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Larry Christiansen vs Aleksander Wojtkiewicz
"Larry Fine" (game of the day Jul-20-2008)
US Championship 2006 (2006), San Diego, CA USA, rd 3, Mar-05
Sicilian Defense: Fischer-Sozin Attack. Flank Variation (B87)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Mar-06-06  sharkbenjamin: This is a tactical masterpiece. Bravo!
Mar-06-06  Mating Net: Larry Christiansen plays as if he were the second coming of Dragoljub Velimirovic!

I'm familiar with the sac on d5 in the Sicilian, but this is the first time I've seen a sac on e6 carried out. In fact, there is so much attacking violence in this game, I bet it earns a place in Sicilian history, it is that good.

Here is a link to IM John Watson's annotation.

This game definitely deserves attention

Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: Holy Batman... What a game!
Mar-14-06  Knight13: Only 8 points difference and look at this game!!!
Mar-23-06  aragorn69: And Kavalek's commentary of this rout (if Christiansen attacking strength is famous, Wojtkiewicz is not known for his great defensive skills...) :
May-14-06  hayton3: A very violent game - Black's rooks are still slumbering in the barracks - helpless spectators to the massacre.
Jul-26-06  crwynn: <I'm familiar with the sac on d5 in the Sicilian, but this is the first time I've seen a sac on e6 carried out. In fact, there is so much attacking violence in this game, I bet it earns a place in Sicilian history, it is that good.>

Sacs on e6 are common in the Sicilian, especially Fischer-Sozin. Why else would anyone put the bishop on c4? If Black spends too much time fiddling around in this variation, capturing on e6 is a standard way of punishing him.

Jul-26-06  sahmattr: In his book "Storming the Barricades", Christiansen tells he was deeply influenced by Alekhine who is famous with his sacrifices. I think this game shows this influence. It is a real masterpiece.
Jul-20-08  NewLine: This game makes me feel uncomfortable with the sicilian. It looks so fragile!
Jul-20-08  zev22407: The "sac" on e6 is well known ,
Stean-Browne 1974
Keres-Sajtar 1954
Tal-Polugayevsky 1959
Velimirovic-Parma 1963
Robatch-Tal 1960
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: Wonderful stuff. There are two star moves here for me. 13. Bxe6 nets two pawns for the bishop plus ownership of the killer square e6. Once a knight is installed on e6, black is prevented from castling and white can have some fun.

But I also liked 14. f4, which clears the black knight away from e5. Now when our knight arrives at e6 we can support it with Rhe1. This trick of delaying "obvious" recaptures is one of the hardest for mortals to master.

One of the traits of Kasparov's chess is that his rooks tend to get to good squares before his opponent's. And it is the same here.

Jul-20-08  birobidjan: Great bishop sacrifice !!
Jul-20-08  ChessWhiz2: I have the same game in a maganzine I got 2 years ago. It was AWESOME!!!!!
Jul-20-08  Bobsterman3000: 12...dxe5 has got to be better than the text move.

Jul-20-08  Resignation Trap: My avatar and I really enjoyed this game!
Jul-20-08  Marmot PFL: Larry C. loves these kind of tactics. I played a few similar games vs. the Sicilian, but too often against strong players it seemed that black was well prepared for them and the attacks just failed. So I switched to more positional play, especially against younger players who are likely stronger in tactics than strategy. I don't know exactly where black went wrong here, but that Bxe6 sac after Nbd7 is as old as the hills.
Jul-20-08  najdorfman: Chess fans:

I witnessed this game live in San Diego. I knew Wojtkiewicz well and I own the last chess trophy that he won at the 2006 National Open. I've known Christiansen for decades. This may sound like bragging. I state these facts in order to fend off the criticisms that the following chess analysis may provoke. I analyzed this game with both Larry and Alex.

Is 12...fxe5 really an improvement for Black as Bobsterman3000 asserts? The evidence is mixed. After 12...fxe5 13.Bxe6 fxe6 14. Nxe6 Qc6 15. Nxg7+ Kf7 16. Nf5 with three continuations: A) 16...Bf8 17. Rhe1 (17. Bxf6 is better.) 17...Re8 as in Saric-Cheparinov, European Ind. Ch. 2007. See the Chessgames database. B) 16...Rag8 17. Nxe7 Kxe7 18. f4= Stocek-Dydyshko, Pilsen 2002. This game is mentioned in Kavalek's Washington Post analysis and is in the CG darabase. C) The first two games may be moot if Fritz is correct in indicating that simply 16...Qxg2(!) leads to a big advantage for Black.

BUT, since Christiansen allowed Wojt the option of playing the above line, AND Wojtkiewicz REJECTED it, things are probably not so simple!

As the game went, Black can improve on move 14: A) 14... Kf7 15. fxe5 dxe5 16. Nxe6 Kxe6 17. Qh3+ Kf7 18. Bxf6 gxf6 19. Rd7 was quickly drawn by perpetual check in Nisipeanu-Karjakin, Aerosvit 2006, a game played by STRONG grandmasters AFTER the Christ-Wojt game. Or B) 14...Bc8 15. fxe5 dxe5 16. Rhel O-O as in Doghri-Bluvshtein, Olympiad 2006, with equality. Somewhat weaker players, but also a game played after the Ch-Wo game.

Wojt himself told me that 15...Qc8 would have been better than his 15...Qd7. Larry agreed but asserted that he still would have retained good attacking chances.

Another improvement for Black was offerred by Kavalek (on move 16). Kavalek rightfully queries 16...Kf7 and gives 16...b4 17. Bxf6 gxf6 18. Nd5 Bxd5 19. Rxd5 Rc8 and states " is not clear how white can continue his attack." Indeed, according to Fritz, white's only try for EVEN EQUALITY is then 20. Qb3 Qc6 21. Ng7+ when 21..Kf8 is and 21...Kd8 22. Nf5 Qc4 is also .

Lastly Larry made about three decisions when preparing for this game. A) to play 1. e4; B) Which sixth move to play against the Najdorf; C) Should I play 11. e5!? He told me that the entire sequence from 11. e5 up to his 22nd move, was determined by his silicon assistant. His 22. Nge4+ is not as strong as 22. Re7!, but by then White is totalling winning and has at least FIVE good moves.

It was a very nice game by Larry but hardly an extraordinary example of Larry's "genius" or tactical prowess. He openly gave the credit to the computer at the time his homework was performed at the chess encounter with Wojtkiewicz.

Jul-20-08  JohnBoy: So <najdorfman> - we may know one another. I was a SoCal junior a couple of years younger than Larry. Do you know Matt Beelby or James Thinnsen?
Jul-20-08  najdorfman: JohnBoy:

I've spoken to Thinnsen on several occasions. I'm not certain about Beelby, although I am familiar with the name. I've never lived in California but I have visited it often.

I was born in Wash. D.C. and grew up in Chicago. I've lived in New England (Mass. and Conn.) at various times. Also I've lived in D.C. and Virginia intermittently. From 1982-2004 I lived in Las Vegas. I'm stuck there/here now trying to sell my house. What an effin drag that is! (Fischer once said that chess is "timing". In large measure, so is selling a house.)

I'm fifty-eight. John Nunn gave me the nick-name "Najdorfman". I know hundreds of chess players all over the world.

If you are trying to identify me I hope that this information is useful to you.

I cannot tell who you are from the very limited info in your posting. Sorry!

Be well and take care....

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Funny I saw the words "Sicilian"and "violent" while skimming the comments-Is there any relation between the two? lol
Jul-21-08  najdorfman: I just spotted another typo in one of my posts.
When I wrote "12...fxe5" I meant 12...dxe5. Sorry about that....
Jul-21-08  Bobsterman3000: <najdorfman> nice analysis, thanks...
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: <Once>But I also liked 14. f4, which clears the black knight away from e5. Now when our knight arrives at e6 we can support it with Rhe1. This trick of delaying "obvious" recaptures is one of the hardest for mortals to master.

I agree with you about how hard it is to not automatically recapture, but instead taking the time to find a better intermediate move. I think this is one area that separates the good players from the "amateurs".

Sep-11-10  sevenseaman: Its like a hungry, famished man getting a square meal. Christiansen's play is totally satisfying, and lucid.
May-04-13  znsprdx: Could 12...Ne4 be worth exploring?

12.....Ne4 13.NxNe4 BxNe4 now I'm not convinced the sac works 14. Bxe6 BxBg5+ 15.QxBg5 fxBe6 Now 16.Nxe6 is not playable :)

So then if Qxg7 maybe 0-0-0 is good enough 17.exd6 Qxd6 18.R[h]e1 R[h]g8 with a lively game

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