I have been playing at the Cappelle-la-Grande traditional tournament this past week and so I have not been able to post as regularly as I would have liked to, especially since the hotel wifi has been somewhat less than reliable. But now technical things seem to have improved and I will try to catch up in coming days! The tournament ends this Saturday.
The following examples are taken from the Women’s Grand Prix (WGP) taking place in Tehran.
The scores after the 7th round (Thursday):
Tehran WGP 2016.2.14 gm Zhao Xue–gm Zhukova,N. Position after 36 moves. A wild game that has seen the advantage go back and forth! Black’s last move was the dangerous looking 36…Rc1, threatening Nd2+. What should White do? If 37.Ke2?! Qd8! 38.Rxe4 Qa8! and White is not out of the woods yet. And terrible is 37.Rd5? Bxb4! Making things worse, probably White was also short of time!
WHITE TO PLAY AND CRUSH!
Tehran WGP 2016.2.17 gm Zhao Xue–gm Harika,D. Position after 27 moves, once more a wild game! Black’s last move was 26…c4, trying to drive off the White Bishop. If now the ambitious 28.hxg6?! cxd3! ends White’s dreams before they even get started: 29.g7+(Or 29.Qxd3 Bxg6 30.Rxg6 hxg6 31.Qxg6 Qh7 32.Qg2 Rg8 and Black should win ) Qxg7!) A more rational line would be retreating 28.Be2!?, and if then 28…Nxb6 29.Nxb6 Rxb6 30.Rh1 gxh5 with a slightly better game for White. HOWEVER, in the diagram position, White has a MUCH stronger continuation. Do you see it?
WHAT IS WHITE’S STRONGEST MOVE?
Tehran WGP 2016.2.18 gm Ju Wenjun–gm Stefanova,A. Yesterday! Position after 37 moves. White has a nice positional advantage: besides the Bishop pair, the Black queenside pawns are exposed and easy to attack. White should now continue with the logical 38.Ra1! followed by Ra4, increasing the pressure. Black would be hard pressed to keep things together…INSTEAD, White mistakenly thought she had a better line and played too rashly…
It is easy to see White’s basic tactical idea: her Bishop will go to a3 and the Knight on e7 will have difficulties getting out of the way. In the game continuation rolled over and died after 38…RxN(?) 39.Ba3 Nc6 40.Rc1! Ne6 41.RxN! QxR 42.QxR etc.
HOWEVER, Black could refute White’s 38th move:
Both players had dismissed this move in their analysis! Infact, it wins, as we shall see…
39.QxQ RxQ 40.RxN+ KxR 41.Ba3
Here both players stopped analyzing, thinking that White recovers the Rook and will snare the a-pawn.
The reader should remember this trick! After 42.Bxa6 (what else?) 42…Ne6! and Black will emerge with a piece up in a relatively easy to win ending.