mia analisi: Il
La lezione del GM Schwartzman: This game didn't
go quite as well as my opponent might have hoped. In a Reti opening, I sacrificed a pawn very
early, for no other purpose than to give my pieces an increased activity.
My intuition proved correct, as I managed to show a lot of compensation for that pawn, and posed my opponent some tough problems. He tried to defend as well as he could, and that is how we got to this position. As you can see, black is still a pawn up, partly because Igor had absolutely no desire to give it back. This not necessarily because he is greedy, but more because the pawn is the only thing that still keeps black alive. The same position, with equal material, would be simply catastrophic for him.
The bad news for black, though, is the position of his king, something I had worked on worsening really hard ... My rook on e4 might look odd, but it does the job - it keeps the black king in the center, which I also was responsible for breaking apart. Unfortunately, these endeavors of mine allowed black to trade off a couple of pieces, which is the one real big danger for white in such situations. After all, just imagine this position as an endgame, and you will quickly realize that it is white who would have to fight hard for survival.
It is also unfortunate that black's last move was to capture my bishop on a3, and I thus was in a tight spot: do I take the bishop back, and give black the break he needs to hide his king better, or do I let black stay a piece ahead, something that would also help his defense?
The answer lies only in a complete and correct calculation!
The nice thing about this position is that choosing the moves to calculate is not a very difficult process. It is quite obvious that white's idea would be to pressure the king, the only way to do it is on the 'd' file. Also, it is easy to see that after 1.Bh3 black can build up a rather adequate defense with 1...Qd6 followed by Qc7, and so, without much effort, we have arrived at the move that we need to focus on, in case we do not recapture the black bishop. That move is 1.Rd1!
As if things didn't go easy enough so far, here is some more good news: black
practically only one choice - to close off the 'd' file. Failure to do so, would
lead to either the loss of the knight on d7, or the rook on b8, which though defended by
the knight, is right now very vulnerable. In other words, black has to play 1...Bd6
if he want even a chance to survive.
As my opponent admitted after the game, this is the position he had seen a few moves back, and he considered that there are enough defensive resources for black to hold it. What he failed to do, was continue to calculate. You see, this is not the kind of position where you can already stop and assess it - you actually have to first make sure there are no lethal concrete moves at white's disposal. Fortunately for me, there is such a move: 2.Bh3!
The truth is that the move is a little subtle, not just by itself, but by the fact that
it doesn't really look like such a powerful move. After all, the only thing it does
is attack the black knight, and it certainly doesn't look like the knight has a
shortage of squares to go to. The real story though, is once again the rook on
b8. Despite being now defended by two black pieces, it is actually more vulnerable
than ever. Why? Because the moment the knight leaves, the black bishop
practically takes off with him, since the pin makes it worthless.
And that's why my opponent had no choice than to resign. He has no reasonable way of defending the knight, and moving it leads to the loss of the rook and even checkmate in just a few moves. Of course, I had seen this position a long time ago in my calculations, and thus made the appropriate moves to get here, but I was still very happy to win it in this way. For those interested, here is the entire game:
Schwartzman,G (2618) - Shliperman,I (2493)
U.S. Open (11), 1997
1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 c6 3.b3 Bg4 4.g3 Nd7 5.Bg2 Bxf3 6.Bxf3 dxc4 7.bxc4 Ne5 8.Bg2 Nxc4 9.Qb3 Nd6 10.0-0 Nf6 11.Nc3 e5 12.Ba3 Rb8 13.Rab1 Nd7 14.Rfd1 Qf6 15.Qa4 a6 16.d4 exd4 17.Rxd4 Nb5 18.Re4+ Kd8 19.Nxb5 axb5 20.Qa5+ b6 21.Qa7 Bxa3 22.Rd1 Bd6 23.Bh3 1-0