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Alexey Shirov vs Ioannis Papaioannou
European Team Championship (2009), Novi Sad SRB, rd 7, Oct-28
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation (B96)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Feb-21-14  PJs Studio: 41. Ne3! Qxe3 42. h7 e1=Q 43. h8=Q+ Ka7 44. The pawn race ends in a mating net around blacks king. Qc8 Q1xc1+ 45. Rxc1 Qe7 46. Qc5+ Qxc5 47. Rxc5 Bb6 48. Rc6 Bd4 49. Rc4 is strong for white.

But there is better resistence that Black can offer

41. Ne3 Kb7! 42. h7 Qd8! 43. R4c2 e1=Q 44. Rxe1 b3 45. Rh2 Bxe1 46. h8=Q Qa5 47. a3 Qc5 48. Kb1 Qxe3 49. Qd8 Qe4+ 50. Ka1 Bg3 51. Rd2 Bc7 52. Qd3 Qxd3 53. Rxd3 Kc6 54. Kb1 Be5 55. Rxb3 a5 56. Kc2 Bd6 57. Rh3 Kd7 58. Rh8 Be7 59. Rh7 Bd8

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: <PJs> I think Black can do better with 41. Ne3 Qxe3 42. h7 e1Q 43. h8Q+ Ka7 44. Qc8 Q1xc1+ 45. Rxc1 <Qd2>

click for larger view

Feb-21-14  PJs Studio: Black is busted in all lines it's just pretty complex with two queens (ugh!) and back rank threats against white and a lose black king.

In your line after 46.Qc4 Qd7 (covering against Qf7+) 47. Qc5+ Bb6 48. Qxb4 blacks back rank threats are gone, he's down the exchange, and his lose king is doomed. Maybe you're right but 6 in one hand, 1/2 dozen in the other.

The complexity of this puzzle is fairly severe. I had to set up a board and did some analysis.

Feb-21-14  PJs Studio: Shirov is one of my favorite genius madmen, but I can barely keep up with his analysis. He almost seems too aggressive to be as highly rated as he is. I love his chess but man, he plays like a Kamikaze pilot.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Both sides promote, but white's rooks can break open the game before black's extra queen can.
Feb-21-14  PJs Studio: True. But it seems in all lines black MUST prevent white from queening. Once the h pawn promotes, black's cooked.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Some good analysis here. Perhaps some a bit too deep in the quest for truth in an OTB game with clocks a ticking, hearts a thumping and rules of thumb a breaking.

A lack of diagrams boys.
We must remember that not all the lads on here can keep a position in their heads as well as we can. I am going to mention 'Rules of Thumb'.(ROT's) When I note up games and positions I always try to follow my own rule of thumb. Always write/post for the weakest reader.

(and for pete's sake don't take that as an insult to your manhood. I've noticed there are some fragile ego's on here, I am just saying your efforts. which on the whole are spot on, would be more appreciated by the weaker lads.)

The ability to know when the ROT's are to be ignored is the hallmark of all great players.

Here we see both players spotting moves in advance and that the ROT about it being always good to promote with a check can be ignored.

Round about here both players have seen the ROT breaking move. (but one has seen deeper.)

White to play.

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38. h4 e4 39. h5 e3

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Both have definitely seen it, both think they have the win. Only one can be right.

40. h6 e2

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Now Shirov broke Black beating heart with 41.Ne3!.
He had seen what Black was up too. Both had spotted promoting with a check goes nowhere. Both had seen...

41. h7 Qxc4!

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A move very easily missed at the lower levels from both sides of the table.

42. h8=Q+ Ka7

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And now as morfishine correctly states, White will run out of checks and Black is winning.

One can imagine a 1800 player demanding justice.

"I Queened with a check like I am supposed to and I lost!"

A beautiful and very instructive variation in a game full of wee twists and turns.

You have seen this variation and now you will be able to see the true depth of Shirov's 41.Ne3!

click for larger view

Note it stops the Qxc4 idea which White must have seen Black planning.

Wonderful Chess.

Rules of thumb on the chessboard are there to be broken. The knowing when and how is the tricky bit.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: <mistreaver> <I thought more about 41 Nd2, but that is inferior since after 44 Qc8 black has 44... Qe5 and white can't play 45 Qd7+ because black queen remains on d2. Don't know if anyone else thought about this continuation, it was impossible for me to see this distinction from afar.>

Took me a long time as well to see that 41 Nd2 does not work. After 41...Qxd2 h7 e1Q 43 h8Q+ Ka7 44 Qc8 here is the position, which is a draw after 44...Qe5 or 44...Qe7.

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Below is the winning text position. after 44 Qc8.

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If black tries 44...Qe7 here, he loses the other queen after 45 Rxe1.

Feb-21-14  PJs Studio: Very nice Sally Simpson. Thanks for pointing out the basics of the position. You and Morphshine are totally correct. In your second to last diagram the good looking 43.Qc8 loses to Qxc8!
Feb-21-14  Cheapo by the Dozen: <PJs Studio>,

In your line 41 ... Kb7, have you worked through what happens against the plan Ng2/Rh1/Re4/Re8? The only serious try I see for Black is Bc7/Be5 to block the e-file, while the king tries to patrol the b-, C-,d- and eventually even a-files.

Feb-21-14  haydn20: So pretty in all variations! Even better, it's OTB, not a problem. Many nice posts too--two hours out of my life I didn't mind spending.
Feb-21-14  PJs Studio: Cheapo, it looks like if white plays an immediate Ng2 it allows black to corral the h pawn with Qh3. Which would almost equalize from a lost position.
Feb-21-14  M.Hassan: "Difficult"
White to play 41.?
White has 2 Rooks for a Queen

41.h7 exf1=Q
42.h8=Q+ Ka7
43.Qc8 Qxc1+
44.Rxc1 Qd2
I don't know how right I am(if at all!)but let's check the results to see =============
1-0 and not 1/2-1/2

Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: The material is more or less even. White has two rooks and a knight for the queen and a bishop.

Black threatens 41... exf1=Q and 41... Qxc4.

The obvious 41.h7 loses to 41... Qxc4 with the threats 42... Qxc1# and 42... exf1=Q. This suggests 41.Ne3 or 41.Nd2. The former looks preferable because the original queen seems to block the new one. Therefore, 41.Ne3:

A) 41... Qxe3 42.h7

A.1) 42... e1=Q 43.h8=Q+

A.1.a) 43... Qe8 44.Rc8+ Kb7 (44... Qxc8 45.Qxc8+ Ka7 46.Rxe1) 45.Qxe8 wins.

A.1.b) 43... Ka7 44.Qc8 (protects the rook on c1 and creates a mate net)

A.1.b.i) 44... Q1d2 45.Rc7+ Bxc7 (45... Kb6 46.Q(R)b7#) 46.Rxc7+ Kb6 47.Rc6+ and mate next.

A.1.b.ii) 44... b3 45.Rxe1 Qxe1+ (45... Bxe1 46.Rc7+ and mate in two as in A.1.b.i) 46.Rc1 + - [R vs B].

A.1.c) 43... Kb7 44.Qc8+ Ka7 (44... Kb6 45.Qc7+ Kb5 46.Qc6#) 45.Rxe1 is similar to A.1.b.ii.

A.2) 42... Qe8 43.Rc8+ Qxc8 44.Rxc8+ Kxc8 (44... Kb7 45.Re8 wins) 45.h8=Q+ Kd7 46.Qh1 b3 47.Qd5+ followed by 48.Qc4+ or 48.Qe4+ and 49.Qxe2.

A.3) 42... Qh6 43.Rc8+ Kb7 44.h8=Q + -.

B) 41... Kb7 42.h7 seems to transpose eventually to previous lines.

C) 41... b3 42.h7 with a similar conclusion.

Feb-21-14  dufferps: For me the forced win for white after 45.Rc7+ was not immediately evident. I think I finally found it:

45. ... Bxc7,
46. Rc7+ Kb6,
47. Rc6+ Ka7,
48. Rxa6#
47. ... Ka5 (or ... Kb5),
48. Qxa6#

or 45. ... Kb6,
46. Rb7#

Feb-21-14  Prosperus: i thought 41. Rc8+!? Kb7 42. h7 exf1=Q 43. h8=Q White's got a rook for a bishop.
Feb-21-14  Cheapo by the Dozen: Not if Black played Qd8 first.

The point is that White can get a rook behind the h7 pawn, with Black's queen stuck on h8 blockading it.

Black can probably queen his own pawn and make White give up his knight for it, but White still has a rook trying to make its way to the 8th rank, and eating pawns as it travels.

I actually don't think Black has time either to win White's knight nor to meander his own bishop to g7. And if he just goes for the static e5 barricade, White's knight decides things in his favor.

Feb-21-14  julillo: 41.Cd2 doesn´t work because of 41...Dxd2 42 h7 e1=D 43.h8=D+ Be8
Feb-21-14  Cheapo by the Dozen: <Prosperus>,

Black is ahead in material at the point you stopped your line, roughly by a piece. The question is White's mating threats.

Feb-21-14  blue wave: <41.Ne3 Ka7>

Is blacks best defense. But white will still win eventually.

For example -

41...Ka7 42.h7 Qxe3 43.h8=Q e1=Q 44.Qc8 Q3d2 45.Rxe1 Qxe1+ 46.Rc1 Qd2 47.Qc2 Qxc2 48.Rxc2 Kb6 49.Rc8 Kb5 50.Rf8 Kc6 51.Rxf7 Bd8 52.g5 fxg5 53.f6 g4 54.Rf8 Kd7 55.f7 Be7 56.Ra8 g3 57.f8=Q Bxf8 58.Rxf8 g2 59.Rg8 a5 60.Rxg2 1-0

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: <OCF: 41. Ne3 Qxe3 42. h7 e1Q 43. h8Q+ Ka7 44. Qc8 Q1xc1+ 45. Rxc1 <Qd2>>

<PJs: In your line after 46.Qc4 Qd7 >


Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: I know Black is going to lose, but I am trying to make White work a little.
Feb-21-14  PJs Studio: Exactly. See you guys tomorrow, I'm out!
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Read through all the posts from yesterday, ran the position through Fritz 12 and worked backwards from the final position to the start of the combination.

In doing so, I found each and every post offered here to be insightful and helpful. This is the first post I've read from <Sally Simpson> and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I totally missed Shirov's stunning 41. Ne3!!, going instead for 41. Rc8+! Kb7 to (diagram below).

click for larger view

Here, White has nothing and is apparently lost after 42. h7 (42. Ng3 Qxg3! 43. h7 e1(Q)! 44. h8(Q) Qd2! ) 43. exf1(Q) h8(Q) (diagram below).

click for larger view

From this position, 44. Qf4! to (-1.81 @ 20 depth per Fritz 12) covers all White threats and, with the assistance of a computer or the 2600 plus tactical skill of a strong GM, is probably a win for Black.

Now, after looking at a lot of computer and human analysis, and gaining some understanding of how Shirov's brilliant 41. Ne3!! wins over all the other possibilities, I stand in awe of the depth of Shirov's tactical skill in coming up with this deeply calculated move.

Hats off to GM Shirov and everyone who contributed here to the analysis of 41. Ne3!!

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Correction: The diagram above occurs after 41. Rc8+ Kb7 42. h7 exf1=Q 43. h8=Q, when Black has a clear and probably winning advantage with 43...Qf4! to (diagram below):

click for larger view

Here, Fritz 12 @ 20 depth has Black winning after either

1. (-1.81): 44.Qe8 Qfd6 45.Qxf7+ Qd7 46.Rf8 Bc7 47.Qxd7 Qxd7 48.Rxf6 Be5 49.Re6 Qd4 50.Re7+ Kb6 51.Rb1 Bf6 52.Re8 Bg5 53.Rbe1 Qxg4 54.R8e6+


2. (-2.40): 44.Qxf6 Qd7 45.Qh8 Qd5 46.Qe8 Ka7 47.Qe2 Qde4 48.Qd1 Bb6 49.Qb3 Qe7 50.R8c4 Qd2 51.Kb1 Qed6 52.R4c2

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