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Vladimir Akopian vs Yuriy Kuzubov
5th Gibraltar Chess Festival (2007), Catalan Bay ENG, rd 9, Feb-01
Sicilian Defense: Nezhmetdinov-Rossolimo Attack. Fianchetto Variation (B31)  ·  1-0



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Given 7 times; par: 28 [what's this?]

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sac: 18.Nxc6 PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Ron: One of Akopian's wins in the Gibraltor tournament, a 23 move win against a grandmaster. Note the knight sacrifice 18. Nxc6
Feb-03-07  Petrosian63: Yep, Nxc6 won it for Akopian. He was down an hour when he played it.
Feb-03-07  shalgo: Not just any one of his wins, but a last-round victory over the player with whom he was tied for first!
Feb-11-07  dzechiel: Missed this one completely. I wanted to start with 18 Ncb5 threatening to jump into c7. I did looked at the key move for some time, but was unable to make it work for me.

Looking forward to Monday. :)

Feb-11-07  Cuellargacharna: Great puzzle for beginners like me.
Thanks for Sundays.
Feb-11-07  chessmoron: I kinda got Nxc6 but didn't know how to continue.
Feb-11-07  Archives: Missed it completely.
Feb-11-07  RandomVisitor: 18...Rxd1+ is possibly best play for Black.
Feb-11-07  Tactic101: I can't give myself credit here. Nxc6 was fairly obvious, but I couldn't see a good way to continue after Nd5. Qa5 just kills black's position by holding the king back, but it isn't that easy to see. Especially when it isn't entirely obvious that this position wins for white. This isn't as hard as some Sundays, but still pretty tough. I also look foward to Monday and a new chance to solve those puzzles. Unfortunately, my exams are coming up so I can't enjoy that much for now.
Feb-11-07  Billy Ray Valentine: I thought this was relatively tough, even for a Sunday--I didn't get it.

When analayzing the game, I kept trying to find a winning line after the hypothetical 22. Qc7+.

Definitely not something I'd try to pull off in a real game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gilmoy: Well, a game that gets picked for the Puzzles page has to be some brilliant sac :) Hence, Nxc6.

What's the theme? Clearly, it will pull Black's King up. 19 Qb5+? Kb7 no joy.

What else? Nd5, let's see. Cuts the Bishop, threatening 20 Qc4+. Oh, my, note that Black's Queen dangles on e7. So ... yes, he cannot capture! 19 ... Bxd5?? 20 exd5+ Kd7 [] (forced) 21. Qb5+ and White's QB is killing Black: 22 Qc6+ 23 Qxc7#. Similarly, 19 ... Rxd5?? 20 exd5+ 21 Qxe6 a Rook up.

And there we see the theme: double-diagonal. Note White's Bf4 rakes the black diagonal. If White had a white-square bishop to rake the long diagonal, it'd be an obvious parallel-diagonals mate, right? So without the 2nd bishop, you still have the Black king nigh-trapped on white squares. The White Queen gets up with a criss-cross theme, plus White owns c7 (twice!), so Qc7 looms -- as we've just seen.

So Black can't touch Nd5, his Queen is attacked, and his King needs *white* flight squares. Not 19 ... Qb7?? 20 Qc4+ Kd7 21 Nc7+ K(e7,c8) 22 (Q,N)xe6(#,+ Qc7 23 Qxc7#).

Ironically, 20 Qc4+? Kb7 21 Qc7+ Ka8 runs out of steam.

20 Qa6 seizes b7, and Black's King is trapped for Nb4+ Be3+ -- White still owns c7, and will own d when the Knight moves.

Taking the Knight now reduces to a King-hunt: 20 ... Bxd5 21 exd5+ (Kd7 22 Qb7#) (Kc5) Rxd5 22 Rxd5 Kxd5 and surely White will mate.

Now, Black can't save both b4 and a7. He must stop the Knight mate threat, but 21 Qxa7 creates a fresh one at Q-xb6-c7. So Black's Bishop is paralyzed in defense of b6, and the pawn thrust 22 b4 wins it.

Final cute point: After Black's hopeless 22 ... Qd7 (since White just blocked b4, and can't discover d with check), White is under no compulsion to trade -- and Black's Queen just blocked a *white* flight square. 23 Qa6 threatens 24 b5#. White's black-square Bf4 is *still* killing Black, in every line, to the end.

Morale: Bxc6, Bf4, 1-0 :)

Feb-11-07  Magic 8 Ball: 14...0-0-0? Yuri Kuzubov should have tried 0-0.
Feb-11-07  HelaNubo: Well, I picked up 18. Nd5 with the idea cxd5, 19. exd5 Ne5 20. Nxe6, or Bxd5 19. exd5 Qxe2 20 dxc6+ and then Nxe2 with a superior position. I considered 18. Nxc6, but could see no win after Rxd1+ 19. Rxd1 Qb5+ 20. Kb7; I never considered the jump in d5 *after* the sac in c6. However, still I dont see a clear win for white if black changes the rooks before taking the knight in c6. Fritz says that it is better not to accept the sacrifice. Best line for black according to Fritz: 18. Nxc6 Rxd1+! 19. Rxd1 Qc5! 20. Nd4 Bc4 with a playable game.
Feb-11-07  HelaNubo: By the way, thanks to <Gilmoy> for the nice analysis.
Feb-11-07  alshatranji: I thought first of NXc6, Qb5+, but it didn't lead anywhere. Then I thought of Nd5. Only after a few minutes did I combine the two moves into one combination. Not a very obvious puzzle.
Feb-11-07  Karel: Damm I thought it was monday, no wonder...
Feb-11-07  vlado23: Akopian also won a great game the day before: Akopian vs I Sokolov, 2007
Feb-11-07  RandomVisitor: After 18.Nxc6:

click for larger view

1. (0.73): 18...Rxd1+ 19.Rxd1 Qc5 20.Nd4 Bc4 21.Qg4 Rd8 22.Ne6 Rxd1+ 23.Nxd1 Bxe6 24.Qxe6 Ne5 25.Bxe5

2. (1.84): 18...Kxc6 19.Nd5 Qf8 20.Qc4+ Qc5 21.Nb4+ Kb7 22.Qxe6 Ne5 23.Bxe5 Qxb4 24.a3 Qxe4 25.Rd7+

Feb-11-07  redsincebirth: Pardon my ignorance as I am a chess novice, isn't 14...0-0-0 an illegal move because the black-square bishop (on f4) is pointing at the path of castling? I remember playing against my chess computer and similar (but not identical) moves to this are prohibited. Please advise...
Feb-11-07  euripides: <red> the king mustn't cross an attacked square during castling but the rook may. You're in good company: Korchnoi vs Karpov, 1974
Feb-11-07  laskereshevsky: i got easy the first 2 moves, but after,.........the darkness.............

Thanks to god, tomorrow is Monday.......

Feb-11-07  Fisheremon: <RandomVisitor: After 18.Nxc6: (24-ply)Rybka 1. (0.73): 18...Rxd1+ 19.Rxd1 Qc5 20.Nd4 Bc4 21.Qg4 Rd8 22.Ne6 Rxd1+ 23.Nxd1 Bxe6 24.Qxe6 Ne5 25.Bxe5> 25.Qd5+ is better with next b3-c4 for the endgame.
Feb-11-07  vesivialvy93: ...Nxc6 was the only move and easy to see but i first saw Qb5+ to make my choice with Nxe6 first ! ...sometimes a good solution come with wrongs ideas...but it was tough i missed it after Nxc6...funny this one !
Feb-11-07  vesivialvy93: <randomvisitor>with your analyses Rybka show that the Q should stay in the a3-f8 diag and the move 19...Qe8 looks very bad after analyses ...but why 18...Qc5 first before rooks exchange doesn't work here ? (i refer your best Rybka line 18...Rxd1 19.Rxd1 Qc5 ...ect...)
Feb-11-07  WickedPawn: I saw this game right after it was played earlier this year so I already knew the winning combination. However, the most beautiful move in my opinion is 20. Qa6 and the fact of playing 22. b4!. If it were one of my own games, I would have checked black's King immediately with 22. Qc7+.
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