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1

d4 d5

2 c4 c6 3 lD f3 lD f6 4 lD c3 e6

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 lD f3 lD f6 4 lD c3 e6

To my grandfather, the man who started it all.

The Semi-Slav

The Semi-Slav

CHESS PRESS OPENING GUIDES

Other titles in this series include:

1 901259

056

Caro-Kann Advance

Byron Jacobs

1 901259 064

Closed Sicilian

Daniel King

1 901259 03 X

Dutch Leningrad

Neil McDonald

1 901259 10 2

French Advance

Tony Kosten

1 901259 02 1

Scandinavian

John Emms

1 901259 01

3

Sicilian Taimanov

James Plaskett

1 901259 00 5

Slav

Matthew Sadler

1 901259 04 8

Spanish Exchange

Andrew Kinsman

1 901259 09 9

Trompowsky

Joe Gallagher

For further details of Chess Press titles, please write to The Chess Press c/o Cadogan Books pIc, 27-29 Berwick Street, London W1V 3RF.

Chess Press Opening Guides

The Semi-Slav

Matthew Sadler

ir

rnm

The Chess Press, Brighton

First published 1998 by The Chess Press, an imprint of First Rank Publishing, 23 Ditchling Rise, Brighton, East Sussex, BN 1 4QL, in association with Cadogan Books pIc

Copyright © 1998 Matthew Sadler

Distributed by Cadogan Books pIc, 27-29 Berwick Street, London WIV 3RF

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission in writing from the publishers.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 1 901259 08 0

Cover design by Ray Shell Design Production by Book Production Services Printed and bound in Great Britain by BPC Wheatons, Exeter

Alternatives (5

h6)

I

ndex of Complete

Games

CONTENTS
CONTENTS

d4 d 5 4ctJc3 e6

1

2 c4 c6 3 ttJf3 ttJf6

Games CONTENTS d4 d 5 4ctJc3 e6 1 2 c4 c6 3 ttJf3 ttJf6 Bibliography 8

Bibliography

8

Introduction

9

5 .1l. g5

1

Botvinnik Variation: Main Line with 15

b4

(5

dxc4

6 e4 bS 7 eS h6 8 .1l. h4 gS 9 ttJxgS hxgS 10 .1l. xg5 ttJbd7

11

exf6 i.b7 12 g3 cS 13 dS 'iib6 14 .1l. g2 0-0-0 15 0-0 b4)

2

Botvinnik Variation: Black's 13th Move Alternatives

(S

dxc4

6 e4 b5 7 e5 h6 8 .1l. h4 g5 9 ttJxgS hxgS 10 .i.xgS ttJbd7

11

exf6 .1l. b7 12 g3 cS 13 d5)

3

4

5

6

5

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

Botvinnik Variation with 11 g3

(5

11 g3)

Botvinnik Variation: Early Deviations after 5 .i.gS dxc4

Moscow Variation with 7 e3 (5

Moscow Variation: White's 6th and 7th Move

dxc4 6 e4 bS 7 eS h6 8 .i.h4 g5 9 ttJxgS hxg5 10 .1l. xgS ttJbd7

h6

6 i.xf6 �xf6 7 e3)

e3 and other moves

Meran Variation: Main Line (5 e3 ttJbd7 6 .td3 dxc4 7 .1l. xc4 bS

8 i.d3 .1l. b7 9 0-0 a6 10 e4 c5 11

dS c4 12 .tc2 'ii'c7)

Meran Variation: Move Orders and Sidelines

Meran Variation with 8

Meran Variation with 8

Meran Variation: Systems with an Early

.1l. b7: White Alternatives

a6: Old Main Line - 9 e4 c5 10 eS

bS-b4

Meran Variation: Odds and Ends

6

'ii'c2

Odds and

(Karpov System): 7 .i.e2 and 7 �d3

Ends

12

31

41

54

64

77

81

97

110

123

131

140

145

154

158

BIBLIOGRAPHY
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Books

Encyclopaedia o/ Chess Openings vol.D, Sahovski Informator, 1987 The Co mplete Semi-Slav, Peter Wells (Batsford, 19 94) D44, Alexander Beliavsky and Adrian Mikhalchishin (Sahovski Informator,

1993)

Periodicals

In/ormator ChessBase MegaBase CD-R OM New In Chess Yearbook British Chess Magazine Chess Monthly

1993) Periodicals In/ormator ChessBase MegaBase CD-R OM New In Chess Yearbook British Chess Magazine Chess Monthly
INTRODUCTION
INTRODUCTION
INTRODUCTION both fascinated Every the Semi-Slav: fasci­ nated the double-rook sacri­ fices and king hunts seem
INTRODUCTION both fascinated Every the Semi-Slav: fasci­ nated the double-rook sacri­ fices and king hunts seem

both fascinated

Every

the Semi-Slav: fasci­

nated

the double-rook sacri­

fices and king hunts seem to recall the

golden

'Evergreen' games; but appalled by the number of complicated variations and the volume of analysis surrounding it. Often an initial burst of enthusiasm to

and

this

and appalled by

chessplayer

is

by the

sheer

of the

romance

of

opening where

years

'Immortal'

learn the opening is followed by pro­

found

such fantasy and complexity brings! Witness the following example, the

game

of

Dortmund

the confusion that

despair at

Topalov-Kramnik,

(analysed

in

full in

1996

Game

7

this

book).

Topalov

and

 

Kramnik

have

had

many

great fights

over

the

years

but

this clash has

to

be

my

fa­

vourite.

I

just

can't

see

it

often

enough.

 

1 d4 d5

2

c4 c6 3 tLJf3 tLJf6 4 tLJc3

e6

5

iog5

dxc4

6

e4 b5

7

e5 h6

8

io

h4

g5

9

tLJxg5

hxg5

10

ioxg5

lLl

bd7

1 1

exf6 i.b7 12 g3

c5

13 d5

"it'

b6

1 4

iog2 0-0-0

1 5

0-0

b4 16

ri

b1

b6 1 4 iog2 0-0-0 1 5 0-0 b4 16 ri b1 16 :ii'a6 17 dxe6
16 :ii'a6 17 dxe6 ioxg2 18 e7 18 i.xf1 19 �d5 i.xe7 20 fxe7
16
:ii'a6 17 dxe6 ioxg2 18 e7
18
i.xf1
19
�d5
i.xe7
20
fxe7

i.d3 21

tLJe4 i.xb1

Th e

Semi- Sla v

Th e Semi- Sla v 22 ltJd6+ rJ;c7 23 �f4 rJ;b6 24 ltJxc4+ rJ;b5 25 ltJd6+

22

ltJd6+

rJ;c7

23

�f4

rJ;b6

24

ltJxc4+

rJ;b5

25

ltJd6+

rJ;b6

26

exd8� +

ltJxc4+ rJ;b5 25 ltJd6+ rJ;b6 26 exd8� + 26 q.,b6 29 ltJc4+ q.,b5 Y.z - Y.z

26

q.,b6 29 ltJc4+ q.,b5 Y.z - Y.z

l:txd8

27 ltJc4+ �b5 28 ltJd6+

29 ltJc4+ q.,b5 Y.z - Y.z l:txd8 27 ltJc4+ �b5 28 ltJd6+ so well developed, the

so well developed, the 'real' game may sometimes only begin after move 18 or 19. A common approach when preparing such an opening is to learn

these theoretical moves by rote in a few minutes, and to concentrate only on what comes after. This is a major error; before one can play the early middlegame well, it is necessary to grasp the logic of the opening. This is achieved not by detailed and time­ consuming analysis, but by describing the conflict of ideas in the opening in words: the positional aims of both sides, the territory they seek, the squares they weaken. Question 1: What purpose does this approach serve? Answer: Positional themes from the opening - the weakening of the oppo­ nent's dark squares, the creation of a queenside majority, etc. - shape and define the early middlegame. Posi­ tional understanding of the opening is the foundation of good play in the early middlegame. By highlighting the essentials of the position, this method ensures that our middlegame analysis will focus only on the important fac­ tors. After 1 d4 ds 2 c4 c6 3 !D f3 !D f6 4

!D c3, 4

e6

introduces the Semi-Slav.

see follo wing diagram

e6

squared bishop on c8 inside the pawn chain. However, by freeing the dark­

light­

The

move

4

locks

the

squared bishop, Black threatens to win

a pawn with S

dxc4

as the typical 6

a4, preventing

b7-bs

can be met by

6 .ltb4!

7 e3 (intending .ltxc4 )

Since the theory of the Semi-Slav is when 8 axbs cxbs 9 !Dxbs is impossi-

In tro duc tion

In tro duc tion

ble as the knight is pinned to the king. White has two basic reactions:

to the king. W h i t e has two basic reactions: 1) He can place

1) He can place the dark-squared bishop outside the pawn chain with 5

.ltgS, intending to defend c4 on the

next move with 6 e3. After the consis­

tent

'ideal' centre with 6 e4 (threatening

bS

(protecting c4) 7 eS plunges into the complications of the Botvinnik system

(Chapters 1-6)

by

calmly protecting the c4-pawn with 5 e3. However, this has the disadvantage of blocking White's dark-squared

bishop inside his pawn chain. A full discussion of the Meran variation and other possibilities after 5 e3 can be found in Chapters 7-14.

.ixc4 regaining the pawn) when 6

White can set up an

S

dxc4,

2)

He

can

forestall

dSxc4

CHAPTER ONE
CHAPTER ONE

Botvinnik Variation:

Main Line with 1 5

b4

CHAPTER ONE Botvinnik Variation: Main Line with 1 5 b4 1 d4 d5 2 c4 cS

1 d4 d5 2 c4 cS 3 lbf3 lbfS 4 lbc3

eS 5 �g5 dxc4 S e4 b5 7 e5 hS 8 �h4 g5 9 lbxg5 hxg5 10 i.xg5 lbbd7 11 exfS �b7 12 g3 c5 13 d5 'fibS 14 �g2 0-0-0 1 5 0-0 b4 In this chapter we shall consider the main line of the Botvinnik system. However, let us start with an explana­ tion of the opening moves that lead to tfie main line position. With

5 i.g5

White seeks to 'have it all': before

defending against Black's threat of

with e2-e3, White wants to

develop his dark-squared bishop out­ side the pawn chain in order to obtain the maximum activity for his pieces.

However, the drawback to 5 �gS is that it does not defend the c-pawn, so

dSxc4

5

dxc4

is Black's most consistent response.

S e4

then grabs the central space that Black conceded by taking on c4, after which

S

b5

is practically forced: if White is al­ lowed to recapture the pawn with 7 �xc4, then Black will have given up

the centre for nothing. However, now White can use his central control and the activity of his bishop on gS to at­ tack the knight on f6 with

7 e5

Now the knight cannot move as

this would lose the queen to 8 �xd8 . Black must use tactics to stay alive:

7

hS

to 8 �xd8 . Black must use tactics to stay alive: 7 hS counterattacks against the

counterattacks against the bishop on gS. White usually then retreats his bishop along the h4-d8 diagonal with

Bo t vinnik

Va ria tion:

Main

L ine

with

15

b4

8 i.h4

again threatening to wm a piece

Main L ine with 15 b4 8 i.h4 again threatening to wm a piece with 9
Main L ine with 15 b4 8 i.h4 again threatening to wm a piece with 9

with 9 exf6.

Black's reply is forced:

8

attacks the bishop again so that 9

exf6 can be met by 9

the piece. This move also blocks the h4-dS diagonal so that a retreat of the

bishop with 9 .llg3 can be met by

leaving Black a pawn up.

Therefore White strikes with

9 ttJxg5 hxg5 10 i.xg5

gxh4, regaining

g5

ttJdS,

with 9 ttJxg5 hxg5 10 i.xg5 gxh4, regaining g5 ttJdS, By sacrificing his knight for Black's

By sacrificing his knight for Black's g- and h-pawns, White has destroyed the barrier on the h4-dS diagonal and now threatens 11 .llxf6, forking the queen on ds and the rook on hS.

10

defends the knight on f6 and starts to develop the queenside pieces. This

is important since Black's king will only find a safe{ish!) home on the queenside - castling kingside would

require a supreme effort of faith! Now

11 exf6

regains the piece. Although 5 .llgS began as a pawn sacrifice, White is now a pawn up! The extra pawn on f6 is a strange one:

ttJbd7

Black can easily recapture it, but this would expose weaknesses in his posi­

gives

White an unpleasant pin on the knight on f6 by the bishop on gS . Conse­ quently, Black usually prefers

tion.

For

example

11

ttJxf6

11

i.b7

c6-cS,

which will attack the two points most weakened by White's tactical efforts to

maintain the pin on the knight on f6:

Black's light-squared bishop now at­ tacks g2, which would usually be shielded by a knight on f3 , and the pawn on cS attacks d4 which now lacks the support of the knight on f3 . White also needs a safe place for his

king: he would like to castle kingside, but with the removal of the h- and g­ pawns, Black has two half-open files against the white kingside. Thus White usually plays

intending the central break

12 g3

Thus White usually plays intending the central break 12 g3 to protect his kingside. This shields

to protect his kingside. This shields h2 against a combined attack by a rook on hS and a queen on c7, and protects g2 against a combination of a bishop on b7 and a rook on gS. It looks cheeky to play g2-g3 when Black has just played his bishop on b7,

Th e

Semi - Sla v

but the logical

 

pawns are so far advanced, he has

12

c5

plenty of targets!

threatening

�xhl,

meets with

The first six games in this chapter

13 d5

deal with the most common move in

By maintaining the pawn on dS, White checks his opponent's d-file

this position, 16 ttJa4. 16 llb l is con­ sidered in Games 7-10.

play and finds a cunning use for the f6- pawn. If Black undermines dS with

13

b4

then 14 dxe6! ! is very strong, as

14

fxe6

10ses to 15 f7+, discovering an

attack on the queen.

13

side-steps this, protecting e6 and bS while allowing the black king to castle

queenside. After

1 4 �g2

ii'b6

both sides put their kings to safety:

14

0-0-0

and now

15 b4

1 5 0-0

undermines the dS-pawn by attack­ ing the knight on c3, its most impor­

tant defender

ing the knight on c3, its most impor­ tant defender Now we have arrived at the

Now we have arrived at the staning position of this chapter. Black intends to win the pawn on dS and over­ whelm his opponent with his central control; whereas White will try to open lines on the queenside against Black's king - since Black's queenside

Gamel Ivanchuk-Shirov Wijk aan Zee 1996
Gamel
Ivanchuk-Shirov
Wijk aan Zee 1996

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 lLlc3 lLlf6 4 lLlf3 e6 5 �g5 dxc4 6 e4 b5 7 e5 h6 8 �h4 g5 9 lLlxg5 hxg5 1 0 �xg5 lLlbd7 11 exf6 �b7 12 g3 c5 13 d5 �b6 14 �g2 0-0-0 15 0-0 b4 16 lLla4 'it'b5

Question 1: Why does the queen go

here? Answer: Black has tried three moves

(see Game

6) ,

and

best all-round positional move. The queen protects c4 and attacks White's loose knight on a4, preventing the white queen from leaving the a4-dl diagonal. The queen also stays in con­ tact with the bishop on b7, which al­ lows him to transfer the queen rapidly to the a8-hl diagonal if White ex­ changes bishops with dSxe6 and

. The latter seems the

:ifd6 (see the notes to Game 6)

in this position: 16

'ili'a6

16

16

'i'bS

.ixb7. Finally, on bs the queen is rela­ tively safe from the white pieces!

17 a3

Now White will open the a-file

with a3xb4 and Black will respond

with

a4 from returning to c3. This has the effect of 'diluting' the central black pawn mass, which makes it much harder for Black to achieve his desired

to prevent the knight on

cSxb4

Bo t vinnik

Va ria tion:

Main

L ine

with

15

b4

idea of

pawn on dS with his e-pawn. Question 2: Why does Black wish to

play

acti­

vates Black's pawn mass,

dS-d4, once he has taken the

dS-d4?

Answer:

The advance

dS-d4

which is his

major positional trump. It also invites

of light-squared bishops,

White's

which

kingside more than Black's queenside.

(See

of this.) 17 dxe6 is discussed in Game S.

3 for a graphic illustration

the exchange

generally

weakens

Game

is

requires some thought:

1) White wants to make it hard for

Black

example, he may blockade the d-pawn

by

ds­

d4, the black queen on bS

the bishop on gS.) 2) White can try to take advantage

his

bishop or queen. (Note that after

d4.

and

White's

plan

less obvious

to achieve

occupying

d4

his own

either

plan. For

with

will attack

of Black's weak dark squares: his cen­

dark squares

f6-

around

tral structure leaves the

it rather

weak, while

the

17

exd5

 

pawn takes control of e7 and g7 away

The

text

wins

back

the

sacrificed

from Black's pieces.

 

pawn as 18 .i.xds is impossible due to

3)

White

can

open up

the black

18

tLleS!

19

.ixb7+

'i'xb7

20 'i'e2

queenside with b2-b3.

tLlf3+ 21 <iith1l:lxh2+ mate.

4)

The f6-pawn

provides

two out­

 

17

ttJeS

and

17

tLlb8

(which may

posts

for the

white pieces:

g7, and

transpose to one another) are the sub­

most usually, e7. By placing a rook on

ject of Game 4.

e7, White

occupies the

seventh rank

18 axb4 cxb4

from

a

central position, giving

him

targets

on

both wings.

This move is

him targets on both wings. This move is Black has regained the pawn that he taking

Black has regained the pawn that he

taking

the white central

resulted in a lopsided pawn structure:

kingside majority and

a useful passed h-pawn, and Black has

and a passed

ds-

d-pawn.

a

plan

sacrificed

on

the

kingside

by

dS-pawn. This has

White has a 4-1

4-1

queenside majority

Black's

is

simple:

often played as a sacrifice, offering to

trade

the

rook

for

Black's

dark­

squared

bishop

on

f8 .

After

.li.xe7,

f6xe7,

the

from queening, and removes the black piece best suited to defending his weak

dark squares: the dark-squared bishop.

step away

on

White gets

rank,

a passed

just one

pawn

seventh

looks quite safe

on c8, but if the knight were diverted

from

bishop

from the king and a

queen on g4 or a bishop on h3 deliver­ ing a nasty check. Note that, for now

at

.li.h3+.

tar­

prevents

an unpleasant

king could be caught in

S)

The

d7,

black king

the

crossfire with a

b8

rook

on

h8

on f4 taking

least,

the

6) Finally,

the most important

get for White: the a7-pawn. This pawn

Th e

Semi-Sla v

is a very useful defensive unit, cover­ ing b6 and therefore helping to stop White's knight from becoming active. It allows Black's knight to move from d7 when it desires and also provides a haven on a8 for the black king. How­ ever, it is also a natural target for White's pieces: White can play the positionally desirable moves 'ii'd4 or

at the

i.e3, preventing

same time attacking a key black defen­ sive unit. Black will nearly always seek

to shield it from attack or defend it, as moving the a-pawn weakens another dark square: b6.

dS-d4

and

19 �e3

The major continuation. On gS all the bishop seemed to do was defend the f6-pawn, whereas on e3 the bishop

attacks the a-pawn and helps to pre­

vent the

dS-d4

push. For 19 :e1 see

Game 3.

19

lLlc5

Shielding the a7-pawn, unmasking the support of the rook on d8 for the pawn on dS, and eyeing the outposts on b3 and d3. By exchanging White's knight, Black frees cS for his bishop to

support

20 -'g4+!

ds-d4.

frees cS for his bishop to support 20 -'g4+! ds-d4. A rather awkward check since the

A rather awkward check since the

21 "i'd4! It:'Jxa4 22

"ii'xa7+ and 20

22 l:tfd1 ltJxf6 23 i.xa7!, intending i.d4 and It:'Jb6+ (Agzamov) are both

�c7!

was suggested by Ivanchuk. Black is

so White

must react rapidly. Then 21 i.f4+

i.d6

blocks the check, but 22 It:'Jxcs 'ii'xcs

'it>c6!

is best.

23 i.e3! wins the a-pawn.

conceals

threatening simply

dodgy for Black. However, 20

natural 2o

21 'i'xd7+ ltJxd7

�b8

"ii'd7

It:'Jxa4,

trap:

a

cunning

21

So 21

�b8 "ii'd7 It:'Jxa4, trap: a cunning 21 So 21 Question 3: Well hang on a minute,

Question 3: Well hang on a minute,

I

Answer: I knoit looks suicidal, but it may well be okay! I have a the­ ory that in positions where the pawns in front of your king have moved far forward, your king is safest not on the back rank, but on the third or fourth rank, close to the pawn wall that shields the king! Black does indeed

have a large number of pieces on the queenside to protect his king in this position, so White will have to sacri­ fice substantially if he is to breach his opponent's position. After 22 It:'Jxcs

ds­

d4!

i.xcs, Black intends

'it>b6

and

B o t vinnik

Va ria ti on:

Main

L ine

with

15

b4

20

After this move the rook on d7 is pinned to the king by the queen on g4 . White will look to exploit this ei­ ther by playing .th3 or by opening up the position to make this tactical detail count for more. However, Black's rook is a strong defensive piece, cover­

ing Black's seventh rank.

21 'it'g7!!

I told you that White had an out­ post on g7!

21

J:td7

.i.xg7

22 fxg7 :g8 23 lLlxc5

an out­ post on g7! 21 J:td7 .i.xg7 22 fxg7 :g8 23 lLlxc5 Black has a

Black has a queen for knight and ' bishop. However, the a7-pawn is likely to fall, while the rook on d7 can be attacked further by a bishop on h3, so White will gain further material for the queen. Several positional factors are important:

1) White has a passed h-pawn. 2) White's king is very safe whereas Black's is not. 3) White can blockade the d-pawn with .td4, which stops Black from activating his queenside majority and leaves him with a passive bishop on b7 . Question 4: What should Black do?

dS-d4

Answer: Black wants to play

to activate his queenside majority and his bishop on b7, but it is hard to achieve this. He should exchange a pair of rooks to reduce the danger to his king and give his queen more room to enter the white position.

23 d4?

This devilish idea is actually a tacti­

Jhg7 is considered in

cal blunder. 23 the next game.

24 i.xb7+ l:[xb7 25 lLlxb7!

Threatening to fork the king and

queen with 264Jd6+.

25 'it'b6!

c.t>xb7

would simply have allowed 26 �xd4,

protecting the g7-pawn and attacking a7. Shirov's move defends the d4- pawn and parries the fork on d6. Un­ fortunately

This was Shirov's idea; 2S

26 i.xd4! 26 'it'xd4 27 l:[fd1 'i6'xb2 28 lLld6+
26
i.xd4!
26
'it'xd4
27 l:[fd1 'i6'xb2 28 lLld6+

,.pb8 29 l:[db1 ! 'i6'xg7

'i'd2,

attempting to keep hold of the b4- pawn, is cleverly met by 304Jxc4 'ii'c3 31 :a4! b3 324JaS! b2 33 :b4+!, pick­

'i'xb4 loses

ing up the b-pawn, as 33

the queen to 34 4Jc6+, forking the king and queen.

Ivanchuk points out that 29

Th e

Semi- Sla v

30 l:txb4+ �e7 31 l:ta6 l:tb8 32 l:txa7+ �xd6 33 l:txb8 �g4 34 l:td8+ �e6 35 l:ta1 1 -0

A magnificent game!

Game 2 lalic-J. Wilson London 1996
Game 2
lalic-J. Wilson
London 1996

1

d4

d5

2 e4

e6

3 lU1 3 lU16 4 lUe3

e6

5 �g5 dxe4 6

e4

b5

7

e5

h6

8

�h4 g5 9 lUxg5 hxg5

1 0

�xg5

lUbd7 11

g3 �b7 12 �g2 �b6

13

exf6 0-0-0 14 0-0 e5

15 d5 b4

16

lUa4 �b5 17 a3 exd5 18 axb4 exb4

19

�g7!! �xg7 22 1xg7 l:tg8 23 lUxe5

�e3

lUe5

20

�g4+!

l:td7

21

�xg7 22 1xg7 l:tg8 23 lUxe5 �e3 lUe5 20 �g4+! l:td7 21 23 In the notes

23

In the notes to his game against Shi­

rov, Ivanchuk mentioned 24 l:txa7,

seems good.

For example:

a) 25 �xb7 'iNxc5! b) 25 �xb7+ litxb7! 26 ttJxb7

(threatening to fork king and queen

with ttJd6+) 26

.1t.xd4 'iixd4 28 �fa1 �g6! the white

knight on b7 is very short of squares. c) 25 ttJxd7 .txg2 26 .txd4!? just

leads to a draw after 26

:iVb6!! Now after 27

but now Lalic's 24

l:txg7

24 �d4

d4!!

.1t.xfl! (greedy

and correct - the best sort of move!) 27 ttJb6+ Wb8 28 ttJd7+ \t>c8, as

27 Wd8

28 .tf6+ We8 29 �a8 mate. Ivanchuk also mentions 24 .th3 f5! 25 .txf5 d4! (seizing the opportunity to open the a8-h 1 diagonal) 26 �xd4

allows a lovely mate in two:

the a8-h 1 diagonal) 26 �xd4 allows a lovely mate in two: 'retaining definite counter­ chances'.

'retaining definite counter­

chances'. I think it is clear that White has lost control of this position.

The text is the right idea, stopping

and threaten­

ing to win material with ttJxb7 and then �xg7.

24

The bishop on d4 is White's most important piece; and removing the bishop from the h 1-a8 diagonal allows Black to dislodge it by playing a major piece to e4. 25 ttJxd7 l::txd7 26 �xa7 was better, with a mess, although it may be a little easier for White to play this position than Black. The game illustrates what I mean by this. Although Black gets a good ver­ sion of this line, he still has to be accu­ rate or his weak king and vulnerable pawns will lose him the game. As we shall see, the pressure very quickly became too much for Black.

any tricks with

26

Jtgf7

d5-d4

15

25 �h3?

B o t vinnik

Va ria ti on:

Main

L ine

with

15

b4

25

1:[gf7

26

lba7

l:tc7

27

lbe6

19

l:te1

l:tce7 28 lbg5 �e8 29 lbxf7 �xf7 30

With this move White takes control

l:tfa 1 �h 5! 31 �g2 f4 32

l:t7a5 f3

of the e-file and dreams of playing

33 �f1 l:th7?

lIe7.

19

�h6

of playing 33 �f1 l:th7? lIe7. 19 �h6 I was suspicious when I first saw Black

I was suspicious when I first saw

Black allows his opponent

access to e7 and the seventh rank without even having to sacrifice the exchange! This is, however, a typical idea in the Botvinnik variation: by exchanging off the dark-squared bishop, Black undermines the defence of the f6-pawn and virtually assures himself of winning it. He also removes one of the best pieces for blockading

19 �h6:

 
Black mIsses his chance! 33

Black mIsses his chance! 33

l:le4!

(Lalic) was best, and would have been

on d4 and attacking a7, the queen be­ ing the other.

 

The alternative

19

d4!?

20 'iVxd4

very awkward for White to meet. Now, however, Black is in trouble.

�xg2 21 Wxg2 'iWxgS 22 'ii'xc4+ Wb8

34

h4 �f5 35 �e3! �c2 36 �f4 l:tf7

�h3+ Wd8 38 �d6 l:tf5 39 l:ta7

23 l:ted1! gave White a huge attack in

37

Van Wely-Piket, Wijk aan Zee 1994.

�c8 40 l:[g7 �xb2 41 l:taa7 �b1+

42 Wh2 l:tf8 43 �xf8 �xh3 44 �c5

�e6 45 l:ta8+ �c8 46 �b6+ 1 -0

Mate follows on the next move. There is plenty of scope for practical tests here, but, in general, I feel that White has the easier task in a practical game, even if I cannot say that he is 'theoretically' better.

Game 3 Stean-Rivas Marbella 1982
Game 3
Stean-Rivas
Marbella 1982

1

d4 d5

2 c4

c6

3 lbf3

lbf6 4 lbc3

e6 5 �g5

dxc4 6

e4 b5

7

e5

h6 8

i.h4 g5 9 lbxg5 hxg5

1 0

�xg5

lZ:lbd7 11

exf6 �b7

12 g3

 

c5

13 d5

'i'b6

tLla4 �b5 17 a3 exd5 18 axb4 cxb4

16

14 �g2 0-0-0

15 0-0

b4

20 �xh6 l:txh6 21 �d4 l:.xf6

Black deals with the threat to his a­

t>awn tactically: 22 li'xa7 is met by

22

Jh6, winning the knight on a4.

22

�h3!

met by 22 Jh6, winning the knight on a4. 22 �h3! White uses the absence of

White uses the absence of the black rook from the h-file to play this an­ noying move, pinning the knight on

Th e

Semi- Sla v

d7 to the king, and threatening 'iixf6.

22 J:td6 23 liJc5

The next few moves are critical. Black is threatening to unpin with

solving all his problems, so

White must take purposeful action.

23 :�i'b6!

Black does not mind losing the ex­ change on two conditions:

1} He can keep his other rook on the board to help push his own pawns and stop White's outside passed pawn. 2} He can exchange queens to re­ move the last piece capable of actively

'ittb8,

pawn can go 'all the way' with the support of the rook on d6j and sec­ ond, the advance activates the bishop on b7. From f3, it can remove a blockader on d1, and from e4 it can prevent the passed h-pawn from ad­ vancing to h7. White cannot hold d4 by doubling rooks on the d-file, as

Black will just create another passed

pawn either on the c-file {

and he cannot

the a-file

or

c4-c3}

{

a5-a4-a3}j

support the rook on d4 with his king on e3, since Black will just check and drive it away. White's task is the more

blockading the d-pawn.

 

difficult, particularly in a practical

24

%:ted 1

game. Passed pawns win endings and

24 :te7, to increase pressure on d7,

White has just one while his opponent

should be met by 24

lii'c7

intending,

has several!

yes you've guessed it, 25

'ittc6,

un­

pinning and putting pressure on the c5-knight. Remember that this knight cannot capture on d7 while the queen on d4 is unprotected. Now 25 :8xd7 26 lhd7+ l:txd7 26 'ife5+ I:td6

27

'i'e7+ lii'c6! {27

<it>c8

28

tDxb7 :d7

29

"ile8+ wins} gives Black a good po­

sition, while 25 l1d1, defending the

queen on d4, is met by 25

Black is a little tied up but after 26

:xf7 'ittc6 27 tDe6 'i'xd4 {27

JlJce6 28

when

'i'xd5+} 28 tDxd8+ 'ittc5 29 ':xd4 {29

tDe6+ :xe6! 30 lhd4 l::[e1+ wins}

29 ':xd4 {29 tDe6+ :xe6! 30 lhd4 l::[e1+ wins} 28 h4 �c6! 29 h5 �c5 30

28 h4 �c6! 29 h5 �c5 30 %:th4 l::th6!

Necessary to prevent h5-h6.

29

'ittxd4

30 tDe6+ 'ittd3, he escapes!

31

g4 d4 32 g5 l::th8 33 l::txa7

24

�c7

25 �xd7 l:t8xd7 26 liJxd7

33 :a5+ �b6 34 :f5 litd8! 35 'ittf1

'ii'xd4 27 l:txd4 �xd7

c3 36 bxc3 b3! is very good for Black.

Such unbalanced material endings are very typical of the Semi-Slav. Black will try to create a passed pawn on the queenside by playing his king to c5 to chase the rook from d4. This will allow the black d5-pawn to ad­ vance to d4 with two effects: first, the

33

After the text move the game

quickly peters out to a draw. Black could still have played for a win with

34 'ittb6!?

35 l:txd4 �xd4 36 l::txb5 l::txh5 37 l:txb4 %-%

�c6

34 l:ta5+ �b5

B o t vinnik

Va ria ti on:

Main

L ine

with

15

b4

Black's two other possibilities on

19

tDc6.

move 17 are linked in a very spectacu­

20

dxc6!! l:txd4 21 cxb7+

lar way.

White's compensation for the queen

Game 4 Kamsky-Kramnik New Yo rk (Candidates match) 1994
Game 4
Kamsky-Kramnik
New Yo rk (Candidates match) 1994

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 lLlc3 lLlf6 4 lLlf3 e6 5 i.g5 dxc4 6 e4 b5 7 e5 h6 8 i.h4 g5 9 lLlxg5 hxg5 10 i.xg5 lLlbd7 11 exf6 i.b7 12 g3 c5 13 d5 "'b6 14 i.g2 0-0-0 15 0-0 b4 16 lLla4 'i6'b5 17 a3 lLle5

Very logical. Black unmasks the at­ tack of the rook on the d5-pawn and intends to win it without blocking his

From e5,

bishop on b7 with

the knight aims for the defensive square c6 as well as d3. However, White has a wonderful tactical possi­ bility that makes this move unplay­ able.

e6xd5.

18 axb4 cxb4 19 'i6'd4!

Attacking the knight on e5 and the pawn on a7.

19

lLlc6

Attacking the knight on e5 and the pawn on a7. 19 lLlc6 This position can also

This position can also be reached

tDb8

18 axb4 cxb4 19 "iVd4 and now

via a different move order: 17

is 'two pieces, a passed pawn on the seventh and a host of tricks', to quote Peter Wells.

21 �c7

24 bxc3 i.c5!?

This was Kramnik's attempt to re­

22 i.e3 e5 23 lLlc3!! bxc3

habilitate this line after the crushing White win in Salov-Illescas, Madrid

25

llab1! a6 26 k!xb5 axb5 27 !:tal nd8 28 .ie4 .ih6 29 .ic5 .if8 30 .ia7 with an

overwhelming position for White.

1993,

which

continued 24

.:d6

25 cxd4 i.xd4

loses to 26 .if4+ .id6 27

.ixd6+ �xd6 and 28 l:tfb 1 followed by 29 b81'i + .

26 l:tfb1 !

The stan of a magnificent series of moves.

25 exd4

26

28 �c6+ 'i'xc6 29 .ixc6 is

clearly better for White according to Kramnik.

28 i.c1 !!

c5

27 l:ta6! 1:b8

27 .ixe3

according to Kramnik. 28 i.c1 !! c5 27 l:ta6! 1:b8 27 .ixe3 Quite superb, bringing the

Quite superb, bringing the bishop round to the sensitive d6-square via a3.

28 c3 29 i.a3! 'ii'c4 30 i.d6+ �d7

Th e

Semi- Sla v

31

�c6+! !

keeping his extra pawn. The draw­

side structure, White lacks a target on

back, however, is the activity that Black receives and that White forgoes. First, without the

back, however, is the activity that Black receives and that White forgoes. First, without the open a-file and a3xb4 to create holes in Black's queen­

the queenside. Second, dSxe6 opens the d-file for Black's rook and allows him to weaken White's kingside light squares by exchanging the light­ squared bishops.

17

�xg2

18 'it'xg2 �c6+! 19 f3

 

19 'fif3 loses the queen to the deflec­

31

�e6

tion 19

Jhh2+! 20 Wxh2 'iixf3 .

31

i.bs+.

'i.t>xd6

loses the

queen

to

32

19

'ii'xe6

Threatening

:i'h3+, winning the

32

i.b5! �xf2+ 33 'it'xf2 �d4+ 34

h-pawn.

'it'f1 �e4 35 Ue 1 'ii'h1+ 36 'it'f2

20 �c2

�xh2+ 37 'it'f3 l:txb7 38 i.xe5+ l:tb6

39 �c4+ 'it'd7

l:tc7+ 1 -0

40

l:txa7+

'it'c8

41

A magical performance that de­

.'�JeS and

stroyed two lines - 17

17

liJb8

- in one game!

Now we turn to the liJa4 'i'bS 17 dxe6.

old line:

16

Game 5 Nikolic-Shirov Wijk aan Zee (match) 19 93
Game 5
Nikolic-Shirov
Wijk aan Zee (match) 19 93

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 lLlf3 lLlf6 4 lLlc3 e6 5 �g5 dxc4 6 e4 b5 7 e5 h6 8 �h4 g5 9 lLlxg5 hxg5 1 0 �xg5

13

exf6 0-0-0 14 0-0 c5 15 d5 b4 16

lLla4 'ii'b5 17 dxe6

Instead of opening the queenside with 17 a3, White takes on e6, deny­ ing his opponent the chance to form a massive queenside pawn chain and

lLlbd7 11 g3 �b7 12 �g2 'ii'b6

A dual-purpose move: White pro­

tects the second rank to meet

20

queen off the d-file so that

longer comes with tempo.

20

no

:i'h3+ with 21 Wgl, and gets the

liJeS

lLle5

21 l:tae1 l:td4! !

with 21 Wgl, and gets the liJeS lLle5 21 l:tae1 l:td4! ! Savchenko's superb discovery in­

Savchenko's superb discovery in­ troduces the optimal set-up for the black pieces. Black wants to develop his dark-squared bishop to its most active square on d6, but first brings the queen's rook to d4 so that the

Bo t vin n ik

Va ria tion:

Main

L ine

with

15

b4

bishop does not block the rook's path on the d-file. On d4 the rook defends c4, leaves the d3-outpost free for the knight, and prevents White from us­

ing e4 for his queen to trouble Black's queenside light squares. White cannot win a piece with 22 f4 due to the un­

pleasant 22

22 h4

Stopping Black from playing

1I'd5+!

'i'h3+,

but weakening the g3-square.

22

Eyeing g3 and completing Black's

development.

23 a3

This was Nikolic's improvement over the stem game Rublevsky­ Savchenko, Helsinki 1992, where 23

�e3? showed another brutal point to

�d6

Black's set-up:

23

J:tdxh4!!

24 gxh4

:xh4

Black's set-up: 23 J:tdxh4!! 24 gxh4 :xh4 25 �gl (25 llh l lLlxf3 !! 26 �xf3

25 �gl (25 llh l lLlxf3 !! 26 �xf3

26 'ii'g2 �h2+

27 1I'xh2 :xh2 28 Wxh2 lLlxe 1 29

:iWh4+,

when Black had a clear advantage

(analysis by Savchenko) .

23 a3 aims to weaken Black's con­

trol of d4 by swapping off his useless a-pawn for Black's c-pawn with a3xb4,

lixe l 'iIIxf6, threatening

'i'g4+ wins) 25

lLld3!

White players may like to

investigate Shirov's suggestion of 23

:e2 'i'ld5 24 1I'f5+ rt;c7 25 life l (25

lLld3 26 'iixd5

�xd5 27 :e7+ .llxe7 28 lhe7+ 'ottc6 29

:'xf7 with a mess, as 23 a3 does not seem to work.

23

Centralising and increasing Black's influence along the d-file, while eyeing the f3-pawn.

24 'iVf5+ �c7 25 :e2 �c6!!

c5xb4.

�f4 :e8 is unclear) 25

d5

�c7 25 :e2 �c6!! c5xb4. �f4 :e8 is unclear) 25 d5 Not a surprise to us

Not a surprise to us now!! This su­ perb id�a prepares to exchange off

queens

king to recapture on d5 after 'iVxd5, in

order to support the queenside pawns. Shirov evaluates the position as slightly better for Black.

26 b3! c3 27 axb4 cxb4 28 l:ta1 !

lLld3 29 'iVxd5+ l:txd5 30 l:te4! �b5

31 l:tc4! l:te8! 32 l:ta2! lLle1+ 33 �h3

lLlxf3 34 l:txc3 lLlxg5+ 35 hxg5 l:th8+

36 �g2 bxc3 37 lLlxc3+ �c6 38 lLlxd5 �xd5 39 l:xa7 'it>e6 40 l:ta4?

40 'ottf3 l1h3 41 �g4 J1xg3+ 42 �h5 lth3+ 43 'ottg4 Iixb3 44 l:ta6 would have allowed White to squeak a draw according to Shirov. The text allows Black to win the crucial g5-pawn.

the

with

lLld3

and

allows

Th e

Semi-Sla v

40

%:I.g8 41 %:I.g4 �e5 0-1

After 42

'itf5,

Black will win both

the g5- and f6-pawns.

Game 6 Ivanchuk-Shirov Novgorod 1 994
Game 6
Ivanchuk-Shirov
Novgorod 1 994

from the black king - it does leave the f6-pawn unprotected, enabling Black to recapture on f6 put extra pressure on the d5-pawn. Ionov-Bjerring, El Vendrell 1996, continued 18 dxe6 fxe6

19 .ixb7+ �xb7 20 'iYg4 �h6 21 .id6!

'i'c6 22 llfd1! with an initiative for White.

1

d4 d5

2 c4

c6

3 lLlc3 lLlf6 4 lLlf3

17

a3 �xd5!?

e6

5 �g5 dxc4 6

e4

b5

7

e5

h6

8

This imaginative idea is attributed

�h4

g5 9 lLlxg5

hxg5

1 0

�xg5

to Alexander Shabalov.

lLlbd7 11

exf6 �b7

12 g3

 

c5

13 d5

18

�xd5 lLle5 19 '§e2 %:I.xd5 20 axb4

�b6

14 �g2 0-0-0

15 0-0 b4

16

cxb4 21 lLlc3 "c6!?

lLla4 "a6

15 0-0 b4 16 cxb4 21 lLlc3 "c6!? lLla4 "a6 On a6 the queen attacks the

On a6 the queen attacks the knight on a4, keeps in touch with the bishop on b7 and hence the a8-h1 diagonal, and protects the pawn on c4. In con­

trast to 16

:VWb5, this move also keeps

in touch with e6 so that after d5xe6 or

the queen can transfer to e6,

eyeing h3 and the white light squares on the kingside. The drawback is that a3xb4, opening the a-file, will be more

e6xd5

There is another interesting idea here, which Piket played in a TV game against Lutz in Germany:

21 J:ta5!?

ttJe4, Piket played 23 'ilfe5!? (Lutz mentions 24

ing for h3), when 25 I,ic 1? ttJxc1 26

'iVxc4+ was easily countered by

26 .'iVc7 27 'iVxc1 'ili'xc 1 28 �xc 1 as

with a clear advantage to Black. This so impressed Lutz that when he got

the chance a little later against Korchnoi, he decided to play it as Black (Horgen 1994). Unfortunately, he was once again on the wrong side of the board! Korchnoi found the much stronger 25 :td1!, and sacrificed a piece for a vicious attack after

25 ttJc5

ing for the e8-square.

22 lLlxd5 "xd5

ttJf3+.

23 f3 �c5+ 24 'it>g2 lLld3

After 22 l:txa5 'i'xa5 23

ttJd3

24

b3

�f5!?, aim-

26 'ii'xc4 'ii'xe4 27 'i'b5!, aim­

Threatening

dangerous as the queen is in the line of

Unfortunately, as Kharitonov

fire of the rook on a1.

points out, the lovely 24

ttJg4

25 h4

16

'iVd6!?

17 �f4 'iWa6 aims for a

'ii'xg5, to meet 26 hxg5 with 26

.:.h2+

16 :ii'a61ine

f4. Although f4 is a more attacking post than g5 - taking c7 and b8 away

with the white bishop on

mate, fails to simply 26 fxg4!

25 h4 �b7!

The active king again! Black's idea is

B o t vinnik

Va ria ti on:

Main

L ine

with

15

b4

to play

join in the fun with

�b6

and allow the a-pawn to

a7-aS.

join in the fun with �b6 and allow the a-pawn to a7-aS. 26 l:ta5 The right

26 l:ta5

The right idea but not the best exe­ cution. White's idea is to challenge the

knight on d3 by undermining its sup­ port with b2-b3, attacking the pawn on c4. After Black has taken on b3 or

played

put pressure on the black position:

1) a:fdl, attacking the knight on d3 which is pinned to the queen on dS. 2) lIaS, attacking the bishop on cS

which is pinned to the queen on dS. In a later game Kharitonov­ Sabanov, Moscow 1995, White played the immediate 26 b3!, which seems to give Black a lot of problems. In the

game, Black chose 26

c3 27 l:tfdl �d8

28 �aS! (threatening 29 �xcS 'iVxcs 30

st>b6 and

�xd3, winning a piece) 28

White has two ways to

c4-c3,

now instead of the violent 29 lIxcS, Kharitonov claims an initiative with 29 'ifia2!, and this does indeed seem

very strong for White. If Black wishes to try this line, he therefore must find an improvement on this game - which is beyond me for the moment!

26 :�d4 27 b3 �b6!

In comparison with 26 b3, Black

gains a tempo to put his bishop on the safe b6-square.

2S l:ta2 c3 29 l:td 1 l:tdS 30 h5! a5 31 g4 lLlf4+ 32 �xf4 'ii'xd 1 33 �xd 1 l:txd 1 34 h6 �a6?

3S h7 (3S .i.xeS

�d2+ 36 \t>h3 �xa2 37 h7 c2 38 i.f4 i.c7! wins, as 39 i.e3 c1'ii 40 i.xc1

Jld8 36 i.xeS

.l:th8 would have favoured Black ac­ cording to Shirov. Suddenly, White is wmnmg.

35 g5 l:tdS 36 �f1 �d4 37 �e2 e5 3S �e3 �b5 39 h7 l:thS 40 �xd4 exd4 41 g6! fxg6 42 f7 �c6 43 �d3 �d7 44 l:te2 a4 45 l:teS axb3 46 l:txhS b2 47 l:tdS+ 1 -0

Now we move on to the other branch of the main line: 16 �b l.

llh2 is checkmate) 3S

A blunder. 34

eS!

Game l Topalov-Kramnik Dortmund 1996
Game l
Topalov-Kramnik
Dortmund 1996

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 lLlf3 lLlf6 4 lLlc3 e6 5 i.g5 dxc4 6 e4 b5 7 e5 h6 S

�xg5

lLlbd7 11 exf6 �b7 12 g3 c5 13 d5

�b6 14 �g2 0-0-0 15 0-0 b4 16

l:tb1

By placing his queen's rook on the b-file, White meets the threat of

, as 17 bxc3 'iia6 18 Iixb7!

'iixb7 19 dxe6! is clearly better for White. Question 5: Why does White want to keep his knight on c3? Answer: By holding his knight on c3, White maintains his support of the dS-pawn, blocking Black's play along the d-file and the a8-h 1 diagonal. White avoids committing his knight

�h4 g5 9 lLlxg5 hxg5

1 0

16

bxc3

Th e

Semi- Sla v

to the rim, and hopes to transfer it

later to a central post such as e4 or dS.

16 :�a6!

b4xc3,

as b2xc3 will now not come with gain of tempo. He wants to force matters

and not to let his opponent consoli­ date behind the barrier on dS.

17 .txh6 �xh6 18

b3! cxb3 19 lba4 'iWbS 20 axb3 exdS 21

:c 1 Black's position was very loose in Piket-Illescas, Dos Hermanas 1985.

17 dxe6 �xg2!

18 lbe4! (centralising the

knight) is good for White, while

:�xe6 allows 18 .txb7+ �xb7 19

'i'f3+ with dangerous play against the

black king. Kramnik's move exploits the fact that 18 exd7+ loses to

.Ihd7, attacking the white queen

on d1, while after 18 'it>xg2 Black can

play

both

Black renews the threat of

After

16

.th6

17 fxe6

17

18

18

:�'xe6,

threatening

19

bxc3

and 19

'iWh3+.

18

e7!

19 bxc3 and 19 'iWh3+. 18 e7! An amazing intermediate move, forking the rook on dS

An amazing intermediate move,

forking the rook on dS and bishop on fS .

18

keep­

ing the bishop on the h 1-aS diagonal

�xf1

Black can also play lS

i.aS,

and hoping to play the queen to c6 and deliver mate on g2 or hI. Peter Wells considers that 19 lbdS 'i'b7 20 exfs'i' �hxfs 21 lbe7+ cJ;;c7 22 .tf4+ lbe5 23 .txeS+ �b6 24 f3 ! (prevent­

ing

l:tbxd1 is fairly promising for White and I am in full agreement. Cenainly, none of the top players have tried this

for Black.

19 'ii'd5!?

An astonishing idea of Yermolin­ sky's. White, a rook and a piece down, ignores the material on offer and in­ stead creates another threat: 20 'ii'aS+ lbbS 21 exdS'ii' + �xdS 22 'i'xbS+. 19 Wxfl is considered in Games 9

and 10.

'iWg2

or

:i!Vh 1 mate) 24 .l:hd1 25

19 �xe7!

A typical idea, lessening the impact

of 'i'aS+ by defending the back rank.

20

fxe7

Black has protected the back rank

with gain of tempo: now 21 'i'aS+ lbbS 22 exdS'fI + l:hdS 23 .txd8 will win material, but will create no threats against the black king. Black can. therefore use his 'spare move' before this happens to attack the white rook.

20 �d3!

This also gives Black the threat of

which will no longer open

b4xc3,

the b-file, as Black can then take the

rook with

Kramnik's

remarkable improvement on his own

20 �dgS

21 lLle4

Since 21 'i'aS+ lbbS and 21 .tf4 (threatening 22 'iWa8+) 21 :i'b7! achieve nothing, White must bring another unit into the attack. From e4,

.txb 1!

20

.td3!

In

fact

was

(see the next game) .

Bo t vinnik

Va ria tion:

Main

L ine

with

15

b4

the knight can move to the dangerous

d6-square.

21

Greedy but good! White must

hurry as his oppoenent threatens

�xb1 !

.ltxe4,

removing the attacking white

knight.

22 ltJd6+ �c7

This is the critical position. Now 23

lbxc4 threatens the unpleasant 24

.ltf4+, but then 23

with 24

and discovering an attack on the white queen, which is winning for Black. 23 lbxf7 also looks interesting, intensify­

blocking out the check

f6 meets 24 .ltf4+

lbe5,

ing the attack on the rook on dS, while also threatening the check on f4,

but the calm 23

wins after 25 'i'xd7 'ii'b7! or 25 'i'd6+

l:!c6! 26 'iYxd7 'iYc8 . Yermolinsky sug­

gests 23 exdS'ii' + .l::lxd8 24 lbxf7; and

this looks like the most critical test, as

24

27 'ii'xd7 gives White good play.

25 .ltf4+ \t>b6 26 'iYd6+ \t>a5

.l::tdcS 24 .ltf4+ �b6

�eS

26 'iYd6+ \t>a5 .l::tdcS 24 .ltf4+ �b6 �eS 23 �f4!? �b6! Avoiding the discovered check. 24

23 �f4!? �b6!

Avoiding the discovered check.

24 ltJxc4+ �b5 25 ltJd6+ �b6 26 exd8�!? l:txd8 27 ltJc4+ �b5 28 ltJd6+ �b6

Neither side can avoid the draw by

repetition!

29 ltJc4+ �b5 % - %

Game 8 Kasparov-Kramnik New York (rapidplay) 1994
Game 8
Kasparov-Kramnik
New York (rapidplay) 1994

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 ltJf3 ltJf6 4 ltJc3 e6 5 �g5 dxc4 6 e4 b5 7 e5 h6 8 �h4 g5 9 ltJxg5 hxg5 1 0 �xg5 ltJbd7 11 exf6 �b7 12 g3 c5 13 d5 �b6 14 �g2 0-0-0 15 0-0 b4 16 l:tb1 �a6 17 dxe6 �xg2 18 e7 �xf1 19 �d5!? �xe7! 20 fxe7 l:tdg8 21

ltJe4!

We've seen this idea before! White brings the knight to an attacking posi­ tion from where it aims to give an ex­ tremely unpleasant check on d6.

21

Preventing the knight check on d6, and intending to challenge the white

queen on d5 with

l:tg6

:ifc6.

to challenge the white queen on d5 with l:tg6 :ifc6. 22 l:txf1 ?! Natural, but as

22 l:txf1 ?!

Natural, but as Kasparov shows, he missed an opportunity to win bril­ liantly here: 22 'iWaS+ lbbS 23 .l::lxfl ,

when

:dS+ �c7 (25

26 lihhS .l::le6 27

lbxc5+ followed by lbxe6 and e7-eS'iY

23

:iVc6 24 �dl!! 'iVxaS 25

\t>b7

Th e

Semi- Sla v

wins) 26 Jtf4+ Wb6 27 nxh8 l:te6 28 e8'i' l:txe8 29 �xe8 wins for White -

he will pick up the knight on b8, leav­ ing him with too much material for the queen .

22

!:te8 25 lbd6+ !:txd6 26 l:bd6 f6 27

�xf6?

As Kasparov points out, 27 Jte3, to

push the kingside pawns, was much

stronger, as with the minor pieces on, Black's queenside majority has a much harder task advancing.

27

l:txe7 30 �f1 !:te4

28 !:te6 lbxf6 29 !:txf6

Jli'c6

23 ili'xc6+ 11xc6 24 %:td 1

.'3;c7

Threatening the unpleasant

c4-c3.

31 11f4 l:txf4 32 gxf4 �d6 33 'iPe2

a5 34 a4 c3! 35 bxc3 b3! V2 - V2 After 36 '.t>d2 c4, White's king can­ not leave the queenside due to Black's protected passed pawn, while White's kingside pawns restrict his opponent's king to the kingside after 37 h4 �e6 38 hS <it;fS 39 <it;c 1 <it;f6!

Game 9 Kramnik-Shirov Monaco (blindfold) 1996
Game 9
Kramnik-Shirov
Monaco (blindfold) 1996

1 lbf3 d5 2 d4 lbf6 3 c4 c6 4 lbc3 e6 5 �g5 dxc4 6 e4 b5 7 e5 h6 8 �h4 g5 9 lbxg5 hxg5 1 0 �xg5 lbbd7 11 g3 �b7 12 �g2 �b6 13 exf6 0-0-0 14 0-0 c5 15 d5 b4 16 %:tb1 ili'a6 17 dxe6 �xg2 18 e7 �xf1

19 �xf1 !

The only winning attempt. This quiet move prevents the light-squared bishop from causing a nuisance and intends �ds.

19 �c6!

An extremely fine move, activating

the black queen along the a8-h1 di­ agonal while preventing White from

doing the same.

bxc3 !!

leaves Black helpless, as 20 :i'c6 (to

stop 'i'dS) is met by 21 l:ib8+! !, when

both 21

22 exd8'1W + !

Jtxe7 is consid­

and 21 .<it;xb8 lose to

19

bxc3

20

ltJxb8

The alternative 19 ered in the next game.

20 exd8i1i'+ �xd8 21 lbd5 !:txh2! 22

�g1 11h8

game. 20 exd8i1i'+ �xd8 21 lbd5 !:txh2! 22 �g1 11h8 Here is where the mastery of

Here is where the mastery of such sharp systems lies. First, it is necessary

to calculate the initial flurry of tactics; but the real skill lies in playing the extremely unbalanced positions - that then arise. Material is now equal: the f6-pawn is no longer an extra pawn,

Black has eliminated

and with

White's passed h-pawn. White's king is rather weak as only the knight on dS prevents Black from giving mate on

h1. However, Black also has his prob­ lems: his loose c4-pawn, inappropri­ ately centralised king and inactive bishop.

23 �f4!?

This prevents the knight from mov­

1:.xh2,

ing to the dangerous eS-square.

23

�d6? !

Bo t vinnik

Va ria tion:

Main

L ine

with

15

b4

This solves the problem of Black's bishop, but the exchange on d6 dis­ tracts the black queen from the a8-h 1 diagonal, allowing White to unravel and coordinate his pieces. In Nikolic­ Shirov, Linares 1997, Black tried to

�e6 24 'ilVf3 'ilVh3 25

improve with 23

lld1 b3?! 26 a4 iYh2+ 27 �f1 iYh 1+ 28

We2 'iYxf3+ 29 Wxf3, but it was clear that this was not the correct path!

is an improvement, intend­

23

ing to solve the more important prob­ lem of Black's king by transferring it to b7, where it protects the queen on c6. By stepping off the d-file, Black

re­

also sets up the threat of moving the knight from dS.

24 .i.xd6 �xd6 25 �f3 lLle5 26 �e4

l:te8 27 lLle3!

liJb6,

Highlighting the weakness of c4.

27

lLle6

28 �f3 rl;e7 29 lLlxe4 �d4

30

b3 �e4 31 'ii'xe4 l:txe4 32 '1t>g2

lLle5 33 lLle3 'it>d7 34 l:th 1 rl;e6 35

l:th8 Wxf6 36 lIc8 lLld3 37 l:ta8 l:td4

38

l:txa7 rl;g6 39 f4 lLle 1 40 lLle4 f6

41

l:ta6 l:te4 42 Wf3 1:e2 43 lLle5+

�g7 44 l:ta7+ Wh6 45 lLld3 l:te2 46

lLlxe1 l:txe1 47 'it>e4 'it>g6 4 8 f5+ 'it>h5

49 l:th7+ 'it>g4 50 l:tg7+ rl;h3 51 Wd5

l:te2 52 l:tg6 l:txa2 53 l:txf6 l:tb2 54

e6 5 .i.g5 dxe4 6 e4 b5 7 e5 h6 8 .i.h4 g5 9 lLlxg5 hxg5 10 .i.xg5 lLlbd7 11 exf6 .i.b7 12 g3 e5 13 d5 �b6 14 .i.g2 0-0-0 15 0-0 b4 16

l:tb1 �a6 17 dxe6 .i.xg2 18 e7 .txf1

19 'it>xf 1 .i.xe7 20 fxe7 l:tdg8

Kramnik had already tried this sort of idea against Kasparov after 19 'iVdS (Game 8) . In annotating the present game, he described it as dubious.

21 lLle4! �e6 22 lLld6+ 'it>b8 23 .tf4 l:txh2 24 'it>e2! 'it>a8 25 �e2 lLlb6 26 'ii'f5 lLle8 27 e8'ii' l:txe8+ 28 lLlxe8 'i'xe8+ 29 .i.e3

27 e8'ii' l:txe8+ 28 lLlxe8 'i'xe8+ 29 .i.e3 Kramnik considers White to be clearly better here.

Kramnik considers White to be clearly better here. Resolute endgame defence however, saves a valuable half­ point!

l:th6+ 'it>xg3 55 f6 l:txb3 56 l:tg6+

29

lLlb6

30 l:td 1 rl;b7 31 �xe5

�a4

�h4 57 f7 l:tf3 58 'it>e6 b3 59 l:tf6

32

lId2 e3 33 bxe3 bxe3 34 l:td4

�-�

We shall now examine another at­ tempt that Black has made in this line.

Game 10 Kamsky-Kramnik l)os}{ennanas 1996
Game 10
Kamsky-Kramnik
l)os}{ennanas 1996

1

d4 d5

2 e4

e6

3 lLle3 lLlf6 4 lLlf3

'ii'xa2+ 35 'it>f3 e2 36 l:td2 l:th8 37 l:txe2 'ii'd5+ 38 'ii'xd5+ lLlxd5 39

lIb2+ lLlb6 40 �e4 l:te8 41 g4 l:te6

42

g5 l:te6+ 43 Wf5 a5 44 l:tb5 a4

45

l:ta5 lLle4 46 l:txa4 lLlxe3+ 47

fxe3 l:txe3 48 l:ta5 rl;e6 49 'it>f6 l:tf3+

50 'it>e7 l:tf1 51 l:ta6+ rl;d5 52 lIf6

:g 1 53 1:f5+ rl;e4 54 '1t>f6 :g4 55 l:te5+ '1t>d4 �- �

Th e

Semi- Sla v

Summary

Against 16 ctJa4, 16 .'Yi'bS is my recommendation for Black players, meeting the

J In fact, this is also my recommendation for

main line, 17 a3 exdS 18 axb4 cxb4 19 �e3 ctJcS 20 �g4+, with either 20

and Ivanchuk's untried 20

�c7.

White players as my analysis shows there is plenty of scope for both sides!

.i.xe7 20

fxe7 .td3!, as in Kramnik-Topalov, while 19 'it>xfl leads to a balanced position

after 19

ever, White should try this: although he is not better there is still plenty of play!

20 exd8'iV + �xd8 21 ctJds lhh2 22 �gll:rh8 23 �f4 �c8! How­

16 l:Ib 1 'ilia6 17 dxe6 �xg2 18 e7 �xfl

�c6

19 'ilidS is best met by

19

d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 lLlf3 lLlf6 4 lLlc3 e6 5 �g5 dxc4 6 e4 b5 7 e5 h6 8 �h4 g5 9 lLlxg5 hxg5 1 0 �xg5 lLlbd7 11 exf6 �b7 12 g3 c5 13 d5 �b6 14 �g2 0-0-0 15 0-0 b4 1 6 lLla4

1

16 lib 1 'ifa6 17 dxe6

.i. xg2 18 e7 .txfl (D)

19 'iVdS .ixe7 20 fxe7

20

19 'it>xfl

19

�d3

- Game 7; 20 J�dg8 - Game 8

.'iVc6 - Game 9; 19

.txe7

- Game 10

16

:it'b5

16

.'ii'a6 - Game 6

 

1 7 a3 (D)

 
 

17 dxe6 - Game 5

 

17

exd5

17

ctJeS

- Game 4

 

18

axb4 cxb4 19 �e3

 

19

lite 1 - Game 3

19

lLlc5

20 'it'g4+ J:td7 21 'it'g7 �xg7

22 fxg7 :g8 23 lLlxc5 (D) d4

23

l:lxg7

- Game 2

24

�xb7+ - Game 1

 
22 fxg7 :g8 23 lLlxc5 (D) d4 23 l:lxg7 - Game 2 24 �xb7+ - Game
22 fxg7 :g8 23 lLlxc5 (D) d4 23 l:lxg7 - Game 2 24 �xb7+ - Game

17 a3

22 fxg7 :g8 23 lLlxc5 (D) d4 23 l:lxg7 - Game 2 24 �xb7+ - Game

23lLlxc5

CHAPTER TWO
CHAPTER TWO

Botvinnik Variation : Black's 13th Move Alternatives

TWO Botvinnik Variation : Black's 13th Move Alternatives 1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 liJf3

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 liJf3 liJf6 4 liJc3

e6

5 jLg5

dxc4 6 e4

b5

7

e5

h6

8

e6 5 �g5 dxc4 6 e4 b5 7 e5 h6 8

�h4

g5

9

liJxg5

hxg5

1 0

�xg5

1Lh4 g5 9 liJxg5 hxg5 1 0 �xg5

liJbd7 11

exf6 �b7 12 g3 c5

13 d5

liJbd7 11 exf6 �b7 12 g3 c5 13 d5

liJxf6

In this chapter, we analyse Black's alternatives to the main line. The popularity of these lines peaked in 1993 when all the leading Semi-Slav players played one of these - as their

main weapon. My feeling is that they

renounced these ideas not because of tactical problems, but because the positional risks that Black takes be­ come less attractive once White play­ ers developed a good understanding of the appropriate tactical motifs. The first three games consider

restoring material parity,

13 ttJxf6,

Games

14-16 deal

with

13

�h6

and

Games

17 and

18

with

13

ttJb6

and

13

ttJe5

respectively.

Game 11 Van Wely-Dreev Bern Open 1993
Game 11
Van Wely-Dreev
Bern Open 1993

1

d4 d5

2 c4

c6

3 liJc3 liJf6 4 liJf3

Bern Open 1993 1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 liJc3 liJf6 4 liJf3 re-establishes material

re-establishes material

equality by capturing White's extra pawn on f6, and coordinates substan­ tial pressure against White's d-pawn. The move's boldness lies in the fact that it reactivates the pin on the f6- knight, thereby keeping the black queen tied to the knight's protection and thus preventing Black from mov­ ing the queen to prepare queenside castling. Finally, the b5-pawn is still

13

ttJxf6

Th e

Semi - Sla v

hanging which gives Black another loose point to worry about.

14 �g2 jLe7

Breaking the pin on the knight on f6 along the h4-dS diagonal and

thereby increasing the pressure on d5.

is consid­

The alternative 14 ered in Game 13.

1S 0-0

i.h6!?

This puts the king to safety and protects the bishop on g2, breaking the pin on the d5-pawn.

1S

lLJxdS

16 �xe7 ctJxe7 17 lLJxbS

the pin on the d5-pawn. 1S lLJxdS 16 �xe7 ctJxe7 17 lLJxbS After this move, taking
the pin on the d5-pawn. 1S lLJxdS 16 �xe7 ctJxe7 17 lLJxbS After this move, taking

After this move, taking control of the h1-aS diagonal, White stands slightly better due to his better pawn structure.

24 J:tabS 2S l::tab1

Van Wely suggests 25 .:tfe1 l:Ih5 26 l:!adl followed by h2-h4. The ending, though not objectively losing, is of course not very inspiring for _ Black and Van Wely makes it look much easier for White to win than Black to hold!

 

2S

lLJd7

26 h4 J:tb4 27 J:tfc1 J:thb8

Although material is equal and

28

J:tb3 J:txb3 29 axb3 �b7 30 -.xb7

Black has a large number of files for

J:txb7 31 J:ta1 lLJb6 32 J:taS! :c7 33

his major pieces, his pawn structure is very weak and his king is rather

g4 �f8 34 hS ctJg7 3S lLJd6 J:td7 36 lLJe8+ ctJh6 37 lLJf6 :b7 38 l::txcS

draughty in comparison to White's.

lLJdS 39 lLJxdS exdS 40 J:txdS l::txb3

Black has to play actively or his posi­

41 :as a6 42 l::txa6+ ctJgS 43 f3 �h4

tional weaknesses will cost him the game.

44 J:tf6 1 -0

Ga me 12 Van Wely-Kramnik Biel ln terzonal 19 93
Ga me 12
Van Wely-Kramnik
Biel ln terzonal 19 93

17 :�b6

1 S lLJa3

Attacking c4.

 

1S

c3

The bizarre 1s

11h4

is considered

in the next game.

 

1

d4 dS

2 lLJf3 c6

3 c4 lLJf6 4 lLJc3

1 9 lLJc4 �c7 20 bxc3! lLJxc3 21 �d2

e6

S �gS

dxc4 6 e4 bS

7

1 0

eS

h6

8

�xg2 22 �xg2

 

�h4

gS

9 lLJxgS hxgS

�xgS

Wells also suggests 22 'iWg5+!?

lLJbd7 11

exf6 �b7 12 g3 cS

13 dS

22 .•• lLJe4 23 -.e3 lLJf6 24 �f3

lLJxf6 14 �g2 �e7 1S 0-0 lLJxdS 16

Bo t vinnik

Va ria tion:

Bla ck 's

1 3 th

Mo ve

A ltern a tives

�xe7 rJixe7 17 lLlxb5 �b6 18 lLla3 1::th4! ?!?

a tives �xe7 rJixe7 17 lLlxb5 �b6 18 lLla3 1::th4! ?!? A quite stunning move! Kr

A quite stunning move! Kramnik

makes the maximum use of the open files created by Black's fractured pawn structure.

19 'i'd2!

A masterful and strong reply. 19

gxh4 11g8! wins for Black.

19

In a later round of the same tour­

nament, Topalov tried the astounding

19 lbf4

defeated after 20 lbxc4 'i'c7 21 f3 !

lbxg2 22 'i'g5+ wf8 23 gxh4. In re­

sponse to 20

21 lbe3 as slightly better for White,

011 recommended

against 011 but was rapidly

J:td4?

'ii'a6

36 l:td3! l:tg4 37 lLld2 a5 38 l:te3 rJid6 39 h3 l:tg8 40 lLle4+ rJie7 41 l:tb3 l:td8 42 l:tb5 l:td4 43 l:txe5 lLlb4 44 a3 1 -0

Game l3 Kasparov-Ivanchuk Linares 1994
Game l3
Kasparov-Ivanchuk
Linares 1994

1

e6

d4 lLlf6

5 .tg5

2 e4

e6

3 lLle3 d5 4 lLlf3

8

dxe4 6 e4

b5

7

e5

h6

.th4 g5 9 lLlxg5 hxg5

10

.txg5

lLlbd7 11

exf6 .tb7 12 g3 e5

13 d5

lLlxf6 14 .tg2 .th6!?

11 exf6 .tb7 12 g3 e5 13 d5 lLlxf6 14 .tg2 .th6!? With this move Black

With this move Black seeks to ex­ change the dark-squared bishops and, by breaking the pin on the knight on

but in Ehlvest-Onischuk, Philadelphia

f6, to increase the pressure on White's

Open 1994, White preferred 21 i.xb7

d5-pawn.

lbh3+ 22 �g2 'ii'xb7+ 23 f3 lid8 24

1 5 .txf6

'i'c3, when 24

.ihc4 25 'ii'xc4 'ii'xb2+

This removes the knight on f6 and

gives Black sufficient play for the draw. There may still be life in this

deflects the black queen to f6, thus removing a great deal of pressure from

line yet!

 

the d5-pawn. 15 .ixh6 �xh6 16 0-0

20

'i'g 5+ lLlf6 21 .txb7 l:tg8 22 'it"e5

i.xd5 was fine for Black in Sher­

lLld7 23 "e2 'i'xb7 24 lLlxe4 l:1h4? !

bakov-Korneev, Elista 1996, but 15

25

f3 'i'e7 26 tOe3 �f8 27 lLlg4 l:th5

i.h4!? is worth a thought.

28

l:tad 1 l:td 5 29 'iie4

'iid6 30 lLle3

15

:ii'xf6 1 6 0-0

l:td4 31 l:txd4 'iixd4 32 l:td 1 'i'xe4 33 fxe4 �e7 34 lLle4 lLlb8 35 rJif2 tOe6

16 lbxb5 is less good according to

'iie5+ 17 �e2 �xe2+

Kasparov, as 16

Th e

Semi- Sla v

(17

ctJxa7+ \tb8 20 ctJc6+ (20 ctJbS seems

worth a try) 20

gives Black counterplay. 16 ctJe4!? is also worthy of attention. With 16 0-0, White not only puts his king to safety, but also protects the bishop on g2, thus unpinning the pawn on dS and threatening dSxe6. Both sides have several dynamic fac­

21 dxc6 :d2+

18 \tfl) 18 Wxe2 0-0-0 19

�d2+

iLxc6

tors in their favour: White has a passed h-pawn and is threatening ctJxbS, winning the b-pawn; whereas Black has the two bishops and two open files against the white king - the g- and h-files.

16 0-0-0

'it>b8 19 tLJb5

Although White is a pawn up, Black's position looks quite promising - he has the two bishops, a trio of cen­

17 tLJxb5 exd5 18 tLJxa7+!

the two bishops, a trio of cen­ 17 tLJxb5 exd5 18 tLJxa7+! A sensational move which

A sensational move which threatens to expose the white king still further

with

J�f4

and also has the threat of

l:tf4+!

�e8, increasing the strength of

by cutting the king from its flight

squares on the e-file. 24 gxh4 fails to

24 'iVxh4+!

26 �e 1 �e8+ 27

'it>d2 'ii'f2+) 2S

25 wfl (25 We2 Ite8+ 26

'iVf4+

�e2 llxe2+ 28 Wxe2 �e3+ 29 \tf1 c3!?

tral pawns, and two open files against

tral pawns, and two open files against

30

bxc3 d3! 31 �e 1 �f4+! However,

White's king. However, the removal of the a7-pawn has not only weakened

we should borrow from Kasparov and instead of 20 f4 play 20 �e 1, eyeing as

Black's king position but also pro­

and eS: 20