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Zoltan Varga vs Sandor Kustar
Budapest (1993), rd 6
English Opening: Symmetrical. Anti-Benoni Variation (A31)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: Close, missed 17...Qd8
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <morfishine: ... white has the thematic Knight-sac on <d5>>

My friend, that is a statement that shows a considerable amount of chess understanding!

When we first start playing chess, it seems like a game of infinite possibilities. We have 32 pieces and 64 squares - and in theory that means more possible chess positions than there are grains of sand on a beach.

But the reality is that some moves occur far more often than others. And most openings have their thematic moves - the move that you know you are likely to play, or that you want to play.

If you are a French defence player, then the move that you really want to play is c5. An e4 player usually wants to find a way to play d4 or f4. A sicilianista dreams of Rxc3. And so on...

One of the more mysterious of these thematic moves - for me anyways - is the mutual thematic move pair of Nd5/exd5. Here's the unplugged:

click for larger view

Now most of us would spot that the c3 knight really wants to jump into d5. There is really no-one else exciting for it to go. Nb5 is probably gonna get kicked around by pawns. Ne2 is going backwards. e4 is already occupied.

But, you cry, he can't go to d5 cos of the e6 pawn! So Nd5 is only worth playing if we would gain something by forcing black to move his e6 pawn. In today's game it gives us a chance to play Ne4-f5. In some games, the Nd5 sac can open up the e file for a rook attack on the enemy king. Or it can black off the qeenside so that we can pursue a queen and minor attack on the kingside without worrying about the cavalry riding in to rescue black.

It is one of chess's shortcuts. The more we know about thematic moves like Nd5, the more likely we are to spot opportunities to play them. And we have a better chance of finding a sensible plan in an otherwise unclear position.

The only question with a move like Nd5 is "is it worth playing now?". Sometimes it feels like the "are we nearly there yet?" question that kids ask repeatedly on long car journeys. A white player facing this pawn structure will be asking himself "can I play Nd5 yet?", decide that he can't and so play a developing move. And on his very next turn he will ask himself "can I play Nd5 yet?". Repeat...

In human mode, I couldn't get Nd5 to work, so I gave up in self-disgust, peaked at the game, read the kibitzing and turned on Fritz.

And I have to say that my friend Herr Fritz is not so sure today.

From the starting position, his preferred move is 17. Nc2 (+1.22) followed by 17. Nxc6 (+0.90) and only then 17. Nd5 (+0.80).

If we look more closely at 17. Nd5, he finds this line:

17... exd5 18. Nf5 Bc8 19. Nxe7 Bxh3 20. Nxc6 Bxg2 21. Kxg2 Rxc6

click for larger view

And we have arrived at an unclear endgame. Fritzie reckons that white is marginally ahead (0.8 of a pawn) but it's nothing decisive.

Unless anyone comes up with anything better, I am tending to the conclusion that 17. Nd5 was premature and today's puzzle looks like busted.

Premium Chessgames Member
  sethoflagos: I didn't like 17.Nd5 because of 17...exd5 18.Nf5 Bc8! pinning the knight against the queen. 19.Nxe7 or 19.Nxg7+ both look defendable.

Since black is looking for 17...Nxd4 18.Rxd4 f5!, how about a nice quiet Nc2 with f5 and Qg3 to come?

Mar-20-11  scormus: Hey <Fritz> what sort of a move do you call Nc2, Huh? If CG makes a habit of giving us puzzles with something like that as the best move, I'll find something more exciting to do on Sunday. Like washing the car.

I confess I overlooked 18 ... Bc8, and I agree the advantage to W is marginal. <Morf> seems we think the same, I thought it was a Sicilian, with Bg5 and Bxf6 played. What else but Nd5 in this position, especially if youre an 1 e4 player who chooses aggressive lines like Richter. Or even a 1 c4 player perhaps.

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <Once> I rather enjoyed this puzzle not only for how black declined the sac with 17...Qd8 but that it wasn't a Sicilian after-all! I'm surprised Fritz follows 17.Nd5 exd5 18.Nf5 Bc8 and gives <19.Nxe7> when 19.Nxg7+ Kd8 (if 19...Kf8 20.Qh6 and now 19...Kg8 is met by 21.Nh5!) 20.Bg4 Bxg4 21.Qxg4 gives white more play:

click for larger view

It is revealing how modern engines seem to easily find improvements. It has to be considered a positive if we can 'bust'puzzles or find our own improvements. That can only mean one thing: we are getting better at analayzing! (ie: <jimfromprovidence> and his valuable side-lines) Best, Morf

Mar-20-11  David2009: Z Varga vs S Kustar, 1993 White 17?

Try 17 Nd5 exd5 18 Nf5 Qf8 19 exd5 and White has P for N but open lines against the Black King. This is a positional sacrifice: I do not know how it will end. If Black
declines the sacrifice with Qd8, White can press on with 18 Nxe6 getting two Pawns for the N. Time to check:
Well I saw the start of the main variations but missed the best Black defence (17 Nd5 exd5 18.Nf5 Bc8!). The puzzle position is

click for larger view

(Z Varga vs S Kustar 1993 White 17?). Crafty End Game Trainer check: The EGT defends as does Fritz in <Once>'s excellent post and we reach six moves on

click for larger view

which may or may not be winnable by White with best play. Enjoy trying!

The EGT's moves were 17...exd5 18.Nf5 Bc8! 19.Nxe7 (19.Nxg7+? is a mistake: Kd8 20.Nf5 Bxf5 21.Qxf5 dxe4 and White is a Pawn down with nothing to show for it: the game might continue 22.Qf4 Kc7 23.Rfe1 Qe5 24.Qxe5 fxe5 25.f3 exf3 26.Bxf3 f5 and White is really struggling) 19...Bxh3 20.Nxc6 Bxg2 21.Kxg2 Rxc6 22.exd5 Rc7

Mar-20-11  David2009: Congratulations to <<morfishine> for his fine post Z Varga vs S Kustar, 1993 which seems to give White a meaningful advantage in the line 17.Nd5 exd5! 18.Nf5 Bc8! 19.Nxg7+ Kd8 20.Bg4! (much better than my suggestion 20.Nf5? Bxf5 ). Crafty End Game Trainer (link in my first post Z Varga vs S Kustar, 1993) continues Bxg4 21.Qxg4 Qxe4 22.Qxe4 dxe4 23.Rxd6+ Ke7 24.Rfd1 Rc8 25.R6d5 Rxd5 26.Rxd5 Ne5 27.Nf5+ Ke6 28.Nd4+ Ke7 29.f4 exf3 30.gxf3 Nd3 31.Nf5+ Ke6 32.Ng7+ Ke7 33.Rxd3 Rg8 to reach

click for larger view

(Z Varga vs S Kustar 1993 <morfishine> var 34?) which is a much clearer endgame advantage. Crafty EGT link to the above position: Of course, the ending still has to be won: this I have yet to do (the garden calls).

Mar-20-11  KingV93: I went for 17.Nxe6 in a vain attempt to blow up the center and free the h5-e6 diagonal for the light square bishop and thinking I would follow up with Nd5 or possibly e5 depending.... Not too bad for 3 minute guess at an Insane Sunday puzzler.
Mar-20-11  scormus: <David, morf> thanks for exploring the Nxg7+ line.

Running Rybka now and she prefers 19 Nxg7+ to Nd7. Giving +1.1 with W playing either 20 Qg3 or Qh6. Surprise she doesnt favour Bg4 which looks good for W.

After 23 ... Ke7 in the Crafty line, I like 24 Nf5+. But at present Rybka doesnt want to go that route.

Mar-20-11  sevenseaman: I have been in a torn between this chess puzzle and my other affinity. My team is playing a great match against the Windies. Drinks break and I ran in here.

Does not look easy. My first instincts are NXe6 or Nd5. Out of the two Nd5 looks more promising as it puts pressure on the Black Q and it does not look good to accept my N offer. It seems Q will have to move some where. Where?

Apologies! My other weakness is pulling me away. I'll leave it here and be content if merely this one move turns out right- it could well!

Have stoically avoided looking at the game or comments-just in case I find time I should like to unravel it later.

Mar-20-11  stst: Seeing that 17.Nd5 meets PxN, whereas if 17.Nf5 would allow a delayed Nd5 without being captured, hence a chance of going Nc7 for a check, I go the other line:

17.Nf5 PxN
18.Nd5 Qd8
19.Qxf5 Ne7
20.Nxf6+ BxN
21.Qxf6+ Rf8
22.Rxd6 Qc7
23.Pe5 Ng8
24.Qg7 Pf6
25.Bh5+ Rf7
26.QxN+ Ke7

Of course there're quite other variations within this line. May re-visit this later today.

Premium Chessgames Member
  takchess: By googling thematic Nd5 Sac I was pointed to this former game of the day.

R Antonio vs Dao Thien Hai, 2005

Regarding Varga's position :I think I would of played Nd5 here in an actual game but it's questionable if I would of walked away with a win.

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <David2009> Thanks! Whats interesting too in the <21...Qxe4> line, as noted by <Scormus> instead of 24.Rfd1 try <24.Nf5+> If now 24...Rxf5 25.Rxc6 looks good for white with a much better pawn structure
Mar-20-11  alachabre: A beautiful and warm Sunday morning in the Pacific Northwest! What a rare treat for Spring!

17. Nxe6 Qxe6
18. Qxe6 fxe6
19. Rxd6 is a simple combination that apparently wins a center pawn, and opens the e8-h5 diagonal for the light bishop. There is most certainly more to the position that this, but it makes a good starting point for finding a better combination. For now, a garage full of neglected motorcycles is demanding my undivided attention. Ciao!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Darn it.I was thinking of 17.Nxe6.
Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: From a Sicilian Defense or English Game, I think.

White has a bishop and a knight for the bishop pair.

Black threatens 17... Nxd4 18.Rxd4 f5.

The black king in the center suggests the thematic 17.Nd5 to open lines:

A) 17... exd5 18.Nf5 Qf8 19.Qg3

A.1) 19... Rg8 20.Nxd6 Kd7 (20... Ke7 21.Nxb7 Ne5 22.Nxc5) 21.Nxb7 and White seems to be winning.

A.2) 19... Ne5 20.Nxg7+ with the better position.

B) 17... Qd8 18.Nxe6

B.1) 18... fxe6 19.Qxe6+ Kf8 (19... Ne7 20.Bh5+ Kf8 21.Qf7#) 20.Bh5 Qc7 21.Qe8#.

B.2) 18... Bc8 19.Nxg7+ Kf8 20.Qh6 + -.

C) 17... Qf8 18.Nxe6

C.1) 18... fxe6 19.Qxe6+

C.1.a) 19... Ne7 20.Bh5+ Kd8 21.Nxe7 Qxe7 22.Rxd6+ wins.

C.1.b) 19... Kd8 20.Nxb6 with several threats (21.Qd7#, 21.Rxd6+, etc.).

C.2) 18... Bc8 19.Nxg7+ Qxg7 20.Qxc8+ with a winning position.

Mar-20-11  David2009: Z Varga vs S Kustar, 1993 postscript: Thanks <morf> and <scormus> for your comments. Here's the critical position in the ending

click for larger view

(Z Varga vs S Kustar 1993 morfishine var 24?) set up in Crafty End Game Trainer. Link: (and reached from the puzzle position by 17.Nd5 exd5 18.Nf5 Bc8 19.Nxg7+ Kd8 20.Bg4 Bxg4 21.Qxg4 Qxe4 22.Qxe4 dxe4 23.Rxd6+ Ke7). The EGT finds surprisingly robust resources after 24.Nf5+ Rxf5 25.Rxc6 Rb8 which I leave others to explore. So far I cannot do more than draw in this variation.

I won the R&P ending resulting from 24.Rd1 (see my previous post) by trial and error at my third attempt. Fortunately the EGT usually plays endings the same way. From the present diagram the win continues 24.Rfd1 Rc8 25.R6d5 Rxd5 26.Rxd5 Ne5 27.Nf5+ Ke6 28.Nd4+ Ke7 29.f4 exf3 30.gxf3 Nd3 31.Nf5+ Ke6 32.Ng7+ Ke7 33.Rxd3 Rg8 (see diagram in my previous post) 34.f4! (first time round I played Kf2 and Black got too much activity) Rxg7+ 35.Rg3 Rg6 36.Kf2 Rh6! 37.h3! (discovered on my third attempt) f5 38.Ke3 Re6+ 39.Kd4 Kd6 40.Re3 Rxe3!? (a welcome decision: the Pawn ending should be theoretically won) 41.Kxe3 Kc5 to reach

click for larger view

which is a won Pawn ending. With the Pawn still on h2 the win would be easy because White can penetrate the King side in the main variation: with the Pawn on h3 Black can shut White out so the win is a bit more tricky. Crafty EGT link to this Pawn ending: Enjoy beating the EGT from this position: I propose to post a solution in my forum in due course unless someone posts one here first.

Mar-20-11  rilkefan: <Running Rybka now and she prefers 19 Nxg7>

Cool. It's funny as a patzer to guess and wait for the truth to emerge. I wanted to play 20.Nf5 afterwards, and if ...Qxe4 then Bg4, but apparently that's already wrong. <David2009>: Why is 20...Bxf5?

Hmm, actually I'm not loving 21.Qxf5 de. 22.Qf4 Kc7 and black's getting organized plus up a pawn.

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <David2009> Good work pursuing the ending in this game. And thanks for the Crafty ending. I actually won it for white! I forgot the line, but its not that hard; the Q-side majority ties black up and then the white king mops-up the K-side pawns queening. Feel free to drop-in at my forum anytime. I'm working hard on analysis and much desire to look at any position. Thanks :) Morf
Mar-20-11  LIFE Master AJ: Interesting problem. I worked for 30 minutes, but did not get everything right ... lots of tactics.
Mar-20-11  WhiteRook48: I failed because I was being too materialistic...
Mar-20-11  M.Hassan: "Insane" White to play 17.?
White has a Knight for a Bishop which is considered to be equal. I struggled very much with 17.Nxe6 idea and could not get anything out of it until Nd5 occured to me:

17.Nd5 exd5
18.Nf5 Qf8
19.Qg3 Rg8
20.Nxd6+ Kd7
21.Bg4+ Ke8
22.Nxb7 Qb8
23.Qxb8 Rxb8
24.Nxc6 bxc6
And I think White wins on grounds of material advantage and excellent pawn structure. Let's check to see

Mar-21-11  sevenseaman: A complicated solution as the responses are only semi-forced. Response variation leads to variety in solving.

No regrets in not getting it all in a 'fixed manner'.

I am not going to look at Monday puzzle until I throw off my other encumbrances.

The link R Antonio vs Dao Thien Hai, 2005 was great, whoever brought it in. Very relevant.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: Good game by Zoltan Varga!
Premium Chessgames Member
  bharat123: I tried in G T M 23.Nc8 with the idea of 23..Qxe6 24.Rd8+ mate follows. Nc8 works on move 24 also. Look better than the text. Is it not?
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