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Efim M Lazarev vs Viktor Korchnoi
Odessa (1953)
Formation: King's Indian Attack (A07)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-03-08  Cuellargacharna: I believe that most likely the annotation of this game is innacurate, otherwise why not .34rxq, or after .34kg8, why not 35.qxr? I need an explanation!
Aug-15-15  NeverAgain: Indeed, there appears to be an error in the game score: 34. Qh5+ hangs the Queen. Most likely the actual move was 34. Qh4+.

Some notes on the game.

*** Part 1 ***
Interesting opening, kind of a cross between declined versions of Lisitsyn Gambit (Opening Explorer) and Latvian Gambit (Opening Explorer).

4. g3 - a solid approach. Curiously, half a century later Carlsen vs Dolmatov, 2004 reached the same position after the initial three moves. Magnus continued with the incisive <4. Nc3 Nc6 5. ef5 Bf5 6. d4> which led to a rapid debacle for Black. I don't subscribe to the idea that that game refutes <1. Nf3 f5> once and for all (Black's play was too cooperative to be on GM level), but it sure highlights the pitfalls facing Black.

9...f4 - initiates a typical Dutch/KID-style kingside attack. White should probably retreat the Bishop at once, rather than fall in with Black's plans.

12. Ne2?! - having said "Ah", White might as follow up with "Bee" and take the pawn <12. Bxf4>. He was probably afraid of the tactical complications starting with <12...Nxe4> but White holds his own after <13. Nd5> Δ 14. Nxc7 <13...Nc5> (bad is <<13...Rxf4 14. Nxf4 >> and the initiative is firmly with the first player) <14. d4 Ne6 15. Bg3 Bd8 16. Re1 Qh5 17. c4= > with a nicer position than what he actually got in the game:

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<<13. dxe4 Rxf4 14. Nd5 Rf8 15. Nxc7>>, threatening to win the exchange, also looked interesting. Counterattack <<15...Qg6>> seems to be Black's best course, and now <<16. Kh1= >> for the prudent and <<16. Nxa8>> for the adventurous. After <<16...Bxh3 17. Ne1 Bxg2 18. Nxg2 Ne5 19. f4 Ng4 20. Qf3 Qh5>> Black's attack balances out his material disadvantage, according to Stockfish.

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12...Nh5 - Korchnoi could have taken advantage his opponent's pussy play and secured the initiative by the sharper <12...g5>. Whether White likes it or not, he is forced into complications <13. Nxg5 Rg8 14. h4 Nh5 15. Bc3+ Ne5> and now, in order to stay in the game, he would have to find <16. Ng3! > as after <16. d4 Nb3 17. d5+ Ne5 > Black's kingside attack flows unchecked:

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14. Nxf4? - having tucked his King away from the half-open g-file, White decides it's safe to grab the f-pawn at last and loses the exchange. It would be better to reroute the errant Knight to d5 and give up a pawn trying to contest the initiative : <14. Nc3 Qf7 15. Nd4 Bxb2 16. Rb1 Bf6 17. Re1 >

click for larger view

Aug-15-15  NeverAgain: *** Part 2 ***

17...Qh5 - Black maneuvers with tempo his Queen to the a1-h8 diagonal to forestall White's attempt to organize some pressure along it.

20. Qc1 - White has to abandon the long dark diagonal as he naturally doesn't want to exchange Queens. <20. Qa1> would be met by <20...Qd4>.

21. f4 - White reluctantly embarks on a kingside attack. Too bad his dark-squared Bishop is facing the *queenside*.

22...Be6 - Stockfish prefers <22...Bd7> Δ 23...Rae8, so as not to block the e-file.

23...Bxa2?! - instead of increasing his material advantage Black should think about securing his position.

24. e5!= - White goes onto attack.

24...Nc6 - a somewhat belated retreat.

25. e6? - the wrong pawn! <25. f6!> would crack the black King's defence perimeter with all black pieces stuck on the queenside: <25...Nxe5 26. fxg7+ Kxg7 27. Rf5 Rf7 28. Bxe5+ dxe5 29. Qg5+ Kf8 30.Rxf7+ Kxf7>

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and now White could go for perpetual with <31. Qxh5+> or try for more with <31. Nf5>.

25...a5 - with f6 no longer much of a threat Black ignores the opponent's kingside machinations and starts pushing his passed a-pawn.

27. Rf4? - with a view to possible transfer to the h-file after Ng6+, as well as keeping an eye on the enemy passer. However, <27. Re2> is more prudent, doesn't block the g3 Bishop and adds an extra threat of e7. After <27. Re2 Qf6> (otherwise <<28. Ng6+>> is devastating) <28. Qh5 Kg8 29. Bf4> (not possible with the Rook on f4) Black would be rather busy parrying the onslaught. Stockfish considers the drastic <29...Bxe6> the best way for Black to break the ring tightening around his King and keep his advantage. A simple plan is to exchange a few of the attacking pieces off and get back to passer pushing: <30. Rxe6 Qf7 31. Qxf7+ Kf7 32. Bd2 Rae8 33. Bd5 Rxe6 34. Bxe6+ Ke7 35. Bg5+ Ke8 36. Be3 b5 >

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but at least it would be a fight. Instead White goes after the mirage along the h-file.

27...Qf6 - the threat of Ng6+ can no longer be ignored.

30. Qg4? - White twitches and sounds a retreat. The ...Bxe6 threat is best met with <30. Be1>, planning to include the Bishop in the attack with tempo by transferring it to either the a1-h8 or the c1-h6 diagonal. This would force Black to part with some material to prevent White from turning tables on him. Although the position after <30...Rc5 31. c4 Bxc4! 32. dxc4 a3> (luring the white Queen away) <33. Qe2 g5! 34. Rf3 a2 35. Qxa2 Qe5+ 36. Bg3 Qxe4 37. Qb2+ Kg8 38. f6 Qxe6! 39. fxe7 Qxe7 40. Rxf8 Qxf8 41. Ng2>

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doesn't leave White much hope of salvation, he could count on putting up a fight in an adjournment session. With Korchnoi's notorious penchant for extra material this would have been the best practical choice. As it is, Lazarev barely made it to the time control.

Aug-15-15  NeverAgain: *** Part 3 ***

30...a3 - this pawn blatantly mocks White and encourages him to short-circuit.

31. Ng6+ - desperately plunging ahead with the attack. White's position was clearly lost, but he could have at least tried to include the Bishop in the banzai charge.

32...Bxe6! - Black doesn't need this Queen anymore, he will shortly have another one.

36. Bh4 - with Stockfish evaluating the position as -7.50 it's a moot whether this move deserves a question mark. Still, it would make more sense to try to give up the Bishop for the a-pawn with <36. Be1 a2 37. Bc3>, at least in terms of prolonging the game the most. Instead, White clings to the fading illusion of an attack and the eval gradually drops down to -54.15 in the final position.

40... Ra8 - apparently both players were in severe time trouble and missed a mate in 6: <40...a1Q 41. h4 Qd4 42. Kg2 Ra2 43. Bf5 Rxc2+ 44. Kg3 Bxf5 45. Qxg8 Qf2#>

click for larger view

It doesn't matter, though, as White presumably lost on time.

*** Technical note ***
Stockfish 6 at 5min/move (avg. depth 32-33 ply) and a few aging gray cells were used in preparation of this analysis.

Aug-22-15  NeverAgain: The last diagram should have had the white King on g3 instead of g4, sorry.
Feb-26-16  NeverAgain: Never mind, that diagram is completely wrong - here is the correct one:

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Quite an entertaining game. The tension at the end where White tries to hold on leads to some nice analysis of how the game might have been played but wasn't.
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