Thursday 06 May 1999
Sadler started like a train with a fine win against Korchnoi (analysed below) and a victory as Black against Xie Jun. In the third round, he drew as White against Nijboer, allowing Korchnoi to catch up with a victory against Xie Jun. But Matthew still ended a very successful first cycle with 2.5/3, clear of Korchnoi (2), Nijboer (1) and Xie Jun just (0.5). The second cycle begins today after a rest day on Wednesday.
In the opening, the other main line goes 6...Ne4 7.0-0 and either 7...Bxc3 8.bxc3 f5 or 7...f5 at once. Sadler's game against Chris Ward in Hastings 1997-8 continued 7...f5 8.d5!? Bxc3 9.bxc3 Nc5 10.Ba3 Nba6 11.Re1 Qf6 12.Qc2 g6 13.e4! fxe4 14.Bxe4 0-0-0 with a huge mess that ended in a draw. White often first plays 9.a3 Be7 and then 10.exd4. There are possible differences, but in the game they transposed back after Sadler's 11th move.
17...d5!? was very double-edged. Although White has a space advantage, Black is fairly solid. But Korchnoi decided it was time to clear things up. Not 19.dxc5 e5 with a good centre. At first glance, the position after 19.bxc5 looks quite reasonable for Black but he does remain cramped.
I prefer either 20...Nb8 or 21...Nb8 ready to recapture on c6 with the knight (though White presumably wouldn't capture 22.Nxc6 at least immediately). 21...Bb5 looks positionally desirable since White is left with an apparently "bad" bishop. But in fact the resultant b5 pawn becomes a serious weakness while the b4 knight radiates strength.
Since next move he decided not to capture on d2, 23...Bh6 looks wrong and 25...Nh5? set himself up for the final combination. In the diagram the thematic sacrifice led immediately to victory.
1 d4 Nf6
2 c4 e6
3 Nc3 Bb4
4 e3 b6
5 Bd3 Bb7
6 Nf3 0-0
7 0-0 c5
8 Na4 cxd4
9 exd4 Be7
10 Re1 Re8
11 a3 d6
12 b4 Nbd7
13 Bb2 Bf8
14 Bf1 g6
15 Nc3 Bg7
16 Rb1 a6
17 Nd2 d5!?
18 c5 bxc5
19 bxc5! Qc7
20 Na2 Bc6
21 Nb4 Bb5?!
22 Bxb5 axb5
23 Qe2 Bh6
24 Rbd1 Reb8
25 Nb1! Nh5?
26 Nc3 Ra5 (see diagram)
27 Ncxd5! exd5
28 Nxd5 Qd8
29 Ne7+ Kf8
30 Nc6 Nf4
31 Qg4 Qc7
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