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Emanuel Berg vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
"Bergermeister" (game of the day Jan-21-2013)
Tradewise Gibraltar (2012), Catalan Bay GIB, rd 10, Feb-02
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation (B96)  ·  1-0



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find similar games 1 more E Berg/M Vachier-Lagrave game
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Kibitzer's Corner
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Feb-13-12  M.Hassan: "Insane" White to play 17.?
Both sides have lost 3 pawns.

I kept on thinking of this certain line but could not follow it to the end due to tiredness and then resorted to Chessmaster that showed starting 3 moves were the same:

17.Nxf8 Nxd3
18.Ng6+ Kh7
19.Bxd3 Kxg6
20.e4+ Kf7
21.exf6 Bxf6
22.Ne4 Qb2
23.Re1 Be6
24.Nxf6 gxf6
25.Rb1 Qxa2
26.Rxb7+ Kg8
27.Bxf6 Bf7
28.c4 h5

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <James D Flynn> & <LoveThatJoker> Thanks for looking! Much appreciated! Of course, this stems from <19.Nxe7> (which tries to play both sides of the board) instead of the game-score <19.Bxd3>

Instead of 19...Qxc3, better for Black may be <19...Nc5> or <19.Nb4> to screen or cover <b7> in the event of <Nxc8>. Plus this keeps whites bishop out of <d3>.

I don't think Black wants to allow the sequence <20.Nxc8> followed by <21.Rxb7>. Thats what I meant by playing both sides of the board.

Again, thanks guys! Great job today, very enjoyable!

Feb-13-12  CHESSTTCAMPS: I'm not going try a comprehensive solution in view of limited time, but black's double attack on Qd3 and Ne6 suggests that white should give up Q for R+B and a strong attack. One line I see is 17.Nxf8 Nxd3 18.Ng6+ Kh7 19.Nxe7 Qxc3 (stronger, I think, is 19... Ne5) 20.Bd3 Qe5 21.Rxf6!! gxf6 (Qxe7 22.Rxh6+ wins the Q) 22.Bxf6 Q moves 23.e5+ forces black to give up queen to stop mate.

Time for review....

Feb-13-12  scormus: I'd be interested in the thinking on 9 Qd3 instead of Qd2, in this game or on move 8 in the more usual Najdorf Poison Pawn. Not so many games in the database with Qd3 but a superior win rate for W. Is this because it's better or just that B is less likely to have prepared for it. Either way it looks interesting, allowing the WQ 1-move path to f3, g3 or h3. Against that it could be vulnerable (or sacrificable) to a BN on e5. Having WQ and BQ on row 3 also adds some, whats that word chess guys use .... tension.
Premium Chessgames Member
  sethoflagos: <<scormus:> I'd be interested in the thinking on 9 Qd3 instead of Qd2>

The 6.Bg5 Najdorfs are going for the quick tactical kill and Qd2 is definitely the best attacking square for the WQ.

BUT ... if black inconsiderately survives past move 20, there are some internal weaknesses in white's position that will come back to haunt him. c3 is obviously weak, but so are c4, e3 and e4. 9.Qd3 retains some tactical advantage (especially in the h6 variation as above) but I think white is eyeing his middle game defensive position as well.

Berg playing white against the poisoned pawn has 6.5/7 on the database so he obviously knows what he is doing.

Gashimov is no slouch either (!) but in the game I gave earlier V Gashimov vs Grischuk, 2010, Grischuk just blows away his central defence in half a dozen moves despite a full four minor piece blockade of white's weak squares. Amazing game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <sethoflagos> Fascinating game Gashimov vs Grischuk...Thanks!
Premium Chessgames Member
  sethoflagos: Cheers <morfishine:>

I must make a small correction though.

On recheck, Berg's impressive 6.5/7 was against general B96 Najdorf's. He was actually winless against poisoned pawns until he switched from Qd2 to Qd3 for 2/2 since.

Feb-14-12  scormus: <sethoflagos> Thanks a lot for the response. I'll go over the Gashimov vs Grischuk game as well as others of Berg.

Interesting point about whether Qd3 holds W's position together better than Qd2, and also Berg's success with it.

I only remember one game when the Poison Pawn was played against me, it seemed to go out of favour in the 70s (after Spassky-Fischer). I got the feeling B would play it only if he knew it intimately, and is probably a specialist with it, while W would be prepared for several other continuations in the Najdorf 6. Bg5 line.

Feb-15-12  gofer: This one is indeed insane. So many themes;

a) The nice little dance of Ne6;

1) Nxf8 Nxd3 2) Ng6+ Kh7 3) Nxe7

b) The attack on Nf6

1) Bxf6 Nxd3 2) Bxg7+ Kg8 3) Bxf8 Bxe6 4) Bxe7

c) The defense of Ne6

1) Qh3

d) The attack on Qa3 to swing Rb1 to f3, g3 or h3

1) Rb3 Nxd3 2) Nxf8 Qa5 3) Bxd3!


I have been looking at this for a couple of days and
I am still no further forward. Okay so I saw a scrap
of an idea that could develop into something better, but getting the complete combination was beyond me. Having finally looked at the game I have the following to comment...

17 Nxf8 Nxd3
18 Ng6+ Kh7
19 Bxd3 ...

Now I did see this far, but I wasn't sure the king had to take Ng6, could black not risk Qxc3? After all there is no reason why black can't simply give back the queen sacrifice if white plays Rb3 immediately and if he doesn't then having the queen on the a1-h8 diagonal could be quite useful defensively.

19 ... Qc3
20 Nxe7 ...

White has a rook and bishop for the queen, not that much! But the threat of the discovered check is there to gain another minor piece.

20 ... Be6
21 e5+ Qxd3!
22 cxd3 dxe5

Okay black is an exchange down, but is a pawn up. The problem is that white has a good attack and black has nothing. so I am starting to see that may be black does have to take Ng6...

Feb-15-12  scormus: <gofer> you are working well. 2 days on a Sunday puzzle, that dedication puts me to shame. I max at about 2 hours! Yes, I agree with you the big <if> is whether B takes the Ng6
Jan-21-13  jovack: awesome game
Jan-21-13  ZeejDonnelly: Is it me, or does Lagrave seem to get destroyed in many GotDs?
Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: That is a good question, I'd have to say it is just you. =)

If you look at his record, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave rated at 2711, decent amount of victories, almost the same amount of draws.

But he is known to capture his own pawn, dunno know why.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <ZeejDonnelly> I make Vachier-Lagrave's record in GOTDs to be <+5 -4 =1>, which isn't so unusual one way or the other. However, he does have a very remarkable streak going, which you'll spot in a moment:

Morozevich vs M Vachier-Lagrave, 2009 (0-1; 2010.01.31)

R Fontaine vs M Vachier-Lagrave, 2007 (0-1; 2010.04.06)

Sadvakasov vs M Vachier-Lagrave, 2006 (0-1; 2010.06.09)

I Miladinovic vs M Vachier-Lagrave, 2008 (0-1; 2011.04.19)

Kasparov vs M Vachier-Lagrave, 2011 (1-0; 2011.09.21)

Kramnik vs M Vachier-Lagrave, 2011 (1-0; 2012.01.22)

I A Nataf vs M Vachier-Lagrave, 2006 (1/2-1/2; 2012.07.22)

G Meier vs M Vachier-Lagrave, 2012 (0-1; 2012.10.22)

Ivanchuk vs M Vachier-Lagrave, 2012 (1-0; 2012.10.27)

E Berg vs M Vachier-Lagrave, 2012 (1-0; 2013.01.21)

Considering that, I don't think his record is so bad.

Jan-21-13  ZeejDonnelly: Thanks for the research, <Phony Benoni>. It's better than NN for sure!
Jan-21-13  Abdel Irada: A beautiful attack, but it would be interesting to see proof that it would still work had Black not chosen to lead with his jaw.
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: Ice Berg

POTD 2-12=12

Jan-21-13  Abdel Irada: <morfishine: Ice Berg>

I think that would work better if Berg had lost.

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: Hi <Abdel Irada> The idea is White has ice water in his veins...there's got be some play on words for Black being buried or finding an early grave...nah
Jan-21-13  kellmano: I play blitz chess down the pub most Fridays with some friends, <checkitout> met them in London. A couple of weeks ago we played a fair few games from the poison pawn variation of the Sicilian.

I highly recommend this if you want to practice some sharp stuff at a club or something. We're usually quite drunk, but all the games have been superb fun. Interestingly, I would observe that it is not one of those gambits where White has all the fun. In general, if White hasn't tactically won before move 25 Black's counter-attack is crushing; the pieces just spring to life against White's overextended position. Don't know if this coincides with top level games.

Premium Chessgames Member
  fm avari viraf: This is one of those scintillating games where you find Maxime Vachier in a la grave.
Jan-21-13  Abdel Irada: <fm avari viraf: This is one of those scintillating games where you find Maxime Vachier in a la grave.>

In honor of the occasion, perhaps we should spell his name with an accent Lagrāve.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Black CANNOT stop the mate!
Jul-07-14  Xeroxx: incredible
May-05-17  fisayo123: The time MVL got MVL'd.
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