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Lilit Mkrtchian vs Valentina Golubenko
European Individual Championship (Women) (2008), Plovdiv BUL, rd 1, Apr-21
Spanish Game: Schliemann Defense (C63)  ·  1-0



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sac: 41.Qxd8+ PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Nov-16-09  Patriot: The solution didn't immediately jump out as I don't use the "It's a Monday queen sac" method for solving Monday puzzles. But the "check, capture, and threat" approach pulled me through, even though Qxd8+ didn't look immediately redeeming.

<<SufferingBruin>: 1000 rating, trying to get better. I’m not sure if I should get into Silman on a “very easy” problem.>

You did very well assessing the position and had no problem solving it.

But I hope you don't mind my humble opinion since you mentioned wanting to improve. Silman is a fantastic writer (I have 4 of his books!), but they are too advanced. I practiced his method religiously as a USCF 1300 player and I stayed at that rating without hope for improving. There were several major reasons. One is that I was always looking at imbalances (and trying to create them) but missed tactics a lot. I would either miss an opportunity to win or miss a threat because I was too focused on making my knights better than his bishops, for example. The other major reason is that I lacked a better thought process. Most positions do not require Silman's thinking techniques, so when my opponent made their move I wasn't asking basic questions like "Is his move safe?" and "How does his move change the position? What is he threatening?"

I think you'll find that practicing simple tactics over and over, as well as learning a good thought process will give you more mileage. Complex combinations ultimately end with simple tactics, so practicing simple tactics will help you more toward solving combinations. Plus showing your games to a stronger player will help identify key problem areas in your games. This approach helped me gain 450 rating points.

Nov-16-09  Summerfruit: White is two pawns up.

41.Qxd8 Qxd8 42.e7 Qxe7 42.Rxe7 Bxc4

White is an exhange and a pawn up with an easy win.

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Don't see too much of the Schliemann Defense (C63) to the Ruy lopez (i.e. 3...f4) at top levels nowadays. However, a few GMs have had decent results. See for example the collection of Radjabov's games at Also worth mentioning is G Jones vs I Sokolov, 2009 and Adams vs I Sokolov, 2009.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <FlashinthePan: Did Black blunder in the early moves of the game to be one pawn down, or is it just part of that variation to sacrifice a pawn? In the latter case, I can't think of any compensation for the pawn.> I might prefer 6...d6, protecting the pawns, as played by Sokolov in his win at the link above. However, 6...Bc5 has regularly been played by GM Radjabov with good results. So, no I don't think Black's gambit of a pawn with 6...Bc5 is a blunder.
Nov-16-09  beenthere240: <patzer2> The games shown in the opening explorer makes 7.Bxc6 look pretty much like an outright refutation of 6...Bc5, with white winning most games but drawing the rest. In contrast, 6...d6 has a much more respectable record. In fairness though, in the game black did have her chances.
Nov-16-09  YouRang: I found 41.Qxd8 Qxd8 41.e7 pretty quickly, seeing that I will recover my queen (41...Qe8 42.Nd6 ).

Black's best bet then is to accept the loss of the exchange (as played), but then white is up the exchange plus a pawn in a won endgame.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: An easy one. The blockade is to be removed and the queen will be reclained. White ends up an exchange ahead+ a pawn.
Nov-16-09  lzromeu: Easy, but not obivous. Needs calculation. I spent some minutes to get this.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: One thing I liked about this puzzle is that before playing 41 Qxd8 white knew that black could not check his way out of danger after 42 d7 below, because his own bishop blocks the way.

click for larger view

Nov-16-09  muralman: I didn't see the black queen falling on her sword. I suppose black saw the same trap I did. Either way black is cooked.
Nov-16-09  turbo231: Is today thursday? Maybe I though it was Monday. I got Qxd8,e7,Qxe7,rxe7, but Rybka beat me from there.I failed to move b2b3 so Rybka ate me alive.
Nov-16-09  turbo231: Even after I made the right move, b2b3, it still took 39 moves to beat Rybka. I do not think this puzzle is "very easy".
Nov-16-09  turbo231: Play against Rybka 20 moves in 20 minutes and tell me it's a "very easy" puzzle.
Nov-16-09  WhiteRook48: 41 QxR is very easy
Nov-16-09  turbo231: <WhiteRook48 41 Qxr is very easy> Yes it is I got that but the game after QxR is not very easy. I look at the "whole game" when I rate a puzzle.
Nov-16-09  remolino: 41.QxR is obvious, but glad to see a Monday puzzle that requires to see a couple of moves ahead and with a new motif, rather than the typical boring queen sac followed by a knight fork that we get every couple of weeks or so.
Nov-16-09  YouRang: <turbo231: Even after I made the right move, b2b3, it still took 39 moves to beat Rybka. I do not think this puzzle is "very easy".> I'm not sure if 39 moves-until-mate is good or bad, but IMO it's not really the right way to measure whether it's easy or not.

The question is: After 44.b3, was there even the slightest doubt that white would win?

If there was doubt then you didn't play it well. If there was no doubt at all that you would win, then it's "very easy".

Nov-16-09  AccDrag: For a ~1000 rated player, Chernev's Logical Chess Move By Move cannot be beaten in terms of learning basic chess thinking. Solving tactical puzzles is good (and honestly, playing lots of games with a decent time allotment is #1), but if a lower-rated player wants a look into a bit of "organic" chess ideas, Chernev's book is gold.
Nov-16-09  FlashinthePan: <patzer2: So, no I don't think Black's gambit of a pawn with 6...Bc5 is a blunder.> Thanks! Then, my take on the resulting position and my positional insight at large must be really poor as I can't see any benefits for Black in return for the lost pawn and doubled c pawns.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <SufferingBruin> <Patriot> The problem I see with Silman's imbalances is that he tries to make them comprehensive. He covers every possible imbalance and in some detail too. So in "Reassess Your Chess", we have 70 pages on knights versus bishops and 50 pages on pawns. All good stuff, but a heck of a lot to wade through.

Now, don't get me wrong. I really like Silman's imbalances and they have helped me win many games. But, as <patriot> says, they can be a little too advanced for someone learning the game.

What we need is a stripped down version of Silman - a Silman-lite if you want to call it that.

Try this:

1. Look for things in the position where you are strong and/ or where your opponent is weak. This could be anything from a strongly posted piece to a stalemated king. Silman lists a lot of advantages/ disadvantages, but don't worry about all of them for now. Just look for what you recognise as a strength/ weakness.

2. When you have spotted a weakness, look for a fantasy sequence that can exploit it.

3. Then start looking for candidate moves that might help to get to your fantasy position. Persevere with each move even if it looks silly at first. Sometimes a silly-looking move can prove to be really strong if there is a tactical way to make it work.

Most strong players do this sequence automatically and without even knowing it. In today's starting position, the strong point that ought to jump out straight away is white's passed pawn on e6 with a rook posted behind it.

click for larger view

Sure, there are other imbalances - relative amount of space, knight v bishop, open files. But these are all pretty slow to exploit. A passed pawn, like a mate, can end a game in a heartbeat. So let's look at the e6 pawn as our strength.

The fantasy position should not be too hard to spot. We need to get rid of the black queen which is preventing our pawn from expanding. And 41. Qxd8 Qxd8 42. e7 does just that.

So we have our candidate move and the rest is calculation, and not too hard.

Instead of this, you could go down the crude "examine every check and capture" route. And in a Monday puzzle that will often help to shortcut you to a solution. But I don't think it will help to develop your board vision as much as the Silman-lite method. And in a real game, you can waste a lot of time by looking at checks and captures that are never going to work.

Whichever method you use, time and practise will make the solutions come much faster. But I wouldn't give up on Silman just yet. All you need is the one-cal version!

Nov-16-09  Patriot: Thanks <Once>...Well said!
Nov-16-09  turbo231: <YouRang> Well stated. You have a very good point. This Monday's puzzle was a game within a game.
Nov-16-09  combokal2: <David2009> re: <To quote: <Oct-29-09 Halldor: The power of a freepawn can be tremendous. “The Passed Pawn is a criminal, who should be kept under lock and key. Mild measures, such as police surveillance, are not sufficient” – NIMZOVICH>>

True words! How many a game has been won or lost because of a passed pawn? It is such a great weapon, and so much time and energy is spent to defend against it!

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <beenthere240><FlashinthePan> To be honest, I also prefer 6...d6. However, Radjabov's success in securing hard fought draws against Carlsen, Ivanchuk, Topalov and Svidler with 6...Bc5 at Linaires is sufficient for me to conclude the move is not unsound.

Clearly 6...Bc5 is a gambit sacrifice of a pawn. However, whether the gambit is absolutely sound or not is a subject for further testing and analysis. Also, like most gambits, it is a matter of preference or opinion as to whether it is worth risking.

Nov-17-09  RandomVisitor: After 9.Bg5:

1: Lilit Mkrtchian - Valentina Golubenko, European Individual Championship (Women) 2008

click for larger view

Analysis by Rybka 3 :

<[+0.32] d=24 9...Qe8> 10.Bxf6 Rxf6 11.Nd3 Bd4 12.Nd2 Ba6 13.c4 c5 14.e5 Rf8 15.Nf3 Bxc4 16.Rc1 Qf7 17.b3 Bb5 18.Nxd4 cxd4 19.a4 Ba6 20.b4 Bc4 21.f4 Rab8 22.f5 d5 23.Rf4 Qe7 24.b5 11:58:05 2352966kN

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