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Hikaru Nakamura vs Ivan Sokolov
Tata Steel Group A (2013), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 2, Jan-13
English Opening: King's English. Two Knights' Variation Smyslov System (A22)  ·  1/2-1/2
ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-13-13  Aebalc: Great comment from Sokolov after the game - "I was completely winning. If I don't kill myself tonight I'm gonna live a thousand years."
Jan-13-13  Marmot PFL: Neither result seems very likely.
Jan-13-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: This is a pretty common draw. Was there a moment in the middlegame that Sokolov was referring to, where he felt he should have won?

In this endgame, the side with the Bishop can always get back to the a file in time to blockade the black pawn, after black trades off his rook for the Bishop and two white pawns.

Jan-13-13  SirRuthless: There was a winning strategy that Sokolov couldn't find. Nakamura was allowed back in this game.
Jan-13-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: At what point in the game is Sokolov winning?
Jan-13-13  LivBlockade:


click for larger view

One win begins with 75... Re2+. It's complicated, but a few key variations are:

a) 75... Re2+; 76. Kh3 Kf4; 77. Bd6 Rd2 creating a zugswang which wins the e-pawn (or the a-pawn). For example, if 78. Bb4 Rd3+ followed by ...Kxe5.

b) 75... Re2+; 76. Kg1 Rg2+; 77. Kf1 Rc2; 78. Ba5 Rc5 wins the e-pawn

c) 75... Re2+; 76. Kg1 Rg2+; 77. Kh1 Kg3; 78. e6+ Kh3; 79. e7 Re2 wins the e-pawn.

After winning the e-pawn, it's a theoretical win (or you can use tablebase). Black needs to force the White king to the h, g, or f file, cutting it off with his rook. Then he has time to attack the a-pawn with his king and rook, winning with his a-pawn before White's king can get over to defend.

Also, earlier in the game, Black made his task tougher with 51... h4?! instead of ...Rf3 (or ...Rg3+) restraining white's pawns.

Jan-13-13  LivBlockade: Perhaps the easiest win for Black was instead of 47...f4 in this position


click for larger view

Black can simply wait with 47...Rc3 when White is helpless. If 48. Kf2 Kh3; 49. Kf1 Rxg3 is an easy win.

Jan-13-13  Jason Frost: As well as 49.Kh2 Rc2 -> 50...Rxd2. I left the game a few moves before thinking it was an obvious win and that Sokolov had to have seen it. Looked like he was playing for the zugzwang as well, and with only 3 real possible moves to calculate it and plenty of time (unless whychess was off) certainly seems like very accurate self-deprecation. Though certainly not the most egregious blunder/missed win ever.
Jan-13-13  Alesavio: Yes, 47...f4?? is a study like move to draw the game, but also to put the the king in a prison (g4) is a foolish plan!
Jan-13-13  MrQuinn: Once again Nakamura channels Larson. What was this aberration of an opening? "Art?" It's maddening that he still can't control his worst impulses; amazing as it seems given his rating, his white game continues to be an iffy affair.
Jan-13-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  bubuli55: I like 46...Kh3

If 47.e3 the Black K can go back around to attack that pawn on e3 :)

Jan-14-13  Hesam7: The earliest win missed by Sokolov was <23...Qc6! 24 Kg1> forced <24...Nd4!> the strongest move:


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Where should the White Queen go? The only squares available to her are: a3, b8, b4, b2, b1, d3 & d1 (#N means mate in N moves):

25 Qb2 Ne2 #6.

25 Qb4 Ne2 #10.

25 Qa3 Ne2 26 Kf1 (26 Kf2 #5) 26...Nd4 #9.

25 Qb1 Ne2 26 Kf1 (26 Kf2 #5) 26...Nd4 #10.

25 Qd1 Rh6 and White can not defend against Rh2-Rh5-Rh1 threat, for example: 26 Qf1 Rh2 27 Kh2 Rh5 28 Kg1 Rh1 29 Kf2 Qf6! 30 Kg2 Rf1 31 Nf1 Qe5! 32 e3 Nb3! and White loses the Bishop because 33 Rb1 is not possible. 26 h4 does not help either: 26...Rg5! and White is helpless.

25 Qd3 Rd6 and White can not defend against ...Nf3.

25 Qb8 is White's best move but it is not enough: 25...Re8 (25...Kg7?? throws all of Black's advantage away, after 26 Bb2! the game is about equal) 26 Qb2 Ne2 27 Kf2 Rh5 28 Ke2 Rh2 29 Kd3 Qg6 30 Kc3 Re3 31 de3 Qf6! 32 Kb3 Qb6! 33 Kc3 Rb2 34 Bb2 Qe3 35 Kc2 Qf2


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Black should win this easily.

Jan-14-13  Marmot PFL: 7 dc3 looks much more natural- Portisch vs Z Izoria, 2005
Jan-14-13  Hesam7: Sokolov's second mistake comes on move 25. It seems that the prophylactic <25...f6!> was very close to winning:


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The Bishop is tied to the e3-pawn (26 Bb2?? Re3; 26 Ba3? Qe3 both are winning for Black). <26 Qd8 Kg7>


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compared to the game after move 27, Black has not captured on c4 and White has not played Bb2. This very much favors Black since he can capture the pawn anytime he wants while White can "develop" his Bishop (27 Bb2?? Re3! loses on the spot). This is seen more clearly after <27 Qd5 Qc4 28 Qc4 Rc4>


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White will have a hard time including his Rook in the game.

Jan-14-13  zozon: Why is this game draw? Black can win easily. The threat here is Rxb4. Where can WB go? Nowhere! 91... Bd6
92 Rd4 Bb4 and the same threat

W can save tempo with
91 Ke3 Rxb4 and then
92 ab4 a3 and B wins easily

Jan-14-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <zozon> Black is close, but this is another reason why Sokolov said he would live a thousand years if he didn't kill himself the night of the game.

White escapes after 91 Bd6 Rd4 92 Bc5 Rc4 93 Bd6

Jan-14-13  zozon: @tamar
Thanks!
May-21-18  johnkr: Yes LivBlockade, 47... Rc3 is the easiest. sokolov found a 'beautiful' move but turned out to be giving Naka some chances. Easier to just force a zugswang.
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