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Sergei Vladimirovich Rublevsky vs Karen Asrian
3rd Aeroflot Festival (2004), Moscow RUS, rd 8, Feb-24
Caro-Kann Defense: Advance Variation. Botvinnik-Carls Defense (B12)  ·  1-0



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sac: 19.Rxf4 PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 1 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
May-19-04  seoulmama: This a great game. The demolition of Black's king is awesome.
Apr-18-05  n30: agreed
Feb-08-13  rilkefan: First thought: Rxf4 Qx and Bd6 or Nd6 - hmm, no, Rf1 and Rxf5 first, and Nd6+ should be fatal.
Feb-08-13  tsepwe: nice attacking game
Feb-08-13  Funology: this felt easier than yesterday's
Feb-08-13  Dave580: I just looked up Karen Asrian. Very sad to see he died at age 28 in 2008 from a heart attack. How does someone so young die like that? He was the reigning Armenian champion when he died.
Feb-08-13  bengalcat47: Two bishops are almost always superior to a rook.
Feb-08-13  Moszkowski012273: Couldn't a timely g6 help black out a bit here?
Feb-08-13  David2009: Rublevsky vs K Asrian, 2004 White 19?

White has a promising position but Black threatens to escape with the loot (a sacrificed Pawn) with Castles (either side). Try 19.RXf4 Qxf4 20.Rf1 intending to capture on f7 with Nd6+ to follow. Trapping ther BK in the centre should be worth an exchange or even two exchanges - unless Crafty EGT tells me otherwise. Time to check:
Yes. Puzzle position:

click for larger view

with Crafty End Game Trainer link

The machiavellian robot snaps up the R and then rocks me back on my heels with 19...g6. Suddenly my exchange sacrifice doesn't look so good. We have guests coming so I need to stop now. Please feel free to post the win against the EGT: congratulations if you can find it without silicon help.

Feb-08-13  diagonalley: <David2009> ...i got to 20 ...g6 and wasn't convinced... i rate this puzzle as harder than 'difficult'
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <bengalcat47: Two bishops are almost always superior to a rook.>

And once in a <great> while, one bishop is as good as two rooks. See this position, after Black's 75th move in

click for larger view

Of the almost 5.5 million games in Mega Database 2013, this is the <only> one where one bishop successfully holds off two rooks. Despite White's huge material advantage, he cannot make progress unless he wants to give up his rook on f5 and try to win a rook versus bishop ending. If he plays waiting moves (Rb5/c5/d5/e5) Black simply plays Bg6-h7-g6-h7 with a draw.

Manfred Zitzman, in a submission almost 40 years ago to Robertson Sillars' "Reader's Showcase" column in <Chess Life & Review>, once drew attention to a game of his where a similar position could have occurred, and proposed calling this situation "the Zitzman Theme." He was thereafter informed that composers had beaten him to the punch, having discovered this idea long ago. But in actual play it is a very rare bird indeed.

Tragically,'s database has an erroneously truncated version of this game, without the last 31 moves: Adams vs D Lemos, 2011 (and thus without this wondrous position). I have submitted a correction slip.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Dave580: I just looked up Karen Asrian. Very sad to see he died at age 28 in 2008 from a heart attack. How does someone so young die like that?>

His namesake Karen Carpenter died of heart failure at age 32. But she was anorexic, and he probably wasn't.

Feb-08-13  mertangili: After 19.Rxf4 Qxf4 20.Rf1 g6;
21.Nf6+ Kd8 (only move) and 22. Qd1 with the treat of discovered check seems difficult to cope with for black. But I am not sure how white should proceed after 20...Qc7 as 21. Rxf5 g6 22. Nd6+ Qxd6 23.Bxd6 gxh5 and black appears to hold. Any comments?
Feb-08-13  gofer: I looked at Nf6+ for a while, (i.e. 19 Nf6+ gxf6 20 Bxf4 Bxh2+ 21 Qxh2 Qxh2+ 22 Kxh2 exf4 23 Rfe1+ Kd8 24 Re7 ) but even though it looks to win the queen exchange on h2 makes things a little more slow...

So then we have the very interesting double rook sacrifice!

19 Rxf4 Qxf4
20 Rf1 Qc7/Qe5
21 Rxf4 exf4
22 Nd6+


Well the right idea, but really as I didn't find <20 ... Qh6>, I don't think I can take much joy...

Feb-08-13  Abdel Irada: This puzzle hides many parts, and I haven't the energy at present to examine them all. The key move doesn't require more than a few trivial failed alternatives to confirm: Either 28. Rxf4 wins, or this is a spoiler.

But what happens after this is, in fact, fairly complex: Black can accept this sac or interpose with counterthreats; and if he does accept it, similar counterthreats still pose dilemmas; for this, I will need my Indefatigable Investigator's hat — which unfortunately grows heavy at times.

One defense that doesn't seem to work, however:

<19. ...g6
20. Qxf5!, gxf5>

This seems preferable, since Black is well advised to keep the e-file closed if possible.

<21. Nd6, Kd8>

Not good is 21. ...Kf8? 22. Nb5 .

An alternative is 21. ...Kd7, but this allows 22. Rd4!, when Black can't attack the rook with 22. ...e5 thanks to 23. Bxf5. The text avoids this.

<22. Rd1! ...>

White can't play the more direct 22. Rd4 in light of 22. ...e5 23. Nb5, exd4 24. Nxc7, Kxc7 25. Bxd4, Rhe8!

However, the text seems to leave Black with little to do. His king's position is ominous, but he can't easily wiggle out of it, and he lacks any means of attacking White's most aggressively placed pieces. Intuition tells me I need not bother to calculate or analyze: There is no counterplay, so no defense will succeed.

I *may* return to this later.

Feb-08-13  morfishine: White has achieved maximum activity at the cost of a pawn; Black's minors are developed but his rooks are passive. Exchanging off Black's developed pieces should win for White.

First, lets try to blast Black off the board with 19.Rxf4

<19.Rxf4 Qxf4 20.Rf1> Targeting the Black Knight; the Black Queen just happens to be in the way <20...Qc7> On 20...Qe5 or 20...Qh6, 21.Rxf5 explodes the Black position; 20...Qc7 has the added benefit of supporting f7

<21.Rxf5> Eliminating another developed piece <21...g6> Probably best; If 21...exf5, 22.Nd6+ and Black is being overrun;

<22.Nf6+ Kd8> 22...Kf8 allows 23.Qh6 mate; <23.Qh4>:

click for larger view

The threat 24.Nd5+ winning the Black Queen allows White to save his rook

PM: Fun Puzzle; It was difficult to select Black's best defense at move 20: (Qe5, Qh6 or Qc7?); From what I can tell, Black loses a piece in all three variations

Feb-08-13  mistreaver: Friday.White to play? Difficult. 19.?
white is clearly better. He is better developed, his dark squared bishop prevent black from castling and also f7 looks rather weak. All these factors clearly allow white to undertake a decisive action.
19 Rxf4! (i quite like this move)
20 Rf1 and now black can choose:
21 Rxf5 ;
22 Nd6+ Kd8
23 Nxf7+ Kc8
24 Nxh8 g6
25 Qf3 Kb7 and black wins.
a2) 21... g6
22 Qf3 gxf5 and again white is worse.
b) 20... g6
21 Qe2 Qc7 and i don't know if white has enough compensation. Therefore i think that double exchange sacrifice is perhaps dubious? But what is there else to play?
I have no idea, therefore i will have to surrender and check how it really went. ---
Hmmm, it is actually what was played. And Fritz confirmes massive advantage for White in both my a1) variation, where instead of 23 Nxf7, 23Bxf5!! should be played with decisive threats, in a2) where after g6 Qg5 is decisive, and in b)variation, which is definitely the best defensive try (apart from Qh6 played in the game), white wins after 20...g6
21 Nf6+ Kd8
22 Qd1! (ambush) Qc7
23 Bxf5 and
24 Bd3 with 2 pieces for a rook and superior position. I don't know how to evaluate my today's work. I will give myself 0.5 points, as calculation of variations was decent (altough not without it's mistakes, but i totally missevaluated the resulting positions, altough in my every variation white retains decisive advantage (even after my moves such as Nxf7 which were clearly not the best)). Therefore 4.5/5 this week.
Feb-08-13  lost in space: I saw the sequence 19. Rxf4 Qxf4 20. Rf1 Qc7 21. Rxf5 and was sure that there is either mate or huge win of material to avoid mate.

Would have played that OTB without being able to see the final mate, following my intuition.

Premium Chessgames Member
  numbersguy70: <diagonalley>... i rate this puzzle as harder than 'difficult'

Little bit. I don't have the fastest computer made these days, but my Fritz12 took well over a minute to find 19.Rxf4 as winning.

Feb-08-13  Castleinthesky: After I smelled smoke, I figured it was time to see the answer.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: Here is the puzzle position.

click for larger view

Black has three pieces guarding the crucial d6 square, but white is undeterred. After 19 Rxf4 black is forced to play 19...Qxf4. (If he castles longside white can simply play 20 Rf3 and black is down a piece).

After 21 Rxf5, black cannot play 21...exf5 because of 22 Nd6+, below, and black will lose his queen or get mated.

click for larger view

I also liked the subtle 22 Nd6+ instead of the immediate 22 Rxh5, because this move takes away the queenside castling option.

Very nice puzzle.

Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: As I ghosting in bid for freedom it now in did ok black hasnt yet castled in bishops active a farm-land 19.Rxf4 a blow in fall bishop faffed over I curiously 19...qxf4 snuffed rook out extinguish in,

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back to 20...Qh6 all knight marshalled off f5 light in either open close win stint in c5 ease effect of a bind again bade f5 lectured h6 h5 first in he 22.nd6+ fatefuls king steeps d7 adventure parker h5 charge blot in got 23.Rxh5 in diagram for king knight bishops,

click for larger view

In king he a dry forlorn hind am entertaining my notion bade light in star bs look to convert inceed black at purple patch light he bin feed skidding across it sketch in up I tearing along raf8 mind hinges it try chin he in having evermore buttress in castle go building knight in c8 at knight oot sweet it spine crawl plug off I extricated eli f8,

right racing along queen bishop afraid in fashion it pick in palm for stumped I greed f1 f4 in wrestle him heading off some gaining ground circulate again e4 nd6+ kingd7 empty?

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: White gains two pieces ...and an attack,for the rook.
Feb-08-13  Marmot PFL: Did not see many details but intuitively I was sure that 19 Rxf4 Qxf4 20 Rf1 followed by 21 Rxf5 and Nd6+ had to be good.
Feb-08-13  howlwolf: morfishine, I agree c7 is best retreat for black queen and that g6 is best defense to Rxf5 but missed Qh4 as response after Nf6+; therefore I went with 21 g4 g6 (still best I believe) 22 Qh3 Ne7 23 Nd6+ Kd7 24Rxf7 and I can't find a plausible defense from there. Did not consider more than momentarily the game response of Qh6. Agree with all-fine game, good puzzle. I had computer issues that kept me from kibbitizing for awhile; I miss Once's entertaining essays. Anybody know why they've stopped?
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