Solid resource in the London system

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CBM Extra #205: Shine

Imre Hera – Zoltan Almasi (HUN-chT 21/22 Hungary, 19.12.2021)

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bf4 I haven’t played London for a long time, and felt this was the best opportunity to test it again.

3…b6 4.e3 Be7 This is a tricky move order, not only to set up …0–0, but rather …Nf6–h5 to win the pair of bishops.

5.h3 A useful prophylactic movement against this idea.

5…c5 6.Nc3!

A surprisingly strong reaction. White has two goals: he intends to push d4–d5 or go ahead with Nb5.

6.Bd3 0–0 7.Nc3 cxd4 8.exd4 Bb7 9.Qe2 Nc6 10.a3 Re8 11.0–0 Bf8 12.Rfe1 was the game I studied carefully during my preparation, a quick encounter played almost ago six months in which my former student beat the Hungarian star with great style. 12…a6 13.Rad1 Ne7 14.Ng5 Ng6 15.Bg3 d5 16.h4! Bd6 17.Bxg6! A deep understanding of the position. After …hxg6, the g5 knight can stay longer around the black king. 17…hxg6 18.Be5 Nh5 19.Qg4 Bf8 20.Rd3 Bc8 ? 21.Nxf7! A formidable sacrifice, blowing up the entire enemy king side. 21…Kxf7 22.Rf3+ Nf6 23.h5 A cold-blooded silent move against which Black has no defense. 23…Ke7 (23…gxh5 24.Qxh5+ Ke7 25.Bxf6+ gxf6 26.Nxd5++–) 24.Qxg6 Kd7 25.h6 1–0 Korpa – Almasi, HUN-ch (fast) Ajka 2021

6…cxd4?! This naive capture creates instant problems for Black.

After the lesser engagement 6…0–0 wäre 7.d5 would be a tempting attempt to gain space. (7.Nb5 Nd5 8.Bh2 d6 9.c4 Nc7 10.Nc3 cxd4 11.Qxd4 (11.Nxd4!? Bb7 12.Qc2) 11…Nc6 12.Qd2 Bb7 13.Rd1 e5 14.Be2 f5 15.0–0 Qe8 happened during the World Blitz Championship between Ushenina – Gunina, Saint Petersburg (blitz) 2018.) 7… d6 8.Bc4 Na6 9 .dxe6 fxe6 10.Nb5 d5 11.Be2

7.Nxd4! Deep gratitude. White has a double threat: the arrival of the knight at b5 would be more than annoying and Qf3 would again win an exchange.

7…a6?! 7…0–0 seemed like a better version of the game. 8.Qf3 d5 (8…Nc6 9.Nxc6 dxc6 10.Qxc6 Bd7 11.Qf3 Bb4 12.0–0–0 Bxc3 13.bxc3 Nd5 14.Be5 Qe7 15.c4 f6 16.Bb2) 9.Bxb8 Kxb8 10.Nc6 Qc7 11.Nxb8 Qxb8 12.Bd3 Bb7 Here I would have probably proceeded 13.Qe2 (13.0–0–0 Rc8) 13…d4! 14.exd4 Bxg2 15.Rg1 Qh2 16.0–0–0 Qxh3 17.Rde1 and one wonders how good the compensation is for Black.

8.Qf3

It seemed to me that my experienced opponent had somewhat overlooked this possibility.

8…d5 9.Bxb8N 9.0–0–0 Bb7 was seen in a quick game Kolchin – Khismatullin, Sochi 2019 where the mighty Russian grandmaster easily outplayed his amateur opponent.

9…Rxb8 10.Nc6 Qc7 11.Nxb8 Bb4?

A desperate attempt to complicate things.

11…Qxb8 12.Bd3 Bb7 13.0–0 0–0 14.Qe2 Qa8 15.f4 and White is better.

12.Bd3 Bxc3+ 13.bxc3 Qxc3+ 14.Ke2 e5 15.e4

I could choose from several promising alternatives.

I was also considering 15.Qg3. 15…0–0 16.Rhc1 (16.Nc6 Qxc6 17.Qxe5) 16…Bb7 17.Nxa6 Ne4 18.Bxe4 dxe4 19.Kf1 Bxa6+ 20.Kg1+– ; Even 15.Rhc1 was possible. 15…e4 16.Qg3 with a huge advantage.

15…0–0 16.exd5 I was willing to allow him to lead the way before my king, as it was clear to me that I would be able to trade queens.

16…e4 17.Bxe4 Nxe4 18.Qxc3 18.Qxe4 would also have worked. I didn’t like 18…Bf5 but it turned out that after 19.Qe3 (19.Qxf5?? Re8+–+) 19…Qc4+ 20.Kf3 Qxd5+ 21.Kg3 my king escapes easily. 21…Rxb8 22.Rhd1+–

18…Nxc3+ 19.Kd2 19.Kf3 was perhaps even easier. 19…Nxd5 20.Kg3 Bb7 21.Nd7 Rd8 22.Ne5 f6 I had thought there might be some activity here, which wasn’t really true. 23.Nc4! b5 24.Na5 Ba8 25.Rhd1 Rc8 26.Rd2+–

19…Nxd5 20.c4 My target was the weak b6 pawn.

20…Nf4 21.Kc3! Leaving the case open to shelter the king before becoming too exposed.

21…Ne2+ 21…Nxg2 is reached by 22.Rab1 b5 23.cxb5 axb5 24.Rxb5

22.Kb2 Nf4 23.Rad1!

Once again, I gladly give the g2 pawn to force the exchange on d7.

23…Nxg2 24.Nd7 Bxd7 25.Rxd7 With the lone knight, Black can hardly pose greater difficulties.

25…Nf4 26.Rd4 Proceed in the least risky way.

26.Kd6 Kb8 27.Khd1 g5 wasn’t quite clear to me. (27…Ne6 28.Kc3) 28.Tg1 (28.Rd8+ Rxd8 29.Rxd8+ Kg7 30.Rd6 would be somewhat adventurous, but the white king is pretty close anyway. 30…Nxh3 31.Rxb6 Nxf2 32.Kc3+–) 28…Nxh3 29.Rg3 Nxf2 30.Rxg5+ Kf8 31.Rf5 Ng4 32.Rd7+–

26…Ne6 27.Rd6 Rb8 28.Kc3 b5 29.Rxa6 Rc8 30.Kb1

It made sense to bring the second tower finally.

30.Kb4 bxc4 31.Kc3 was the other option I calculated. 31…Nc5 32.Ra7 Ne4+ 33.Kc2 Nxf2 34.Rf1+–

30…Rxc4+ 31.Kd2 g5 32.Rxb5 Rf4 33.Ke1 I didn’t go for 33.Ke3 because of 33…Rh4 Anyway, even this would win after 34.Rf5! Rxh3+ 35.Kd2 followed by Ra7 and f7 will fall soon.

33…Kg7 34.a4 Kh4 Certainly 34…Nc7 is still impossible because of 35.Rxg5+

35.Ra7! A nice intermediation, threatening with the aforementioned Rf5 maneuver.

35…Kg6 36.Kb3

Now I realize my dream of supporting my passed pawn from behind.

36…Nd4 37.Rc3 Re4+ 38.Rf1 Ne6 39.Ra3 Rc4 40.a5 Kc1+ 41.Ke2 Nf4+ 42.Ke3 Re1+ 43.Kd4 Ne6+ 44.Kc4 Kc1+ 45.Kd3 Nf4+ 46.Kd2 Rf1 47.a6 During this time I realized that it is easier to sacrifice the f2 pawn.

47…Rxf2+ 48.Ke1 I was very happy after the match, because it doesn’t happen every day that you win against a double Olympic silver medalist and 9 times Hungarian champion!

1–0

Also in CBM Extra 205: Video training with GMs Christian Bauer and Mihail Marin (total playing time approx. 45 min.). Plus 73 detailed analyzes by Vladimir Belous, Romain Edouard, Imre Hera, Spyridon Kapnisis, Michal Krasenkow, Krishnan Sasikiran, Tanmay Srinath and many more.

ChessBase Magazine Extra is the perfect complement to ChessBase Magazine. Available in single issue or by subscription (6 issues per year). Available on DVD or download.

ChessBase Magazine Expansion #205

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