A sweet memory: my "Immortal" game

It finally arrived! I mean the book were my own “Immortal” is published (the only book, as far as I know): “Unusual Queen’s Gambit declined” by GM Chris Ward (Everyman Chess, 2002). First of all, let’s define what an “Immortal” is. I think such a definition can be given to a game where a brilliant combination is played by the winner to outplay his opponent, but also to a particularly memorable victory. It’s my opinion that every player has (or will have) his or her “Immortal”. Perhaps it is not the best game you have ever played, but just one to remember. And that’s enough. The game I’m going to show was played in 1996, when I was a 21 y.o. (strong) candidate master, without Fide rating but with more fighting spirit than now. Two years later I became Fide master, in 2001 I almost quit competitive chess :-(. I often play gambits (and my advice to everyone is: play sharp openings if you want to improve your tactical skill!) and I loved Alekhine’s, Tal’s, Fischer’s and Kasparov’s styles.
The most famous “Immortal” is Anderssen-Kieseritzky, London 1851 (just a friendly game!). Black could have forced White to fight for a draw by playing a correct move order, but in the Romantic period you had to accept all your opponent’s sacrifices as soon as possible if you wanted to keep your honour intact :-). By the way, even Kasparov’s “Immortal” (see yesterday’s post) contains some mistakes. So we can deduce that an “Immortal” is not necessarily a perfect game. And the game I played in Bratto (Italy) against German master Hans Dinser is all but perfect and I don’t think it is my best game (“I haven’t played my best game yet” – do you remember what Kasparov said?). It is quite nice anyway and I think it is one of my sweetest chess memories :-). You can also replay this game at http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1270253, where a debate has been opened on it: the main point of the discussion is that I didn’t find the way to force a quicker win :-).

Dinser, H. – Mione, D. [D09], Bratto 23.08.1996
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e5 3. dxe5 d4 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. g3 Bf5 6. Bg2 Qd7 7. O-O O-O-O
Another game won by an Italian player is published on Ward’s book and it went on with 7…Bh3 8. a3 h5 9. b4 Bxg2 10. Kxg2 O-O-O 11. b5 Nce7 12. h4 Ng6 13. Qd3 Nh6 14. e3 Qg4! 15. exd4 Nf5 16. Bg5 Be7 17. Qd2 Bxg5 18. Nxg5 Rxd4 19. Qc1 Ngxh4+ 20. Kh1 Nf3 0-1 (Bellon Lopez-Cirabisi, Genova 1989).
8. a3
“Some alternatives seen in practical play are: a) 8. Qa4 (etc.); b) 8. Qb3 (etc.) ; c) 8. Nbd2 (etc.)”. (Ward)
“Certainly not the first time we've seen the pawn sacrifice confirmed in this manner, although this game introduces some new features. Again 8...Bh3 is possible (with White having the option of returning the pawn for a tempo with 9.e6) whilst 8...d3 is another idea available in the ...Bf5 lines. That said, I prefer White's position after 9. exd3 Bxd3 10. Re1 Bxc4 11. Qa4” (Ward).
To be honest, I don’t know if I had introduced new features. I had a book, “Albin Counter-gambit” (I don’t remember the author, nor the publisher), and I saw this line on it: it just looked interesting to me.

9. exf6 Nxf6 10. Nbd2 Bh3 11. b4 Bxg2 12. Kxg2 g5 (!? – Ward).
“You may wonder what's going on here; I know I am! Of course the likes of Fritz want to grab this pawn too but obviously humans have a tendancy to be a little more cautious” (Ward).
13. b5?
It seems to be a novelty. And a bad one. Grabbing the pawn is possible and I think it is the best continuation for White, even if Black has a good counterplay, e.g.: 13.Nxg5 h5 14. h4 Ne5 15. Qb3 d3 16. e4 Ng6 17. Ndf3 Bh6 18. Bb2? Bxg5 19. Nxg5 Nxh4+! 20. Kh2 Ng4+ 21. Kh1 Rdg8! 22. gxh4? Rxg5! 23. f4? Nf2+! 24. Rxf2 Qh3+ 0-1 (Thystrup-Keith, corr. 1990). I think this was the game reported on my old book as an example of the 5…Bf5 line.
13…g4 (! – Ward)
“Black’s point. Now 14. bxc6 Qxc6 leaves White a little tied up although the game continuation is no improvement and turns very sour very quickly!” (Ward).

14. Nh4 Ne5
“A far more attractive square for the knight than a5 (which is where it might have found itself without g-pawn interference” (Ward).
15. Qb3 Ng6 (! – Ward)
“Black wants to prise open the h-file and you’ll soon see why” (Ward).

16. Nxg6 hxg6 17. Rh1
“To my mind this is slightly premature although h2 is an obvious target” (Ward).
This move looks strong, but I think it is a mistake. After 17…Qe6 Black has at least an equal game.
18. e3?
“Black wanted to utilise the d-file to aid in an attack and doesn’t intend trading queens. 18. exd3 Qf5, for example, looks very powerful but having a pawn lodged on d3 is also very restrictive for White here” (Ward).
Obviously the text move is a mistake. After 18. Qxd3 I would have probably played 18… Qf7, with this possible continuation: 19. Qc2 Bc5 and Black has some pressure in return for the two pawns.

18…Qf5 19. Bb2 Ne4 (! – Ward)
“The rook on h8 can’t be taken because of the mate on f2” (Ward).

20. Nxe4 Qxe4+ 21. Kg1 Rh3?!
Perhaps 21…Rh5 was even stronger.
22. Bd4?
The only way to avoid mate was 22.Bf6, with the idea: 22…Rd7 23. c5 Rdh7 24. Bh4 g5 25. Qg8 and White holds on.
“The other rook sets about making its way to the h-file and you’ll soon see the devastation its arrival brings” (Ward).
23. Rd1?
Again 23. Bf6 was the only chance to survive, even if after 23…Rdh7 24. Bh4 g5 White is lost anyway. That’s why 22. Bd4 is a tempo wasting.
As someone has pointed out on the “Chessgames.com” kibitzer’s corner, the earlier sacrifice “is valid and a far more beautiful finish”: 23…Qxh1+ 24. Kxh1 Rdh7 25. Bxa7 Rxh2+ 26. Kg1 Rh1+ 27. Kg2 R7h2#. Unfortunately I missed this opportunity :-(
24. Qxd3
“Apparently falling in with Black’s plans, although the fact is that there isn’t even anything resembling an adequate defence available” (Ward).
“Patzer 2” writes: “Fritz 8 gives 24. f3 Qxf3 25. Bd5 [if 25. Rd2 or 25. Qb2, then 25...Rxg3+ mates on black's next move] 25...Qxh1+ 26. Kxh1 Rxh2+ 27. Kg1 Rh1+ 28. Kg2 [or 28. Kf2] 28...R7h2#. However, the difference is not significant”.

24…Qxh1+ (!! – Ward) 0-1
“The two black rooks combine to deliver mate on the h-file” (Ward).
Black has a forced mate now: 25. Kxh1 Rxh2+ 26. Kg1 Rh1+ 27. Kg2 R7h2#.

Well, many thanks to Chris Ward for publishing this game on his book. And what’s about yout “Immortals”? Feel free to send them to dario@strababos.it: this chapter hasn’t ended yet :-).


Anonymous said...

Truely a great game! Full of sacrifices :)
Like g4
and the nice Queen sac at the end that leads to a forced checkmate! Good play!!

Mida said...

Thank you very much, even if I don't think I deserve so many congratulations :-) The game is not perfect, but it represents a sweet memory, after all :-))), and this is why I've published it on this Blog.