Many interesting games have been played so far in Crete (Greece), where the 2007 European team championship is under way until November 6. I present here three of the most amazing ones of round 5: Black got the upper hand in all of them. In the first one, Bacrot surprised super-Chuky with a novelty on move 14; the Ukrainian GM was probably not in his best shape to fight a tough battle, so he offered a draw two moves later, but Etienne declined and won before move 30. You can find the game fully annotated on Bacrot's own web site, http://www.chess22.fr/, a must see for all chess enthusiasts. In the second, also played in the Ukraine-France match (2-2 the final result), young Sergey Karjakin easily got a strong initiative against European champion Vladislav Tkachiev and eventually outplayed him with a piece sacrifice. In the third and last game, Czech GM David Navara sacrificed his Queen for two minor pieces and developed a crushing attack against his opponent's king. You will find many brilliant moves as well as a lot of mistakes in all games...
Speaking about the event, Russia is the sole leader of the Men's event with a stunning 12/12 score, while Poland and Russia share the first place on 10/12 (both unbeaten) in the female section with 3 rounds to go. Official site: http://www.greekchess.com/euro2007/.
And now here are the annotated games...
Ivanchuk,V. (2787) - Bacrot,E. (2695) [D15], Crete 1.11.2007
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 5.c5 Nbd7 6.Bf4 Nh5 7.Bd2 Nhf6 8.Qc2 g6 9.g3
"A recent idea that has posed some theoretical problems for Black" (Bacrot). More common is 9.Bf4 Bg7 10.e3 or 10.h3
9...e5 10.dxe5 Ng4 11.e6
"The most critical. If I remember correctly, Miton played 11.Na4 against me in the Spanish Team Championship in June" (Bacrot).
11...Nxc5! 12.exf7+ Kxf7 13.e4 Bg7 14.Bg2?!
Better is 14.h3 Nf6 15.Ng5+ Kg8 16.Be3 Qa5=
"This is one of the novelties that I had prepared for my match against Kamsky. Finally my homework came in useful. Instead 14...Re8 was played in Sargissian-Laznicka, 2007" (Bacrot).
Now 15...Re8 may be even better.
"This move was accompanied by a draw offer. This showed that he didn't know my 14th move. I struggled to remember my preparation exactly, but I knew that I wasn't risking anything so I naturally decided to continue" (Bacrot).
16...Nd3+ 17.Kf1 exf3 18.Bxf3 Ngxf2 19.Qb3+ Ke7 20.Bg7
"A natural move but not the best. Finding the correct line at the board is far from easy: 20.Qa3+! c5 21.Re1+! Nxe1 22.Qxc5+ Qd6 23.Bf6+ Ke6 24.Qxd6+ Kxd6 25.Kxf2 Nxf3 26.Kxf3 Be6 27.Rd1+ Kc6 28.Rc1+ Kb5 29.Ke4 Bxa2 30.Rc7= " (Bacrot).
"The exchange of bishops helps my attack. Best is 21.Kg1 Qd7 22.Bh6 Re8 23.Bg5+ Kf8 24.Bh6+ drawing, just as I had prepared at home" (Bacrot).
21...Qd7 22.Bxh3 Qxh3+ 23.Kg1 Qf5 24.Qxb7+??
This move loses immediately. White had to play 24.Re1+ with surviving chances, although after 24...Nxe1 25.Qxb7+ Kd6 (25...Ke6 26.Qxc6+ Kf7 27.Qb7+ Ke6 28.Qc6+=) 26.Qb4+ (26.Qxa8 Nh3#) 26...Kd5! (26...Kd7 27.Qb7+ Kd6 28.Qb4+=) 27.Qd4+ Ke6 28.Qc4+ Kd7 29.Qd4+ Kc7 30.Qxf2 Qe4 31.Qf4+ Qxf4 32.gxf4 Nd3 Black is better.
Losing on the spot, but 25.h4 Qf3–+ was winning for Black anyway.
25...Qf3 26.Qd4+ Kc7 27.Be5+ Kc8 0–1
White can't avoid mate, so he resigned.
Tkachiev,V. (2661) - Karjakin,S. (2694) [D45] , Crete 1.11.2007
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 a6 5.Bd2 e6 6.Qc2 Nbd7 7.Nc3 c5 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Be2
Probably not a new move, but 9.g3 b5 10.Bg2 Bb7 11.0–0 Rc8= (M. Gurevich-Morozevich, Wijk aan Zee 2002) is more common.
9...Be7 10.0–0 0–0 11.Rfd1 b5 12.Ne5
Interesting (and probably more precise) is 12.e4!?
12...Qc7!? has also to be taken into consideration.
You could think this is a strong move, but it will turn out to be a loss of time. Better is 13.exd4 Bb7 14.Bf4=
13...Qe8 14.exd4 Bd6 15.a3
15.Re1 Nb6 16.Bxb5? is not as good as it looks; after 16...Be6 17.Na4 (17.Ba4 Rc8) 17...axb5 18.Nxb6 Ra6 19.Ba5 Bc7 White loses material.
15...Nb6 16.Nb4 Bb7 17.Nd3 Ne4 18.Bf4 Bxf4 19.Nxf4 Rc8 20.Bf3 Na4
Black is more than fine in this position.
21.Nfxd5? doesn't work: 21...Bxd5 22.Bxe4 Nxc3 23.Bxh7+ Kh8 24.bxc3 g6 25.Bxg6 fxg6 and White's three pawns are not enough compensation for the piece. 21.Rd3!? was an interesting alternative to the text move.
21...Qd7 22.Rab1 Ng5
22...f5 or 22... Rfe8 look stronger.
23.Qd3 Nb6 24.h4 Nxf3+ 25.Qxf3 Nc4 26.Nc1
Too slow. 26.h5 h6 27.Ng3 looks more precise.
26...Qe7 27.Qg3 Nd2 28.Ra1 Ne4 29.Nxe4 dxe4 30.Nb3 Bd5 31.Nc5 Rc6 32.Qe5 Qd8 33.Nb7?
A bad mistake. After 33.Re1 Rh6 34.g3 f5 Black is slightly better, but White can hold on.
Easy! White can't take the piece or he will lose very soon...
The losing move: I guess Tkachiev was in time trouble. After 34.Nd6 e3! 35.Rf1 (35.fxe3 Bxg2 36.Qxg7+ Kxg7 37.Nf5+ Kh8 38.Nxh4 Be4–+) 35...Rc2 36.Qxe3 Qg4 37.Qh3 Qxh3 38.gxh3 Rc6 39.Nf5 Rg6+ 40.Ng3 f5–+ Black has a crushing attack; but 34.g3 holds on, e.g.: 34...Qg4 35.Nd6 Rd8 36.Nf5 f6 37.Qe7 Rcc8 38.Ne3 Qd7 and Black has good winning chances, but White is still alive.
34...Rh6 35.Kf1 Rf6 36.f3
After 36.Rd2 e3 37.g3 Qxg3 38.Qg2 Qxg2+ 39.Kxg2 exd2–+ White is hopeless as well.
36...exf3 37.gxf3 Qh2! 38.Qe4 Rg6 39.Qe3 Rg2 0–1
White can't avoid ...Qh1+ and mate, so he resigned.
Cheparinov,I. (2670) - Navara,D. (2656) [C88], Crete 1.11.2007
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0–0 8.h3 Bb7 9.d3 d6 10.a3 Qd7 11.Nc3 Rfe8
It should sound strange, but this looks to be a new move. 11...Rae8 is the common line.
After 12.Ng5 Black can play 12...Nd8 intending ...Ne6.
12...b4 13.Ne2 d5 14.exd5 Nxd5 15.Ng3 Bf8 16.Bd2 a5 17.Ba2 Nd4?
A bit too optimistic. After 17...Rad8 Black is fine.
18.Nxe5 Qd6 19.Nf3?
White gives back the favour. After 19.Qg4! Rxe5 (19...Nxc2 20.Nf5+-) 20.Qxd4 Rae8 21.Rxe5 Qxe5 22.Qxe5 Rxe5 23.Ne4 Black is a pawn down without any compensation.
19...Rxe1+ 20.Bxe1 Nf4
Now Black has a strong initiative in return for the sacrificed pawn.
21.Nxd4 Qxd4 22.Qg4 Re8
Taking back the pawn was just bad: 22...Bxg2? 23.Nf5 Nxh3+ 24.Qxh3! Qxf2+ 25.Bxf2 Bxh3 26.Ng3 and White can play for a win.; 22...Qxb2?? 23.Qxf4 Qxa1?? 24.Qxf7+ Kh8 25.Qg8#
Not the best choice. After 24.Nxd4 hxg4 25.hxg4 Nxg2 26.Bd2 Bc5 27.c3= Black is fine, but White is not losing.
24...Kh7 25.Qf5+ Kxh6 26.Bd2 Bd6
26...g5!? was an interesting alternative: after 27.h4 f6 28.Bg8 Re7 29.Be3 Qe5 30.hxg5+ fxg5 31.Qxf8+ Qg7 32.Qxg7+ Rxg7 33.Bc4 Nxg2 34.Bc5 Kg6 Black has some winning chances.
A beautiful (and virtually forced) Queen sacrifice.
28.Kxf2 Re2+ 29.Kg1 Rxg2+?
Better was 29...Rxd2 30.Re1 g6 31.Re6 Rxg2+ 32.Kf1 Rg3 and White is in deep trouble. But this line was not easy to be calculated.
30.Kf1 Rxd2 31.Bg8??
Losing on the spot. 31.h4 is the only way to survive (and get a draw), e.g.: 31...Bg2+ (31...Rh2 32.Qg5+ Kh7 33.Qd8 Rh1+ 34.Kf2 Rh2+ (34...Bc5+ 35.d4+-) 35.Kf1 Rh1+=) 32.Ke1 Re2+ 33.Kd1 Bf3 34.Qg5+ Kh7 35.Qf5+ Kh8 36.Kc1 Re1+ (36...Bg4 37.Qxa5 Re1+ 38.Kd2 Re2+=) 37.Kd2 Re2+ (37...Rxa1?? 38.Qc8+ Kh7 39.Qg8+ Kh6 40.Qh8#) 38.Kc1 Re1+=
31...Bg2+ 32.Ke1 Re2+ 33.Kd1 Bf3
Black pieces are all ready to assault White king.
34.Qh7+ Kg5 35.Ra2?
Now Black forces mate, but 35.Qxg7+ Kh4 36.Kc1 Re1+ 37.Kd2 Rxa1–+ is also hopeless for White.
35...Rh2+ 36.Ke1 Nxd3+ 0–1
Now Black mates in two moves: 37.Qxd3 Bg3+ 38.Kf1 Rh1#. So White resigned.
And now here is the solution to the test of my last post.
Rajlich (2411) - Bosboom-Lanchava (2379), Crete 30.10.2007
White to play and win
22.Rh7+ 1–0 (22... Kxh7 23. Qf7+ followed by Rh1)