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Ruslan Ponomariov vs Matthew Sadler
Enghien-les-Bains 3rd (1999), Enghien-les-Bains FRA, rd 8, Mar-11
Sicilian Defense: Paulsen. Bastrikov Variation (B48)  ·  1/2-1/2
ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Dec-28-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  Breunor: I didn't find h4, but I seem to have a different line than most people here.

I originally worked on 22 Qb6 Bc6 23 Nb5 and I thought black was in trouble. Obviously, 23 ... B xb5 loses to 24 Q x b7 mate. White is threatening 25 Qa7 ch and then Q a8 mate and I wasn't sure that black could defend.

Then I saw 23 ... B x e3 ch, and now I think white is busted. So I abandoned the idea and then couldn't find anything.

But after seeing 22 h4!, does the original solution work? That is, 22 h4 B moves 23 Qb6 B c8 or B c6 24 Nb5. Am I missing something? Any help is appreciated.

Dec-28-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: Given the complexity of the position, the following is merely my present opinion.

After playing through the possibilities with Toga, it appears that the critical defensive resource is indeed ...Bxe3+, which deflects the White Qb6 from the attack. I have indicated in the best play variations below the <move> where the duty is critical.

22.h4

(1) 22...Bf6 [or Bxh4]

The deflection is no longer available.

23.Bxb7 Kxb7 24.Rd6 Bc8 25.Rb6+ Ka8 26.Nb5 Rd7

27.<Qc6+> Rb7 28.Ra6+ Kb8 29.Qd6+ Rc7

30.Nxc7 Qxc7 31.Ra8+ Kxa8 32.Qxc7

(2) 22...Be7

The Be7 interferes with Qg7's lateral defense of Pb7, costing a tempo where indicated below.

23.Qb6 Bc6 24.Nb5 Rd5 25.Na7 <Bc5> 26.Nxc6+ Ka8 27.Bxb7+ Qxb7

28.Qa5+ Qa7 29.Qxa7+ Bxa7 30.Nxa7 Kxa7

(3) 22...Bh6

The resource ...Bxe3+ does not appear in Sadler's variation for 22...Bh6. Toga indicates that Black should use ...Bxe3+, however. The interpolation is emphasized below.

23.Bxb7 Kxb7 24.Rd6 <Bxe3>+ 25.Qxe3 Bc6

26.Rfd1 Rxd6 27.Rxd6

White wins a P after 27ÖQc7 28.Qxe5 or 27Öe4 28.Qc5 Qc7 29.Rxe6. (Toga evaluates the use of ...Bxe3+ at a little more than +1.0 P for White.)

As <JimFromProvidence> indicates, during the game, the move 26.h4 would have won as well. The interpolation ...Bxe3 has to be early.

Dec-28-08  SufferingBruin: Said it once and I'll say it again--the puzzle thread is the reason why I joined CG.com.

Yeah, late at night after staring at this thing for well over an hour made me a tad violent and, yeah, I'm getting a little obsessed with this game. But it occurs to me that puzzles such as this are why this game is so wonderful. Patriot has it right--OTB this is a great position.

So I'm a 1200 at best--occasionally, I'll beat a higher rated player and just as often I'll blunder more material than a WAMU executive on a bender. And I spent well over an hour (yeah, it was two hours) on this puzzle and did not solve it.

In retrospect, I've had worse times. This is a fun game.

Dec-28-08  Patriot: <SufferingBruin>

Most of the time these are "play and win" problems and it's rare to see a draw or "white to play" (and lose).

But I do understand how it can be disappointing if you expect a "play and win" type of problem. What I like about the position is that it really tests a player's analytical skill to find the best move, which is something you have to do in a real game.

But you are right--positions like this are what makes it a great game. I'm constantly amazed as to why many players on the ICC complain that a game ended in a draw, because to me it's the struggle that's the beauty behind the game--not the result. The name "Drawnik" comes to mind as an example. I'm not a Kramnik fan, but I know he didn't draw his way to the top--nobody does.

Dec-28-08  MostlyAverageJoe: <Patriot: ... So it's probably best to set a time limit--let's say 20 minutes>

I agree 100% with<Patriot>'s entire post from which the above quote comes. Personally, I give myself 1 minute per each half-star of difficulty (from 1 min. on Monday - which is almost always too much) to 8 minutes on Sunday (which is never enough -- tough cookies). If I manage to find a reasonably good move on Sat-Sun, I am happy.

On this puzzle, I figured that I'd play Qd6 in an OTB game, and was glad to see that it was reasonably good. OTOH, seeing 22.h4 in the notes was quite illuminating, since I've already noticed that the black DSB was needed to keep watch on both c8 and e3, and the pawn will displace it from being able to do both.

<Patriot: ... it can be disappointing if you expect a "play and win" type of problem. What I like about the position is that it really tests a player's analytical skill to find the best move>

With the current format of the daily puzzles, however, this kind of positions is rarely achievable before Fridays. If only CG considered my old proposal to present the real puzzle (with a forced win) along with a (optional) spoiler puzzle showing a similar but drawn position, it would force us to figure out which position has winning potential, much more like OTB, and it could work on any day of the week. But the puzzle setup would be way more time consuming, so I understand why they did not want to do it...

Dec-28-08  MostlyAverageJoe: <znprdx: Um - this is ridiculous (as is Sadler's h4 post mortem analysis)>

If the post-mortem was done with computer aid, it just goes to show how far the software has progressed since the time that game has been played (and if it was done without computers, then it is pretty good).

Hiarcs 12.1 MP claims the following line (which, as far as I can tell, has not been posted yet) as the best play for both sides, evaluating at (+1.97) after 20-ply analysis done at the end of that line, and then back-slid for verification:

22. h4 Bh6 23. Qb6 Bc8 24. Rxd8 Rxd8 25. Nb5 Bxe3+ 26. Qxe3 bxa6 27. Qb6+ Qb7 28. Qxd8 axb5

ending in a position that should be winnable for white:


click for larger view

Dec-28-08  MostlyAverageJoe: And, for what it is worth, here are the backslide evaluations showing the best two choices for each move that is no immediately obvious. All evals except for the first one come from the backslide. The depth in plies is indicated as "d=number".

<22. h4>

   1. (+2.05) (d=23) 22... Bh6 23. Qb6 Bc8 24. Rxd8 Rxd8 (the evaluation comes from a 23-ply deep infinity analysis, before backslide reduced it to 1.97).

   2. (+3.30) (d=22) 22... Rc8 23. Qb6

<22 ... Bh6>

   1. (+1.97) (d=20) 23. Qb6 Bc8 24. Nb5 Bxe3 25. Qxe3

   2. (+1.31) (d=20) 23. Bxb7 Kxb7 24. Rd6 Bxe3 25. Qxe3

There may be some deep potential in Bxb7 instead of Qb6, since the evaluations rise with the increasing depth. But if Bxb7 is better, then much deeper analysis would be needed to prove it.

<23. Qb6>

   1. (+1.97) (d=18) 23... Bc8 24. Rxd8 Rxd8 25. Nb5 Bxe3

   2. (+4.05) (d=18) 23... Bxe3 24. Qxe3 Bc6 25. Bb5 Qc7

<23 ... Bc8>

   1. (+1.97) (d=20) 24. Rxd8 Rxd8 25. Nb5 Bxe3 26. Qxe3

   2. (+1.97) (d=20) 24. Nb5 Bxe3 25. Qxe3 bxa6 26. Rxd8

the above transpose after a couple more plies. There are no other good candidate moves.

<24. Rxd8>

   1. (+1.97) (d=20) 24... Rxd8 25. Nb5 Bxe3 26. Qxe3 bxa6

   2. (+4.17) (d=19) 24... Bxe3 25. Qxe3 Rxd8 26. Bc4 f4

<24 ... Rxd8>

   1. (+1.97) (d=19) 25. Nb5 Bxe3 26. Qxe3 bxa6 27. Qb6

   2. (+0.91) (d=19) 25. Qxd8 Bxe3 26. Kh1 bxa6 27. Rf3

<25. Nb5 Bxe3+ 26. Qxe3>

   1. (+1.97) (d=19) 26... bxa6 27. Qb6 Qb7 28. Qxd8 axb5

   2. (+4.99) (d=18) 26... Rd4 27. Nxd4 exd4 28. Qg3 e5

<26 ... bxa6>

   1. (+1.97) (d=14) 27. Qb6 Qb7 28. Qxd8 axb5 29. Rf3

   2. (-0.25) (d=14) 27. Re1 Qe7 28. Qxe5 Kb7 29. Nd4

<27. Qb6+ Qb7>

   1. (+1.97) (d=20) 28. Qxd8 axb5 29. Rf3 Qa7 30. Kh1

   2. (-2.47) (d=20) 28. Qxb7 Bxb7 29. Nc3 Rd2 30. Rf2

<28. Qxd8>

   1. (+1.97) (d=19) 28... axb5 29. Rf3 Qa7 30. Kh1 Qd4

   2. (+2.28) (d=19) 28... Qxb5 29. Rf3 Qc5 30. Kh2 Qc4

<28 ... axb5>

   1. (+1.97) (d=18) 29. Rf3 Qa7 30. Kh1 Qd4 31. Rd3

   2. (+1.18) (d=18) 29. Qd6 Qc7 30. Qb4 Qc4 31. Qxc4

Given the differences in the evaluations, it is not likely that an improvement for either side exists, but if anyone wants to double-check with Rybka, corrections would be welcome.

Dec-28-08  AxelBoldt: Crafty says 29. Kh2! wins for White, with the idea Qa3+ Ra7 Qd6 where the square b8 cannot be properly defended. If 29. ... Qe7 then 30. Qxe5 and the Rh8 is gone; if 29. ... Rhd8 then 30. Rfd1!

So 22. Bxb7! was indeed a winning move and we all got a Sunday! (By sheer luck, but still...)

Dec-28-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: I would like to incorporate the rooks and the knight into attack. Perhaps it is possible to exploit the weak dark squares around the black king.

22.Rd6 (threatening Bxb7 and Rb6)

A) 22... Be7 23.Qb6 Bc8 (23... Bc6 24.Rxc6) 24.Nb5 winning.

B) 22... Qe7 23.Qxe5 Bxe3+ 24.Kh1

B.1) 24... Ka7 25.Qxe3+ Ka8 26.Rxd7 Qxd7 27.Bb5 with B+N vs R.

B.2) 24... Ka8 25.Nd5 Qg5 26.Nxe3 bxa6 27.Rxa6+ with a big advantage.

B.3) 24... Kc8 25.Nd5 Qf7 (25... Qg5 26.Rc6+ Bxc6 27.Qc7 mate) 26.Qxe3 exd5 (26... bxa6 27.Qc5+) 27.Qc5+ Kb8 28.Bxb7 with a winning attack.

C) 22... bxa6 23.Rb6+ Ka8 (23... Ka7 24.Qc7+) 24.Rxa6+ and mate in two.

D) 22... Bxe3+ 23.Qxe3 bxa6 24.Qb6+ Kc8 25.Qxa6+ Kc7 26.Qb6+ Qc8 27.Qc5+ winning.

E) 22... Bc6 23.Rxc6 bxc6 (23... bxa6 24.Rb6+) 24.Qb6+ Ka8 25.Qxc6+

E.1) 25... Ka7 26.Nb5+ Kb8 27.Qb6+ Ka8 28.Nc7+ wins the queen.

E.2) 25... Kb8 26.Qb6+ Ka8 27.Bb5 Rd7 28.Bc6+ Rb7 29.Nb5 Kb8 30.Bxb7 Qxb7 31.Qd6+ with a considerable advantage.

F) 22... Rc8 23.Qb6 Rc7 24.Rfd1 with advantage but I donít see an immediate win.

G) 22... Bc8 23.Bc4 Rxd6 24.Qxd6+ Qc7 25.Kf2 but itís not clear that White will win the endgame.

Well, thatís all can do today.

Dec-28-08  AxelBoldt: <consul: 22.h4 Bf6 23.Rd5 exd5 24. Nxd5 which Sadler evaluates as good for White,>

No, Sadler recommends 23.Bxb7 after 22. ... Bf6 and 23.Rd5 after 22. ... Bxh4. He's got lots of parentheses in his notes.

Dec-28-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: < <AxelBoldt> wrote: <consul: 22.h4 Bf6 23.Rd5 exd5 24. Nxd5 which Sadler evaluates as good for White,>

No, Sadler recommends 23.Bxb7 after 22. ... Bf6 and 23.Rd5 after 22. ... Bxh4. He's got lots of parentheses in his notes. >

I did not find 23.Rd5 a good move in any variation I tried, 22...Bf6 or 22...Bxh4 (the two deflection variations). The move 23.Rd5 seems to throw the R.

Dec-28-08  xrt999: Joe, your whole line is questionable.

In the big picture, black does not try to maintain the bishop on the c1-h6 diagonal (to play Bxe3+ ostensibly) because Bxe3+ does not lead to any type of advantage for black! So, black doesnt play 22...Bh6 he would play the quiet positional 22...Bf6!

[And after your 22...Bh6? black doesnt play 23...Bc8? he plays 23...Bc6.]

So, 22.h4 Bf6 23.Qb6 Bc6 does not lead to anything for white, in fact, if you plug this into your engine you will find it to be advantage black at 10+ plies.

Why is everyone saying that 22.h4 wins ?

Dec-28-08  purewal: Instead of 24 Rb6+ the following line wins the black queen -

24.Nb5, Ka8
25 Qa3+, Kb8
26 Rb6+, Bb7
27 Qa7+, Kc8
28 Rc6+! and white wins the queen.

Dec-28-08  MostlyAverageJoe: <xrt999: Joe, your whole line is questionable. In the big picture, black does not try to maintain the bishop on the c1-h6 diagonal (to play Bxe3+ ostensibly) because Bxe3+ does not lead to any type of advantage for black!>

Black has no business looking for advantage after h4, but should be looking to save the game. In the line I've shown, Bxe3+ is the only move preventing a mate.

<[And after your 22...Bh6? black doesnt play 23...Bc8? he plays 23...Bc6.]>

This would get black completely crushed:

<22. h4 Bh6 23. Qb6> Bc6?? 24. Rxd8+ Rxd8 25. Qxd8+ Ka7 26. Bb5


click for larger view

<So, black doesnt play 22...Bh6 he would play the quiet positional 22...Bf6!> ... <So, 22.h4 Bf6 23.Qb6 Bc6 does not lead to anything for white, in fact, if you plug this into your engine you will find it to be advantage black at 10+ plies>

Who said anything about 23.Qb6 in that line? Not I, that's sure. The correct move is in Sadler's analysis:

<22. h4 Bf6?> 23. Bxb7! Kxb7 24. Rd6! and black is just about to get pulverized (evaluation +10.97, 19 plies).


click for larger view

1. (+10.97) 24... Be8 25. Rb6 Ka8 26. Qa5 Qa7 27. Ra6 Qxa6 28. Qxa6 Kb8 29. Qb6 ...

2. (+15.47) 24... Bc8 25. Rb6 Ka8 26. Nb5 Rd7 27. Qc6 Rb7 28. Ra6 Kb8 29. Qd6 ...

Dec-28-08  MostlyAverageJoe: Incidentally, in the line:

<<22. h4 Bf6?> 23. Bxb7! Kxb7 24. Rd6!>

which I took from <Sadler>'s analysis, 23... Kxb7 is quite inaccurate. More later ...

Dec-28-08  njchess: I might aggravate some by admitting this, but I got this one.

Initially, like most, I thought Bxb7, which was played in the game, was the correct move. However, after some cursory (3 or 4 move) analysis, no matter how hard I tried, White simply did not have enough material after the bishop sacrifice with which to continue the attack. Moreover, Black had a strong defense despite his exposed king. After the heavy pieces were off the board, White might have a slim, but not conclusive positional advantage. So, reluctantly, I dropped Bxb7.

My next thought was that White had to move the bishop away, but I quickly realized that Black could not take without making his position worse (e.g. 22. ... bxa6?? 23 Rd6 is winning for White). Besides, the bishop really did not have a good square to move to anyway so I was a bit relieved to not have to move it.

I then considered Nb5 and e4. 22. Nb5 Bc6 and White's attack sputtered. e4 was ok, but not decisive for White if Black exchanged pawns (e.g. 22. e4 fxe4 23. Nxe4 Bc6), and was a lot murkier if he didn't. White would still be struggling to find a decent move while Black had options. I also didn't like the idea of giving Black's majority pawn structure a reason to advance on White's king. So, I passed on Nb5 and e4.

Ugh. Now, I'm struggling to find a move while Black can still play Bc6. For a while, I feared Be7, but once I saw Qb6, I felt better. At this point, I briefly entertained wacky rook sacrifices, but dropped them pretty quickly.

Now, one factor began to nag me. I had been focusing on Black playing Bc6 or Bc8 (better?) but the fact that White's queen was protecting the all important central pawn was a constant thorn in my attack plans. That's where the idea of playing h4 as means of diverting Black's bishop and thus freeing White's queen was born.

Still, I hated to move the pawn since I felt that the downside of weakening White's king side pawn structure, not to mention the risks of making a minority attack in front of White's king, might outweigh any positives. Usually, I adhere to the principle of not spending time analyzing unnecessary tactics. But, in this case, it might be a means to an end.

22. h4!? Bxh4 23. Qd6+ Kc8 24. Rd5 exd5 25. Nxd5+ leaves White better. 22. h4?! Bf6 23. Bxb7 (no better?) Kxb7 24. Rd6 Bc8 25. Rb6+ Ka8 also seems positive for White.

I don't honestly know if I would have played this over the board though. A lot would depend on my clock. There is no killer move in my continuations that I posted above. The only real near term benefit is that White's pieces gain activity while Black's are forced to defend.

Dec-28-08  MostlyAverageJoe: <MostlyAverageJoe: Incidentally, in the line: <<22. h4 Bf6?> 23. Bxb7! Kxb7 24. Rd6!> which I took from <Sadler>'s analysis, 23... Kxb7 is quite inaccurate. More later ...>

Indeed, the analysis indicates that black's best line after

22. h4 Bf6 23. Bxb7

is to play:

23 ... Bc8 24. Bxc8 Rxc8 25. Qd6+ (+4.95, 18 plies at the end of the line).

Conclusion: Bf6 is quite a bit worse than Bh6 after white's 22.h4.

Dec-29-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: I stand by what I wrote. I challenge anyone to say how struggling with this puzzle has helped to make him or her a better player.

Let me know the next time you win a game OTB and say off-handedly, "Oh, that's a little trick I learned from studying Ponomariov vs Sadler, 1999 ."

Dec-29-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  zenpharaohs: Well since someone asked, here is a Rybka 3 line:

22 h4 Bh6
23 Qb6 Bc8
24 Rxd8 Rxd8
25 Nb5 Bxe3+
26 Qxe3 bxa6
27 Qb6+ Qb7
28 Qxd8 axb5
29 Rf3 Qc7
30 Qxc7+ Kxc7
31 Rc3+ Kd7
32 Rc5

Rybka says +2.63 here.

Dec-29-08  TheBish: Ponomariov vs Sadler. Difficulty: Insane. Candidate moves: 22. Bxb7, 22. Qd6+, 22. Rd6. I looked the most at 22. Bxb7 (the others had easy defenses), but that seems only good enough for a draw, primarily because of the defense ...Bxe3+!, either immediately or in a few moves, for example 22...Kxb7 23. Rd6 (threatening mate in two) Bxe3+! 24. Qxe3 Bc6 25. Nb5 Bxb5 26. Rb6+ Kc8 27. Rxb5 e4. White should have an edge with three connected passed pawns on the queenside, but Black has a protected passed pawn, and it's far from clear. Also, Black seems to improve by not returning the piece (after 22. Bxb7) by 22...Kxb7 23. Rd6 Bc8, which parries the mate threat since 24. Rb6+ Ka8! allows the queen to interpose after 25. Qa5+. So 25. Nb5 would be a logical continuation, but it's not clear what happens after a move like 25...Rd7. In this line, I noticed that Black's bishop plays a pivotal role in defense, both by threatening Bxe3+ in some lines, and also by protecting the rook on d8. I also noticed that Black's queen is undefended, which can be exploited in the line 22. Qd6+ Ka8 23. Qc7, since 23...Bc6 is met simply by 24. Qxg7, so 23...Bxe3+ 24. Kh1 bxa6 25. Rd6 Ba7 26. Rxa6 mates next move, and 24...Rb8 is met by 25. Rxd7. However, Black improves with 22. Qd6+ Ka7! 23. Qc7 Bxe3+ 24. Kh1 Kxa6 25. Rd6+ b6, and Black is defending. If only the Black bishop could not come to the defense!

This let me to 22. h4!, which forces the bishop to declare its intentions! Either attack e3 (by Bh6, which loses after 23. Qb6 since the rook on d8 has lost a defender -- 23...Bc6 24. Rxd8+) or move away from e3, by either 22...Bxh4, Bf6 or Be7. Each bishop move has its drawbacks!

For example, 22. h4! and now:

A) 22...Bxh4 23. Qd6+ Ka7 24. Qc7 now wins, since 24...Kxa6 25. Rd6+ Ka7 (or Bc6 26. Qxg7) 26. Nb5+ Bxb5 (or Ka8 27. Qa5+ Kb8 28. Qa7+ Kc8 29. Qa8#) 27. Qxg7 Rxd6 28. Qxh8 Bxf1 29. Kxf1, with a queen for rook and bishop, and the black pawns will start falling;

A1) 22...Bxh4 23. Qd6+ Kc8 24. Rd5!! exd5 (or Bc6 25. Qxc6+) 25. Nxd5 Bc6 26. Nb6#;

B) 22...Be7 23. Qb6 Bc6 24. Nb5 ;

C) 22...Bf6 23. Bxb7! Kxb7 24. Rd6 Bc8 25. Rb6+ Ka8 26. Nb5 (threatening Qa3+) Bb7 27. Qa3+ Kb8 28. Qa7+ Kc8 29. Rfd1! with a winning attack, threatening 30. Rxd8+ Rxd8 31. Nd6+ Rxd6 32. Rxd6, and the advance of the queenside pawns will decide the game; if 26...Rd7 27. Qa3+ Ra7 28. Qd6! (threatening 29. Qb8#), and now: 28...Bb7 29. Nc7+ Kb8 30. Nxe6+ winning the queen, or 28...Rb7 29. Ra6+ Ra7 30. Rxa7+ Qxa7 31. Nxa7 Kxa7 32. Qc7+ Ka8 33. Rd1 . I think that about covers it! (As the saying goes, time to check!)

Dec-29-08  MostlyAverageJoe: <zenpharaohs> Thanks for confirmation.

<TheBish> Count me impressed.

<al wazir> I intend to apply the learnings in the next tournament :-)

Dec-29-08  znprdx: <AxelBoldt: Crafty says 29. Kh2! wins for White> Now this is indeed fascinating: the hardest kind of move to find OTB

Regardless, the bottom line here is that White mishandles a rather straightforward attack after correctly beginning with the forcing Bxb7. Black's Bc8 was a powerful last ditch effort but just is not sufficient.

The immediate 22.h4 is simply off in in the ether and far from a credible OTB choice, notwithstanding the self-indulgent over-analysis. This is not a problem composition: it is basic tactical Chess.

In my earlier post I pointed out that the simple 24.Nb5 is quietly decisive . ...Bxe3+ so what? 25.Qx[B]e3 and if Rx[R]d6 even 26.Nx[R]d6+ is enough - but surely Qa7+ winning the queen does it all.

Dec-29-08  xrt999: < al wazir: I stand by what I wrote. I challenge anyone to say how struggling with this puzzle has helped to make him or her a better player.>

I read about all of the 19 and 20 deep engine lines that show slight advantages, and then I try to write a few paragraphs about how I would approach move 22 positionally OTB and....my lines are suspect because a 19 ply engine analysis shows that I would get "pulverized" for thoughtlessly leaving the c1-h6 diagonal, when probably not one 1900 level person here could look at a chessboard in a tournament and respond to my 22...Bf6 WITHOUT the use of a engine or WITHOUT the use of pad and paper and make move 23 in a timely manner and end up with an advantage...what everyone round here refers to as "OTB". The lines that include Rd6 are NOT guaranteed winning for white in OTB play, despite what all of the 20 ply analysis shows, as evidenced by 23.Rd6, Ponomariov's actual move.

I feel the 19 and 20 ply analysis that was done to disprove my positional thinking was a waste of time and effort; a lesson in futility. (although I am honored that someone found it neccesary to refute me ;.) I merely opined (or tried to anyway) why I would have played 22...Bf6 as black in response to 22.h4, and it takes 19 ply analysis to prove me wrong? I am honored.

The line in question we are talking about was not even played, and GM Ruslan Ponomariov did not play 22.h4, so I guess I can not feel too bad for NOT seeing how 22.h4 wins at 20-ply after an infinity backslide overnight Hiarcs analysis.

The most notable thing - I dont know if anyone has even pointed this out because everyone is so wrapped up in the minutae- is that Ponomariov DID play h4 and he DID play Bxb7, but not in that order.

At move 28, the black bishop is sitting on Joe's beloved h6 ready to gobble the pawn on e3 with check, and all of white is crashing down around the black king.....and white draws. Would white's attack have fared better at move 28 after my 22...Bf6? According to engine analysis the answer is alledgedly YES, according to me the answer is NO since the black bishop guards d8, one of my original reasons for playing 22...Bf6.

Ponomariov, arguably one of the greatest contemporary chess players, draws the game despite playing the beloved h4 and Bxb7, which Joe says he cannot verify is inferior to Qb6 when played immediately. (!) I do not want to short circuit anyone here but I will throw out some more "positional" theory and hope no one spends 2 days running Hiarcs to disprove me: it doesnt matter what order h4 and Bxb7 are played!

thanks CG for displaying this awesome game!

Dec-30-08  MostlyAverageJoe: <xrt999> Thanks for the last post; it explained a lot.

I see that I misunderstood your earlier statement <Joe, your whole line is questionable>. Somehow I interpreted it as you claiming that my line was questionable, while now I see that you really meant that <OTB ... probably not one 1900 level person here could ... respond to 22...Bf6 ... and make move 23 in a timely manner and end up with an advantage>.

Alas, English is not my first language, hence my mistake, for which I sincerely apologize. Next time when you say that my analysis is wrong, I will apply the insights provided by your clarification.

Apr-01-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: 9 h3 is normally played but Ponomariov has played 9 Nf3 on several occasions. Played in the 8th round; two rounds earlier Salov had played 9..d6 against Ponomariov (the game ended in a draw). 10 Nxe5 was new; 10 Bf4 had been played previously. 13..f6 would have led to approximate equality but Sadler avoided it because he was playing for a win. He had, however, underestimated White's attack and after 19 Qa5! hewas lost. Sadler spent an hour and a half before deciding on 19..Be7 not liking 19..Qe7 20 Bxd7+..Rxd7 21 Na4..Rc7 22 Nb6+..Kb8 23 Rd7!..Rxd7 24 Nxd7+..Ka7 25 Qb6+..Ka8 26 Qc7..Qe8 27 Rd1 followed by Rd3 and Rb3. Ponomariov still had a winning attack up until he played the weak 29 Rxe6?; 29 Re1! would have set up the threat of 30 Qa3+..Ra7 31 Qd6; ie. 29 Re1!..Rhd8 30 Rc6!..Qf8 31 Qb6..Rb7 32 Qa5+..Kb8 33 Ra6..Rxb5 34 Ra8+..Kb7 35 Ra7+..Kc6 36 Rc7+..Kd5 37 Qd2+..Ke4 38 Rc4+..Rd4 39 Rxd4+..exd 40 Qxd4#. The rest of the game was marred by time trouble. With 37..Ka8? 38 Nxe4? both players missed that White could have won with 38 Rxe4..fxe 39 Qd5+.
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