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Li Chao vs Nigel Short
Chess Olympiad (2016), Baku AZE, rd 7, Sep-09
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Three Knights Variation (E21)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-09-16  JohnBoy: To me this shows Short at his best - a counter-puncher.
Premium Chessgames Member
  luzhin: Well, the counterpunch--which Li must have missed--was 35...Bxd4!! But Short's next move with the Bishop was not so good: 38...Be5? gave Li the chance of 39.Qe8! and, believe it or not, White has a perpetual. But the real miss was earlier: Short should have played 33...Rd6 as 33...fxe5? gave Li the chance for an amazing finish: 34.f6!! gxf6 35.Bxe4!! Bxe4 36.Bxf6+! Rxf6 37.Rg8 mate. A missed immortal! But the position, with both players very short of time, was indescribably complex.
Sep-09-16  manorchy: This was one helluva partie.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: It's not a game for the faint-hearted.
Sep-09-16  HeMateMe: Go Nige! Terrific game, and England is back in the medal hunt. Tomorrow: The subcontinent.
Sep-09-16  Shams: Thanks, great as always <luzhin>.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Marmot PFL: Both made time pressure mistakes in this complicated game, but after move 40 Short finds the one path to victory with 42...f2+! and 43...Bc4.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <luzhin: But the real miss was earlier: Short should have played 33...Rd6 as 33...fxe5? gave Li the chance for an amazing finish: 34.f6!! gxf6 35.Bxe4!! Bxe4 36.Bxf6+! Rxf6 37.Rg8 mate. A missed immortal!>

There's actually an even prettier tactics here: if Black tries 35...Bxa2, to keep g8 defended, there's the interference idea 36.Qe6!!

click for larger view

The queen can be captured four different ways, but taking it with the bishop allows Bxf6+ with mate and any other capture allows Rg8 mate. Also, 36...Rg7 or Ng6 (to prevent mate on g8) would lead to a quick mate after 37.Bxf6.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Blimey this was seemingly a major street fight game, with tonnes of complex tactical lines!
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Chao Down>

If there's one thing Nigel does better than any other British player.

Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Morning: This game looks like 19th Century chess. Literally--Pillsbury vs Tarrasch, 1895. One major difference (aside from the result) consists of an odd coincidence. Both Li Chao and Pillsbury capture the Ne4 on move 18, but Pillsbury takes with the Bishop, not a Knight.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Nigel Short talks in depth about <the little scandal> around this game: (it starts at 01:35)
Sep-12-16  Shams: Nigel all but challenges that Aussie arbiter to a duel.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: In that video Short also mentions the sad fact that Kasparov's memory has been damned in Baku. Pictures of him have been erased, his name scratched out of textbooks. He is a non-person.
Sep-26-16  HeMateMe: Kasparov is half Armenian isn't he, on his mother's side? Why would he not be liked in Baku?
Sep-26-16  Retireborn: <HMM> Baku isn't in Armenia though, and Azeris and Armenians are not always the best of friends.
Sep-26-16  HeMateMe: oh, yikes, you're right. I always think it's part of Armenia because of Kasparov, but it's in Azerbaijan.

Still, no reason to make a great competitor a non-person. I don't think Kaspy has ever weighed in on the conflict there, has he? His politics are mostly anti-Putin.

Sep-26-16  Retireborn: Dunno what weighing in he may have done. Famously in 1990 he got a chartered plane to remove around 60 people, mostly his relatives, from Baku to Moscow. Well that was a long time ago, but I'm not surprised there are people in Baku who still regard him as one of the enemy.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: The wonderful Jonathan Speelman wrote about this game in The Observer, Sunday 25th September 2016.

Here are <some> of his comments.

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In this tense position White has excellent attacking chances against Black's king but Black is better on the queenside. 14...c4 was a big decision releasing any pressure on White's centre but setting up a slow but potentially powerful attack for himself.
15.Bc2 b5 16. g4 Qb6 17. g5 Ne4 18. Nxe4 dxe4.

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White has arranged for the potentially weak square on e4 to be plugged but now Black has a nice square on d5 for the bishop and while the kingside attack looks menacing it still has to bear real fruit.
19. Qe2 Bd5 20. Qg2 Qb7 21. f5 Nd7 22. Ng4 Kh8 23. Bg3 Rac8 24. Qh3 f6.

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Black doesn't have to play this immediately but <it makes it easier to defend if you know where the enemy is targeting.>
25. g6

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Gaining space and aiming at h7. This can easily be defended for the moment but White can try to play on the g-file too.
25...Nf8 26. Rf2 Rc6 27. Rcf1 a5.

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In positions like this you have to keep your nerve and play your moves. Black is sufficiently defended on the kingside so Short improves on the queenside.
28. Rg2 a4 29. Rf4 c3 30. bxc3 Bxc3 31. Bh4 Qb6 32. gxh7 Re7 33. Ne5 fxe5.

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After many difficult decisions by both players, by now the game had degenerated into a time scramble. This is a battle between two human beings in which the truth is very much secondary. Under extreme stress you have to keep your nerve and do the best you can. There were a number of mistakes starting with this one which engines tell us was a losing blunder but frankly it's almost totally irrelevant.
34. Bxe7 exf4 35. Bxf8 Bxd4 36. Qg4 Rc7 37. Qh5 f3 38. Rg4 Be5 39. Bc5 Qh6 40. Qe8+ Kxh7.
Reaching the time control... As the smoke cleared it became clear that White was totally busted.
41. Qxe5 Rxc5 42. Qe7 f2+ 43. Kg2 Bc4 44. Kxf2 Qxh2+ 0-1
A terrific game.

All notes by Jon Speelman.

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