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Michail Brodsky vs Vladimir Kramnik
"The Pelikan Brief" (game of the day Oct-25-2009)
Ch URS (young masters) (1991), Kherson (Ukraine), rd 43
Sicilian Defense: Lasker-Pelikan. Sveshnikov Variation (B33)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: Black has the bishop pair for a bishop and a knight. White threatens 19.Nc3, trapping Black's LSB, Qxh7 and Ng4 forking the rook on f2 and the pawn on e5, although not immediately because of 19.Ng4 Rxc2+ 20.Bxc2 Ne2#.

A quick scan reveals some tactical motifs:

1) 18... Rxc2+ 20.Nxc2?? Nb3#.

2) 18... Bh6 19.Qxh6?? Rxc2+ 20.Bxc2 (20.Nxc2 Nb3#) Ne2#.

3) 18... Nb3+ 19.cxb3 Rc8+ 20.Nc3?? Rxc3+ 21.bxc3 Ba3#.

4) 18... axb5 19.Bxb5+ Nxb5 (19... Ke7 20.Qh4+ f6 21.Qxf2) 20.Rxd8+ Rxd8 21.Ng4 Bc5 22.Nxf2?? Be3#.

Although Black gets R+B+N for Q+P in the last line, the white queen gains a dangerous activity with 21.Qh4 (threatening Qxf2 and Qa4) Rf4 22.Qf6. Black's scattered pieces might become victims easily.

The threats against the black queen along the d-file and the weak spots b2 and e3 suggest 18... Qb6:

A) 19.Nc3 Nb3+ 20.cxb3 Qxe3+ 21.Rd2 Qxd2#.

B) 19.Nxd4 Bh6 (19... exd4 20.Ng4 Rg2 21.Rhe1+ seems to be problematic) 20.Rhe1 exd4 - + [B].

C) 19.Ng4 axb5 20.Nxf2 Bh6+ 21.Rd2 Bd5 - + with multiple threats: Rh1#, Bxd2+, Bxh1, etc.

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <Scormus> I actually found 18...Bh6!! without the aid of the computer. However, like Kramnik, I missed the followup 19. Rhe1 Qb6! with a mate-in-five after 20. Nc3?? Nb3+! .

I think with a little luck I might have found Kramnik's winning exchange sacrifice line after 19. Rhe1 axb5! , though I'm certain I didn't calculate as far ahead as Kramnik did.

Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: According to <RandomVisitor> 18... Qb6 and 18... Bh6 are equivalent but I still have the impression that the former is stronger because it fixes some opponent's threats and creates (or reinforces) others of your own. Perhaps a deeper computer analysis can attest this opinion.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: One thing I took away from this fun game is how useless white's king side pawns are, especially at move 18 for white.

click for larger view

Both 18 c3 and c4 lose to 18...Nb3#. 18 b3 loses to Bxa3#.

18 b4 loses to the spectacular 18...Qa5! (threatening Qxa3#).

click for larger view

White cannot play 19 bxa5 because of 19...Bxa3#.

Mar-07-10  Jack Kerouac: My head was about to explode, but I decompressed just in time with Rook to A1.
Mar-07-10  kavy: what if 18.... Rc8 .19(i dont see a good move against the blacks ..Nb3 mate whit out losing material ) I just watch it for 2 min and I;m tired so i can be wrong . Anyone ?( 18 ... Rc8 19 .... Nb3)
Mar-07-10  eric the Baptist: wouldn't have made that move in 6000 years. course, that's why my rating isn't...well... you know.
Mar-07-10  Quentinc: It is remarkable how White, trying to open lines up against Black's "stranded in the center" king, just ends up opening his own king to attack.

Could White not have put up at least a little more resistance with 18 Rd2?

Mar-07-10  wals: Rybka 3 1-cpu: 3071mb hash: depth 18 : time 30 min:

1. (-4.49): 18...Bh6 19.Rhe1[] Qb6[] 20.Nxd4 exd4 21.f6 Qxf6[] 22.Qa5 Bxe3+[] 23.Rxe3+ dxe3 24.Qxa2 Qf4[] 25.Kb1 e2 26.Re1 Qd2

2. (-4.49): 18...Qb6 19.Nxd4 Bh6[] 20.Rhe1 exd4 21.f6 Qxf6[] 22.Qa5 Bxe3+[] 23.Rxe3+ dxe3 24.Qxa2 Qf4[] 25.Kb1 e2 26.Re1 Qd2

(, 08.03.2010)

Mar-07-10  scormus: <Patzer2> good to know you found 18... Bh6!! I would have made a much better go of this great position if I'd found it too. And thanks for the Qb6 analysis, very convincing line. Interesting comments several people made about Kramnik missing 19.... Qb6. I'd looked at other moves - eg R-sac sac on c2 that got nowhere - and thought Qb6 was the best with something like your follow-up in mind, though I didnt properly analyse it. 18 ... axb5 looked too full of danger. Whether Kramnik missed Qb6 or (as I like to think)chose the more daring line, I'm hugely impressed. Real fighting play! I imagine the medieval Count from Wallachia wielding his sword in like fashion as he repelled the Ottoman invaders! Hence my humorous reference to game title ;-)
Mar-07-10  tacticalmonster: 1) white will get lots of compensation if the b5 knight is captured

2) The BB,BR and BN cordinate well to stalemale white king

3) The half open c-file is cruial to checkmating. But it is heavily guarded. Black job is to undermine the defense of c2 and c3 point

4) All black pieces are either directly or indirectly aiming at the white king.BR on c8 and BB on a3 or b4 or h6. Only the best square for black queen is unclear.

5) White queen and h1 rook are marooned in the h-file and they are not contributing to the defense of queenside

candidate: Nb3+ - Black still has to develop his rest of the army to join in the attack. This open the c-file and allows black pieces coming in with tempo.

a1) 18 Nb3+ 19 cxb3 Rc8+ 20 Nc2 Qxd3 21 Rxd3 R8xc2+ 22 Kd1 Rxb2 23 Ke1 axb5 24 Qh4

a2) 20 Nc2 Bxb3 21 Nc3( 21 Rd2? Rxd2!) Qa5 22 Rd2 Rxc3 23 bxc3 Qxc3 24 Rxf2 Ba3+ 25 Kd1 Qxd3+ 26 Ke1 Bxc2 27 Rxc2 Qxc2 28 Qf3 Bb4+ 29 Kf1 e4 unclear

I don't think I solved this puzzle and i am running out of time.

Mar-07-10  WhiteRook48: i thought 18...Nb3+
Mar-07-10  SuperPatzer77: Hey, chess folks,

I think Kramnik's 19th move is 19...axb5! (only move for a win) and I have Chess Informant - Chess Combinations. It says 19...Qb6?, 20. Nxd4 exd4, 21. Qh4!! (ready to counterplay) so, it may prove the computers wrong - 21. Qh4!! (mentioned by Kramnik and Tseshkovsky)

In my opinion, 19...axb5! (the only best move).


Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <SuperPatzer77> Following 19...Qb6! 20. Nxd4 exd4 21. Qh4, the reply 21...Rb8! wins easy:

19...Qb6! 20. Nxd4 exd4 21. Qh4 Rb8! 22. b3 Bxb3 23. Qxf2 dxe3 24. cxb3 e2+ 25. Rd2 Qxf2 .

P.S.: Too bad they didn't have good Chess software back in 1991 to check their Informant analysis. After 19...Qb6! 20. Nxd4 exd4 21. Qh4, Fritz 10's quick reply 21...Rb8! makes this Informant analysis look silly.

Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: The third puzzle this week where I had already studied the game and therefore knew the solution. If I hadn't the position would have been unsolvable.
Mar-08-10  Eduardo Leon: If the white ♕ weren't covering e2, the solution to this puzzle would be 18...♖xc2+ with mate in two: 19.♗xc2 ♘e2#, 19.♘xc2 ♘b3#. Thus, the white ♕ is tied to the c1-h6 diagonal, and black can now safely play...


Pinning the ♘e3 and creating a target for future threats.


The only sensible move, since the other ♖ must remain at d1 to prevent 19...axb5.


With horror, white finds he must give up material, since 20.♘c3 ♘b3+ 21.cxb3 ♗xe3+ 22.♖xe3 ♕xe3+ 23.♖d2 ♕xd2# is mate.

20.♘xd4 exd4

If 21.f6, then simply 21...♕xf6.

Mar-08-10  SuperPatzer77: <Patzer2> Thanks for correcting me on that. I actually didn't see 21...Rb8! after White's move - 21. Qh4.

21 Qh4 Rb8!, 22. b3 Bxb3, 23. Qxf2 dxe3, 24. cxb3 e2+, 25. Rd2 Qxf2, 26. Rxe2+ Qxe2!, 27. Bxe2 Rd8! (winning the White Rook pinned by the Black Bishop at h6)

<Patzer2> You're absolutely right - 19...Qb6! is much better than 19...axb5.


Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <SuperPatzer77> Thanks for putting the finish to the combination. I saw I left it off, but forgot to repost it with the completion of the 19...Qb6 combination in question from the Informant analysis.

So I'm glad you showed the winning conclusion with the sham Queens sac and pinning tactic to end it.

The move 19...Qb6! is indeed an amazing winning shot! One which apparently foolded Informant's GM analysts in post game analysis in 1991.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Landman: This game is justifiable famous. I'm wondering how much of this opening was previously known to the players at the time it was played. I vaguely recall reading in some Sveshnikov book that 18.Nxb5 was Brodsky's prepared innovation from a previous, not widely-published game - perhaps even between these two players. This raises the possibility that the stunning 18...Bh6!! may have in part been prepared in advance. Either way, the move and the entire combination is a gift for chess fans worldwide.

In these days of engine-based preparation, it's a little harder to create these kinds of early middlegame masterpieces - not that it was ever easy!

Oct-06-11  visayanbraindoctor: That such a game can exist is almost unbelievable. The beauty of it makes it one of history's immortal games.

The second most beautiful Kramnik game IMO is Gelfand vs Kramnik, 1996

Mar-03-12  Eduardo Bermudez: 18...Bh6!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Gorgeous game! Somehow I missed this game previously.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <Eduardo Bermudez: 18...Bh6!!>

Although the specific tactical patterns in the two respective positions are different, Kramnik's brilliant 18th move in this game reminded me of Kasparov's <21. ... Bh6+> in Beliavsky vs Kasparov, 1988.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: After <26.Kb1>:

click for larger view

A couple of kibitzers have suggested 26...Ra1+ 27.Kxa5 Qa5+. That doesn't do the trick, but there is a way:

<26...Ra1+ 27.Kxa1 Qa6+! 28.Kb1 Ba2+ 29.Kc1 Qc4+!

click for larger view

And thanks to the pinned knight on e3, any response by White allows 30...Nb3#. <That> would have been a finish!

Aug-28-14  SpiritedReposte: 18. ...Bh6!! is one of the prettiest moves/plans I have seen.

Pity young Kramnik didn't play 19. ...Qb6!

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