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Peter Leko vs Fabiano Caruana
Dortmund Sparkassen (2012), Dortmund GER, rd 4, Jul-16
French Defense: Winawer. Poisoned Pawn Variation Main Line (C18)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jul-16-12  luzhin: If Black captures the Queen with 30...Rxf2 he runs into 31.Rb8+ Kc6 32.Bb5+ Kd5 33.c4 mate!
Jul-16-12  goodevans: According to Houdini both <28...Nf3+> and <31.Rg1> are "blunders". Houdini reckons <31.Ba6+ Kd8 32.Qf1> leads to a won endgame for white.

The line Houdini gives is not all forcing and the horizon effect makes computers less reliable when evaluating endgames, so all in all I'm yet to be convinced that Houdini is right.

Jul-16-12  Eyal: Interestingly, there are three more games in the database that reached the position after 20...Kb8 (, and White didn't win any of them. He's two pawns up, but Black has loads of counterplay to compensate for that (indeed, the engines evaluate the position as approximately equal). Here, it seems that Leko actually missed a win with 31.Ba6+! Kd8 32.Qf1! - apparently Caruana's 28...Nf3+, instead of 28...Kxc8 immediately, was a mistake.

On the ICC broadcast, Seirawan remarked that this line is difficult to play since the position is very "concrete", and navigating it depends to a large extent on constantly being alert to tactical possibilities and calculating forcing lines rather than on positional understanding. Indeed, quite a few moves seem to be motivated by concrete tactical considerations - for example, 23...b6 is aimed against the idea of 24.Be3 Nf3+ 25.Rxf3 Bxf3 26.Bxa7+, and 26.Ba3 against that of 26...Nxc2+ 27.Rxc2 Bxc2 28.Qxc2 Rgd8 - because of 29.Bd6+!

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Seirawan himself always went in for 4....Qd7 in his youth, instead of playing into these tactical mazes in the Poisoned Pawn. An early example which showcased his skills was Timman vs Seirawan, 1978.
Jul-16-12  Eyal: Btw, Houdini's evaluation of 31.Ba6+! Kd8 32.Qf1 as winning for White does seem to be correct - the best Black can do is 32...Qxf1 (32...Qxh2 33.Rh3; or 32...Rxh2 33.Qxh1 Rxh1 34.Kxe4) 33.Bxf1 Rxh2 34.Rxf3 Bxf3 35.Kxf3 Rxc2:

click for larger view

and the two bishops should be able to overcome the rook.

The draw is really secured for Black only after 36.Qg3(?) - instead, a5 or f5 could still pose some problems. Not surprisingly, both players were in time trouble by this stage.

Jul-16-12  Marmot PFL: Leko is not the same player he was 5 or 6 years ago. He had enough time left to find the win.
Jul-16-12  Eyal: Perhaps Leko overestimated 31.Rg1 (which does leave White with some advantage), thinking that after the simplifications it should be a technical win, and so didn’t make a big effort to find something better.
Jul-16-12  Eyal: On move 28, if Black "simply" recaptures ...Kxc8:

click for larger view

White seemingly has a very dangerous continuation with 29.Rc3+ Kd7 (29...Kd8?? 30.Qh4+ and mate; Black can't allow White to make this move with check, so the king has to remain on light squares) 30.Qh4 (30.Rc7+ Ke8 doesn't anywhere; 31.Qh4?? Nf3+) – but here Black saves himself by 30...Nxc2+! 31.Rxc2 Rd1+! 32.Kxd1 Qxf1+ 33.Kd2 Qg2+ with perpetual check. 29.c4, to trap the rook, doesn't work either, again because of 29...Nc2+ (30.Ke2 Rd4).

Jul-17-12  weisyschwarz: <MarmotPFL> after 42...Bg6, there is not much chance of Leko finding anything.
Jul-17-12  Eyal: Of course there's no win in the final position; he's talking about the win Leko missed on move 31.

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