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Veselin Topalov vs Vassily Ivanchuk
"Over the Top" (game of the day Jul-14-2016)
Linares (1999), Linares ESP, rd 13, Mar-09
Zukertort Opening: Sicilian Invitation (A04)  ·  0-1



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Given 45 times; par: 29 [what's this?]

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sac: 18...Nxe2 PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Ivanchuk avoided mainline theory by delaying ...Nf6. 9 bxc?! was new; 9 Nxc3 had been played in Lerner-Khuzman Kuibyshov 1986 which had continued 9..d4 10 b4..Nxb4 11 axb..Qxa1 12 Nb5..Nf6 with a complicated game(12..Kf8!? was a computer suggestion which might have been Topalov's concern). Sacrificing a pawn with 11 0-0 might be an improvement as after 11 Qb3!? White's queen was exposed. Topalov was prepared to answer 14..Rfd8 with 15 Nxb7 and may have not anticipated 14..e4! gaining time and opening lines. The alternative 22 Qc5 would not have helped White after 22..Bd5. This game was awarded the brilliancy prize for the tournament.
Jan-07-14  GumboGambit: Quite a battle between a pair of Nuclear Vessels
Jan-31-15  rodantero: After 14...e4 black is winning already.
Aug-01-15  yurikvelo:

this game multiPV

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Hmm, white is up a pawn.

I completely missed this puzzle, but that's because I simply treated it as an OTB game, and not a game where I have to find some crazy solution.

If this position were to appear OTB, I'd get rid of the bishop pair and get my rooks active. Ex. 18...Nb3 19.Rb1 Nxc1 20.Qxc1 Rc8 22.Rb4 Bd5 23.Bxd5 Qxd5, you know, those types of moves.

Sep-26-15  diagonalley: the final attack is simply stratospheric... sadly <diagonalley> is on terra firma :-(
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: Classic Spielmann--oops, er, I mean, Ivanchuk at his best. What made this puzzle esp. difficult consists of the fact that Black has a lot of not-bad moves such as 18...Bh3 at his disposal. But after asking oneself "What would Rudolf have done?" the solution becomes both clear and unclear. Clear in that the first two moves are easy to see. Unclear in that this had to have been a speculative sacrifice and you have to trust yourself to find the right moves until the end.
Sep-26-15  INFINIT8: I saw the knight sacrifice immediately and only debated to myself whether to go ahead or use Bd5 for some kind of leverage. I chose using the knight because it kicks away your enemy's shield so to say and brings him in closer for the kill.
Sep-26-15  greenfield67: The funny thing is, many players of moderate strength would play 18...Nxe2. Lots of weaknesses for White, good chances to grab the bishop back through a pin on the e file; this type of attack generally works out well in practice. But to see the move as a possible variation after the pawn sac, and to actually calculate it to a win - now that's a hell of a thing...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: It is indeed one hell of a thing. But do we know that Ivanchuk calculated this out to a win?

18...Nxe2 is one of those moves that we can play on general principles. Black has sacrificed a pawn in return for better development. He needs to take advantage of that better development before white catches up, castles, develops his Bc1 and gets his rooks into play.

Fearsome calculation or excellent judgement or a bit of both? Either way, it's impressive but I don't think we should assume that Chuky worked it all out to the end.

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

White is about to castle, assuming it still is legal (<> I think the web page should give a hint about the respective castling options, at least whenever pertinent).

The first idea that comes to mind is 18... Nxe2, exposing the white king:

A) 19.Kxe2 Qh5+

A.1) 20.Bf3 Bc4+ looks disastrous for White.

A.2) 20.f3 f5 with a strong attack. For example, 21.Bxb7 Bc4+ 22.Kf2 Rfe8 23.Be3 f4 24.gxf4 Qh4+ 25.Kg2 Rxe3.

A.3) 20.Kf1 Rd1+ 21.Kg2 Bh3#.

A.4) 20.Kd1 Q(R)d1#.

A.5) 20.Ke3 Rfe8 looks very bad for White.

B) 19.Qb4 Nxc6 20.Bf3 (20.Qxa5 Rd8#; 20.O-O Qxb4 21.axb4 Nxe4 22.Re1 Bd5 wins a bishop) 20...

C) 19.Qxe2 Qxc3+ wins decisive material.

D) 19.Bg5 Qxg5 followed by Rfe8 looks very good for Black.

I can't dedicate more time to this puzzle today.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <agb2002) That's an interesting point. I always assume that puzzles work on the basis of castling being allowed unless it is clear that is impossible. Presumably CG has no easy way of saying whether castling is allowed or not so they avoid positions where it would be ambiguous?

On a sidenote, I suspect that CG has many games/ positions that it would like to feature as a POTD, but which they can't use for some reason - for example because there is more than one winning move or because castling rights are unclear.

Sep-26-15  patzer2: Here's my look at the game and the Saturday puzzle (18...?) with the Opening Explorer (OE) and Deep Fritz 14:

<1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 e6 5. g3 Bb4+> Here I like 5... Qb6 = as in Ivanchuk vs Grischuk, 2011 or Karjakin vs Grischuk, 2014..

<6. Nc3 Qa5 7. Ndb5 d5 8. a3> Here Fritz prefers 8. Bf4 when play might continue 8...e5 9. Bd2 d4 (Not 9... dxc4? which allows 10. a3! Bxc3 11. Nd6+ Kf8 12. Bxc3 and improves over 9...dxc4? 10. Nd5 = as in T Engqvist vs T Wedberg, 2001) 10. Nd5 Bxd2+ 11. Qxd2 Qxd2+ 12. Kxd2 Kf8 13. Bg2 =.

<8... Bxc3+ 9. bxc3 Nf6 10. Bg2?!> This move concedes the advantage to Black, and this is the only game in which it was played in the OE.

Stronger is 10. Nd6+! when play might continue 10...Ke7 11. cxd5 Nxd5 12. Bd2 Nb6 13. c4 Qe5 14. Bf4 Qc3+ 15. Bd2 Qe5 16. Bf4 Qc3+ 17. Bd2 Qe5 = with a draw by repetition.

<10... O-O 11. Qb3 dxc4 12. Qxc4 e5 13. Nd6 Be6 14. Qd3 e4 15. Nxe4 Nxe4 16. Bxe4 Rad8 17. Qc2 Nd4 18. Qb2 Nxe2!!> This strong move solves today's Saturday puzzle.

<19. Kxe2 Rfe8!> This appears to be the strongest winning follow-up.

However, Black can also win with 19... Bc4+ when play might continue 20. Kf3 Rde8! 21. Re1 (21. Bxb7? Bd5+ 22. Kg4 Rb8 ; 21. Be3 Rxe4 22. Kxe4? f5+ 23. Kf4 Qc7+ 24. Kf3 Qc6+ 25. Kf4 Qe4+ 26. Kg5 Qg4#) 21... Rxe4 22. Rxe4 (22. Kxe4 Re8+ ) 22... Qd5 23. Qd2 Bd3 24. g4 Qxe4+ 25. Kg3 Be2 26. Qf4 Qh1 27. Ra2 Qg1+ 28. Kh3 f5 29. Rxe2 Qf1+ 30. Kg3 Qxe2 (-2.95 @ 23 depth).

<20. Qb4> This makes the win a bit easier for Black.

Though it still loses to strong play, White can put up more resistance with 20. f3 f5 21. Bxb7 Bc4+ when play might continue 22. Kf2 Re2+ 23. Qxe2 Bxe2 24. Rb1 (24. Kxe2? Qxc3! ; 24. Be3 Bd3 25. Rhd1 Qc7 26. Ba8 Qc4 27. Bb7 Rd7 ) 24... Qxc3 25. Bf4 Bd3 26. Rhc1 Qxa3 27. Rd1 a5 28. Rb5 Rd7 29. Rd5 Qb2+ 30. Rd2 Qxb7 31. R5xd3 Rxd3 32. Rxd3 a4 (-4.09 @ 21 depth).

<20... Qh5+ 21. f3> If 21. Bf3 then 21...Bc4#.

<21... f5 22. g4 Qh3 23. gxf5 Bxf5 24. Qc4+ Kh8 25. Re1 Rxe4+ 0-1>

White resigns in lieu of 26. fxe4 (26. Qxe4 Bxe4 ; 26. Kf2 Qxh2+ 27. Kf1 Bh3#) 26... Bg4+ 27. Kf2 Qxh2+ 28. Ke3 Qg3#.

P.S. My Saturday solution was 18...Nxe2!! 19. Kxe2 Bc4+ , but I missed much of the Fritz follow-up to 19...Bc4+.

Sep-26-15  wooden nickel: <agb2002: ... White is about to castle, assuming it still is legal (<> I think the web page should give a hint about the respective castling options, at least whenever pertinent).> I agree, although it might be awkward to illustrate... we certainly don't want to peek at the game ahead of time and risk spoiling the puzzle! ... didn't get spoiled today, I enjoyed the text move, also when White doesn't accept, it's a bit tricky.
Sep-26-15  morfishine: Ivan chucks a piece for a winning attack
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Black sacrificed a piece to expose white's king...and the attack followed.
Sep-26-15  houtenton: <agb2002><once> in these cases I open the game before I try to solve the problem, wait one second until the position appears with sufficient self-discipline not to look downwards. (adjust your pc-screen so that only the chessboard and the rule under it are visible now, if necessary). Remember the number of the move, go back to the beginning (<<) and follow the game until the critical move. Now you know if you can still castling, what was the previous move and other advantages. Is this an idea or am I underestimating you?
Sep-26-15  morfishine: <Once> I have to disagree with this statement: <...Either way, it's impressive but I don't think we should assume that Chuky worked it all out to the end> Of course he did. Seirawan once claimed he saw 29-moves ahead; here, its a mere 8-moves. I can even see that far, depending on how many beers I've had :)


Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: My move was 18...f5, but I could not do anything with it.

I tried 18...Nxe2, but I could not find a way to break through after 19 Bd2.

click for larger view

Sep-26-15  Rookiepawn: <Jimfromprovidence: My move was 18...f5, but I could not do anything with it. I tried 18...Nxe2, but I could not find a way to break through after 19 Bd2.>

Thought the same, but what about 18... Nxe2 19. Bd2 Qe5. Not that I calculated long variants, but after 20. f3 Nxg3 Black gets two pawns for the N and White's position is anything but easy. Besides, against other moves the threat f5 is always there.

After 19 Bd2 Qe5 I'd rather play the Black side anytime. That's why I think White needs to take the N and cling to material otherwise imho it is clearly inferior.

Jul-14-16  Bravehorse: Seems like after 19. Bd2, black can just simply cling onto the knight with 19... Bc4. The simple threat of Re8 is invincible.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: White's exposed king is about to be rounded up by black's forces.
Jul-14-16  ajile: <patzer2: <8... Bxc3+ 9. bxc3 Nf6 10. Bg2?!> This move concedes the advantage to Black, and this is the only game in which it was played in the OE.

Stronger is 10.Nd6+!>

I was also puzzled when White didn't play this move <10.Nd6+> which misplaces Black's king.

Jul-14-16  psmith: <Jimfromprovidence> Stockfish gives the cool move 19. Bd2 Qe5!
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Nice one!
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