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Ivan Sokolov vs Vassily Ivanchuk
Khanty-Mansiysk Olympiad (2010), Khanty-Mansiysk RUS, rd 5, Sep-25
Benko Gambit: General (A57)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-25-10  acme: Looks like white made a mistake as early as 7. b3 losing a pawn for nothing
Sep-25-10  Pyke: In my opinion Sokolov most likely mixed up his move order.

A GM wouldn't miss a simple tactic as 8. Qxe4 ?? Bg7, losing a piece.

Sep-26-10  cjgone: Ouch lost a pawn on move 7...
Sep-26-10  syracrophy: And the old seawolf never touched his king nor his rooks! Amazing game!
Sep-26-10  notyetagm: 7 ?

click for larger view

The Opening Explorer in this position gives:

7 ♘g1-f3 37 times
7 ♘b1-c3 2 times

and Sokolov's 7 b2-b3?? only once. :-)

7 b2-b3?? ♘f6xe4! Δ ♕c2x♘e4 ♗f8-g7

click for larger view

click for larger view

Sep-27-10  Whitehat1963: Ivanchuk is 4 for 4 so far.
Sep-27-10  notyetagm: <Whitehat1963: Ivanchuk is 4 for 4 so far.>

5/5 after beating Leko today!

Sep-27-10  achieve: <Ivanchuk> = Hyper Modern Super Strong*

My first chess computer set back in the 80s had this awesome new module by the same name* that you could insert, as an upgrade to the classical program I bought it with; Vassili's play here reminded me of the same name of that module... The domination and thrashing with the "light cavalerie" here is just too much for Ivan.


Sep-27-10  polarmis: Actually 7. b3 has been played a number of times before, including by Sokolov! Only no-one, including e.g. Van Wely, had spotted it loses a pawn. More from Sergey Shipov at the bottom of this report:

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <polarmis> is right: incredible though it seems, 7.b3 was met with the tame 7...Bg7 in several master-level games. Some were quick draws, including a game from 1992. But there's at least one White win, which is possibly the sort of thing Sokolov had in mind...

[Event "RUS-chT 1st League 12th"]
[Site "Smolensk"]
[Date "2005.02.09"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Platonov, Evgeny"]
[Black "Parfenov, Viktor N"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A57"]
[WhiteElo "2365"]
[BlackElo "2229"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.Qc2 bxc4 5.e4 d6 6.Bxc4 g6 7.b3 Bg7 8.Bb2 O-O 9.Nf3 e5 10.O-O Nh5 11.Nbd2 f5 12.Rfe1 f4 13.Be2 Bf6 14.h3 Ng7 15.Nh2 h5 16.a4 Nd7 17.b4 Be7 18.Nb3 c4 19.Qxc4 Nb6 20.Qc2 Bd7 21.Na5 Qe8 22.Rec1 g5 23.Qd1 Qg6 24.Nc6 Bf6 1-0

It took Chuky to spot 7...Nxe4 over the board, although I'm sure several GMs had this little 'trap' waiting in their armory if the chance ever arose.

It raises interesting questions about how far the top players have to go to escape from over-analysed mainlines. Games like this and Adams-Carlsen show how not to do it; or maybe they just show the wrong players to do it against.

There's a lot more to this than a pawn grab, though. The sac is almost worth it from white's POV. Chuky had to play some nice imaginative chess to win in such style.

Premium Chessgames Member
  The Long Diagonal: Thank you for that information, polarmis. Astonishing! And like Domdaniel wrote, this does indeed raise several questions. First: why had nobody played the tactics before?

I guess 7. ...Nxe4 is the kind of tactics that when you show it everyone says "Of course, that was an obvious trick." That was also my first spontaneous reaction. But as the example games prove us, it is actually not that obvious OTB, even to very strong players.

Possible reasons: 1) In the opening phase people prefer to play easy and automatical moves like 7. ... Bg7 to save valueable thinking time for the complications of middle game. 2) An exception is when you are playing KGA or some especially sharp opening, but 4.Qc2 is considered a rather quiet sideline which declines Volga gambit and the pawn offered by black. 3) Long diagonal tactics (ha!) are quit rare after all. In this case, it requires that white has played moves d4, d5, c4, b3 AND has not played any of the moves Nc3, Bd2, Qc2 etc. because after these moves he would be able either to save his rook with Rb1 or block the diagonal (White has played Qc2 in this game but the justification of ...Nxe4 is that it removes the white queen from c2 square after Qxe4). 4) You might be searching tactical possibilities in the opening more likely if you are white and if you have the lead in development. But here the trick is played by black who has only developed one piece (KN), whereas white has developed two (Q + KB).

And finally, I must wonder how it's possible that Sokolov played 7.b3 already the second time during his career? So far, I have been thinking that these days every single GM under the ripe age of 87 years analyzes every serious game played by him, checking the moves afterwards with a computer. Obviously I have been wrong, or then Sokolov is a rare exception among GMs, since any engine certainly starts screaming in horror when they are showed 7.b3.

Sep-30-10  Rook e2: The reason that black plays g6 before taking the pawn on a6 in the normal Benko Gambit line is to prevent b3.
Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: "So you don't check your openings with a computer?"

- GM Anish Giri (to Ivan after he blundered a pawn on move 7)

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Mega Database 2013 shows that 7.b3?? had been played 13 times before this game. Every single time, Black responded with 7...Bg7. White scored +5 =3 -3. The Black players included Van Wely, who lost to Drozdovskij, and Magem Badals (2570), who drew against Alexandre Sulypa. And yes, Sokolov had won against Niceu (2330) <exactly two weeks before he played Ivanchuk>. I'll bet Chukky was licking his lips in anticipation.
Feb-10-13  SugarDom: In other words, Giri was wrong to ask that question. It was no blunder. Right?
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <SugarDom> It was a blunder. It was just that in the 13 games prior to this one where Black had played 7.b3?, Black had responded with 7...Bg7?, missing 7...Nxe4! That, and Sokolov's own victory with 7.b3, lulled him into thinking that there was nothing wrong with it.
Feb-10-13  SugarDom: Oh, Ok i get it. Giri meant did you check the engine's evaluation vis-a-vis the stats.

You gotta do that with opening preparation.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: It looks like at least 4 more players were victims of the 7.b3? Nxe4! trap since this game was played:

O Soubirou vs K Bhakti, 2010 (played less than a month later)

Feb-10-13  nblack02: <Sugardom> No, he just means engine analysis. Putting this opening into an engine quickly reveals this tactic.
Feb-10-13  SugarDom: I don't think you use Fritz for opening prep otherwise you will understand what i'm saying. :)

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