… Nxf6 24. Qf7!
The noose tightens…despite Black’s extra Rook, there is no saving the Black monarch.
24… Rf8 25. Qe6+ Kxd4 26. Be3+
Here Black resigned. Once more I think the spectators were deprived of the elegant mate that is forced:
26…Kd3 27. Qb3+ Ke2 28. Qd1++
And the Queen, returning home, delivers mate!
Kaido Kulaots‘ carniverous style of play is well known to my blog readers!