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Loek van Wely vs Predrag Nikolic
Hoogovens (1993), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 1, Jan-16
Slav Defense: Steiner Variation (D16)  ·  0-1



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sac: 38...Rxf4 PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: I'm with Jamboree. Not too difficult up to Black's 42nd move. After that.....way too many options.
Feb-19-11  morfishine: Decided to follow the idea of blocking white queen's access to <h3> with <37...Nh4>. After 37...Nh4 38.Rf1 Nf5+ (blocking the queen) 39.Kg2 Bb8 (with 40...Ne3+ next) I was hoping this led somewhere:

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Wrong idea for the solution but maybe black has a pull.

Gotta love <45...d2> a cunning pawn sac that transfers black queen from <f4> to <d1> and now, white can't save his rook! My favorite part of this puzzle

Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: I missed 40.Qe2 as a reply to Qb2, probably because the queen was tied to the defense of h3, but in any case after 40... Qc3 Black has an overwhelming position.
Feb-19-11  Ghuzultyy: Okay, first candidate for !! is; 37...Nxf4?!

37...Nxf4?! 38.Bxf4 Rxf4 39.Kxf4 Rf8+


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40.Ke5 Bb8+ 41.Kd5 Qxf3+ 42.Kc4 Qa3!! 43.Qd7 Rf7!!


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No good defence for white from now on.
44.Qxf7 Qa2+

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44.Qe8 Rc7+ 45.Kxd4 Qd6+ 46.Ke4 Re7+

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44.Qd8 Qxa4+ 45.Kd5 Rd7+ 46.Ke6! Rxd8 47.Ra1 b5

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44.Qd8 Qxa4+ 45.Kd3 Qb3+! 46.Kxd4 Rf4+ 47.Re4 Qb4+ 48.Kd3 Qxe4

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and 37...Nxf4?! becomes 37...Nxf4!!

Feb-19-11  Ghuzultyy: In the game continuation 45...Qf2 was better but less exciting than 45...d2
Feb-19-11  David2009: Van Wely vs P Nikolic, 1993 postscript: This is a fascinating puzzle and I saw only a fraction. First of all, starting from Crafty End Game Trainer prefers <Jim>'s continuations 38...Bb8 as the fastest win. Secondly, the game continuation 38...Rxf4 also wins but the best follow-up is 39 Qxf3! immediately (see the following link This link allows you to explore the defence of this position.

To explore winning by alternative variations, have a look at

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(Van Wely vs P Nikolic, 1993 Black 37...? colours reversed). This allows you to check and compare various winning tries.

In all three of these links, you are white, drag and drop the move you want to make. In haste: enjoy the complexities!

Feb-19-11  patzer2: Predrag Nikolic treats us to a delightful pursuit (king hunt) combination with 37...Nxf4!!

I suspect Nikolic played it as a positional sacrfice without calculating the forced win all the way to the end -- realizing that after 37...Nxf4!! 38.Bxf4 Rxf4 39.Kxf4 Rf8+ 40.Ke5 Bb8+ 41.Kd5 Qxf3+ the sham sacrifice of the Rook for a Knight and a pawn was well worth it to get the Black King out in the open and exposed to attack.

Whether he calculated it all out in advance or not, Nikolic's winning followup demonstrates the attacking positional sham sacrifice was fully justified.

In the followup, Fritz 10 indicates <Ghuzultyy>'s recommendation of 42...Qa3! is stronger than Nikolic's 42...d3!, but that both moves are winning.

However, I like Nikolic's continuation from an aesthetic point of view because the position after 45...d2! 46. Rxf4 d1Q!

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is very amusing -- at least from Black's perspective.

White is forced to move his King and surrender a decisive piece to avoid the loss of his Queen and a quick mate. For example, if 47. Re4 then 47...Qxa4+ 48. Kc5 Ba7+ ends it. Another fun mating possibility from the diagrammed position above is 47. Qb6 Qxa4+ 48. Qb4

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where Black has a mate-in-four with 48...b5+! 49. Kc5 Ba7+ 50. Kc6 Qa6+ 51. Kc7 Qc8#.

Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: < <David2009> wrote: [snip] First of all, starting from Crafty End Game Trainer prefers <Jim>'s continuations 38...Bb8 as the fastest win. [snip] >

At 17 plies and 10 min, Toga still prefers 38...Bb8 to 38...Rxf4.

POTD training notwithstanding, I avoid sacrifices until they are ripe. White cannot move Bf4 immediately without being mated. Moreover, to protect the tender Nf3, he must give away material and accept an inferior K position. I prefer 38...Bb8 over 38...Rxf4: there are few surprises on the back rank, and therefore less to calculate.

Feb-19-11  newzild: I got it - kind of. I wasn't sure whether 40...Qxf3 or 40...Bb8+ was stronger.
Feb-19-11  newzild: ...I see from <david2009> that 40...Qxf3 is, in fact, the stronger move. This makes me feel a lot better. I agonised over this and 40...Bb8+ but simply couldn't fathom all the complications. I went for 40...Qxf3 on instinct - it just "looks" stronger to me.
Feb-19-11  Patriot: Material: White is up a pawn.

Threats: Qxg6

After a few minutes, 37...Nxf4 looks like the only option and has potential. On 38.Bxf4 Bb8 looks very strong. On second thought, 38.Qxg6 isn't a threat just yet because of 38...Rxh3+ 39.Kxh3 Qxf3+ and mate soon. So it's possible a move like 37...Bb8 is more accurate. Then I must consider moves like 38.h4 which is why I like the forcing nature of 37...Nxf4.

Let's see... 37...Nxf4 38.Bxf4 Rxf4 39.Rc8+ Rxc8 40.Qxc8+ Bb8 looks really bad for white. On 39.Kxf4 Rf8+ 40.Qf5 is possible, so 40...Rxf5+ 41.Kxf5 Qxf3+ 42.Kg6. This looks shaky.

So far I like 37...Nxf4 38.Bxf4 Bb8 the best. After 39.Qg4 Rxf4 40.Qxf4 Bxf4+ 41.Kxf4 Rf8+ 42.Ke5 Qxf3 the king is more exposed than the previous line.

This is all the time I'm spending on this. Now to see what happened...

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Nice finish! White cannot even approach the pawn,much less capture it.
Feb-19-11  Patriot: I probably spent more time trying to find a good move for white. It's nice to see that computers are agreeing that 37...Nxf4 38.Bxf4 Bb8 is best.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: <johnlspouge> <I prefer 38...Bb8 over 38...Rxf4: there are few surprises on the back rank, and therefore less to calculate.>

That was my exact thinking as well.

Plus, in the 37...Nxf4 38 Bxf4 Rxf4 line, why does white have to take the rook?

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He can play 39 Rc8+, seeing 39...Rxc8 40 Qxc8+ Bb8.

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Now white has to give up his queen but he does get the bishop and rook in return.

I'd be surprised if 39 Rc8+ is not better than 39 Kxf4.

Feb-19-11  Patriot: <Jimfromprovidence> <Now white has to give up his queen but he does get the bishop and rook in return.

I'd be surprised if 39 Rc8+ is not better than 39 Kxf4.>

You are absolutely right, according to Fritz. It's important to see those zwischenzug's, especially the one's that give check. Hence, the idea of looking at checks, captures, and threats (in that order). I looked at the line and probably should have calculated a bit further with 41.Qxb8+ Kxb8 42.Kxf4.

Feb-19-11  JuliusDS: I liked 37...Rxf4 - 38 Bxf4 Rxh3+ or
38 Rc8+ Bb8.

Did anyone else like this?

Feb-19-11  Patriot: <JuliusDS> What's your plan after 39.Qxh3?
Feb-19-11  WhiteRook48: I found the 37...Nxf4 38 Bxf4 Rxf4 39 Kxf4 Rf8+ but didn't look further, feeling that it would be so easy for black to attack
Premium Chessgames Member
  doubledrooks: I saw 37...Nxf4 38. Bxf4 Rxf4 39. Kxf4 Rf8+ 40. Ke5 Bb8+ 41. Kd5 Qxf3+ and reasoned that with the white king exposed and the d pawn ready to move towards d1 that black is better.
Feb-19-11  knight knight: Saturday, black a pawn down. I'm looking at 37...Nxf4, on the queen and threatening 38...Rxh3+ plus also a fork on d3. Example lines:

38. Ra1 Qxf3+ 39. Kxf3 Nxe6+

38. Qg4 Rxh3+ 39. Kf2 Nd3+ 40. Kg1 Nxe1 41. Qxh3 d3+ 42. Kh1 Nxf3 43. Rc8+ Rxc8 44. Qxc8+ Bb8 knight + pawn ahead.

If 38. Bxf4 then 38...Bb8!:

a) 39. Bxb8 39...Qxf3+ 40. Kh2 Qf2+ 41. Kh1 Rf3 42. Bh2 Rfxh3 43. Rc8+ Ka7! 44. Rxh8 Qxh2#, or 43. Qe5 Rfxh3 44. Qb8+ Rxb8 and 45...Rxh2#

b) 39. Kg2 Rxf4 40. Rf1 Rxf3 41. Rxf3 Qxc1 bishop ahead

Too many variations to work out but I'll go with 37...Nxf4.

Feb-19-11  scormus: <Recent kibitzes> I come to the conclusion that 38 ... Bb8 really was better, despite my earlier thoughts and my own "OTB" choice. 38 ... Rxf4 would be better if W were forced to reply 39 Kxf4 (which in fact he did) but 39 Rc8+ gives W a bit of breathing space. W is still worse but not as bad as after the game move.

I confess to being a bit disappointed, 38 ... Rxf4 was the move I liked. The move that,say, Sebastian Lujan would have played :(

<Jim> I really appreciate your clear thoughts on these difficult weekend puzzles.

Premium Chessgames Member
  doubledrooks: <agb2002> in your line a.1 42. Qxe8 Rxh3+ is not mate, white has 43. Bh2+ Ka7 Qe5
Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: <doubledrooks: <agb2002> in your line a.1 42. Qxe8 Rxh3+ is not mate, white has 43. Bh2+ Ka7 Qe5>

Thank you. You're right, 41... Re8 is a blunder while the simple 41... Rf3 does the job.

Feb-19-11  JuliusDS: <Patriot> Whoops!
Feb-19-11  LoveThatJoker: Ok. Interesting position! White is up a pawn, but Black's pawn on d4 is almost like a piece in the way it takes away c3 and e3 from White.

Furthermore Black has some interesting tactical possibilities as his pieces are well coordinated for attack and defense.

I'm seeing that Black's strongest move in this position is 37...Nxf4!

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White's main try is:

38. Bxf4 Rxf4! 39. Kxf4 (39. Rf1? Rxf3+ 40. Rxf3 Qxc8 wins) 39...Rf8+ 40. Ke5 (40. Kg3 Bb8+ 41. Re5 Qxf3+ 42. Kh2 Qe2+ wins; 40. Kg4?? Qxf3+ 41. Kh4 Rh8#) 40...Bb8+ 41. Kd5 [41. Kxd6 Rd8+ 42. Kc4 (42. Ke4 Qd3#) 42...Qd3+ 43. Kc5/Kb4 Bd6+ wins] 41...Qb3+ 42. Rc4 (42. Kxd4 Rd8+ wins) 42...Qxf3+ and Black is winning due to his having a passed pawn, the initiative and White's K being exposed.


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