Chess - The Scotsman 29/09/12

SOME really top chess players have the gift of often being able to win in a very elegant, graceful and seemingly effortless manner, their moves flowing together in a beautiful, unstrained way.

One of my personal heroes (with whom I tied for the runner-up place at the 2003 British Championship in Edinburgh) is India’s super-GM Pentala Harikrishna, who is in his twenties and definitely possesses the gift described above.

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In January, Harikrishna won an impressively fast game against Ukrainian star Illya Nyzhnyk, the world’s youngest grandmaster. Harikrishna employed Lasker’s Defence against the Queen’s Gambit, but if you’re looking for something completely different that’s sharp and tactical from the very start, then you’ll definitely love Attack with Black, a fine new GAMBIT book by GM Valery Aveskulov who does a good job of building a complete repertoire for Black against 1 d4 by focusing primarily on the Benko and Blumenfeld Gambits, 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 b5 and 2 Nf3 c5 3 d5 e6 4 c4 b5. Other move orders are carefully covered too, and for further details I would warmly encourage you to check out www.gambitbooks.com. Right now, though, let’s enjoy Harikrishna’s attacking gem.

White: I Nyzhnyk; Black: P Harikrishna. Opening: Queen’s Gambit Declined

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 d5 4 Nc3 Be7 5 Bg5 h6 6 Bh4 0-0 7 Rc1 Ne4 8 Bxe7 Qxe7 9 g3 9 e3 c6 10 h4!? Nd7 11 g4!? was successfully used last year against Harikrishna by Armenian super-GM Levon Aronian, who’s ranked the world’s No.2 player. 9…Qb4 10 Qc2?! 10 Qb3 seems best. 10…Qxc4 11 Nxe4 Qxc2 12 Rxc2 dxe4 13 Nd2 e5 A simple alternative is 13…Nc6, but Black’s highly energetic choice works out very well in the game. 14 Nxe4 exd4 15 Rxc7 Na6 16 Rc1 16 Re7 is met easily by 16…Rd8 followed by …Kf8. 16…Bd7 If 16…Be6, then White can try 17 Bg2 threatening Nd6 and intending 17…Bd5 18 Nf6+!. 17 Bg2 Bc6 18 Rg1 Rfe8!? Certainly a bold choice, but the consequences of 19 Nd6 Re6 20 Bxc6 bxc6 21 Rxc6 Nb4 22 Rc8+ Rxc8 23 Nxc8 are quite unclear. 19 Nc5 Bb5 A truly amazing move! Instead of directly exchanging minor pieces, Black focuses all his energy on activating his rooks and, with a bit of help from his stunned opponent, that happens with devastating effect. 20 Bxb7 Rxe2+ 21 Kd1? It looks counterintuitive to play 27 Kf1 given that Black has a bishop on b5, but Bxa6 is coming, and Rg2 to defend f2 is another important defensive resource if Black’s queen’s rook gets to b2. 21…Rb8 22 Bxa6 Bxa6 23 Nxa6 Rbxb2 Although Black is currently a piece down for only one pawn, his superactive rooks will soon be gobbling up and, even more importantly, they are creating immediate mating threats. 24 Rc8+ Kh7 25 Nb4 Rxf2 26 a3 a5 27 Nd5 Ra2 28 Re1 d3 29 White resigned, having no decent defence to the threat of 29…Ra1+ 30 Rc1 Rxc1+ 31 Kxc1 d2+.