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Peter Leko vs Alexey Shirov
Sarajevo (1999), Sarajevo BIH, rd 1, May-17
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation. English Attack (B90)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Oct-22-04  themindset: i really dont understand why not 19.Bxh8

it all seems to go downhill after 19.Be3

May-22-06  KingG: Great game! You almost have to look twice to make sure it's Leko playing White and Shirov playing Black. Leko plays a Shirov-style sacrifice with 15.Nd4!?(although admittedly it was probably home preparation), and Shirov shows some of the great defensive qualities that we've come to expect from Leko. 17...Bh6!, delaying the f5 break, was a particularly good move.

<themindset> As for why Leko didn't play Bxh8, i can only guess that he was looking for mate, or a big material gain, and wasn't satisfied with something like 19.Bxh8 Qxh8 20.Rhf1 Rb8 21.Qxd6 Qc8 22.Nd5 Bf8 23.Qc7 Qxc7 24.Nxc7 Bh3, where White's two bishops are probably good enough to at least hold the draw, if not even give winning chances. Considering what happened in the game, he probably should have gone into the endgame though.

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: A few months earlier at Linares Leko had played 10 g5 against Kasparov (drawn). 12 f4!? was a new idea; 12 Nd5 is the main line. Perhaps 13 Qf2 would have been better as after 13 0-0-0..Nc4 Leko couldn't play 14 Qf2 due to 14..Nxe3 15 Qxe3..exf 16 Qxf4..h6 with advantage to Black. Instead, he decided to sacrifice the knight rather than play 15 Nh1!?. 17..Nxf6? would have led to a very powerful attack for White after 18 f5..Bf7 19 Bxf6..Qxf6 20 e5!. Shirov felt that had Leko grabbed the exchange with 19 Bxh8 the position would have remained unclear. 37 f5!? didn't help White much but, by that point, Blacks position was very strong. 43 c5? shortened the game but did not change the result.

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