I think the first win against a GM (in a classical game) is unforgettable. I achieved this goal when I already was a 24 y.o. FM, seven years ago (I have not played many GMs in my career), but there are many players who are on this target when they are very much younger. Well, this is not a new story :-). Take Fabiano Caruana, for example: he beat GM Alex Woitkiewicz when he was just 10 years old (this must be a record)! Now you can find 13, 14 and 15 y.o. GMs, so beating a GM when you are 15 is not regarded as a miracle in present days. But if you live in a country where a chess school is just moving its first steps (as Italy), well, this is quite remarkable anyway. In yesterday’s post I told about 15 y.o. Alessio Valsecchi’s performance in Lugano: there he beat GM Artur Kogan from Israel after a very complicated battle. Well, it is not a perfect game: both opponents made several mistakes. But this is Alessio’s first win against a GM, so don’t be sever. I analyzed this game by using a strong chess program: I’m sure I wouldn’t have found so many improvements if I had analyzed it on my own…
Kogan,A (2566) - Valsecchi,A (2135) [B31], Lugano 30.04.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.0–0 Bg7 5.Re1 e5 6.b4 cxb4 7.a3 Nge7 8.axb4 0–0 9.d3
A more common alternative is 9.Bb2; the game Ashton (2151)-Devereaux (2268), Torquay 2002, went on 9...d6 10.Bxc6 Nxc6 11.b5 Nd4 12.Nxd4 exd4 13.Ra4 Qb6 14.Na3 Bd7 with an equal position.
In the game Grund (2475)-Vavra (2393), Charleville 2000, Black preferred 9...d5 and he got the initiative after 10.Bxc6 bxc6 11.Nbd2 f6 12.Bb2 g5 13.Ra5 Ng6 14.Nb3 g4 15.Nfd2 f5 16.Qe2 Bf6 17.g3 h5 18.c4 dxe4 19.dxe4 f4.
This move could be a novelty, but I think this doesn't matter in such a position. In the game Grund (2482)-Renner (2442), Bodensee Cup 2000, White played 10.c3 and Black took the initiative after 10...h6 11.Bc4 Kh7 12.Qb3 f5 13.Nbd2 g5 14.Nf1 f4 15.Qa2 Ng6 16.b5 Nce7 17.Ba3 g4 18.N3d2 Nh4. It is worth to say that Grund lost both the previous mentioned game and this one. I don't know if he has ever played this line again...
White wants to put some pressure on "d6" by playing Bc4 and b5 after the text move.
11...Kh7 12.Bc4 f5?!
A natural move, but perhaps not the most precise. 12...Nd4 followed by ...Bd7 had to be considered.
13.b5 Nd4 14.Nxd4 exd4 15.Qb1 fxe4 16.Nxe4 Nf5 17.Bd5
17.Bb4 Be5 18.g3 g5 19.Bd5 looked even better.
If 18.g3 then 18...Nh4, but after 19.Nd2 Qg5 20.Nc4 Bg7 21.Bh1 Nf3+ 22.Bxf3 Rxf3 23.Bxd6 White is a pawn up and it is not simple for Black to prove his sacrifice is correct, even if he would have undoubtely had a good counterplay.
Now Black has a comfortable draw at least.
White had to take the draw by playing 19.fxe3, after which Black has nothing more than perpetual check: 19...Bxh2+ 20.Kxh2 Qh4+ 21.Kg1 Qf2+ 22.Kh1 Qh4+. Now Valsecchi can take a powerful initiative.
Much more stronger was 19...Bg4!, with the possible continuation 20.Bxg4 (20.fxe3 Qh4 and White has no defence) 20...Rxf2!! 21.Rxe3 (21.Kxf2 Qh4+ 22.Ke2 Qxg4+ 23.Nf3 Qxg2#) 21...dxe3 22.Ne4 Qh4 23.h3 Raf8 and Black must win in a few moves.
Another mistake! White could have fought hard by playing 20.g3 Qf6 (20...Qh3? 21.fxe3 Bxg3 22.Re2 Be5 23.exd4 Bxd4+ 24.Kh1 Rxf3 25.Re7+ Kh8 26.Bb2 Be5 27.Bxe5+ dxe5 28.Qb4+-) 21.Re2 Qf7 22.Kh1 and the position is about equal here.
Now Black can win again.
21...Bg4 was a good alternative, but the text move is strong too.
It was time for playing 22...Bxg2 23.Kd1 Bxf3+ 24.Nxf3 Rxf3 and White would have had no chances of surviving.
23.Nxf3 Qxg2+ 24.Kd1 Qxf3+ 25.Kc1 dxe3 26.Bb4 Qf4 27.Ra3 Bf1?!
This is not the best square for the bishop. 27...Bg4 or 27...Be6 looked more precise.
28.Qb3 e2+ 29.Bd2 Qf6
Black is still winning, but it is not so easy now.
A tempo waste. 30...Re8 31.Qd5 Re7 32.Rxa7 Bg3 was definitely better. Now White fights again.
31.d4 Bg7 32.Qd5 Bg2 33.Qxd6 Be4?
After 33...Df5 Black still had some winning chances.
After 34.Qe7 Qf3 35.Ra3 Qg4 36.Rc3 White is even slightly better.
Why? Now Black can just push his "a" pawn, putting it in a safer square. After 35.Qc4 Qf5 36.Rxe2 Rd8 37.Qb3 White has to fight, but he can draw.
Much better was 36...Bc6 37.Rb4 Bb5 38.Rb3 Qe4 39.Qc7 Kg8 -/+
37.Qxe2 Bd5= (37...Bxc2? 38.Ra5 Qd3 39.Qxd3 Bxd3 40.Rc5 Bxd4 41.Rc7+ Kg8 42.Rxb7 Bf5 43.Ba5+/-)
After 38.Rxf5 Rxc4 39.Rc5 Rxc5 40.dxc5 Bf3 41.c6 Bxc6 42.Rxe2 g5 Black has good winning chances, but White can survive.
38...Rxc5 39.dxc5 Bc6 40.Bc3
40.Qxe2 Qxc5 -/+
40...Bb5 41.Qb4 Qg5+ 42.Kb1 Qd5 43.Bxg7 Kxg7 44.c6?!
44...Qxc6 45.Qe7+ Kg8 46.Qd8+ Kf7! 47.Qc7+ Kf6 48.Qxc6+?
It's quite obvious that after trading Queens Black has a decisive advantage. 48.Qf4+ was the only chance for White.
48...Bxc6 49.Rxe2 h5 50.Kc1 h4 51.Kd2 h3 52.Ke3 g5 53.c4 Kf5 54.Ra2 g4 55.Ra5+ Kg6 56.Rc5 Bf3 0–1
Well done, Alessio, and forgive me for putting so many question marks :-). After all, you understood the position better than a GM. And this is not a mere trifle!