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SPAIN'S FINEST CAVA
SPAIN'S FINEST CAVA
THE SICILIAN DEFENCE fills very much the slot in modem chess that the romantic King's Gambit did in the games of a century or so ago. In the early 1900s chess organisers, fearful that increasing technique amongst the grandmasters was leading to a superabundance of sterile draws, introduced the concept of the King's Gambit tournament, where the moves 1 e4 e5 2 f4 exf4 were mandatory at the start of each game. After that, the players were very much left to their own devices.
Now, in Buenos Aires, the idea of a the- matic tournament has been revived with the sharp Sicilian Defence as the pre- ordained leitmotif, upon which the players have to orchestrate their own variations. As became evident from the match between Nigel Short and Garry Kasparov in London last year, the Sicilian Defence provides one of the richest fields for the creative imagi- nation of the grandmasters and the Buenos Aires venture has been rewarded by a splendid harvest of decisive and attacking games. Here is the best example so far.
Ivanchuk-Anand: Buenos Aires, 1994; Sicilian Defence.
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 g6 Widely considered to saddle Black with a space disad- vantage since White can now set up the so-called Maroczy Bind based on the move c4. However, in recent games Anand has made something of a living with this variation as Black, thwarting all White's attempts to gain the initiative and land- ing the occasional devastating counterpunch when White has overreached. 5 c4 Nf6 6 Nc3 d6 7 Bet Nxd4 8 Qxd4 Bg7 9 Be3 0-0 10 Qd2 Be6 11 0-0 Qa5 12 Rail! A subtle improvement on Ivanchuk-Anand, played in Moscow earlier this year where 12 Racl RfcS 13 b3 a6 14 f4 b5 led to a position with fighting chances for both sides from which Black eventually won. 12 ...Rfc8 13 b3 Nd7 14 Rfcl Qd8 Black's strategy has essen- tially been refuted. The defence runs much more easily when Black can exchange queens. Having avoided this, White now enjoys a more or less free hand on the kingside, where he plans to advance. 15 Nd5 Nc5 16 Bf3 a5 17 h4 BxdS Annoying though White's knight is in its power- ful central post, Black had to ignore it and patiently block White's advance with 17 . h5. 18 exd5 Qd7 19 Qe2 Re8 20 h5 Qf5 21 Rdl Be5 The final error, in a strategic sense, which allows White's attack to develop an irresistible impetus. The best defence was to keep his queen active by means of 21 ... Qe5, 22 g4 Qc8 23 Kg2 Bg7 24 Rh1 White's plan to continue with his onslaught is clear and there is little Black can do to oppose it. Ivanchuk's intention is to double rooks in the 'h' file and then crash through. 24 ...Nd7 25 hxg6 hxg6 26 Rh4 a4 27 Rbhl axb3 28 axb3 Ral 29 R1h3 Qa8 30 Rh7 Qa2 (Diagram) 31 Rxg7+ This sacrifice eliminates Black's best defensive piece. 31 ...Kxg7 32 Bd4+ Black now has no good way of parrying the check. If 32 ... Ne5 33 Bxe5 + dxe5 34 Qxe5+ f6 and now a switch of fronts by means of 35 Qh2 forces the decision. Alternatively 32 ...Nf6 allows White a decisive gain of material by 33 Qe3 Rh8 34 Rxh8 Kxh8 35 Qxe7. 32 ...f6 33 Qe3 Nf8 34 Be4 KI7 35 Rh8 Black resigns. White's plan is simple but effec- tive, Qh6 followed by Rxf8+ eliminating Black's last defender and then Qxg6 checkmate.
I have already catalogued the disaster that befell the two British grandmasters Nigel Short and Michael Adams in their PCA semi-final matches. So far, though, I have not yet given a sample of play from the Adams debacle. The game which follows was typical of the way in which Anand out- played his English opponent.
Anand-Adams: World Championship Semi- finals, Linares, 1994; Caro-Kann Defence.
Position after 34 . Qc1 Black's threats of ... Qdl+ and ...b5 look alarming, but White has a simple response. 35 bxc5 White's preponderance of pawns in the centre means that any endgame will be winning for him, but in the meantime Black can hound the white king with an impressive-looking sequence of checks. 35 ... Qbl+ 36 Kc3 Qcl+ 37 Kd3 Qdl+ 38 Ke3 exf5 39 Kf2 Qcl 40 Qe7 Qf4+ 41 Kgl Qd4+ 42 K112 Rd7 An ingenious idea, worthy of a better fate. If now 43 Qxd7 Qh4+ 44 Kg1 Qd4+ 45 Kfl Qf4+ 46 Rf2 Qcl+ 47 Keg Qc2+ with a draw by perpetual check. 43 Qe8+ Kh7 44 Qe5 Qh4+ 45 Kgl Qg5 46 Re3 16 47 Qg3 Qh5 48 Qf4 Kg8 49 Rxa3 Qd1+ 50 KW Qh5+ 51 Rh3 Qg4 52 Qxg4 fxg4 53 Rb3 Black resigns. Suddenly all is clear. Black has absolute- ly no defence to the threat of the sacrifice 54 Rxb7 followed by c6 when White inevitably queens a pawn.