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La mia analisi: Il materiale











La lezione del GM SchwartzmanWe are obviously dealing with a very complicated position. Even though materially equal, the position is in a very delicate balance. If it were white to move, Rh7 would immediately finish the game, and there are not too many ways to stop that. Of course Qc8 and Qb6 are other threats, so black's position is by far not too easy. But before we get into more concrete details, as usual, an analysis of the position is required.
Well, a quick position analysis should reveal some pretty interesting things, including some that are not so bad for us... For instance, it doesn't take long to realize that white's king too is not very safe. There is no piece around him responsible with the defense, and our queen and knight are awfully close. Actually there are a couple of checkmates that should come to our attention such as Qh5-f3, Qh5-d1, or Rc8-c1. Unfortunately, in every case there is one white piece that stops that checkmate: the white queen controls f3, the rook controls d1, and the bishop c1. Just as unfortunate is the fact that we don't have much time to prepare these checkmates, because of our own king problems.
I think our next step is not too difficult: looking for ways to stop Rh7 and all the other threats... Of course 1...Rh8 looks like the most obvious move, but apart from being very passive, it also gives white concrete possibilities such as 2.b5! with the idea Ba3-f8+. But before we start panicking, there is one other move, that might appear less obvious but is actually much more effective: 1...Rc7!!

This move shouldn't be as surprising as it might look... First of all, it is the only other way to stop Rh7, and secondly, as I mentioned before, all the white pieces are tied up defending some sort of checkmate, so doesn't it make sense to make them move, even if we have to sacrifice a rook in the process? And we shouldn't even call this a sacrifice... After all, 2.Qc7 loses to 2...Qf3 3.Kg1 Qg2 mate, and 2.Rc7 also loses because of 2...Qd1 with immediate checkmate.
Now this is a rather important point in our calculations. We might be very tempted to stop here and say "All right, Rc7 is a great move and black is winning!" Well, that would be a grave error. Once again that important question "Can he do anything else?" has to come haunt us, if we really want to find all of our opponent's resource, including the most hidden ones.
And in this position they are really hidden. Cause everything looks so perfect: we are attacking the queen and rook at the same time, and the queen can't find another square to keep defending the rook. Plus 2.Rh7 fails because of 2...Rh7. So what else? Well, remember that white bishop that isn't doing much on a3? Because our king has such a bad position on h6, with almost nowhere to go, white has the beautiful 2.b5!!

The idea is not very difficult to guess: Ba3-f8. Since this is a mating threat, black doesn't have very much freedom. 2...Rb7 fails because of that immediate checkmate, and 2...Rd7 isn't much better from this point of view because of 3.Bf8 Rg7 4.Bg7 checkmate. An aggressive continuation such as 2...Qe2 is not great either, since white has now several new resources at his disposal, such as 3.Rh7 Rh7(3...Kh7 4.Qc7 gives white at least a draw) 4.Bf8 Kh5 5.Qh7 Kg4 6.Qg6 and white is OK.
Which is why black's safest continuation is to admit the draw and play 2...Qd1!.

After 3.Rd1 Rb7 there is not much left to fight for on either side, so a draw looks like the most reasonable result, which was of course also the correct answer to the puzzle question...
A very interesting example, that not only shows the beauty of a hidden move such as 1...Rc7, based on the fact that white's pieces were overworked, but also the necessity of further calculating all the possibilities, including 2.b5...