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Bartlomiej Macieja vs Ruslan Ponomariov
Wch U20 (1997), Zagan POL, rd 9, Jul-23
Sicilian Defense: Old Sicilian. Open (B32)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Nov-08-09  NBZ: I think 12. Bxd5 isn't bad for white, contrary to what some are suggesting here. Bxd5 cxd5 Qxd5 Qxd5 Nxd5 Kf8 Nc7 Rb8 (if Bb7 Nxa8 Bxa8 O-O-O wins) O-O-O Bb7 Rd7 g5 Bg3 and white threatens Rhd1 or Na6.

Some sample variations from here:
... Bc6 Rhd1! and if Bxd7 exd7! winning back the rook rapidly; or Bc6 Rhd1 Bh6 Rd8+ Rxd8 Rxd8+ Kg7 b4! f5 b5 Bxg2 Be5+ Nf6 Rxh8 Kxh8 Bxf6 exf6 e7 queening.

Of course Black could have a better defense but it seems to me white has good compensation given that he is *only* giving up a piece for two pawns.

Nov-08-09  rigel1503: I agree that 12. Bb5 was white's strongest move. However after 12. 0-0-0 with the idea of swiftly bringing the rooks into play on the central files, I believe white still wins, even after 12. ... Bxe6. Here are two variations:

(1) 12. O-O-O Bxe6 13. Rhe1 Bd7 14.
Nxd5 (breaks up Black's pawn centre and gives white control of the centre) cxd5 15. Bxd5 Rc8 16. Bd6 Ba4 17. Bxg8 Bh6+ 18. Kb1 Bxc2+ 19. Ka1 Be3 20. Rxe3 Bxd1 21. Rxe7+ Kd8 22. Qxd1 Qd5 23. Bxd5

(2) 12. O-O-O Bxe6 13. Rhe1 Bf7 14.
Ne4 dxe4 15. Qxe4 Qc5 16. Bxf7+ Kxf7 17. Qe6+ Ke8 18. Rd7 f5 19. Bd6 and Black is in deep trouble

Premium Chessgames Member
  sfm: It appears that 9.-,Qa5 is a dubious move. After 10.Qf3 it is not so easy to find a good move for Black. And
11.e6!! is just beautiful. He has already seen that 11.-,d5 can't be played.
Nov-08-09  rigel1503: Also, a third variation:
12. O-O-O Bxe6 13. Rhe1 Bf7 14.
Ne4 dxe4 15. Qxe4 Bxc4 16. Qxc6+ (A necessary interpolation for white to maintain his central domination) Kf7 17. Qxc4+ Kf8 18. Bc7 Qg5+ 19. Kb1 Qxg2 20. Qe6 Qxf2 21. Bd8 Qc5 22. Rd5 Qb4 23. a3 Qxe1+ 24. Qxe1 f5 25. Rd7 Bf6 26. Qe6 h5 27. c4 Kg7 28. c5 h4 29. c6

and (4) 12. O-O-O Bxe6 13. Rhe1 Bf7 14.
Ne4 dxc4 15. Nd6+ Kf8 16. Qxc6 Rd8 17. Nb7 Be8 18. Nxa5 Rxd1+ 19. Rxd1 Bxc6 20. Nxc6 With material equality, but White has the vastly superior endgame

Nov-08-09  David2009: Sunday's insane puzzle Macieja vs Ponomariov, 1997 White 12?

There is only one logical move for White: 12 O-O-O. The immediate 12...dxc4?? loses outright to Qxc6+ etc. Black is too undeveloped for the adventure 12...f5 to have realistic prospects of success (White has a choice of sacrifices on d5) so there remains only 12 ...Bxe6 temporarily winning a Pawn. White can then play 13 Rhe1 Bf7 and having reached this promising position can consider sacrificing on d5. I don't like analysing many moves ahead and in practice I would wait till I got the position before deciding. A sacrifice is however called for since if White does not sacrifice Black consolidates with e5, Ne7 and O-O. Time to check.
Now that was a surprise: White does something entirely different. Time to read other comments and to see how in fact the game went.

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: For today's Sunday puzzle solution I immediately opted for 12. O-O-O, missing Macieja's much stronger 12. Bb5!

The game move (12. Bb5!) uses multiple tactical threats to decisively exploit White's lead in development and space. For example, in the game continuation the decoy sacrifice (12. Bb5!) creates an obstruction after 12...cxb5 which allows White to win the trapped Rook with a winning material advantage.

In the event Black opts for 12...Qb6, then White can win a pawn due to the pin after 12...Qb6 13. Qxd5. Or even better after 12...Qb6 13 Nxd5!, White can gain a decisive advantage due to the knight fork threat 13...Qxb5? 14. Nc7+ .

So with obstruction, pinning, knight forks, trapped pieces, decoy and other tactics in play, I've decided to add this game to my "combined operations" collection.

Nov-08-09  ComboKal: Thanks <dzechiel> for your usual comprehensive analysis of the position. It is very helpful.

I've read numerous instructional chess books when I was a child, so I forget which grandmaster said it, but I use it as my golden rule of combination play. <Examine every check and capture.> The word <check> in this context refers to an attack on any piece, not just the king. I have drilled this rule into the gray mush between my ears, but I often still overlook the best move on the board.

I, too, was concerned about preserving the e6 pawn. Here I played the lines of <12.Bxd5> and <12.O-O-O> to death, without examining Bb5. I looked at it briefly, but thought it could be countered with <12. ...Bb7> and neglected to see the pin, allowing <13.Qxd5!> I've had a bad week of puzzles!

BTW, my favorite chess book from my youth (besides MCO, but that's more of a reference manual) was <Rueben Fine's Middle Game in Chess>. It teaches everything there is to know about combination play. I don't know if it's still in print.

Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: Sunday (Insane):

Macieja vs Ponomariov, 1997 (12.?)

White to play and win.

Material: Even. The Black Ke8 has 2 legal moves, both on the back rank. The valuable White Pe6 cramps Ke8, but is threatened by 12Bxe6, so if White wants to use it, he must act decisively. (Blacks last move probably was 11d5, with hope of solving his terrible defensive problems.) The Black Pd5 is an obvious target, however, attacked 3 times (Nc3, Bc4, and Qf3) but defended only 2 times (Qa5 and Pc6). The Black Ra8 is loose, indicating that Nc3 should probably be the final capturing piece. From d5, Nc3 can then fork Ra8 and Ke8 at c7. The White Bf4 denies Ra8 the flight square b8, and the Black Bc8 blocks further flight squares for Ra8. The Black Qa5 pins Nc3 to Ke1. The White Ke1 is otherwise secured from check.

Candidates (12.): Bxd5

I missed <dzechiel>'s variation:

12 Bxd5 cxd5 13 Qxd5 Qxd5 14 Nxd5 <Kf8> 15 O-O-O Bb7

Nicely caught, David! Recognizing the critical nature of the move, I did go through my sieve for defenses (counter-attack, capture, interposition, reinforcement, and flight), but missed the flight Ke8-f8.

Nov-08-09  felixd: I don't understand... It is very easy for a sunday :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: White's a need for speed, act quickly or he doesnt cash in. Bb5 should sort it putting the wheels in motion since Black attempts to go the distance over the length of time. I did a cut and paste with Fritz checking final score. 26 Qb3+ wraps it up loooking to mate on the seventh eigth rank. To be frank a stimulateing game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Black's opening play looks suspect -- especially 10...f6?! Perhaps 10...Bxe5 improves, as in Garcia vs Ponomariov, 1997.
Nov-08-09  David2009: <rigel1503: I agree that 12. Bb5 was white's strongest move.> Agreed <rigel1503: [snip] 12. O-O-O Bxe6 13. Rhe1 Bf7 14. Ne4 dxe4 15. Qxe4 Qc5 16. Bxf7+ Kxf7 17. Qe6+ Ke8 18. Rd7 f5 19. Bd6 and Black is in deep trouble> Yes but Black can defend more actively: he can meet 17. Qe6+ with Kf8 and if 18. Rd7 Re8 19. Bd6 Qxf2.

click for larger view

Now 20. Bxe7+ Nxe7 21 Rxe7 is met by Qxe1+ and 20. Rxe7 is met by 20...Bh6+ 21 Kb1 Nxe7+ 22 Bxe7+ Kg7. White is busted in both lines.

My proposal doesn't work either: <David2009: White can then play 13 Rhe1 Bf7 and having reached this promising position can consider sacrificing on d5. I don't like analysing many moves ahead and in practice I would wait till I got the position before deciding. A sacrifice is however called for since if White does not sacrifice Black consolidates with e5, Ne7 and O-O.> Sacrifices on d5 are disastrous since the Re1 becomes en prise in most lines. Unless the 14. Ne4 dxe4 15. Qxe4 Qc5 sacrificial line can be strengthened the whole 12. O-O-O line comes under a cloud. My initial positional appraisal was therefore very poor.

Crafty link to 12. O-O-O Bxe6 variation:

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: I thought 13...Bxe6, below, was stronger than the text 13...Qb6, because it saves black a pawn by protecting a7.

click for larger view

Now, after 14 Qxa8+ Kf7, the a pawn is protected.

click for larger view

In the text, however, after 14...Qxe6, the a pawn is en prise.

click for larger view

Nov-08-09  Quentinc: I think this is another example of how much it helps to "know" that there is a decisive move to be played this turn. O-O-O looked good, as a number of people have suggested, but it just a logical developing move, rather than something spectacular, so it obviously couldn't be the answer. It took me only a few seconds to start looking at Bb5, and I'm no whiz by a long shot.
Nov-08-09  hedgeh0g: I was looking at O-O-O, which I think is still a good move, but obviously Bb5 is stronger and more forcing.
Nov-08-09  WhiteRook48: I got close with 12 Bxd5
Nov-08-09  muralman: Studied the first move and saw the block, but I couldn't see anything else there. Missed the rook stab. This puzzle was too wordy for my liking.
Nov-08-09  VincentL: I think the first move is either Bxd5, Bb5 or O-O-O

Of these I like 12. Bb5 best.

On 12... cxb5 13. Qxd5 and the black rook is lost

If 12....Qd8 13. Bxc6+ and again the rook is lost.

Unfortunately I don't have more time to analyze the various continuations.

I am fairly confident that this is the correct start, but it doesn't seem like Sunday level, so I may well have missed something.

Nov-08-09  VincentL: Bb5 was indeed the move played.

I didn't properly consider 12... Qb6 which is lucky on my part, since it might well have caused me to reject Bb6,

Nov-08-09  VincentL: Of course, 12....Qb6 13 Qxd5 !
Nov-08-09  King.Arthur.Brazil: I follow teh majority and for me first time O-O-O was sufficient, as looking for development, rock in the columns, black king exposed, Blackquenn misplaced, bad development.The game moe win the qualitym, but I guess black didnt make his bests moves after lose the R, I didn't like Qe6+, for me was a unforced bad move.
Nov-08-09  gofer: I have looked at this for a while and a "counter-intuitive" move seems to be quite nice...

12 Bb5!

White is threatening Bc6+ winning the Ra8, so black has three choices; cxb5, Qb6 and Bb7!

12 ... cxb5 13 Qxd5 Bxe6 13 Qxe6 winning as black cannot protect the rook!

12 ... Qb6 13 Nxd5 winning with Nc7+ next move... and also Bxc6!

12 Bb7 Ba4 winning; now the bishop is safe and the e6 pawn is safe too... O-O-O is coming...

Time to check...

Nov-08-09  zenithooligan: Bb5!

I think this is the first Sunday puzzle I have gotten all makes me feel like it was a bit of a weaker Sunday puzzle. by the way, i agree that 0-0-0 also wins for white. black is rather miserably developed and with a poorly placed queen.

Nov-09-09  rigel1503: Just for good measure, a fifth variation where Black tries to assert control in the centre with e5:

(5) 12. O-O-O Bxe6 13. Rhe1 Bf7 14.Ne4 e5 15. Nd6+ Ke7 16. Bxe5 (Not only the sacrifice on d5 is possible) fxe5 17. Qxf7+ (Thanks to the e5 sac, the Queen charges up the 'f' file now to decimate Black) Kxd6 18. Qxg7 Ne7 19. Qxe5+ Kc5 20. Qd4+ Kd6 21. Qf6+ Kc5 22. Rxe7 Kxc4 23. Qd4+ Kb5 24. Rb7+ Ka6 25. Rb3 Rab8 26. Ra3 Qxa3 27. bxa3 is crushing

Nov-09-09  CHESSTTCAMPS: This was the 2nd time in the week that I pursued a complex solution where a simpler one was available. In both cases, I gave the best candidate no consideration. Anyway, what follows is the incomplete writeup I had prepared. I still need to do some review to determine if 12.b4 works after all , even if it is not the best.


Material is even in this opening position, but white (on the move) has a critical development advantage of three tempi. A key feature of the position is the e6 pawn, which could be a bone in the opponent's throat, but it's unfortunately en prise. and can't be conveniently protected. Two pins dominate the tactical setting. The BQ is pinning the Nc3 which would otherwise "sac" on d5, winning the vulnerable Ra8 and the Qf3 is pinning the d5 pawn. Two candidates came to mind quickly: (1) the sac 12.Bxd5 to protect the e6-pawn and attempt to exploit the Ra8 and (2) O-O-O with the idea of giving the e6-pawn for a big development advantage. For the first candidate, I was primarily interested in 12.Bxd5 cxd5 13.Qxd5 Qxd5 14.Nxd5, but 14... Kf8 15.Nc7 Rb8 appears to hold. Regarding the 2nd candidate, 12.O-O-O Bxe6 13.Rhe1 Bf7, there are competing proverbs to guide us: "Three tempi in the opening are worth approximately a pawn (Evans)." "He who grabs a pawn and runs away has a won ending." I couldn't find a convincing continuation for white and the black e-pawn could become a problem, so I looked for something better:


For the price of a wing pawn, white opens a key line for the Ra1 with tempo, accelerating the initiative. Now white must win the Ra8, netting an exchange. The following is a plausible continuation:

A) 12... Qxb4 13.Bxd5 cxd5 14.Rb1 Qa5 15.Rb5! (the point - white breaks the pin with gain of time) Qa3 16.Nxd5 Qxf3 17.Nc7+ Kf8 18.gxf3 Bxe6 (a6 19.Rb6) 20.Nxa8 Bxa2 21.Rb8+ Kf7 22.Nc7 and white's exchange advantage, together with the passed c-pawn should prevail in the endgame.

A.1) 13... f5 14.Bxc6+ Kf8 15.Bd2 Rb8 16.Rb1!! Qxb1+ 17.Nxb1 Rxb1+ 18.Ke2 Ba6+ 19.Ke3


... then I lost the thread in this wild position.

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