By Lubomir Kavalek
Monday, April 28, 2008

Are we done with the Poisoned Pawn variation of the Najdorf Sicilian? Just as the possibilities in this sharp, overanalyzed opening seemed to be exhausted, the young Azerbaijani grandmaster Rauf Mamedov came up with a new, brilliant idea and scored an amazing victory against Russia's Dmitry Kokarev. The game was played at the European Individual championship, underway in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, with nearly 200 grandmasters participating.


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd3 (The more modest 8.Qd2 is the main line. Can one square make a difference?) 8...Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.f5 Nc6 (After 10...Be7 11.fxe6 fxe6 12.Be2 Qa5 13.Bd2! Qc7, white's bayonet attack 14.g4! is unpleasant.) 11.fxe6 fxe6 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.Be2 Be7 (Black was able to survive in the past after 14.0-0 or after 14.Bxf6 gxf6 15.Bh5+ Kf8 16.Qd2 Kg7. Mamedov comes up with an intriguing novelty and the black king is suddenly in jeopardy.) 14.Bh5+! g6 (After 14...Nxh5 15.Bxe7 Kxe7? 16.Nd5+ wins.)

15.e5!! (Both the queen and the bishop are pouncing on the pawn g6, creating a powerful attack.) 15...Nd5 (After 15...dxe5 16.Rb3 Qc5 17.Bxg6+! hxg6 18.Qxg6+ Kd7 19.Bxf6, black is in dire straits. Perhaps 15...Nxh5 16.Bxe7 Nf4! is the best, although after 17.Qg3 Nd5 18.Nxd5 Qxg3+ 19.hxg3 cxd5 20.exd6, white still has the edge.) 16.Rb3 Qa5 (After 16...Qc5 17.Ne4 Nb4, white wins with an exchange sacrifice 18.Rxb4! Qxb4+ 19.c3 Qb8 20.Nxd6+ Bxd6 21.Bxg6+! Kd7 22.Rf1 hxg6 23.Rf7+ Ke8 24.Rg7 Kf8 25.Qxg6, threatening 26.Qf6+ Ke8 27.Qd8 mate.) 17.Bxe7 Nxe7 (After 17...Kxe7 18.exd6+ Kxd6 19.0-0, the black king is in trouble.) 18.exd6 Qxh5 19.dxe7 Qh4+ 20.g3 Qxe7 (The main fireworks are over, but white is better developed.)

21.0-0 Rf8 (After 21...Qc5+ 22.Rf2 Rf8 23.Ne4 Qa7 24.Qc3 Rxf2 25.Nxf2 Bd7 26.Qf6, black is tied up.) 22.Ne4 (Black is vulnerable on the dark squares.) 22...e5 23.Nd6+ Kd8 24.Rfb1 (White had a better way to win: 24.Rxf8+! Qxf8 25.Ne4+, for example 25...Ke8 26.Qc3 Kf7 27.Qxc6 Ra7 28.Rb8 winning a piece; or 25...Kc7 26.Qc3 Bh3 27.Qxe5+ Kc8 28.Rb1!, threatening 29.Nd6+.) 24...Qe6?! (Black could have resisted better with 24...Qa7+ 25.Rb6 [or 25.Kh1 Qd4!] 25...Rb8 26.Nb5+ Qd7 27.Qxd7+ Kxd7 28.Rd1+ Ke7 29.Rxb8 axb5, although after 30.c3 white still keeps winning chances.) 25.c4 (The immediate 25.Qd2 was also good, e.g. 25...Ke7 26.Rb7+! Bxb7 27.Rxb7+ Kf6 28.Ne4+ Kf5 29.g4+! and now either after 29...Kxe4 30.Rb4+; or after 29...Kxg4 30.h3+ Kf5 31.Qg2 Kf4 32.Rb4, white mates soon.) 25...Ke7 (25...a5 seems better.) 26.Rb7+! Bxb7 (After 26...Bd7 27.Rxd7+! Kxd7 [27...Qxd7 28.Rb7 wins] 28.Rb7+ Kd8 transposes to the game.) 27.Rxb7+ Kd8 (On 27...Qd7 28.Nc8+ wins.) 28.Qa3 a5 29.Qc5 (After 29...Ra6 30.Rb8+ Kd7 31.Rxf8 Qxd6 32.Rd8+ wins.) Black resigned.

High School Championships

Daniel Yeager of Pennsylvania won the National High School championship in Atlanta this month with a perfect 7-0 score. Catalina Foothills High School in Tucson, was the best team, scoring 19 1/2 points in 28 games. The local Alexandria team of Thomas Jefferson High School (Edward Lu, Aryan Khojandi, Craig Saperstein, Joey Regalbuto, Byron Hood and Jacob Steinhardt) finished second with 19 points.

Solution to today's study by T. Gorgiev (White: Kb8,Ra7,Nf4,P:b5; Black: Kb6,Ra1,P:a4,a6): 1.Rb7+! Ka5 2.bxa6 Kxa6 3.Ne6 Ka5 (3...a3 4.Nc5+ Ka5 5.Nb3+ wins) 4.Nd4!! Rc1! 5.Ka7! Rc5 6.Rb5+! Rxb5 7.Nc6 mate.

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