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Alexander Baburin vs Anthony Miles
4NCL (2000), Birmingham ENG, rd 2, Sep-24
Formation: Hippopotamus (A00)  ·  0-1



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sac: 27...Rxh3 PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Apprently this was one of Miles' last games before his untimely death, and posthumously won him the "Game of the Season" award.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Since when is this a game from the Aleksandrov-Oral match, as the chessgames caption indicates?? Last I heard, Miles and Baburin were considered different players from Aleksandrov and Oral.
Nov-24-11  SoundWave: <FSR:> In 'Secrets of Positional Chess' published by Gambit this game is listed as having been playing during the British League 4NCL.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: 3..g6 was a move that originated with Kengis and that was played by Miles on several occasions. 7..d6 was a new move; 7..0-0 had been played in Astrom-Sandler Erevan Olympiad 1996 (not included in this database). Baburin's 10 h3 has not been repeated; 10 Be3 has been played and 10 h4 has been suggested as an alternative. Both players thought that 14 Bf1 would have been an improvement over Baburin's 14 Bc2?!. 20 Nxb6?! was, at best, extremely risky. 25 exd?..Rxd3 26 Qxd3..Bf5 would have cost White material but after 25 cxd Black had a very favorable Benoni formation. 27 Bc2 allowed the pretty rook sacrifice 27..Rxh3 but the alternative 27 f3..Bd4+ 28 Kh1..Qh4 would also have been very strong for Black.

<Jonathan Sarfati: Apprently this was one of Miles' last games before his untimely death,>

Actually, no - this game was played in September 2000 14 months before his death

Oct-27-22  Brenin: Another POTD where a K is isolated from his bodyguard, and a R sac opens up his position. 27... Rxh3 28 gxh3 and then the quiet but deadly 28 ... Kh8, allowing 30 ... Rg8, with Bxh3, Qh4 and f3 all up Black's sleeve.
Oct-27-22  jrredfield: I haven't taken a lot of time with this POTD so far today since there are many lines that look promising for Black. It appears that 27 ... Rxh3 is the key to free up the g file and leave an isolated pawn on h3 which the Black Q can attack and eventually move its back-rank rook over leaving the White K quite vulnerable. However, I also looked at 27 ... Bxh3, 27 ... Qg6 and a few others. It looks like Black has many winning options. White has too many under-developed pieces and has no threats aimed at the Black K.
Oct-27-22  Brenin: After 27 ... Rxh3 28 gxh3 Black has a choice of follow-up moves in addition to Miles's Kh8. Perhaps 28 ... f3 is the most decisive, preventing any defensive plans such as White's f3 or escape via Kf1.
Oct-27-22  mel gibson: I saw that straight away - it was easy today.

Stockfish 15 says:

27... Rxh3

(27. .. Rxh3 (♖b3xh3 ♕d2-c3 f4-f3 ♕c3xf3 ♖h3xf3 ♖e1-e3 ♖f3xe3 ♘d1xe3 ♕f6-h4 ♗c2-d3 ♗d7-b5 ♗d3xb5 ♕h4-h2+ ♔g1-f1 ♕h2-h1+ ♔f1-e2 ♕h1xb1 a3-a4 ♕b1xb2+ ♔e2-f3 ♕b2-d2 g2-g4 ♕d2-e1 ♔f3-g2 ♔g8-h7 ♔g2-f3 ♕e1-h1+ ♔f3-e2 ♕h1xe4 ♔e2-f1 ♕e4-f3 ♔f1-e1 ♔h7-h8 g4-g5 h6xg5 ♘e3-d1 ♔h8-g8 ♔e1-d2 c5-c4 ♗b5xc4 ♗e5-f4+ ♔d2-c2 ♕f3-e4+ ♔c2-c3 ♔g8-h8 ♗c4-b3 ♕e4-f3+ ♘d1-e3) +17.69/31 499)

score for Black +17.69 depth 31.

However if White takes the Rook as per the game:

28. gxh3 f3

(28. .. f3 (f4-f3 ♔g1-h1 ♕f6-h4
♖e1-g1+ ♔g8-h8 ♖g1-g3 ♗d7xh3 ♕d2xh6+ ♕h4xh6 ♔h1-g1 ♖b8-g8 ♘d1-e3 ♖g8xg3+ f2xg3 ♕h6xe3+ ♔g1-h1 ♗h3-g2+ ♔h1-h2 ♕e3-h6+ ♔h2-g1 ♗e5-d4+) +M11/78 55)

Black wins - it's mate in 11.

Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: 28...Kh8 serves a double purpose. It prevents white from pinning the ♕ against the ♔ and makes way for the ♖ to seize the g-file.

If 30. Kh2, then 30...Qh4 31. Nf2 Bxh3 32. Nxh3 Qg3+ 33. Kh1 Qxh3+ 34. Qh2 Qxf3+.

After 30. Kf2 black wins the ♕: 30...Qh4+ 31. Ke2 Rg2+ 32. Kd3 c4+ 33. Kxc4 Rxd2.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Breunor: I saw 27 …. Rxh3 but after 28 gxh3, I debated between f3 and Bxh3. It looks like both win, as well as the text move.
Oct-27-22  Honey Blend: This game reminds me of an acquaintance back in middle school, who, after reading about hypermodernism from some book/source he never revealed, says he has the "ultimate hypermodern" defense against the best players in school. He was absolutely obsessed with challenging everyone with what none of us has ever called hippopotamus back then and the rest of the crowd were like, yeah sure cool gimmick, let's hit em with a Stonewall attack or open up lines or cramp him further. Although he did derive some joy from playing it early on, needless to say his win rate as black didn't live up to his expectation. I have never seen him after graduating, or knew if he still played chess after high school. I wonder if he's still trying to make the hippo work.
Oct-27-22  Mayankk: I saw the 27 ... Rxh3 sac. But after that I tried to make 28... f3 and 29 ... Qg6+ work.

The idea was to cut off the e2 escape square for the King so that mating ideas like 27 ... Rxh3 28 gxh3 f3 29 Ne3 Qg6+ 30 Kf1 Bxh3+ 31 Ng2 Qxg2# come into picture. And if 30 Kh1 then Qh4 to attack the weak h6 pawn.

Not sure if there was any merit in that line of thought.

Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: Vegetarian megafauna have only two speeds, Off and Psycho. And when that vegetarian megafauna weighs up to 1.5 tons and has teeth up to 1.5 feel long *and* can charge at 20 mph...

...yes, the Hippopotamus ranks among the most appropriate names for an opening in all of chess.

Oct-27-22  Mayankk: Black first sacrificed its b pawn, then ganged up against the opponent's weak b2 pawn on the newly opened b file, making White tie up its resources in defence on the wrong side of the board, and then seamlessly turned its attack on the real prize, the King, by Rxh3.
Oct-27-22  Brenin: Where did it all go wrong for White? After move 23 the position was fairly equal, with Black having a slight advanrtage due to pressure along the b-file, but White was holding firm. Then 24 Nd1 was a big mistake, allowing 24 ... exd5, opening up the c8-h3 diagonal for Black's LSB without giving White a dominant N on d5. After 25 cxd5 Black chose Nf4, though g4 followed by Qh4 might have been even more direct. Instead of 26 Bxf4 White could have strengthened his K-side defences with Bf1, whereas after 26 ... gxf4 the g-file was open for Black, and his Q had access to h4. Next came another mistake, 27 Bc2, when f3 or Bf1 would have been safer; in his last four moves White had removed three minor pieces from the third rank, allowing the key move 27 ... Rxh3, and the game was effectively over.
Oct-27-22  goodevans: Not a particularly good puzzle, this. All White's pieces have abandoned their K and he's ripe for the taking. It's just a matter of destroying the defensive wall of pawns in front of him.

27...Rxh3 is the most obvious way to do that but 27...Bxh3 would work in similar fashion. And once the defence is broken, as others have pointed out, there are any number of ways to win.

Oct-27-22  Chessius the Messius: No Mate Today

Found f3 within 10 secs btw also expected it should be good for mate somehow.

Oct-27-22  TheaN: Given White has so misplaced his pieces, I think a lot of moves win, and I chose the 'other' sac with <27....Bxh3!? -+>.

The point is that I felt the eventual rook lift and covering f1 if the g-pawn moved was stronger than going with the rook first. Everything loses here, but the main moves for demonstration purposes.

28.gxh3 Qg5+ 29.Kf1 (Kh1 Rxh3#; Kh2 f3+ #1) Rxh3 -+ and SF is suggesting moves like Qd3 with -12.

28.Bxb3 Qg5 was my intention, Rxb3 is stronger. This is because I missed 29.f3, I'd argue Black's still winning with ease after 29....Rxb3, but an incredible line is 29....Bd4+ 30.Kf1 Qg3 31.Ke2 Qxg2+ 32.Kd3 Qxf3+ 33.Kc2 Qxb3+ 34.Kc1 Bg4 -+:

click for larger view

No idea how we ended on the queen side, but White's still down and out as f and h are going to run.

Ignoring the sac completely doesn't really seem like an option, ie 28.f3 right away, if now 28....Bd4+ 29.Kf1 Rxf3+ -+ and it falls apart fast.

Interesting ways to finish, but a bit too many.

Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: I'm cessate view it is wrought Rxh3 abluff frazzle doh it is axiom juggle keys I unlock abattoir auld biology a Rxh3 etc...
Oct-27-22  saturn2: Found it without 28.. Kh8 which btw is not necessary. 28...f3 is enough

I preferred sacrificing the rook instead if the bishop because denying the sacrifice seemed give white less opti8ns and afterall the Rb3 is enprise.

Oct-27-22  Refused: Like TheaN I went with the other (more) obvious sac 27...Bxh3!

Miles Rxh3 is arguably quicker and cleaner.

Oct-27-22  TheaN: Interesting to see that actually arose from a Hippo, apparently one of the first times it was used seriously.

It completely goes against any basic chess principles with regards to the center and short term piece activity, for the sake of digging in and awaiting what White does.

Calling this anti-chess however, is entirely missing the point. Instead of swashbuckling directly with White, Black comes out of his shell at the opportune moment to strike. Here, Miles does so somewhat with g5 and c5, but the real strike comes after White took the obvious bait with 19.Na4?, as 19....Rb8 20.Nxb6 Bc8 ∓ is quite a bit better for Black, and it's optimizing from there.

I like the more cramped positions. I often play the Modern, and it feels like you're constantly looking for air, but it's also really treacherous for White. I've never dug into a Hippo though, as it intuitively feels wrong.

Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: Black has the bishop pair for a bishop, a knight and a pawn.

White threatens Bxb3.

The first idea that comes to mind is 27... Rxh3 to weaken the white castle:

A) 28.gxh3 f3

A.1) 29.Kh1 Qh4 30.Rg1+ Kh8 31.Rg3 Bxh3 (due to 32... Bg2+ 33.Kg1 Qa1#)

A.1.a) 32.Kg1 Bxg3 33.fxg3 Qxg3+ 34.Kh1 f2 35.Qxh6+ Kg8 36.Ne3 Rxb2 looks winning (37.Rxb2 f1=Q+ 38.Nxf1 Qg2#; 37.Rc1 Rxc2).

A.1.b) 32.Rxf3 Bg4+ 33.Kg2 Qh2+ 34.Bxf3 wins.

A.2) 29.Ne3 Kh8

A.2.a) 30.Ng4 Rg8 looks winning. For example 31.Qd3 Bxg4 32.hxg4 Rxg4+ 33.Kf1 Rg1+ 34.Kxg1 Qg6+ and mate next. Or 31.Rec1 Bxg4 32.hxg4 Rxg4+ 33.Kf1 Rg1+ 34.Kxg1 Qg6+ 35.Kf1 Qg2+ 36.Ke1 Qg1#.

A.2.b) 30.Nf1 Rg8+ 31.Ng3 Bxg3 32.fxg3 Rxg3+ should be winning.

B) 28.f3 Bd4+ 29.Kc1 Bb5+ 30.Bd3 Rh1+ 31.Ke2 Rh2 32.Rg1 c4 wins decisive (33.Bc2 c3+).

Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <keypusher: Wow, ...Rxh3 is a beauty!> Indeed! Always a joy to see Tony Miles on attack.
Oct-27-22  jes47: Rxh3 was a gimme. I followed gxh3 with Bxh3 and was happy with an easy win. Kh8 is certainly good, but a win is a win.
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