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Understand The Position 9: “On the Edge of the Knife”

GM Ján Markoš | June 4, 2011 – 22:15One Comment | 625 views
Understand The Position 9: “On the Edge of the Knife”

I have to admit that I love chaotic positions in which the pieces are swirling across the board like crazy; the positions with a lot of air, freedom and danger. There is no need to wait, to maneuvre slowly, to behave reasonably. Look, imagination and perception, you have free rein!

Translated by: Dusan Turcer

Of course, if you play with fire, you get burned sometimes. Today I will show you how I almost burned myself, recently… The position is from the last round of the top Slovak league. Mazúr – Markoš, after White’s 23rd move.

Even a flash over the board reveals that unusual things were happening during the opening. I played a rarely played Kalashnikov and introduced a new, ambitious plan; black h-pawn marched to the 3rd rank. However, White accepted the thrown glove and kept his ground. And if none of the rivals turn aside, there must be a battle soon…

Black rook is hanging on b2. In addition, black king is in great danger – white duo (Knight + Queen) created the mate trap, and the only piece preventing it from snapping is the black queen. White rook on b1 would like to join the attack and to try to lure away this only defender.

What are the trumps of Black? Well, the position of the white king is also strange and Bh1 is absolutely out of the game. If sometimes in the future a “normal” middle game will arise, Black should easily win because of this bishop on h1.

I examined the forced continuation 23…Be2+ first. (Always take a look at the exchanges, checks and threats first. These moves are easily calculated and moreover, it happens very often that they are the best ones.) The line: 24.Kg1 Rxb1 25.Rxb1 Bc4 26.Rb8! (Making troubles to the black queen) Ne2+ 27.Kf1 Nf4+ 28.Ke1 Qa5+ 29.c3 Nd3+ 30.Kf1 Nf4+ 31.Ke1 with the perpetual check didn’t satisfy me too much. I didn’t create such a beautiful chaotic position on the board just because I wanted to agree with a draw a couple moves later!

Then it occurred to me, that perhaps it would be the best to prevent the white rook from penetration into my camp, and I began to examine the 23…Rb5! 24.a4 (24.c4? Be2+ 25.Kg1 Bxc4) 24…Rxd5 25.exd5 Qc7 26.Qd2 and Black has full compensation for the exchange – his pieces have a great interplay and the king is not in danger anymore. But what to do after 24.c3 ? Should I retreat from the nice central square? That’s why neither this line satisfied me.

I finally decided to play high stakes – to take a pawn and go for a risk:

23…Rxc2!? 24.Rb7 (24.Rb8 Rc8 25.Rb7 Re8 26.Rxf8 leads to the perpetual check, just like the game continuation.) 24…Nc6??

Something is burning! I tried to avoid the natural draw after 24…Re8 25.Rxf7 (Nothing changes after 25.Re7 Qxe7 26.Nxe7+ Rxe7 27.Qg5 Be6 28.Qxe7 Bc4+ 29.Kg1 Ne2+ 30.Kf1 Nxg3+ 31.Kg1 Ne2+ 32.Kf1 Jg3+) …Kxf7 26.Dh7+ Kf8 27.Dh8+, but I overlooked the most powerful move of White. Do you see it?


Nice 25.Re7!! was winning, because after 25…Qxe7 26.Nxe7 Nxe7 27.Qg5 White wins a piece. Now, Black is back in the game. 25…Rxc1+ 26.Qxc1 Na5?? (One more mistake, it was necessary to play 26…Nb8) 27.Ra7?? (After 27.Rc7! Be6 28.Qc3 White catches the knight and the counterattack 28…Qb8 29.Qxa5 Qb1+ doesn’t work because of 30.Qe1. Black would have to take on a2 and fight for a survival. However, he has almost winning position now.) 27…Kg7! (Prevents the return of the queen to h6. From now on, the black king will feel very comfortable.) 28.Rxa6 Qc8! 29.Nc7 Qb7 30.Rxa5 Rc8 31.Ra3 Rxc7 0-1, White made his last five moves with a thirty seconds on the clock and now he lost on time in a hopeless position.

Little things make a big difference in the game result when you play extremely sharp positions – one mistake in the calculation, one lapse in the concentration. So if you ever get a similar position on the board, don’t save your time, energy and brain, and try to be extra accurate in your calculations. Then, these sharp positions will make you having fun, but will also bring you a lot of points.

This post is also available in: Slovak

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