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Mikhail Kobalia vs Denis Khismatullin
Russian Championship Higher League Tomsk (2004), Tomsk RUS, rd 3, May-25
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation. English Attack (B90)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: White acts strangely after 71...Rf1. Instead of White capturing the loose Black rook (in exchange for his knight), White drops both pieces?? This was surely a case of conditioned chess blindness in a long game, as Black had played Rf1 three times prior.

Perhaps FTB is feeling too greedy today, but both colors missed RxR on the 63rd move. Either color could have won by capturing the other's rook.

White seems enamored with retaining a Rook on e5.

White has an easy win after 66.BxNg6+ which picks up a Black rook. This blunder is hard to figure... missing a capture with check, trading the slower knight for the faster bishop. It also removes the defender of the Re8.

What the heck happened here?!?! Did FTB take his medication today?

Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Black has an outside passer on the kingside (with the White king tied to the queenside), so simplification favors Black, but Black is not interested in that approach. On the other hand, White can't just sit there and wait.

Things get strange after 62...Rf1. Just what was the point of that move? Take the free material now and give it back later if you must. The board is mostly open, so the extra rook will be able to maneuver easily for any necessary defensive task. The queenside pawns are not that alarming.

All FTB can see here are blunders by both colors, both grandmasters. What really bothers FTB is that he cannot figure out their alternative thinking, what else is reasonable. What were they fixated on? What has FTB missed? Did he miss something on a free square? Is there a trick with the Black bishop/light-squared color complex? No. The bishop is just playing guard duty.

This seems to be a case of both players going on the defensive, just waiting.

Is there gambling on these games in Russia?

Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: FTB was hoping someone had shared their perspective of what these two grandmasters were thinking. What caused each color to miss simple winning tactics after 120+ plies??

Perhaps from a Grandmaster's point of view, leaving the pieces on the board (avoiding captures above) favors a draw. (Generally, amateurs do not accept draws with mobile pieces still on board, but GMS shuffle the pieces back and forth and then shake hands.) A grandmaster does not necessarily fear one outside passer in a rook ending with an active king (but this is not that type of situation believes FTB). Here, White is clearly playing passively for a draw. Black seems to think he can work something with the queenside pawns, or at least cause a reaction by White. (There's nothing to be had with the queenside pawns thinks FTB. It's a stretch to think a Black pawn on the third rank and a Black rook on the second with the long range bishop could make things sticky if White gives away tempos.) This is the best explanation FTB can come up with for the GMS being deeply distracted in strategic thought, or there was intense time pressure.

White should have won.

“Strategy requires thought; tactics requires observation.” – Max Euwe, 5th World Chess Champion.

Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: This unusual game has echoed in the back of FTB's mind. Perhaps there is an explanation...

It is very plausible that such strangeness might be due to a notation error of "the other rook" moved instead.

Here is an example of a wrong rook notation error that seemingly led to blunders: G Welling vs A Hunt, 1993

For the time being, FTB will leave it up to another reader to find such notation errors in the above game.

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