A courageous sacrifice that at first looks 'standard', since we see so many ¿hd5 sacrifices today. White's idea is to create two connected and (hopefully) mobile passed pawns in the centre on the fifth rank, which certainly will be worth a lot. But in most of the sacrifices with <2M5, Black's king is directly attacked and he lacks counterplay. Here, by contrast, we see a powerful black pawn-mass (...f5 and ...f4 or

20...axb5 21 axb5

No it isn't, despite Black's growing material advantage.

The alternative 21...®b7?! leads to messy play but should ultimately lose: 22 c6 Wb8 (22...®xb5 23 d7+! is winning for White), and now best is 23 ®d5! (Serper argues that 23 b6 '!' wins, but the position after 23.. .£if6 is not as convincing as the 23 ®d5 line) 23...£xal 24 Sxal (D).

For example, 24...®if6 (24... Jte6 25 d7+ ¿>d8 26 £.b6+ ®xb6 27 Wd6 and Black gets mated!) 25 «xe5+ *f7 26 Sa7+ Ad7 27 c7! #c8 (27...«e8 28 Wxe8+ <S?xe8 29 c8«+ Axc8 30 2e7+ &d8 31 ±b6#) 28 b6, etc.

There is no end to the attack as White commits to sacrificing another piece.

A tactical trick here is 24...fxe3? 25 #d5!! exf2+ 26 4>xf2 and Black's material is irrelevant (26...#xd5 27 2xc8#).

The attack is too much, even if White is starting to run out of pieces!

26...£M6 27 ®e6+ <£>f8 28 £ie4! has in mind the nice continuations 28...fxe3 29 fog5 We8 30 2a8, and 28...fre8 29 Wxe8+! £ixe8 (29...<&xe8 30 2a8+ <£f7 31 fog5#) 30 2xd7 fxe3 31 c6 and wins.

A beautiful shot that eventually wins by force. In what was doubtless beginning to be serious time-trouble for both sides, it certainly wasn't easy to see that there was another way to win after the obvious 28 foe4 e2 29 4>f2 fohf6!, and now the not-so obvious 30 ^el!! (instead of 30 £>xf6? #xc5+ or 30 <&xe2 foxe4 31 fxe4 Wc6 32 *f3 Wb5!).

The tactical try 29...&g3+ 30 hxg3 #xd7 31 «xd7 hxg3 fails to 32 «e7+ d?g8 33 We8+ <£>h7 (33...Af8 34 «xg6+ ±gl 35 ®xg3 and White wins) 34 d7 intending 34..JLf6 35 c6!. And even getting the queens off by 29...lSra6+ 30 4>xf2 ®e2+! 31 4>xe2 £>f4+ 32 if 1 foxc6

loses immediately to 33 c6 ig8 34 2e7!. White had to see all or most of this and trust his intuition when playing 28 2xd7! ?, as well as anticipate much of what follows:

Only move! Instead, 30 ®xe8+? <4>xe8 31 2e7+ $f8! 32 c6 fails to 32...£>g3+!! 33 <&xf2 (33 hxg3 hxg3 34 4>e2 2hl) 33...®>f5 34 2xg7

®xd6!. The tactics just keep coming.

30...«xf7 31 #c8+ #e8 32 d7 4>f7 33 dxe8«+ 2xe8 34 Wb7+

Still trailing in material, White also had to see that his c-pawn was now more important than Black's pieces and tricks.

34...sfrg8 35 c6 is hopeless for Black.

Now ...2xb7 followed by ...Jte5 is threatened, and it seems as though ...e3-e2+ is a problem. But not really:

Repeating moves to make the time-control.

39...&f6 40 ®d6+ if7 41 Wxe7+ ixe7 42 cSW ±h6

After 43...if7,44 Wc4+ and 45 Wxh4 wins.

44 H>5+ id8 45 Wb6+ id7 46 Wxg6 e2+ 47 ixf2 ±e3+ 48 iel! 1-0

And not 48 ixe2?? fof4+. A superb game in which the centre triumphed over the flank!

Game 12

Nunn - Nataf

French Cht 1998/9

This primarily tactical game illustrates a typically 'anti-positional' but dynamic Sicilian variation and emphasizes the pragmatic dynamism that we see everywhere in chess today. It provides more than the usual dose of the latter.

1 e4 c5 2 fof3 foc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 foxd4 e5 5 fobS d6

Once a rare line played mainly by beginners, this move caught on heavily in the late 1980s and continues to score well. It was certainly inspired by the success of the Sveshnikov Variation, which goes 4...fof6 5 foc3 e5 6 fodb5 d6 instead. But it is amazing that Black can so blithely cede the d5-square and assume a weak and backward d-pawn when White can reinforce his grip by c4, something he can't do in the Sveshnikov.

6 c4 ksH

Again, this passive move seems a poor trade-

A noteworthy move that uses a tempo to make the e7-bishop even worse and releases the pressure on e4 ! However, it also serves two important practical functions. First, the cl-bishop is cut off from play, and what may not be imme-off for the active play that we have seen in the diately evident is that White's a3-knight can't

Sveshnikov. But it is a case of 'bad bishops protecting] good pawns' (Suba), i.e., if the pawn that holds up your entire structure is guarded by a bad bishop, are you about to complain? Black's d6-pawn, despite being backward, is in fact his most important one, and it is also the second centre pawn (versus one for White) that constitutes Black's fundamental advantage in the Sicilian Defence.

Regarding move-order, by the way, Black would like to avoid 6...£rf6 7 Ag5, which creates doubled pawns after 7...a6 8 &xf6 gxf6 9 &5c3.

A sort of beginner's move that tries to break down White's centre and operate along the f-file. However, it creates more light-squared weak- w nesses (in addition to d5) and looks utterly anti-positional. Again, however, we see the influence of pragmatism as opposed to abstract thinking.

swing to its ideal destination on e3 (controlling f5 and d5). The main alternative is 9...fxe4, which is still theoretically unclear.

Ultimately this doesn't work out, although it's almost impossible to ascertain whether it should have done. Black has done well in the few games from this position, an extremely dynamic and entertaining example being 10 £ih6!? 11 b3 0-0 12 £>d5 ±g5 (Black's development is bizarre but difficult to refute) 13 $Le2 Ae6 14 &b2 <£h8 15 Wd3 Sc8 16 ±c3 b5!?

17 cxb5 ±xd5 18 exd5 19 i.d2 (there may be better options, but the obvious 19 bxa6 leads to aprobable draw after 19...®c7:20 ®c4 ®b6 21 Wd3 ®c7) 19...e4!? 20 Wxe4 2e8 21 Wd3 ^xb5 22 2c 1 (22 0-0 2xc2; 22 a4 2xc2 23 axb5 f3! and Black wins) 22...We7 23 <4>dl? (23 *fl) 23...2c3! 24 2el (24 i.xc3 £ixc3+ 25 4>d2 £ixe2 26 f3 £hccl 27 2xcl ®a7! 28 £M4 £tf5! and Black wins) 24...2xd3 25 £xd3

Logical enough. The threat is exf5, so White Wf7 26 2xe8+ Wxe8 27 a4 ¿hg4 0-1 Pluvia is developing with tempo to emphasize his light-square advantage. But today 9 Jid3 is very rarely played, because Black's reply has driven it from mainstream practice. Today, almost everyone plays 9 exf5 Jbif5 10 ±d3, although 10 £>c2 is a particularly interesting alternative.

Poyatos-Moiseenko, Aviles jr Ech 2000.

The introduction to mad complications. This should definitely be classified as a tactical pawn sacrifice but it does have a few positional aspects. Vitally, it wins the important e5-square.

11 gxf4 exf4 12 £xf4 0-0 13 l.g3 Nataf gives 13 Wd2?! ¿hg4\ intending 14 0-0-0?? 2xf4 15 #xf4 ±g5, winning; and 14

dangerous attack after 14...^ge5 (finally using that important square) 15 Ae2 (15 f4 Wb6+) 15...&h3 16 ®d5+ <£h8 17 fifdl Ah4! 18 c5

£g3? &xf2!! 15 Axf2 2xf2 16 <à>xf2 Ag5!!, a (18 ®xd6? Axg3 19 hxg3 #b6) 18...Axg3 19

spectacular portent of things to come. But possibly White could have played 14 £kt5, allowing 14...£\xf2!? because of the defensive line 15 <&xf2 Jkg5 16 Safl! ±xf4 17 £>xf4 g5 18 Shgl <&h819<4>el. According to Nunn, 14.. Jth4 is better, when 15 0-0 £>d4 16 f3 is promising for Black. There are of course alternatives, and in fact I'm more concerned with the dynamic aspects of the game rather than the literal soundness of the sacrifice.

'!', if only for the amazing ideas that it introduces.

Nataf approves of this with an '!', but it doesn't work out so well and there may be a much better alternative (T below). He presents a number of lines here (I use my own notational marks):

a) 14 h3?? £ixf2! 15 Axf2 Sxf2 16 &xf2 Ah4+ 17 ¿>e2 <SM4+ 18 £e3 (18 <&d2 Wg5#) 18...»g5+ 19 sfexd4 Wc5#.

b) 14 G)c2? £>xf2! 15 &xf2 Exf2 16 4>xf2 .&h4+ and Black wins, since 17 &e2 runs into

c) Also losing is 14 Wd2? £>xf2! 15 Axf2 Sxf2 16 *x£2 (16 #xf2 AM) 16...±g5! (but not 16...i.h4+?? 17 <±>g2, since the mate that applied to the above lines by ...®g5+ no longer exists) 17 Wc2 Ah4+.

d) Nataf offers 14 0-0!? but gives no further moves. I think that Black gets at least a hxg3 Wfg5 (introducing various ideas including 20...Hxf2) 20 Wd2 Wg6! 21 We3 (21 Wxd6?7

Wf7, and ...2ad8 threatens as well as ...®xf2+) 21.. .dxc5 intending.. .£kl4 and Black has excellent attacking chances.

Wxc2 £>e5 with 'good compensation'.

f) Neither Nataf nor Nunn mentions 14 f4!, which is loosening, but on the other hand stops both and any idea of a sacrifice on f2. It seems to me that this is a critical test of Black's pawn sacrifice. Play might continue 14...®b6

and ...2xf4, but 15 ®d2 covers everything; then 15.,.£}b4 16 $Lc2 leaves Black with less than nothing for the pawn) 15 Wd2 Ae6 (15...£>b4

17 0-0-0 £tf6 18 Af2) 17 0-0-0, when Black doesn't seem to have enough play; for example,

Wcl 21 <2M5 and White wins. However, those are hardly comprehensive lines and both sides have alternatives.


A remarkable move in view of the reduced material that is supporting the attack. From here on out it's just a question of whether Black will mate or White can work his way out.

White has trouble defending after this move, but after 15 JLxf2 2xf2! White has nothing better than 16 ®d5+ 4>h8, transposing to the note to Black's 16th move. Instead, 16 '¿xft? loses to 16.. JLh4+ 17 <S?g2 (17 4>e3 ®g5+ 18 4>d3 £ib4+! 19 <S?d4 ®c5#) 17...«fg5+.

Nunn assigns this a '?' and suggests 16 Sfl &g4 with Black 'slightly better'. At this point it must have been nearly impossible to assess the precise worth of Black's forthcoming attack.

Objectively inferior. Nunn says that 16...Sxf2

17 &xf2! ®b4 transposes, finding the beautiful line 18 ®f7 £h4+ 19 <£>f3 <^c6!! 20 lff4 g5 21

18 #d4? £h4+ simply wins for Black, so the line in the next note isn't available and thus 16...2xf2! wins!

This seems to lose. The position is explosive, and it takes a computer to see through the rubble:

a) 17 Wd2? 2xf2! 18 $xf2 Ag5! (but not 18...1h4+? 19 $g2!) 19 ®d4 lh4+ transposes to line 'bl'.

b) Nataf gives 17 ®d4 a 4 T, but I consider it the best defence. 17...Sxf2! and now:

bl) 18&xf2?Ah4+19&f3!?(194>g21oses to 19...%5+) 19...±h3! and Black intends either ...Wf8+ or ...®e8-g6, or in some cases ..Mel and ...2f8. There might follow 20 ¿hd5 ®g5 21 £tf4 2f8 22 ®xd6 ±g4+ 23 &e3 2xf4! 24 ®xf4 Af2+. This is all very pretty, but...

b2) 18 2gl! 2f7 19 0-0-0 seems to defend, although Black is still much better.

The familiar idea, at first sight less likely to work this time because the queen on h5 covers some key squares. Nevertheless, Black finds his way through.

Some beautiful lines follow the alternatives:

19 4>e3 g6! 20 Wf3 (20 Wh6 ±g5+ wins for Black) 20...®g5+! 21 #f4 ©c5+! 22 <&d2 (22 &f3 lff2#) 22...£g5 and Black wins; and 19 *gl g6 20 »f3 Wg5+ 21 £fl i.h3+! 22 ®xh3 2f8+ 23 Af3 We3 - compare the game.

20...«g5+ 21 £h3+! 22 ®xh3 2f8+ 23 ±f3 ®e3! (D)


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