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Mikhail Ulybin vs Evgeny Sveshnikov
USSR Team Championship (1988), Naberezhnye Chelny URS, Oct-??
Sicilian Defense: Old Sicilian. Open (B32)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Nov-15-08  sfm: A completely undramatic position with no threats. Pawn structure is banal.

White could play 19.Rd2 and offer a draw.

But 19.Qg4?? and Black is "throwing crap at the Queen until she's forced off the Rook".

What a shocker!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: A strange thing happened on the way to the forum... I managed to fool myself today.

The back rank mate beckoned. Deflect the white queen then take the Rd1 with check and mate. How to deflect the white queen? h5 doesn't work, because white can just take the pawn and stay on the d1-h5 diagonal.

So the starting move has to be 19...f5, when 20. ef brings our f8 rook into the attack.

Can white play anything to counterattack? How about 20. Rd2 to attack the white queen and wriggle out of the back rank mate threat? Nope, that doesn't work. 20...fxg4 21. Rxc2 Rxc2 and we are a rook up.

Can't see anything else good for white, so our starting sequence should be 19...f5 20. ef.

Now what? We bring the f8 rook into the game with irresistible threats against both f2 and Rd1. So 21...Rxf5 and doesn't that seem a little tweazy for a saturday?

What I had missed, of course, are two moves that didn't work one move earlier. h5 was no good at move 19, but absolutely a killer on move 20. And white's defence Rd2 was insufficient at move 20, but worked at move 21. I think I had categorised both moves as "don't work" and mentally filed them away.

Lazy, lazy, lazy.

My one consolation is that I would probably have seen 20...h5 in a real game. 19...f5 20. ef is a relatively risk free line which can be played almost on strategical grounds. Then we have time to examine the position again and spot that 20...Rxf5 is a lemon.

Nov-15-08  ozmikey: this one out this time! Saturday's puzzles are usually a bit beyond me.
Nov-15-08  johnlspouge: Saturday (Very Difficult)

Ulibin vs Sveshnikov, 1988 (19…?)

Black to play and win.

Material: Even. The White Kg1 has 2 legal moves, but is potentially vulnerable to back-rank mates. Black has a battery Rc8 and Qc2. The White development is incomplete. In particular, Bc1 disconnects Ra1 and Rd1, so Ra1 is unprotected and Qg4 has the absolute burden of preventing …Qxd1# . The Black Rf8 and Be7 require activation. By enumeration, the candidate is neither a check nor a capture.

Candidates (19…): f5

19…f5 (threatening 20…fxe4 winning a P)

The move …f5 is often thematic for the Sveshnikov Sicilian, which the puzzle position resembles. The White Qg4 has the burden of preventing mate, so this move hurts. Over the board, positional considerations justify the candidate, so a tactical analysis is required only to note that it drops no material.

20.exf5 [else, drop at least a P]


The move 20…Rxf5 is good, but analysis shows it insufficiently forcing to win. The zwischenzug 20…h5 permits the capture …Rxf5 with tempo, because of an attack on the White Q. White can either capture Ph5 or not, but the White Q must maintain protection against …Qxd1#.

(1) 21.Qxh5 Rxf5

(threatening 22…Qxf2+ 23.Kh1 Qf1+ 24.Rxf1 Rxf1# and 22…Rxh5)

White drops at least a R (or Q for R) to prevent mate.

(2) 21.Qf3 Rxf5

The same threat ends the game.

The game continuation 21...e4 is better than 21...Rxf5 in Variation (2), although 21...Rxf5 also leads to overwhelming gain of material (better than +3 P for Black).

Nov-15-08  johnlspouge: Contrary to my statement below, 20...Rxf5 is a lemon. Under the usual conditions for my Toga analysis:

[ply 15/36 time 00:05 value (to White) +1.30]

19...f5 20.exf5 <Rxf5> 21.Rd2 Qxc1+ 22.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 23.Rd1 h5 24.Qe2 Rxd1+ 25.Qxd1 e4 26.Qd4 Re5 27.Kf1 Kf7 28.Ke2 Bg5 29.h3 a5 30.a3 Kg6

The zwischenzug 20...h5 is critical.

Nov-15-08  johnlspouge: Hi, <dzechiel>.

With humans able to improve near the end of the full computer best play variation, Toga II 1.3.1 gives

[ply 15/47 time 00:10 value (to White) -5.90]

19...f5 20.exf5 h5 21.Qf3 Rxf5 22.<Qd3> Qxf2+ 23.Kh1 Rc3 24.Be3 Rxd3 25.Bxf2 Rxd1+ 26.Rxd1 Rxf2 27.a3 Bg5 28.Kg1 Be3 29.Kh1 e4 30.h3 Rb2 31.b4 Ra2 32.Rf1 Rxa3 33.Kh2 Ra2

Although 21...e4 is much more decisive than 21...Rxf5, 22.Qd3 is hardly a saving clause for White.

Nov-15-08  zb2cr: Wow. This one was just totally beyond me.
Nov-15-08  Ladolcevita: got the first move,and then totally wrong==
Nov-15-08  PinnedPiece: The attempted defence to 19..f5 of
20.Rd2 to trade queens

loses a piece for white, and eventually the game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <DoubleCheck> I looked at some ideas for White with Bh6 too ... but there's another problem with your main line:

<19... f5
20. exf5 Rxf5
21. Bh6! Qxf2+
22. Kh1 Rf7
23. Rg1 Rc2 >

In this sequence, after 22...Rf7?? White just plays 23.Qxc8+ and wins.

Best for Black on move 22 is perhaps 22...g6, when he has some advantage.

But, in any case, the 'refutation' of 20...Rxf5 is 21.Rd2, when White is better. 21...Qxc1+ 22.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 23.Rd1 h5 24.Qe2 leads nowhere for Black.

Nov-15-08  HelaNubo: Interesting enough, after 19... f5 20. exf5 Rxf5? black plays 21. Rd2! and now its Black Queen's turn to be on the wrong diagonal.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: Being frank, I pound out 19..f5 in these lines. It is with some trepidation I push 20..h5 noting that 21..e4 heads the tender queen back along the diagonal keeping in touch with the d1 rook. 22..Rxf5 shows white is living on borrowed time.
Nov-15-08  kevin86: The task here was to chase the queen away from the d1-h5 diagonal. The proper timing of moves was required,and black succeeded at doing so.

Another idea of this theme-written most loudly is:Adams vs Torre. (the game where Adams sacs his queen SIX times.

Nov-15-08  piever: 19 Qg4? It makes me feel better when I see that even strong players sometimes overlook tactics...

<dzechiel>: I had your same line (19...f5 20 exf5 h5 21 Qf3 Rxf5) and your same assessment, that is too say "white just can't defend everything", and didn't analyze farther. After 22 Qd3 Qxf2+ 23. Kh1 my stupid computer program found 23... Rc3! (the rook can't be taken because of back rank mate) 24 Be3 Rxd3 25 Bxf2 Rxd1+ 26 Rxd1 Rxf2 and black is up a bishop and a pawn and will soon win another pawn...

Nov-15-08  Tigerpawn: Wow. I must be having a good day. I saw 19. ...f5.
Nov-15-08  Yodaman: 19. Qg4 was definitely a big mistake.
Nov-15-08  Woody Wood Pusher: I saw 19...f5 20.exf5, h5! 21.Qf3,Rxf5 22.Rd2,Qxc1+ 23.Rxc1,Rxc1+ 24.Qd1,Rxd1 leaving black a bishop up with a won game.

21..e4! is even stronger but I think 19..f5 and 20..h5 are the key ideas.

21..e4 22.Qxh5,Rxf5 23.Bg5,Qxf2+ 24.Kh1,Bxg5 25.Qg6 and the queens are still on so I would actually prefer the other endgame if there was any time pressure involved.

Nov-15-08  bullsbehad: Can someone help me out? I don't have GM vision. How does black force a win if white replies with 23. Bg5?

Does being down a bishop in GM play mean certain doom? Just seems like there might be a way to a draw, and that Ulibin might have resigned early?

Nov-15-08  Tartalacreme: Being down a bishop in GM play means certain doom.
Nov-15-08  DevastatioN: Well Bg5, Qxf2+, Kh1, Rxg5 threatening the queen, checkmate, and white being down a bishop is more than enough to win.

And actually I guess a continuation of that is even Qh3 and Rc2!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <bullsbehad> Does being a bishop down mean certain doom for a GM?

It depends on the position and the clock. GMs will play on a piece down in some circumstances - eg if they have a good position or their opponent is short of time. Of course, good players will sometimes sacrifice material for positional gains, so being a piece down is not an automatic loss.

But here white is not only material down but in a worse position. As <DevastatioN> says, black will probably play 23...Qxf2+ first before snaffling the Bg5. Black has well posted pieces, command of both open files (c and f), queen on the seventh rank and a passed pawn. The black bishop will own several juicy diagonals, including the long black diagonal. White has an offside queen, rooks useless on the back rank and a cornered king.

So yes it does look like a good time for white to resign.

In some instances, GMs will resign if they lose just a pawn, if they can see that it will leave them with no counterplay.

Nov-16-08  njchess: I got this one pretty quickly because White's pieces are locked in by Black's queen and White's rook must be protected by his queen or its game over. The problem was how to pressure White's queen to capture or move away from the rook. The key to doing that is to find forcing moves that directly attack White's queen.

The immediate f5 is the better move over h5 for three reasons. 1. It is a pawn advance that is well protected. 2. It is forcing since it forks the queen and e4 pawn, and White cannot afford to lose the e4 pawn at this stage of the game. 3. It will activate the f-file rook.

19. ... f5 20. exf5 (giving Black the central passed pawn) h5! is again best because it immediately attacks White's queen. (20. ... Rxf5? lets White off the hook by losing the initiative allowing 21. Rd2.) If 21. Qxh5 Rxf5 22. Rd2 Rxh5 23. Rxc2 Rxc2 with a winning game for White.

White really has no choice but to play 21. Qf3 hoping to get to d3. But, 21. ... e4 keeps the pressure on White and attacks d3, the last safe haven for White's queen. Rxf5 doesn't work here for the same as it didn't on move 20.

22. Qxh5 (last ditch effort) Rxf5 seals the game. Nicely done by Black.

<beginner64 Where exactly does white lose it?>

White's position begins to slip after 9. Be2?. Stronger moves were the immediate aggressive Nd5 (a move that isn't all that troubling for Black), Nc2 or Bd3 since they both prevent Nd4. Black then does a nice job of pressuring the exposed c4 pawn. White's mistake here is failing to recognize that he can't hold the c4 pawn. He should have worked to defend the knight on c3 with 14. Bd2. Rd1 followed by Ned5 looks promising, but opening up the queen side before developing those pieces is generally unwise.

<Was 19. Qg4 a double question mark?> Yes. After the exchanges and Black's queen arriving on c2, White should have exchanged queens. The position would have been slightly in favor of Black, but far from clear with a draw likely.

Nov-17-08  DoubleCheck: <<Domdaniel>: I looked at some ideas for White with Bh6 too ... but there's another problem with your main line>

Thanks i just realised when i relooked over just now g6 looks much better with Rcf8 to come to attempt to exploit the bank rank weakness of white.

Nov-17-08  agb2002: The black queen threats the rook on d1, White’s back rank and f2 if the pawn on f7 disappeared. Therefore, the position suggests 19... f5:

A) 20.Qf3 fxe4 21.Qg4 Qxf2+ 22.Kh1 Qf1+ 23.Rxf1 Rxf1 mate.

B) 20.Qh5 g6 21.Qf3 fxe4 as in line A).

C) 20.exf5 h5

C.1) 21.Qxh5 Rxf5 22.Rd2 (22.Qg4 Qxf2+ 23.Kh1 Qf1+) Rxh5 23.Rxc2 Rxc2 winning.

C.2) 21.Qf3 Rxf5 22.Rd2 Qxc1+ 23.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 24.Rd1 Rxf3 25.Rxc1 Rd3 with a won endgame.

I suspect I’m missing something but it’s time to post and check.

Nov-17-08  agb2002: I was right: I missed 22.Qd3 in my line C.2) although Black gets a won endgame after 22... Qxf2+ 23.Kh1 Rc3, as has been pointed out before by <johnlspouge> and <piever>.

Curiously, I saw ... e4 for another purpose after 19... f5 20.exf5 e4, trying to exploit the narrow position of the rook on a1 with ... Bf6.

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