27 August 2016

Commentary: 2016 World Junior Championship, Round 12 (Bersamina - Xiong)

This very recent game caught my eye, as a victory by the new World Junior Champion, American GM Jeffery Xiong.  Ranked first in the world U16 category, Xiong in round 12 clinched the title by winning as Black against IM Paulo Bersamina.  I had an initial interest in the game because it (a Grand Prix Sicilian) turns into what could be considered a reversed English Opening, making its subsequent play full of ideas that are directly relevant to my opening repertoire.  There are a lot of more general lessons contained here, though, including the importance of time and development in the opening and early middlegame (which White ignores on multiple occasions), the value of the initiative, and some interesting tactical ideas.  White essentially takes a wrong turn with his plans on move 11, offering to sacrifice a pawn with very little compensation, but Xiong passes up simpler ways of exploiting this in favor of more complex play, which seems to be an intentional strategy.  Xiong's endgame technique and ideas are also worth looking at, in terms of how to win a won game.

Bersamina, Paulo (2402) - Xiong, Jeffery (2633)

Result: 0-1
Site: Bhubaneswar IND
Date: 2016.08.20
[...] 1.e4 c5 2.¤c3 d6 3.f4 ¤c6 4.¤f3 g6 5.¥b5 ¥d7 6.O-O ¥g7 7.¥c4 this seems like a bit of a waste of time in the opening, especially after the next move. Presumably it was done to preserve the bishop from exchange. 7...¤a5 8.¥e2 ¤f6 this looks like it makes the knight a target for an advance of the e-pawn, but that would not turn out particularly well for White. 9.£e1 at around 48 percent, this scores better than anything else for White in the database, but it's still not a good thing. Black has fully equalized already while White continues to lose time in the opening.
9.e5 dxe5 10.¤xe5 (10.fxe5?!10...¤g4µ) 10...O-O and Black has a comfortable game.
9...¤c6 10.¥c4 inviting a repetition of moves, although Black can do better. 10...¤d4
10...O-O!? the engine suggests castling first, which looks safer. 11.d3 ¤d4
11.£h4?! this doesn't work and I'm not sure what White was looking to do here by offering the c2 pawn as a sacrifice. Even simply castling in response is fine for Black.
11.¤xd4 simplest appears best here. 11...cxd4 12.e5 dxc3 13.exf6 £b6+ 14.¦f2 ¥xf6
11...b5 an interesting idea that further complicates the game and keeps the tension up, which is probably what Xiong wanted.
11...¤xc2 12.¦b1 ¤d4µ and White doesn't have any real threats. For example 13.¤g5? (13.b3µ) 13...d5 (13...e6 is also sufficient) 14.¤xd5 ¤xd5 15.f5
15.¤xh7? the knight is pinned here and Black now has a free hand. 15...¤b6 16.b3 ¤xc4 17.bxc4 ¥c6−⁠+
11...O-O 12.f5!? should be OK for Black, but gives White at least the appearance of some initiative.
12.¤xd4 cxd4 13.¤xb5 £b6 Black has (temporarily) invested a pawn, but has the initiative in return. 14.a4 a6 15.a5 £c6 16.¤a3 ¤xe4 now Black has his pawn back and a favorable position, while White's pieces are uncoordinated and he lacks an obvious plan to make progress. 17.d3 ¤f6 18.¤b1 an excellent illustration of how time in the opening and early middlegame can be valuable. The knight has journeyed back to its original square, with associated tempo loss, while Black can now make progress in the center. (18.¥b3!?³ would clear the c4 square for the knight instead.) 18...d5 19.¥b3 £c5 this avoids having White play Ba4. While d6 seems like a more useful square for the queen, being less limited, Xiong no doubt had the next knight maneuver to e3 in mind, which the queen supports. 20.¦e1 ¤g4 21.¦e2 ¤e3 Black would be quite happy to have White capture the knight, thereby undoubling the Black d-pawns and giving him a passed pawn on e3. 22.h3 another time-wasting move.
22.¤d2!? White really needs to get more of his pieces into the game.
22...O-O White now has no prospects on the kingside and it's about time to get the king to safety away from the center. 23.£e1 ¦ab8 activating the rook; Black wants to play with all of his pieces. This may seem to ignore White's last move, which adds pressure to the Ne3, but it still cannot be taken without benefiting Black. 24.¦a3 again a move illustrating how awkward White's position is.
24.¥xe3 dxe3 opening up the long diagonal and the d4 square for the Bg7 25.¦xe3?25...¥d4−⁠+
24...¦fc8−⁠+ by this point White is under huge pressure, which will simply get worse, and can do nothing about it. 25.¢h1 moving off of the g1-a7 diagonal and taking away the ... Bd4 tactic, but it still doesn't help much. 25...¥f5 26.¥xe3 dxe3 27.¦xe3 ¥xb2 28.¦a2 ¥d4 Black can again safely ignore White's threat to pick up a pawn, in this case on e7. 29.¦f3
29.¦xe7 ¥f2! and now wherever the queen moves, the Re7 will be left hanging, or White opens himself to back rank problems.
29...¥xd3 would also be sufficient, as the Bb3 would be hanging after a recapture on d3
30.£e2 (30.£d2 ¦xb3 31.cxb3 £xe7 32.£xf2 ¦c1+) 30...¦xb3 winning the piece, as if 31.cxb3?31...£c1+−⁠+
29...h5 stopping g4 to kick the Bf5 30.¤d2 White finally gets all of his pieces developed, on move 30. 30...¥c3 31.£f2 e6 an instructive decision. Black heads for the endgame, which he must be confident of winning, as he will pick up the indefensible a5 pawn in the process. 32.£xc5 ¦xc5 After the exchange of queens Black wins the a-pawn and the game is practically over. 33.¤f1 ¦xa5 34.¦xa5 ¥xa5 Black has the outside passed a-pawn, the two bishops, and a well-placed rook, which should (and do) lead him to victory from this point on. 35.¢h2 ¥c3 36.g3 a5 passed pawns must be pushed! 37.¤e3 designed to support the g-pawn advance 37...¦b4 Black can also just make a waiting move with the bishop here, such as ...Bg7. This would remove White's subsequent threat along the third rank with the rook, although it perhaps doesn't matter in the end. 38.g4 hxg4 39.hxg4 Black can now play this several different ways. The problem for White is that his bishop is trapped after ...a4 39...¥xd3 40.¤g2 a4 41.¥xa4 ¥e4 42.¦xc3 ¦xa4 Black is still winning comfortably after the end of the sequence - remaining a pawn up, with a strong bishop vs. knight, and one pawn island versus two. However, those of us with lesser endgame technique might not have chosen this particular path. 43.¤e1 ¦a1 44.¦e3 ¦c1 the ideal spot for the rook, behind White's isolated pawn. 45.¦e2 ¢f8 time to bring the king into the game. 46.¢g3 ¢e7 47.g5 ¢d6 48.¢f2 ¥f5 49.¤d3 ¦h1 50.¤e5 ¦h2+ once the rooks come off, the win becomes more trivial for Black. 51.¢e3?! this allows the following tactic (51.¢f3 ¦xe2 52.¢xe2−⁠+) 51...d4+ 52.¢d2 ¦xe2+ 53.¢xe2 ¢d5 compared with the above variation, Black is significantly ahead with the d-pawn and his king position in the center. Although the f-pawn will fall, this doesn't affect Black's defense against the White pawns, as Black's king will penetrate. 54.¢d2 ¢e4 55.¤xf7 ¢xf4 56.c3 d3 White could simply resign at this point, but apparently decides to play on in the hopes of a blunder by his opponent. 57.¤d6 e5 58.¤c4 e4 Black has two connected passed pawns in the center, will grab the g5 pawn giving him a third passed pawn, and Black's bishop covers the c8 queening square for White. 59.¤e3 ¢xg5 a minor piece exchange is fine for Black, since the White king can't cover all of the passed pawns. 60.¢e1 ¥g4 61.¤d5 ¢f5 62.¢d2 ¢e5 63.¤e7 g5 64.¢e3 ¥f3 65.c4 g4 passed pawns (especially outside ones) must be pushed! 66.¤g6+ ¢d6 67.¤h4 ¢c5 68.¤f5 ¢xc4 69.¢d2 is White playing for stalemate now? Hardly seems sporting. 69...¢d5 70.¢e3 ¢e6 71.¤g3 ¢e5 72.¤f1 ¢f5 Black's king now runs around the wing to escort his outside passed pawn. 73.¤g3+ ¢g5 74.¤f1 ¢h4 75.¢f2 ¢h3 76.¢e3 g3 77.¤d2 g2 78.¢f2
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20 August 2016

Commentary: 2016 U.S. Championship, Round 11 (Krush - Paikidze)

This last commentary game from the 2016 US Championship is the decisive round 11 encounter between GM Irina Krush and IM Nazi Paikidze in the Women's section.  (Original ChessBase commentary can be found here.)  Krush by this point in the tournament, with 6 points, was out of the running, while Paikidze had to win as Black in order to catch up to WGM Tatev Abrahamyan.

As with many games, knowing the context is important to understanding the choices made by the players.  Paikidze as Black could not afford to be passive, while Krush as White had no need to strive for a win.  This dynamic I think helped shape the game from the start in terms of the opening choice (a King's Indian Attack).  White with 17. f4 provokes a complex middlegame with a number of tactical ideas lurking in the variations - mostly to Black's benefit.  Black in response sacrifices a pawn and has the initiative for almost the entire game, although Krush at one point had fought back to near-equality.  Paikidze's play illustrates some important tactical and positional concepts for improving players and the factors involved are well worth studying.

Krush, Irina (2465) - Paikidze, Nazi (2346)

Result: 0-1
Site: Saint Louis USA
Date: 2016.04.25
[...] 1.¤f3 ¤f6 a noncommital response to White's first move, while ruling out an immediate e4 as follow-up. 2.g3 d5 3.¥g2 c6 4.O-O ¥g4 this is slightly more challenging than the other standard move developing the bishop to f5. 5.d3 continuing with the standard plan of the King's Indian Attack setup. White will eventually play e4. 5...¤bd7 the knight needs to be developed in any case, and this provides the option of supporting an ...e5 push. 6.h3 ¥h5 7.£e1 getting off the h5-d1 diagonal and behind the e-pawn. 7...e5 played the vast majority of the time, forming a pawn duo in the center. (7...e6 is certainly possible, but is unambitious and drawish.) 8.e4 dxe4 not necessarily obligatory, but almost always played. The following game shows how problems can develop for Black by delaying it.
8...¥d6 9.exd5 ¥xf3 10.¥xf3 ¤xd5 11.¤c3 ¤xc3 12.bxc3 O-O 13.¦b1 £c7 14.¥d2 f5 15.£e2 ¦ae8 16.¥g2 ¢h8 17.£h5 ¥c5 18.¥g5 ¥b6 19.¦b4 ¦e6 20.¦h4 h6 21.d4 f4 22.gxf4 exd4 23.£g4 ¦g6 24.¥e4 ¦xf4 25.£xf4 £xf4 26.¦xf4 ¦xg5+ 27.¢h1 ¤f6 28.cxd4 ¥xd4 29.¦d1 ¥b6 30.¥f5 ¢g8 31.c4 ¥c7 32.¦f3 b5 33.cxb5 cxb5 34.¦b1 a6 35.¦c1 ¥e5 36.¦c6 ¢f7 37.¦xa6 ¥d4 38.¦d6 ¥c5 39.¦c6 ¥e7 40.¦c7 g6 41.¦e3 1-0 (41) Movsesian,S (2695)-Zontakh,A (2546) Loo 2013
9.dxe4 ¥c5 developing the bishop to its most effective diagonal. 10.a4 a5 preventing a b4 advance. 11.¤a3 actually the most common move played here, but scoring only 46 percent for White in the database. The point is to transfer the knight to c4. 11...O-O 12.¤c4 £c7 protecting e5 and connecting the rooks. 13.¥d2 b6 the obvious move, to ensure the a5 pawn is protected and Black's pieces are not tied down to it. 14.¤h4 intending to go to f5, but the knight ends up stuck here for a long time before exchanging itself for the bishop on g6. 14...¦fe8 developing the rook, which was doing nothing on f8. 15.¢h1 getting off the a7-g1 diagonal and preparing to push the f-pawn. 15...¥g6 anticipating the push g4 and pressuring e4, essentially inviting the following exchange. 16.¤xg6 hxg6 although White now has the two bishops, the individual minor piece trade is a fine idea for Black. Her light-square bishop was not doing anything very important and the White knight on the kingside otherwise could effectively support a pawn advance and/or could go to f5. 17.f4 a natural move, but perhaps White could have taken some more time to prepare it. Black is able to launch a counterstroke on the queenside. 17...b5 the tactics work in Black's favor if White accepts the pawn sacrifice. 18.¥xa5
18.¤xa5 is inferior, as the Na5 is out on a limb and its protectors can become overloaded, while Black has multiple other threats. 18...exf4 19.axb5 f3 20.¦xf3
20.¥xf3 cxb5³ and now Black can threaten the g3 and c2 pawns after ...Bd6.
20...cxb5 21.¦b3 ¥d6³22.¦e3 (22.¦xb5?22...¤c5µ)
18...£c8 19.axb5 cxb5 20.¤d2 the engine assesses the position as equal, as White's pieces are not as well coordinated as her opponent's and Black can start making threats along the e-file. 20...exf4 21.gxf4 ¤d5 a key move in the sequence, as the knight takes advantage of the pinned e-pawn to use d5 as an outpost and threaten to go to e3. 22.¦f3 defending the e3 square, albeit awkwardly.
22.b4!? is a recurring idea in this position that the engines identify. White at least temporarily gives back the pawn in order to better activate her pieces and deflect Black's threats. For example 22...¤xb4 23.£b1 ¤c6 24.£xb5 ¤xa5 25.¦xa5 ¦xa5 26.£xa5 ¤f6
22...f5?! this invites the advance of the e-pawn, which essentially solves White's problems with it.
22...¤7f6 would increase the pressure and not allow for the advance, as if 23.e5?!23...¤h5µ and now the f-pawn is under fire.
23.e5 g5 evidently this was Paikidze's idea, to pressure the e-pawn by undermining its support. White is faced with some complex choices. 24.fxg5? this was unnecessary and justifies Black's play.
24.£d1 would get the queen out of the pin first and improve on the idea. 24...gxf4? (24...¤7b6 25.fxg5 ¦xe5 26.b4 ¥xb4 27.¥xb4 ¤xb4 28.¦xa8 ¤xa8 29.¦b3±) (24...¤xf4?25.¦xf4 gxf4 26.¥d5+ ¢f8 27.£h5±) 25.¤c4 bxc4 26.£xd5++⁠−
24.b4!? has similar ideas as in the variation above. The hanging Nd5 and the open long diagonal give White some tactical possibilities and Black has to be careful.
24...¤xe5 Black now takes over the initiative. The two centralized knights in combination with the Re8 and Bc5 can make a variety of threats in this wide-open position. 25.¦f2? preserving the rook in this way just leads to more trouble for White. The engines suggest a positional exchange sacrifice. (25.£g3!?25...¤xf3 26.¥xf3µ) (25.¦f1 ¤e3µ) 25...¤e3−⁠+ it's clear by this point that for the investment of a pawn, Black's pieces are now dominating the game. This is a more positional road to victory.
25...¤d3! is even stronger, with a double attack on the queen and rook. White loses material in all lines, for example 26.¥xd5+ ¢h7 27.cxd3 ¦xe1+ 28.¦xe1 ¥xf2−⁠+
26.¤b3 protecting the c2 pawn by opening the second rank, but it would be safer to get the queen out of danger with Qb1. 26...¤xg2 Black again passes up the ...Nd3 tactic. 27.¦xg2µ27...f4 following the precept that passed pawns must be pushed, although this reduces the pressure of Black's pieces. (27...¤f3!?) 28.£c3 ¤c4
28...f3 is favored by the engines and is the logical continuation of the previous move's idea.
29.£f3 White has been doing a good job of containing Black's threats as best she can and the engines show only a slight advantage for Black at this point. 29...£f5³30.¤xc5 White logically wants to eliminate Black's strong bishop, but now the Ba5 is hanging. This is a case of where "doing something" in a position is actually inferior to waiting.
30.g6!? is the engine recommendation, a waiting move that also restricts Black's king. 30...¦ac8 31.£g4 £xg4 32.¦xg4 ¥d6³
30...£xc5 31.b4 £f5µ looking at how the position has transformed, White's bishop is now largely locked away, although may get back into the action via c7. Meanwhile Black's control of the e-file and the well-placed Nc4 are key advantages; the Ra8 can also easily get into the action. 32.¦f2 ¦e4 33.¦g1 ¦ae8 34.¥c7? an apparently logical idea, to increase pressure on the f-pawn and have the bishop do something useful, but now Black's domination of the e-file and her rooks will decide the game.
34.¢h2 would protect the h-pawn, which is vulnerable to pressure along the 3rd rank.
(34.£g4) 34...¦e3!−⁠+35.£xf4 ¦xh3+ a good example of the principle of looking for tactical exchanges, in this case the f-pawn for the h-pawn, since White could not take and also protect at the same time. Obviously the loss of the h-pawn hurts White much more than the f-pawn does Black, due to White's vulnerable king. 36.¢g2 ¤e3+ 37.£xe3 forced. 37...£g4+ here the value of the tactic of gaining a tempo is illustrated, with White's queen moving out of danger. 38.£g3 ¦xg3+ 39.¥xg3 ¦e3 40.¢h2 £h5+ a nice little tactic to pick up the g-pawn and give Black a passed pawn on the kingside. 41.¢g2 £xg5 White does not have compensation for being down material (R+B vs Q). It is instructive to see how Black's Q+R combination holds the initiative and how White is essentially helpless to do anything from this point forward. 42.¢h2 ¦e6 43.¦gg2 £h5+ 44.¢g1 £d1+ 45.¦f1 £d4+ 46.¦ff2 ¦e1+ 47.¢h2 £d1 48.¥f4 £h5+ 49.¢g3 ¦h1 50.¦h2 ¦g1+ 51.¦hg2 ¦h1 52.¦h2 £g6+ 53.¢h3 £e6+ 54.¢g3 ¦e1 55.¦hg2 £g6+ 56.¢h2 £e4 57.¥g5 £xb4 an illustration of the power of the queen to reposition herself with tempo and then pick up additional material in an endgame. 58.¥f4 (58.¥f6?58...£d6+ 59.¢h3 ¦h1+ 60.¢g4 gxf6−⁠+) 58...£e7 59.¢g3 ¦e6 60.¢h3 £d7 61.¢h2 ¦e4 62.¢g3 £f5 63.¦f3 g5 Black is now able to bring another piece into the attack. 64.¥xg5 one last attempt at setting a trap. 64...¦g4+ the tactical intermediate move that finishes things off. (64...£xg5+??65.¢h3)
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13 August 2016

Commentary: 2016 U.S. Championship, Round 8 (Yu - Melekhina)

I selected this next commentary game both based on its excitement factor and it being a Symmetrical English (not two qualities you often see together).  A standard imbalanced position follows after Black's (FM Alisa Melekhina) 5...e5, which can lead to a slow maneuvering game.  In this case, however, White (Jennifer Yu, also the winner of the previous commentary game) chose to pursue a non-standard and perhaps somewhat risky kingside strategy starting on move 12, rather than focusing on the usual queenside and central play revolving around d5.

Melekhina reacted well and picked up the gauntlet by castling on opposite sides, but her apparently safe-looking move 14 became the root of later problems by opening the f-file.  Yu then took advantage of her opponent moving her bishops away from protecting key squares not once, but twice, then found some creative tactical resources to win.  An excellent and informative struggle between two fine players (although this was not Melekhina's tournament).

(You can also see the original US Championship round 8 reportage at ChessBase here, although it seems that the commentator was working from an incorrect scoresheet when referring to this game.)

Yu, Jennifer R (2157) - Melekhina, Alisa (2205)

Result: 1-0
Site: Saint Louis USA
Date: 2016.04.22
[...] 1.c4 c5 2.¤c3 g6 3.g3 ¥g7 4.¥g2 ¤c6 5.¤f3 e5 breaking the symmetry and establishing a central pawn presence. 6.O-O ¤ge7 the idea here is not to block the f-pawn's advance later. 7.¤e1 White's idea is to redeploy the knight via c2. This is slow, but the opening is largely about maneuver rather than attack. 7...d6 8.¤c2 from here the knight can support the b4 advance or move to e3 to increase domination of the d5 square. 8...h5!? this move scores well in the database - although see the next annotation - but is not often played. There is only one game listed in 2015 with it, for example. (8...¥e6 is the more conventional choice, along with castling.) 9.d3 both Komodo and the database indicate that the reaction h4 should be avoided. In the small sample (19) of games available, it has been played roughly half of the time and scores badly at 25 percent. That said, White appears to be OK in the line, although it allows some additional attacking ideas for Black, as in the following game:
9.h4 g5 10.hxg5 h4 11.¤e3 hxg3 12.fxg3 ¥e6 13.¤cd5 £d7 14.¤f6+ ¥xf6 15.¦xf6 ¦g8 16.¤d5 O-O-O 17.d3 ¤f5 18.¦xf5 ¥xf5 19.¤f6 £c7 20.£f1 ¥e6 21.¤xg8 ¦xg8 22.¥d2 ¤d4 23.£f2 ¥g4 24.¥d5 ¤xe2+ 25.¢g2 ¤d4 26.£xf7 £xf7 27.¥xf7 ¥f3+ 28.¢f2 ¦h8 29.¦e1 ¦h2+ 30.¢e3 ¥h1 31.¦xh1 ¦e2# 0-1 (31) Markos,J (2327)-Navara,D (2433) Pardubice 2000
9...h4 the most logical follow-up. If Black is going to advance the h-pawn, she should go all in. 10.¤e3 most played here, although the engine evaluates that first proceeding with standard play centered around the b-file is fine.
10.a3 a5 11.¦b1 a4 12.¥g5 f6 13.¥d2 h3 14.¥h1 O-O 15.¤e3 is one possibility.
10...¥e6 this gets the bishop out, but Black did not need to develop it this early, as it is doing fine on its original square for now. It does nothing to impede White's next move. 11.¤ed5 f6 this seems a little premature and commital.
11...h3!? is the engine's choice, which would avoid White's later gxh4.
12.£e1 Yu here is signaling a shift in commitment to a kingside strategy, placing her queen on the e1-h4 diagonal and preparing her next move. (12.¦b1!? would continue with queenside and central play.) 12...£d7 13.f4 O-O-O Melekhina notes the strategic shift and castles on the opposite wing, making White's threat of expansion on the kingside less urgent. 14.fxe5 fxe5?! this looks like a logical and "clean" move visually, but immediately gives White some advantage to play with, including the open f-file and the initiative. From here on out, the game gets wilder.
14...¥xd5!? with the idea of exchanging material and reducing potential White threats. 15.¤xd5 ¤xe5 16.gxh4 ¤xd5 17.¥xd5 f5
15.gxh4 ugly-looking but effective. Black has some compensation for the pawn, due to the weak doubled h-pawns, but White does an admirable job of covering the weaknesses and playing actively. 15...¥h3? it turns out that Black needs to worry more about her white-square weaknesses, especially on f7, with the absence of this bishop. White has a number of ways to take advantage of this.
15...¥xd5 is still a good idea, but leaves White in better shape compared with the above variation: 16.¤xd5 ¤xd5 17.¥xd5 ¤d4 18.¥g5²
16.¦f7! and Black has some unsolvable problems related to the 7th rank and king position, for example 16...¥xg2 17.¢xg2 ¥h6 18.¥xh6 ¦xh6 19.¤xe7+ ¤xe7 20.¤d5 ¦e8 21.£a5+⁠−
16...¥xg2 17.¢xg2 ¦df8 18.h3 White evidently was concerned about ...Qg4+ here, although the engine shows that is not necessary.
18.¤xe7+ ¤xe7 19.¦xf8+ ¦xf8 20.¥xe7 £xe7 21.¤d5± and Black no longer has any real compensation for the pawn.
18...¤f5 a good consolidating move by Black. With this and the previous rook move, she has shut down threats along the f-file. White can also no longer trade down material, as in the previous variation. 19.¤e4 centralizing the knight and recognizing that the e4 square is superior to b5 for it now. 19...¥h6?! continuing with the theme of moving bishops away from controlling key squares, in this case f6. This time White takes advantage of it better. (19...¤cd4) 20.¤ef6±20...£e6 21.e4 White has regained the initiative and revived the utility of the f-file. 21...¤xh4+ a piece sacrifice based on an interesting tactical idea for Black. (21...¤fd4± is the safer choice.) 22.¥xh4 ¥g5? unfortunately for Black, this bishop move doesn't work. Yu spots the refutation, which is not obvious. Two white pieces are hanging (the Bh4 and the Nf6) and the Bh4 can't move without allowing ... Qxh3. However, White finds a creative solution by giving back the piece.
22...¥f4 is the only good continuation here, with the threat of ...g5 and ... Qxh3. 23.¦xf4 exf4 24.¤xf4 £e5 25.¤xg6 ¦hg8 26.¤xg8 ¦xg8 27.¢h1 ¦xg6 28.£f2± still works out fine for White, however.
23.¤c7!23...¢xc7 24.¤d5+ The Nf6 escapes with tempo, thanks to the sacrifice of its brother. 24...¢d7 now Black has problems with hanging pieces instead and loses at minimum the exchange. 25.¦xf8 ¥xh4 (25...¦xf8 26.¥xg5+⁠−) (25...¦xh4 26.£g3 ¦h5 27.¦af1+⁠−) 26.£f1
26.¦xh8 might be simpler, with two rooks vs. queen in a position where the rooks will dominate. 26...¥xe1 27.¦xe1+⁠−
26...¦xf8 27.£xf8 ¥e7 28.£g7+⁠− and Black cannot stop the rook transfer to f1 and then f6 or f7.
27.£f7+ £xf7 28.¦xf7+ ¤e7 29.¦af1 an illustration of the importance of the open f-file in the game, along with the weak 7th rank. Black's fate is now sealed. 29...¦h8 30.¦g7 ¦e8 31.¦h7 ¥g5 32.h4 ¥f4 33.¤f6+
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