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Vladimir Akopian vs Evgeni Ellinovich Sveshnikov
Rostov (1993)
Sicilian Defense: Nezhmetdinov-Rossolimo Attack (B30)  ·  1-0

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Nov-07-08  DoubleCheck: When i first saw the puzzle on the homepage, I thought that the main line or continuation must involve trapping the king via the dark squares.

So before I looked up the solution I considered the attacking pieces white has and the defending black pieces.

White (at white's 31st move):

Rook has open E and possible H-files
Queen can direct attacks diagonally behind d-pawn (Qd2 Qd3) Bishop has control of vital f8-square and can possibly be re-directed (Bd4 Be3) if d-pawn was moved(i.e. captures, pushed)

Black (at white's 31st move):

Rook is inactive at a8
Active queen at d7, useful on e- and f- files
Active bishop at f6 defends g-pawn and vital dark-squares around king

King is pratically in corner at g7

Next I analysed whether white has any forcing moves...Two: h6+ and Qxf6+

Qxf6+ seems very weak considering after 31...Kxf6 leaves white with no more checks and opportunities to attack the king.

So I followed h6+

31. h6+ Kg6
(31...Kxh6? 32. Qxf6+)
Infact any move other than 31...Kg6 black allows white Qxf6

32. Qd3+
Now black has two options: Qf5 or Kxh6

32...Kxh6, Amazingly the first move that struck out to me was 33. Kg2!
this very passive allows white to play 33. Rh1 which also allows the queen to enter the frame via 34. Qxh7

So Kxh6 is now not very advisable

32...Qf5 and now black seems fine if white accepts or declines the trading of queens.

This puzzle is very difficult indeed.
My final continuation before looking at the solution is looking something like this


31. h6+ Kg6
32. Qd3+ Qf5


31. h6+ Kg6
32. Qd3+ Kxg6
33. Kg2 g4(considering Kg7 fails to Qxh7+)
34. Rh1+ Kg4
35. Qxh7
(35. Rxh7 - If black now plays 35...Qf5?! Rh5+!! winning queen)

After 35. Qxh7
Black should have no chance of defending 36. Qh5+ mate unless Black moves his bishop to the most un-useful squares i.e. Bd8 Bh8 Bc7 Bxd4??

34. Rh1+ Kg4
35. Qxh7 Bh8(Bd8)
36. Rh5+ Kf6(forced)
37. Qh6+ mate

Im still unconvinced
The other continuation I looked at was
31. Re5!?
expecting the bishop to capture

31. Re5!? Bxe5
32. dxe5(threatening Qf6+) ... Qe6

and Black looks fine even after
33. Bd4

So I think I will stick with;

31. h6+ Kg6
32. Qd3+ Kxg6
33. Kg2 g4
(considering Kg7 fails to Qxh7+)

34. Rh1+ Kg4
35. Qxh7 Bh8 (Bd8)
(anything other than bishop moving results in 36. Qh5+ mate) (35. Rxh7 - If black now plays 35...Qf5?! Rh5+!! winning queen)

36. Rh5+ Kf6(forced)
37. Qh6+ mate

Time to Check the solution

31. h6+ Kg6
32. g4! Bd8
33. Qh3 Kf6
34. Re5 b6
35. Qh5 1-0

Well I can admit that I did see 32. g4! , but thought it wasm't *forcing* but rather a waiting move, meaning it gives Black a chance to re-inforce or escape the position.

I'm not embarrassed that I didn't suggest g4 because I know I provided strong variations.

What do others think of my initial continutaion?

Nov-07-08  SamuelS: I got the line 31. h6+ Kg6 32. g4! threatening 33. Qh3 and could not find a defence for black, so I guess I got the idea right.
Nov-07-08  Woody Wood Pusher: 31.h6+.Kg6 32.g4 was quite obvious, but finding all the variations after this was hard.

32..Bd8 was the weakest defense, played in the game, and quickly loses.

Also 32..Rc8 33.Qh3,Bh8 34.Qh5+,Kf6 35.Re5 (mate in 3) is weak

I considered 32..Rg8 to be black's best defense

so 32..Rg8 33.Qh3,Bd8 (33..Bh8 34.Be7 + - (34.Re5,Bxe5 35.dxe5 + -)) 34.Re5!!,Kf6 35.f4!

I think to solve the puzzle 32..Rg8 and 34. Re5! need to be seen.

V. interesting position.

Nov-07-08  aazqua: A series of quiet moves that place black kings in an increasingly uncomfortable position. The position screams for h6, but then after g4 does white have enough? It turns out yes! Black has to get his pieces out of the way and white can continue to put pressure on the position. Certainly not an obvious puzzle, but in truth the first two moves are really the only ones that could be forcing.
Nov-07-08  Manic: <WWP> Does 32...Rg8 33.Kg2 work with the idea of Qd3+ and Rh1?
Nov-07-08  steventyp: commenting on <al wazir>'s 32...Qd8 line, after 34..Bb7 there's actually the forced win with Re6!

anyway, got the main idea of this puzzle, but couldn't see it till the end or rather too lazy to calculate..

Nov-07-08  njchess: When I first saw this position, two things immediately became apparent to me. First, Black's king, though under no immediate threat, is not well protected. And second, Black's pieces have no direct attacking threats. In fact, his bishop and rook are little more than spectators.

Therefore, 31 h6+ makes sense. Black's king must move to g6 to guard his bishop. 32 g4 also made as much sense as the previous pawn move. It also has the added effect of hemming in Black's king and queen.

Given that there were still no attacking moves for black, I wasn't too worried about counterplay. I figured that worse case I could move my king to g2 followed by rook to h1 and then queen to d3 for mate.

As I looked at that mating combination, I realized that Black must move Bd8 within two moves or be mated. That also meant that Black could play f5 ruining my plans. How could I counter Bd8? With the bishop off the f-file, that freed up my queen. The only way to check the Black king and maintain pressure would be to check from the h-file. Therefore, Qh3. Still no real counterplay available for Black.

I mulled Black's response to Qh3 for a long time. I concluded that Black's strongest move would be Bc7. So far my sequence was 31. h6+ Kg6 32. g4 Bd6 33. Qh3 Bc7 34. Qh5+ Kf6 35. Be7+ Qxe7 36. Rxe7 Kxe7 37. Qxg5 leaving White with a winning game.

I was surprised when Black played 33. ... Kf6 instead of Bc7. I had two good replies though, f4 or Re5. Both lead to a winning game for White, or mate. As it turns out, White played 34. Re5 and Black responded with the very weak 34. ... b6? sealing the game. A stiffer response would have been 34. ... Bc7, but White would still have a winning game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: 31.h6+ is an obvious start; after that, 32.g4 is the key move, continuing to exploit the vulnerability of the Bf6, and accomplishing several things at once:

There's a mate threat via Qh3-h5; it stops black playing ...g4 which could be quite disruptive (this was what pointed me to 32.g4 in the first place); it ties down the black queen, which must defend f5; it prevents ...Re8, as the queen gets deflected (32.g4 Re8 33.Rxe8 Qxe8 34.Qf5+ mating). And so on.

After that there are various winning lines. I actually thought ...Bh8 was a better defensive try than ...Bd8, ugly though it looks. It keeps control of e5 and leaves the Ra8 more options. Glad to see the engine agreed.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: Has Black any defence to 34.Bf8 (in the main line, instead of 34.Re5), threatening Bg7+ followed by mate ...? <stacase> suggested it on move 33, but it looks stronger after Qh3.
Nov-07-08  Patriot: There didn't seem to be any forcing moves except 31.h6+, which is an attempt to remove the guard on the f6 bishop. Black's only good reply is 31...Kg6.

This is where I couldn't find any more forcing moves except 32.Qxf6+ Kxf6 and white is lost...or...32.Qd3+ Kxh6 and moves like Kg2 and Rh1 seem natural but defendable after black plays Rh8. Or after 32.Qd3+ black can just play 32...Qf5 and white has run out of attacking chances.

There is one move that makes Qd3+ more plausible, which is 32.g4. Only ideas like Kg2 and Rh1 came to mind and completely missed the idea Qh3 and Qh5#!

Moves that "threaten to threaten" (like g4) seem the hardest to find when analyzing because the opponent is given more options which can mean more counterplay. But here, black has several options but without counterplay. g4 seems more like a move based on general principles--to weaken the light squares.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: To answer my own question: 34.Bf8, 34.Re5 and 34.f4 (!) all lead to mate in ten moves or less, according to Fritz.

Black has to give up his queen after 34.Bf8 to avoid mate in 2, but he doesn't last very long after that.

Interestingly, 34.f4 seems to be marginally quicker than the other two.

Black's defence may not have been optimal, but he was lost anyway.

The trouble with 32...Bh8 is that it allows 33.Re7, when black again is mated or loses the queen.

While 33...Bc7 (with the idea of covering e5 and f4, while getting the Ra8 back in action to stop Bf8) loses to 34.Be7!

34.Re7 and 34.Re5(!) also win, but 34.Be7 is the most forcing. Qh5# will follow, unless black goes desperado with ...Qxg4+ or ...Qxe7 or ...Bh2+. None of which delay mate for long.

Essentially, this position is completely won after 32.g4 and 33.Qh3. It's mainly a matter of recognizing that - there are no further really difficult moves to be found, although there are a lot of variations.

I admit that 34.Re5!, as seen by Akopian and <Woody>, is pretty. I'd have played boring old 34.Bf8.

I wonder why 34.f4 is harder to find than the other wins ...? One mating line - by no means the only one - goes 34.f4 Bc7 35.fxg5+ Kxg5 36.Qh5+ Kf4 37.Rf1+ Ke3 38.Qh3+ Kd2 39.Rf2+ Ke1 40.Qf1#.

For those of you who like a King hunt...

Nov-07-08  cydmd: 32.g4!! is the decisive move. It removes the f5 square from the black queen and creates a support for white pieces attacking the black king. After this, Black is hopeless. I don't think Akopian calculated all at once. I may be wrong, but the black king is trapped and exposed, and the bishop has just one safe square to move, and it's guarded only by the king. With so many issues to solve in the Black camp, Akopian may have taken his time after Black's response to 32.g4 or 33.Qh3. That's what Botwinnik preached when he was asked how many moves in advance he calculated. His simple answer was: "Only two moves !!"
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: One interesting sideline occurs following 33...f5, when White mates after 33... f5 34. Qh5+ Kf6 35. f4! fxg4 (35...gxf4 36. g5#) 36. Qxg5+ Kf7 37. Qg7#.
Nov-07-08  zb2cr: I saw the first move, but was unable to find the correct follow-up. Looks as though I have some company, at least.
Premium Chessgames Member
  dzechiel: <DoubleCheck: What do others think of my initial continuation?>

A good effort. Keep up the intensive analysis and you will start to find better and better moves.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: I had the first move,but was unable to continue.:(

The continuation was above my chess-grade,lol

Premium Chessgames Member
  YouRang: Okay then. I saw 31.h6+ easily enough, forcing 31...Kg6 to guard his bishop. Moreover, this h6 pawn also seals off g7 and prevents ...h6, so we have the appearance of a mating net at work.

After spending a few moments wishing that I had a LSB, and realizing that by DSB and R couldn't do anything, I finally considered 32.g4!, which gives my queen an attack point at f5 and h5, as well as clearing the way for my Q to go safely to h3.

Given that f5 is guarded, I figured that h5 was the destination. So, what would I do here if I had black, and I was expecting 33.h3? Hmmm...

All I can see is 32...Bd8, which vacates f6, giving my king an escape square there, followed by 33.Qh3, and I see that the rook may be useful soon at e5 after ...Kf6.

Now I find myself at that phase in puzzle solving where my head begins to spin around. Annoying. During the moments where my head is facing my monitor, I see that black can try 33...f6 to undermine my g4 pawn, or the immediate 33...Kf6 (note: I considered 33...Bc7 (to prevent Re5), but this loses to 34.Be7!, sealing off the f6 escape).

Anyway I was satisfied that I was onto the right idea, but I just don't have the board vision to keep all the variations from this point forward in my head. When your head spins, the centrifugal force causes the variations in your head to fly right off. :-p

Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: White gets hungry for action and Qf3 successfully dangles the grub on which black hooks himself. Notice it isnt 32.h6 Kg6 (munching the pawn crops the bishop) Kg2?! as black gets in g4 or tries trading queens. G4 and black has no satisfactory defence: the production line of useful moves stops.
Nov-07-08  BadKnight: I found h6 after a while, but was not sure about g4 next, and could not calculate further..3/5 this week
Nov-07-08  Woody Wood Pusher: Hey <Dom> nice analysis, I like the 34. f4! <king hunt>, I hadn't seen that.

ideas like 34.Bf8 were why I considered cutting the rook off to be a weak try from black and I spent most of my time on 32..Rg8 and 32..Rh8 as defensive attempts.

Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: How about 31.h6+ Rg6 32.g4 (threatening Kg2 followed by Qd3+ and Qh3-h5 mate):

A) 32... Re8 33.Rxe8 Qxe8 34.Qf5+ Rxh6 35.Qxf6 mate.

B) 32... Rh8 33.Qh3 Bd8 34.Qh5+ Kf6 35.Re5 Rg8 36.f4 gxf4 37.g5+ Rxg5 38.Qxg5 mate.

C) 32... Qd8 33.Qf5+ Rxh6 34.Re8 winning.

D) 32... Bh8 33.Re7 winning.

E) 32... Bd8 33.Re5 (threatening Qd3+)

E.1) 33... f6 34.Qd3+

E.1.a) 34... Kxh6 35.Bf8+ winning the queen.

E.1.b) 34... Kf7 35.Qxh7+ winning the queen.

E.1.c) 34... f5 35.Rxf5 threatening a crushing discovered check.

E.2) 33... f5 34.gxf5+

E.2.a) 34... Kxh6 35.Bf8 winning the queen.

E.2.b) 34... Kf6 35.Re6+ Kf7 36.Qh5+ Kg8 37.Re8+ Qxe8 38.Qxe8 mate.

E.2.c) 34... Kf7 35.Qh5+ Kf6 (35... Kg8 36.Re8+) 36.Re6+ Kxf5 37.Re5+ Kf4 (37... Kf6 38.Qxg5+ Kf7 39.Qg7 mate) 38.Bb4 followed by Bd2+ winning.

I think thatís enough.

Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: Although 33.Re5 in my line E) also wins I have to admit that 33.Qh3 is stronger.
Nov-07-08  Nostrils: Where did I go wrong?
Analysis with Fritz 9.
Black MUST play 30 ...Qc6 anything else is bad. The queen defends the bishop so 31 h6+ can be met with 31 ...Kxh6

30 ...Qd8 defending the bishop loses to 31 h6+ ( 31 ...Kxh6, 32 Bf8+ Bg7, 33 Qxf7 and mate will follow)

After 30 ...Qc6 , 31 h6+ Kxh6, 32 Bf8+ is met by Rxf8.

Anything else just loses the d pawn.

31 ... Qd7 is a fatal mistake, but black has put himself into a position where he has to find an exact continuation which brings into question his previous 3 moves. I don't understand why he plays 27 ..kg7. Fritz wants to play ..b6, for about 3 consecutive moves.

Compliments to CG, good puzzle.

Nov-07-08  gambitfan: I saw rather quickly 31 h6 and "felt" that 32 g4 was quite "good"... but I did not deepen the analysis...

My ambition regarding this puzzle was limited since we are Friday...

Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: Friday (Difficult)

Akopian vs Sveshnikov, 1993 (31.?)

White to play and win.

Material: Even. The Black Kg7 has 4 legal moves, but is also the sole protection of Bf6, which Qf3 attacks. The burden suggests the decoy 31.Qxf6+ (which is too ambitious) or the deflection 31.h6+. The White Re1 controls the open e-file. Only the White Bc5 requires activation.

Candidates (31.): h6+

31.h6+ Kg6 [else, drop Bf6]

My time is again limited. The move 32.g4 looks double-edged but most promising, to trap Kg6 in a mating net, thereby forcing Bf6 to an inferior square. The move 32.Kg2 is more positional, to give Re1 access to the h-file, but it looks slower and less to the point.

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