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Erwin L'Ami vs Ivan Sokolov
Staunton Memorial (2008), London ENG, rd 5, Aug-11
Slav Defense: General (D10)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <sevenseaman> You are right. I may have given up on black's 27...Qc1 defence a little too quickly. Fritzie follows your line 26. Nf6+ Ke7 27. Nh5 Qc1+ 28. Rxc1 Rxc1+ 29 Kb2 Rhc8, but then deviates with 30. Rd3. He reckons that 30. Kxa3 is a draw.

After 30. Rd3, black gets to play the tricky 30...Nc4 31. Kxc1 Ne5+ 32. Rc3 Ncf3 33. Rxc8 and that should be that.

I guess the moral is that white is material up so he needs to consolidate and take his piece off-prise (if that is a word).

Mar-18-11  sevenseaman: Thanks <Once> I really thought I had misplaced my 'bike' somewhere! To err is human.
Mar-18-11  PhilFeeley: I immediately thought of Nf6+, but didn't go far enough with it. As <Once> and others point out it leads to a pretty good mating attack (although the line 28...Kf8 29. Rd8+ Rxd8 30. Rxd8# doesn't work as Rxd8 isn't mate).
Mar-18-11  1.e4effort: at first I looked at 26. Qxf5...exf5 opening up the file for a rooks and knight attack but thats a loser. then I looked at 26. Nf6+ but does that really go anywhere? I don't see it if it does. So I figure the game line starts with an exchange of the knights just cuz there isn't anything else happening.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: I missed this one entirely,as the player did so over the board. 27 ♘h5!! seems to be it!
Mar-18-11  alachabre: The first quick glance tempts me to throw the rook against the pawn mass in the center, and force the King into an uncomfortable dance with the White queen and knight.

26. Rxd6+ exd6
27. Qh5+ Kf8, this seems to be best for Black, Ke7 allows further intrusion by the queen, and a draw by perpetual check is in the cards. However, the move as played seems to put an end to my rook sac dreams. The next candidate becomes the natural

26. Nf6+ Ke7, a nice diagonal has been opened for the queen with the knight move.

27. Qb7+ Kxf6, it's hard to see that this is going anywhere, and given that Black has other defensive choices here, I don't want to spend too much time analyzing the line.

Given the strong checkmate threats against the White king (Qb1, Qc3), White must act forcefully and carefully. This suggests another check by the knight (Rd7+ Kxf6 seems a dead end), but neither square looks very appetizing. But let's see what happens.

28. Nd5+ Kxd6
29. Nb4+ grabs the Black queen, but

28. ... exd5, no time for a waiting move by the queen now (Qxd5 Qc3#), so what now? The obvious

29. Qxh3?? Qxd1 is out. So a dead end, it seems.

28. Ng8+ Rhxg8
29. Qxh3 Ra8 doesn't look good for White, except NOW my rook sac leads to mate:

30. Rxe6++ Kxe6
31. Qd6#, an epaulette mate.

So maybe the rook sac is in the winning variation somewhere. But not yet, because:

29. ... Qc3+ leads to exchanges that seem to leave Black a little better because of pawn structure, as well as material edge.

I've looked at 28. Nh7, shutting off escape squares, but that fails against Rxh7. 28. Rd7+ Kxe5 doesn't look terribly great. So I guess I'm stuck. Now I'm left with only one move that doesn't lose the knight or allow checkmate, 28. Nh5. This renews a threat of Qxa3, and keeps the heat off the White king for a little while longer. It also takes away e6 as an escape square, mmm, and g7 too, so back rank mate threats are still on the table. Qb7 is still a threat, albeit apparently easily defended.

Ok, I have to look at this position more deeply, and I need a board to do it. The Black knight doesn't have an escape square (why does it seem like this puzzle is starting out one move too soon?), so it must be defended.

27. Nd5+ Ke7
28. Nh7 b4
29. Qb7+, White has to proceed carefully now, because Qc3# is hovering over the king.

29. ... Rc7?
30. Rd7+ etc., the Black position falls apart here.

29. ... Ke8 (Kf8? Rd8+ and mate soon), and now my original rook sac idea is back:

30. Rxe6+ fxe6
31. Qd7+ Kf8
32. Qg7+ Ke8
33. Nf6#

So 28. ... b4 is out, and it would appear the Black knight is lost. The analysis is getting very deep and long, and I haven't looked at a critical variation yet.

26. Nd5+ Ke8
27. Nh5 as before, with the same benefits? The double threat of Rd8+ leading to mate, and Qxa3. Yes. So it seems I've found a beneficial continuation, but I couldn't do it strictly by visualization; I set up various positions on a board, and it took me a very long time to work through it. But that's the whole point of practice and study, I suppose. There's more work to be done on whether Black can save the a3 knight or not, but I'll do that later and won't bore the board with the details.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: This is one of those positions where you have to decide if you are playing for a win or a draw.

(I have not read the kibitzes so I apologize for redundancies and/or lack of acknowledgment.)

Black has two mate threats …Qc3# and …Nc4 followed by Qb2#, so things don’t look so good for white. You can eliminate the threat by trading knights with a drawish position, but is there something more?

26 Nf6+ looks good. I went with the line 26…Ke7, (threatening the knight) and white answers with 27 Nh5! (The only safe square for the knight).

click for larger view

Now black’s in a quandary. 28 Qb7 threatens mate and the black kings two escape squares at f6 and g7 (after 27…Kf8) are covered by white’s forced knight move.

27…Rhe8 looks like the toughest defense and makes for a good side puzzle.

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  scormus: Material equal, both sides have an N under attack, BK comprised, W has pressure. I spent a while looking for a slam-bang winning combination but in the end I settled on

26 Nf6+ Ke7 27 Nh5 (getting the N to safety and covering f6). W is threatening everything in sight include the BNa3. Looks hopeless for B. If 27 Qc3+ 28 Qxc3 Rxc3 29 Rd7+ and it drapes, I mean curtains.

As of now I only know W didnt win but I'm sure <Phony Benoni, gofer, agb2002 ...> will have found the good line.

Better check now

Mar-18-11  joupajou: <Jimfromprovidence> 27. ..Rhe8 28.Rd7+ Kf8 29.Rg1!
Premium Chessgames Member
  scormus: <and greenknight> Be careful <gawain> that's a mean dude to tangle with a blade ;)

<Sevenseaman> Seems I underestimated B's best try, 27 ... Qc1+. After 28 Kb2 I didnt think of Rhc8. Even though <Once's Fritz> says W wins, its an tricky one to deal with OTB.

And BTW, how come England are still in CWC? Following it is nervewracking

Premium Chessgames Member
  lost in space: I have to admit that I haven't got it. I was looking at Rd8, Rxe6, Qxa3 and Nf6+, but nothing was working out.

Time to see the other posts and the solution

Mar-18-11  morfishine: <Jimfromprovidence> <27…Rhe8 looks like the toughest defense and makes for a good side puzzle.> Unfortunately for black, 27...Rhe8 fails to 28.Rd7+ Kf8 (forced) 29.Qxa3+ Rc5 (29...Kg8? 30.Qg3+ mates) 30.Qb2! and white holds on to the piece due to the mate threats on <g7> and <h8>

click for larger view

Unless there is something wrong with the notation, white wins

Mar-18-11  VincentL: "Difficult"

I am sure this starts 26. Nf6+ since no other move is really forcing (26. Qxa3 surely leads to a draw, and in any case, is not a "puzzle move").

But what is the follow-up? I have looked for several minutes but after studying various possibilities I am drawing a blank.

Other duties call so I must check the game continuation / other kibitzes.

Mar-18-11  sevenseaman: <scormus> It so happens England are my favorites. They had my full backing.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: <joupajou> After 26 Nf6+ Ke7 27 Nh5!<27. ..Rhe8 28.Rd7+ Kf8 29.Rg1!>

This is the best continuation, but you need to explain what happens next.

click for larger view

Black can force a queen trade for example and still be a pawn up.

Premium Chessgames Member
  scormus: <sevenseaman: England> looks like we'd better both stock up on some nerve-calming medicine
Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: From a Sicilian Defense, I think.

White is a pawn down.

The dangerous position of both kings and the hanging knights suggest a direct attack with 26.Nf6+ Ke7 (26... Kf8 27.Qxa3) 27.Nh5, creating a mate net and threatening 28.Qxa3 and 28.Qb7+:

A) 27... Nc4 28.Qb7+ and mate soon.

B) 27... Rhd8 28.Rxd8 Rxd8 29.Qxa3+ Ke8 30.Nf6#.

C) 27... Qc5 28.Qb7+

C.1) 28... Kf8 29.Rd8+ Rxd8 30.Rxd8#.

C.2) 28... Ke8 29.Qd7+ Kf8 30.Qd8+ Rxd8 31.Rxd8+ Ke7 32.R1d7#.

C.3) 28... Qc7 29.Rd7+ wins.

C.4) 28... Rc7 29.Rd7+ Rxd7 30.Qxd7+ Kf8 31.Qd8#.

D) 27... Rc3 28.Rd7+ Ke(f)8 29.Rd8+ Ke7 30.R1d8#.

E) 27... b4 28.Qb7+ is similar to C.

Premium Chessgames Member
  DarthStapler: I at least considered the first move
Mar-18-11  David2009: E L'Ami vs I Sokolov, 2008 White 26?

26 Rxe6+ fxe6 (or 26...Kf8 27 Qxa3+ etc) 27 Qh5+ Ke7 28 Qh4+ and now (A) 28...Ke8 29 Nd6+ Kf8 30 Qf6+ Kg8 31 Kg8 Qf7# (B) 28...Kf7 or Kf8 29 Qf6+ Kg8 30 Rg1+ Kh7 31 Qg7#. I found this difficult: I spent some time trying to make 26 Nf6+ Ke7 (if Kf8? 27 Qxa3) 27 Nd5+ Kxd6 28 Qxa3+ work but it seems afer 28...Qc5! e.g. 29 Nb6+ Ke7! 30 Nxc8+ (what else?) Rxc8 and Black is slightly better. Similarly if 26 Qxa3 Qxe4 Black is fine.

Time to check:
So what have I missed? I set the puzzle position

click for larger view

(E L'Ami vs I Sokolov 2008 White 26?) up on Crafty End Game Trainer, link:

All is revealed: 26 Rxe6+ is a massive blunder: Black defends with 26...fxe6 27 Qh5+ Kf8! and White is busted. No better is 26. Nf6+ Ke7 27 Nd5+?? exd5! since the intended 28 Qxc3 leaves the Rc1 en prise.

After 26.Nf6+ Ke7 27.Nh5! the EGT defends with Qc1+ 28.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 29.Kb2 Nc4+ 30.Kxc1 Nxd6 I tried 31.Qa3 Rc8+ 32.Kd2 Rc7 33.f4 and after 33...Kd8 I took the money and ran: 34.Qxd6+ Rd7 35.Qxd7+ Kxd7 36.Kc3 Kc6 37.Kb4 Kb6 38.Nf6 Kc6 39.h4 e5 40.fxe5 f4 41.h5 f3 42.Ng4 Kb6 43.Nf2 Kc6 44.Nd3 Kb6 45.Kc3 etc 1-0

I have the dubous distinction today of proposing two lines with massive blunders in each of them. Tomorrow can only get better.

<sevenseasman: [snip] Someone with an engine has to help if it is enough for a White win.> You have an engine if you learn how to set up positions in Crafty EGT. Visit crafty chessforum. To whet your appetite, here's your position

click for larger view

to play out against the EGT. Link: Black has the near-winning threat Rxh3: good luck trying to draw the position!

Mar-18-11  morfishine: <Jimfromprovidence><joupajou> After 26 Nf6+ Ke7 27 Nh5!<27. ..Rhe8 28.Rd7+ Kf8 29.Rg1!>

<This is the best continuation, but you need to explain what happens next> I have to give 29.Rg1??? The best move winning for white ia 29.Qxa3+

click for larger view

I think we can agree that White is winning here

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: I was thinking of Nf6+.I don't know why,but I just guessed it.I didn't even see that knight on a3 was hanging.I think this is one of those spoilers.Well,at least I got a Friday puzzle right. :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: <Morf> <I have to give 29.Rg1??? The best move winning for white ia 29.Qxa3+>

Your line is perfectly fine, it clearly and simply wins. The sublime move is 29 Rg1.

click for larger view

The immediate threat is 30 Rg8+, seeing 30...Kxg8 31 Qg3+ (or Qg2+) with mate to follow.

The wild card is after 29...Qc3+, below, forcing the exchange of queens.

click for larger view

Now, after 30 Qxc3 Rxc3, white wins with 31 Nf6 again.

click for larger view

White has two mate threats, 32 Nh7# or Rg8#. Black has to lose more than one piece to stop it.

Mar-18-11  sevenseaman: <morfishine><Unfortunately for black, 27...Rhe8 fails to 28.Rd7+ Kf8 (forced) 29.Qxa3+ Rc5 (29...Kg8? 30.Qg3+ mates) 30.Qb2! and white holds on to the piece due to the mate threats on <g7> and <h8> Unless there is something wrong with the notation, white wins>

You are right. 27...Rhe8 does not work and collapses soon enough. In your final position (your diagram) Black could exchange Qs and delay the loss a little but White retains the piece.

So, in essence L'Ami and Smyslov concluding a draw has justification.

Mar-18-11  WhiteRook48: i tried 26 Rd8+ instead
Mar-19-11  morfishine: <Jimfromprovidence> Appreciate the reply. I apologize for missing the point of your side-puzzles lately and more than once! :) Morf
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