Hastings, final round, 2016.1.5 IM (2401) Sarkar, Justin– GM Hebden, Mark. Position after White’s 26th move (26.b6). A sharp position! White threatens to simply keep advancing his pawn, which is unstoppable. In the game Hebden–probably in his usual time trouble– actually tried to stop it and lost quickly: 26…Nc5(?) 27.Qc4! Qb1 28.Bxd6! (Mark probably overlooked this move or the next, or both) d3 29.Qf4! f5 30.Bxc5 Re1 31.Qb8+ 1-0 It is forced mate.
Hebden and Sarkar at the beginnig of play. Photo by Lara Barnes
Had Hebden more time on the clock then-from the above diagram- he would have probably found this saving resource:
Attacking the Queen and virtually forcing White to capture the Knight as 27.Qc4? gets mated after 27…Nh3+ 28.Kh1 Qe3! as the reader can easily verify for himself.
The whole point of Black’s sacrifice. The Queen can not move! Losing almost immediately are both 28. Qa6? d3! 29. b7 Rf3+! with mate in 4 moves and 28. Qb5 d3! etc as in the above variation. Somewhat better is 28.Qc4!?, but after 28…Rc3! 29.b7!? (Losing immediately is 29.Qe2 d3!) 29…Qe3+! 30.Kg2 Qf3+ Black still has a winning attack.
The only reasonable move! The next moves are forced…
28… Rxd3 29. b8=Q+ Kh7 30. Bxd3 Qe3+
And the game will end in perpetual check! If White tries to avoid this , then he will lose in a curious fashion:
31.Kg2 Qd2+ 32. Kh3?
32.Kg1 was correct, allowing perpetual check. Now White is lost, despite a huge material advantage, because his King is too exposed:
32… Qxd3! Threatening mate starting with a check on f1. 33. Qb2!? What else? 33…Qf5+ 34. Kg2 Qxd5+ 35. Kg1 d3!
Now with the Black pawn advancing and the Bishop coming into play, White finds himself unable to save the game! The readers can easily verify this for themselves. Remarkable concept!
Grandmaster Mark Hebden (born 1958) is very well known for his love of super-complicated play. Sometimes, as in the above example, he does not find the correct path, but-regardless of the result-Mark’s games are a delight to play over!