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Alexander Morozevich vs Hichem Hamdouchi
Cannes World Cup Rapid (2001) (rapid), Cannes FRA, rd 3, Mar-21
Sicilian Defense: Closed Variation. Traditional (B25)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-04-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: a- and h-pawns are notoriously difficult for knights to stop, but they can cause problems for other pieces as well because there are fewer angles from which they can be attacked or defended against.

.Here, after <31 Qxc8+ Nxc8 32.Rxc8+ Bf8 33.a6> White can just sit back contently, light his pipe, and watch Balck squirm. There is no better feeling in chess.

Jun-04-20  ASchultz: 33. Bb4 also wins, but more slowly. Kg3 Qg6 Ng5 and now f6 and h6 don't stop Rf8#. After Bd2 Black can't get in any meaningful checks.

a6 is simpler but I instinctively feel (and need to get over feeling) a bit panicky about quiet moves like that, even seeing that Black can't stop a7 and has no other checks.

Jun-04-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  boringplayer: I didn't even consider 33. a6. Went with 33. Bb4 Qc2+; 34 Nd2, and White will have R+ 2 minors and a pawn for the queen. Seeing that Black can't stop the a pawn is really beautiful!
Jun-04-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: The entire game looks interesting. Black played two pawn sacrifices and seemed to have decent compensation for a while. Just another optical illusion, or could he have improved the attack?
Jun-04-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  Predrag3141: Stockfish likes Black's first pawn sacrifice, but not 11 … Qb6 in this position:


click for larger view

Instead, Black needed to deploy both bishops and the knight on the queenside with … Bc5-b6 and … Nc5.

From here until 26 b5, Stockfish rates White's advantage right around his actual material advantage (one pawn until 16 … d4, sacrificing a second pawn; then two pawns, thank you very much!).

After 26 b5 axb5 27 Nxb5, Black was briefly back in the game (+0.79):


click for larger view

But starting with 27 … Bxb5, Stockfish does not like any of Black's moves. It seems prefer moves that keep an eye on the break, f5, and the passed a-pawn. In the puzzle position, it is the a-pawn that Black has really lost sight of.

Jun-04-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: White is two pawns up.

Black threatens Rxb7 and Qxb1.

White can win much material for the queen after 31.Qxb8+ Nxb8 32.Rxb8+ Bf8 33.Bb4:

A) 33... Qc2+ 34.Kg3

A.1) 34... Qg6+ 35.Ng5 Qd3+ 36.Kh4 g6 37.Bxf8 and mate soon.

A.2) 34... h6 35.Rxf8+ Kh7 36.h3 + - [R+B+N+2P vs q] (36... Qg6+ 37.Kh2 Qf5 38.Bd2).

A.3) 34... g5 35.Nxg5 followed by Bxf8+ or Rxf8+.

B) 33... h6 34.Rxf8+ Kh7 35.Rxf7 + - [R+B+N+3P vs q].

C) 33... g5 34.fxg5 + - [R+B+N+3P vs q].

Jun-04-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: The a-pawn disappeared quickly from my calculations and th line A.1 is the only explanation I can find.
Jun-04-20  saturn2: Me too took 33 Bb4, too tempting.
Jun-04-20  Brenin: Like others, I saw the 33 Bb4 line as winning, with 33 ... Qc2+ 34 Kg3 Qg6+ answered by 35 Ng5 with mating threats renewed. OTB, I expect (or at least hope!) that I would have realised it was safer to leave the B on guard duty at d2, and simply march the a-pawn forwards.

I was unimpressed by Black's second pawn sacrifice 16 ... d4; 17 Nexd4 followed by Kf2 would have been a more solid response by White than cxd4, which still left Black with chances of counterplay.

Jun-04-20  lost in space: <<saturn2:> Me too took 33 Bb4, too tempting.>

same here

Jun-04-20  Cheapo by the Dozen: Like other folks, I saw the big win with 33 Bb4 and stopped there. It was super-easy to find. So what was the point of this puzzle?
Jun-04-20  Caissas Clown: Fairly simple for a Thursday.Like some others,I too went for 33.Bb4 which also seems to work , though more slowly.Whether Bb4 or a6 , the N on f3 is doing a sterling defensive job.
Jun-04-20  alexrawlings: I failed today. Went for <31 Qxe7> totally missing the obvious reply of <31.. Qxb1>. In my defence I was also making lunch for two young children in between looking at the puzzle and spent less than a minute on the puzzle...
Jun-04-20  jith1207: <So what was the point of this puzzle?>

I think it's finding the best move in the position, as in the text line.

Jun-04-20  Lambda: It's perfectly possible, of course, that Morozevich was planning 33.Bb4 when he went 31.Qxb8+, and only noticed 33.a6 once that position was reached.
Jun-04-20  okiesooner: Somebody pointed out that White is ahead by two Pawns. How about 31. Qxe7? If 31...Nxe7 32. Rxb8 with a back-rank mate. If Black declines the sacrifice by moving his Rook along his first rank, then White retreats his Queen having won a piece. Does this make sense?
Jun-04-20  Tiggler: The win is fairly obvious, but I chose 33 Bb4, which is not so pleasing as a6.
Jun-04-20  TheaN: Interesting that the lesser variation is chosen by most, even though the best variation is not hard to spot at all once you're <at> that spot.

<31.Qxb8+ Nxb8> declining here is just +- with a rook up. <32.Rxb8+ Bf8 (Bd8 33.Rxd8#)> and now we're at the point in question:


click for larger view

33.a6! is White's best and with the diagram at hand, easy to spot why: we do not need to <win> Bf8, as long as he's down and out to protect against the a-pawn's advance. The queen herself is helpless against the advance as after 34.a7 (which is coming unless Black throws the queen outright) the rook's already protecting a8 and Black has no checks whatsoever.

So why is 33.Bb4, my choice included, so popular? The key here is <pattern follow-up>. We sacced the queen for rook and knight on the back rank, assuming we can now use the back rank to break through. After 33.Bb4, Bf8 is falling and Black will have to be careful not to get mated, and the queen's helpless again R+B+N with the a-pawn still looming. The only try, 33....Qc2+, fails on 34.Kg3 h6 (Qg6+?! 35.Ng5! #11 and now Black's actually getting mated) 35.Rxf8+ Kh7. White's obviously winning, but has to do it right and is slower due to the a-pawn still being on a5. In fact, one of the best ideas to force Black's hand is 36.a6 +-, which kind of shows the 'error' of 33.Bb4.

Jun-04-20  Brenin: <okiesooner>: If 31 Qxe7 then Black can play Qxb1. Now White's Q has to retreat, so any attack is over, and Black has the initiative since he can threaten an exchange of Qs and/or capture of the a-pawn. White's bad B and exposed K are going to be liabilities.
Jun-04-20  okiesooner: <Brenin>: Thank you!
Jun-04-20  Damenlaeuferbauer: The extraordinary strong Russian GM Alexander Morozevich, one of the most creative chess players of the last 25 years, finally found the queen sacrife 31.Qxb8+!,Nxb8 32.Rxb8+,Bf8, but I also have to concede, that I did not see 33.a6!, but would have played the "more thematic" 33.Bb4 too. This is the simple reason, why he is a super GM and the former no. 2-3 in the world (2008), and I am not!
Jun-04-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  louispaulsen88888888: I stopped after finding Bb4 but a6!! even faster. Like the old saw, when you see a good move look for a better one.

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