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Nikola Mitkov vs Sergei Rublevsky
European Club Cup (2000), Neum BIH, rd 1, Sep-24
Sicilian Defense: Kan. Knight Variation (B43)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-11-09  Patriot: White to play: "Insane"

Material is even. Several candidates come to mind: Rxg7, Nxe6, fxe6. I will sample each one to see if they lead to something positive.

[Rxg7: Critical variations (CV's) are Kxg7 and Bxd4]


A) 18...Kxg7 19.Bh6+ Kh8 (19...Kg8 20.Qg5+ Kh8 21.Qg7#) 20.Bxf8 Bxd4

Rxg7 fails

[Nxe6: CV's are fxe6 and Bxe6]


A) 18...fxe6 19.Bxc5 dxc5 20.fxe6 Bxe6 21.e5 c4 22.exf6 cxd3 23.fxg7+

B) 18...Bxe6 19.Bxc5 dxc5 20.fxe6 (threatening 21.e5) h6 21.exf7 wins at least a pawn.

[fxe6: CV's include Bxd4, fxe6, Bxe6]


A) 18...Bxd4 19.Bxd4 fxe6 20.e5 dxe5 21.Bxe5 h6 may be holding.

No need to look further.

Conclusion: 18.Nxe6 is best. Let's see if I'm even close.

Jan-11-09  Amarande: Note, by the way, that if Black declines the last sacrifice and tries to run (24 ... Kf8), there is 25 fxe7+ Ke8 26 Qxh7, and Black is *still* helpless against mate!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: I liked 20 Rxf7 instead of the text 20 Rxg8+ as well.

click for larger view

This move freezes black's queen, which must stay put to protect the threat Qxf6+, with mate next move.

Now, after the forced 20...Rg7 followed by 21 Rxg7 Kxg7, I preferred the more prosaic 22 Qg3+. Now, after the forced 22...Kh8, then 23 Qxe5, attacking the bishop and pinning the knight.

click for larger view

Now, if black tries to protect the bishop with 23…Qe7, 24 Ne4 wins a piece.

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: <Manic: 20...Qxg8 21.Qxf6+ Qg7 22.Qxg7+ Kxg7 23.Nxe6+ fxe6 24.f6+ [a nice touch!] Kxf6 25.Bxc5 and white's material advantage and better pawns should decide.> Thanks, I guess that's the answer.

Well, a win is a win, but this is less emphatic than the game actually played.

For Mitkov to have foreseen this along with everything else beggars belief.

Jan-11-09  Patriot: Oops! Material is NOT even! Somehow I overlooked the fact that white is down the exchange. As usual, these are way over my head.
Jan-11-09  patzer2: Anyone care to venture some analysis to determine whether the sacrifice 15. Rf3!? is sound.

It appears to me Black might survive after 15. Rf3!? Nxf3 16. gxf3 Qd8!? 17. Rg1 Ne8 18. Bg5 f6 = to to unclear. However, the complications leave me unsure as to who has the advantage after 15. Rf3!?

Jan-11-09  patzer2: In playing 15. Rf3!? it's almost like Black said, "Hey, I'll trade you a Rook for an open g-file for a King-side attack and we'll see if you can survive." To which Black replied, "Sure I'll take you up on it. Let's see what you've got there."

In this game, White got the better part of this bargain. But with "best play" was it a bluff or a sound sacrifice?

Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: White would make progress in his attack if it was possible to unblock the LSB and provoke some weaknesses in the dark squares around the black castle to exploit them with the DSB and the queen. Therefore, 18.e5:

A) 18... dxe5 19.Rxg7

A.1) 19... exd4 20.Rxh7+ Nxh7 (20... Kg8 21.Rh8+ Kg7 22.Qh6#) 21.f6 and 22.Qxh7#.

A.2) 19... Kxg7 20.Bh6+ Kh8 (20... Kg8 21.Qg5+ Kh8 22.Qg7#) 21.Bg5

A.2.a) 21... B(e)xd4 22.Bxf6+ Qxf6 23.Qxf6+ Kg8 24.Qg5+ Kh8 25.f6 Rg8 26.Qh6 Rg6 27.Bxg6 and mate next move.

A.2.b) 21... Kg7 22.Qh6+ Kg8 (22... Kh8 23.Bxf6+ as in A.2.a) 23.Bxf6 Qxf6 24.Qxf6 B(e)xd4 25.Qg5+ as in A.2.a).

A.2.c) 21... Be7 22.fxe6 (threatening 23.Bxf6+ and 24.Qxh7#) 22... e4 23.Nf5 exd3 24.Nxe7 fxe6 25.Bxf6+ Rxf6 26.Qxf6#.

A.3) 19... e4 20.Nxe4 Kxg7 21.Bh6+ Kh8 22.Nxf6 Bxd4 23.Bg5 Bxf6 24.Bxf6+ Qxf6 25.Qxf6+ Kg8 26.Qg5+ Kh8 27.f6 Rg8 28.Qh6 Rg6 29.Bxg6 winning.

A.4) 19... exf5 20.Bg5

A.4.a) 20... Kxg7 21.Nxf5+ Bxf5 22.Qh6+ Kg8 23.Bxf5 Re8 24.Bxf6 Qxf6 25.Qxf6 with decisive advantage.

A.4.b) 20... Be7 21.Nxf5 Bxf5 22.Rxh7+ Nxh7 23.Bxf5 winning.

A.5) 20... Rg8 21.Rxh7+ Nxh7 22.f6 Rg7 23.fxg7+ Kxg7 24.Qxh7+ Kf8 (24... Kf6 25.Qh6+ Ke7 26.Bg5+) 25.Qh8+ Ke7 26.Bg5+ winning.

B) 18... Ng8 19.f6 g6 20.Bh6 Nxh6 21.Qxh6 Rg8 22.Rg4 threatening Qxh7+ and Rh4.

C) 18... Ne8 19.f6 g6 20.Qh6 Rg8 21.Rg4.

D) 18... Bxd4 19.Bxd4 dxe5 20.Bxe5 threatening fxe6.

I think that’s enough. Let’s see.

Jan-11-09  GreenArrow: <Patzer2> Like I said, I think 15.Rf3 might be seriously questioned by 15...exf5. After black takes this rook the game is virtually over.
Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: Sunday (Insane):

N Mitkov vs Rublevsky, 2000 (18.?)

White to play and win.

Material: B for R. The Black Kh8 has 1 legal move. The White Qh4 pins Ph7 to Kh8. The White Rg1 has a semi-open file and attacks Pg7. The White Bd3 is on the same diagonal as Ph7, with the White Pe4 and Pf5 obscuring it. The White Be3 is free to approach the Black K-position through g5 or h6. The White Nc3 and Nd4 are centralized but require activation. The White Kh1 is secure, although the disappearance of Pf3 and Pe4 would then require a watchful eye.

Candidates (18.): Rxg7, fxe6, Qg5, Bg5, e5

18.e5 (threatening 18.exf6 or 18.f6, then 19.Qxh7# or eventually Qg7#)

Black cannot move Nf6, because of 19.Bg5 (threatening 20.Bxd8 or 20.fxe6 21.Qh7#).

18…dxe5 [Bxd4 19.Bxd4 surrendering the a1-h8 diagonal is a recipe for disaster]

The Black Bc5 is now loose and subject to discovered attack, but the aim of the attack is h7.

<[Here I went for the main variation 19.fxe6 fxe6 20.Bg5, but at 15 plies (shallow analysis for the complexity of the position) Toga II 1.3.1 thinks 20…Rf7 leads to a draw.]>

Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: My line A.5) is a series of mistakes: from numbering to the blunder Rxh7+: After 20.Rxh7+ Nxh7 21.f6 Black simply plays 21... Rg6 (not 21... Rg7 as I hallucinated) and White is probably lost.
Jan-11-09  karoaper: This was probably one of the more doable insanes, but I was too lazy to think.
Jan-11-09  wals: Nikola Mitkov - Sergei Rublevsky, EUCup 16th Neum 2000

Analysis by Rybka 3 1-cpu 32-bit: FROM 15.RF3 tIME 78 MIN 11SEC

1. (-1.14): 15...Nxf3 16.gxf3[] Qd8 17.e5 dxe5 18.Nxe6 fxe6 19.Bxc5 exf5 20.Rd1 Qc7 21.Bxf8 Kxf8 22.Qb4+ Kg8[] 23.Qc4+ Qxc4 24.Bxc4+ Kf8[] 25.Kg2 Bc6 26.Kf2 Ke7 27.Re1 Kd6

2. (-0.98): 15...exf5 16.Rg1 Ng6 17.Qf2 f4 18.Bxf4 Qb6 19.Be3 Qxb2 20.Nce2 Ne8 21.Rd1 Rc8 22.Qf1 Rc7 23.Rb1 Qa3 24.Nf5

(, 12.01.2009)

Jan-11-09  patzer2: <Wals> Thanks for the Rybka 3 analysis of 15. Rf3!? If this is close to best play, then it appears the sacrifice was a bluff.

Even so, it might be a fun try in skittles or blitz.

Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: < <patzer2> wrote: In playing 15. Rf3!? [snip] with "best play" was it a bluff or a sound sacrifice? >

Toga II 1.3.1 evaluates 15.Rf3 as a sound draw. Humans can improve on the full computer variation, given with the last move I entered <emphasized>:

<ply 20/79 time 2:48:24 value 0.00]

15.Rf3 Nxf3 16.<gxf3> Qd8 17.Rg1 g6 18.b4 Bxd4 19.Bxd4 Kg7 20.f4 Bb5 21.Ne2 Bxd3 22.cxd3 Re8 23.Ng3 e5 24.fxg6 fxg6 25.Nf5+ Kf7 26.Nh6+ Kg7 27.Nf5+

Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: < <agb2002> wrote: My line A.5) is a series of mistakes: [snip] >

I wish I could make mistakes half as well as you, Antonio ;>)

Jan-11-09  Eduardo Leon: What a shame. I didn't do it, being able to do it.

I knew both e5 and Rxg7 had to be played. My ideas were:

a) Rxg7 opens the position, white would like to play 18. Rxg7 Kxg7 19. Qh6+ and 20. Bg5, but then 20. ... Bxd4 captures a knight AND defends his own knight at f6.

b) If, after 18. e5, black replies 18. ... dxe5, then the variation from a) would follow, but black would not be able to play 21. ... Bxd4, instead having to retreat with 21. ... Be7.

And then I saw a tree of variations coming and didn't want to analyze more, because I'm too lazy.

Jan-11-09  muralman: Not insane. However, I do better as they get harder. This was basically understanding your weapons, and pulling the trigger on them in the right sequence.

First, I had to knock the teeth out of black's pawn defense around the king. No other move seemed more important. Using the rook was a natural. When black responded with moving his rook to trade, naturally I traded.

I knew I wanted to get the night out of the way. The hardest part was what to do on move 22. I needed to move the black night. Rushing ahead with taking it out with my bishop proved to be hazardous, as did the premature as did attacking with f 5.

Really out of not knowing what else to do, I decided to try a double attack with my night. When the black knight moved, I figured black could have done something else. I took the gift.

The next thing was to ditch the knight and the pawn blocking the bishop. Pushing the pawn attacking the bishop worked for me. Though throwing the night away seemed unprofessional, it seemed a no brainer to make the bishop queen tag.

Yes, my wife had to put up with my whoop and hollar with every move I made, starting with the rook. It gives me great satisfaction working my mind on puzzles deemed insane by great chess players and getting it.

What a blast!

Jan-11-09  patzer2: <johnlspouge> Thanks for the deep Toga II analysis of 15. Rf3!? at 20-ply. I feel my initial perception of this sacrifice as extremely deep, complex and unclear is somewhat justified by your computer analysis of the position as a "sound draw."

I'm still not sure what the elusive "perfect play" might yield here. However, it would appear 15. Rf3!? could be worth a try for a well prepared player -- especially as an OTB surprise against an unwary opponent.

Jan-13-09  Crocomule: Thanks Alpenbock and Miron!
Mar-15-09  WhiteRook48: the Mitkov 2000
Apr-01-12  theodor: <<RandomVisitor:> 18.Rxg7 Kxg7 19.e5 Rg8 20.fxe6! and black is finished.> 19.Qh6 is beter
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sastre: After 18.Rxg7 Kxg7 19.Qh6+, Black has 19...Kh8 20.Bg5 Ng8 .
Sep-23-15  ToTheDeath: Great game, Rublevsky is usually on the winning end of attacks like these.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Perhaps Black should consider delaying committing his king by playing 12..Bd7 instead of 12..0-0. The exchange sacrifice 15 Rf3 had been played after after 14..b5 in previous games but in this specific position after 14..Bd7 15 Rf3 was a new idea. Rublevsky accepted the sacrifice with 15..Nxf3?! which led to a difficult position for Black; Nunn recommended 15..exf 16 exf (16 Nxf5..Bxf5 17 Rxf5..Bxe3 18 Rxf6..gxf 19 Nd5..Bg5 20 Qg3..Qd8 21 h4..Kh8 and Black can defend).
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