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Are even the very best players fully in control of their games? The answer is a resounding no. Take this game played at the Seville tournament.

White: Boris Gelfand

Black: Vassily Ivanchuk

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Nc3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 c5 8.Rb1

The fashionable way to handle this line. White nudges his rook off the diagonal and keeps Black's bishop on c8.

8...0-0 9.Be2 cxd4 10.cxd4 Qa5+ 11.Bd2

Since 11.Qd2 offers little hope of advantage, this pawn sacrifice is the natural consequence of his eighth move.

11...Qxa2 12.0-0 b6 13.Bg5 Re8 14.Bb5 Bd7 15.Qd3!

An irritating move, since 15...Bxb5 16.Qxb5 leaves the rook on e8 difficult to protect as 16...Na6 loses to 17.Ra1.

15...Qa5 16.Bc4 ! Nc6 17.Bd2 Qh5 18.Rb5

Everything fits together well for White; the enemy queen is all but surrounded.

18...e5 19.Ng5 Nxd4!?

With this move, Black launches his counter attack, but 19...Rf8 20.Nxf7 Rxf7 21.dxe5 would have been no fun at all.

20.Bxf7+ Kh8 21.Bxe8 Bxe8 22.Rb2 h6 (see diagram)

The moment of truth is near. White has gained the exchange, but the black Q-side pawns may be a potent force in an endgame. Can White claim any advantage after 23.Nf3 Rd8, or 23.Nh3 Bd7?


A fine coup, though I suspect White had not seen all its implications.

23...Nxe6 24.Qd5 Nc7 25.Qb7!

The point: Black has no good way to defend his knight.

25...Qe2 26.Re1! Qc4 27.Rc1 Qd4 28.Rbc2

Had White truly seen 25...Qe2 when playing 23.Ne6? In any case, his last three moves were an inspired solution.

28...Rd8 29.Qxc7 Kh7 30.Bc3 Qd7 31.Be1 g5 32.Qxd7 Rxd7 33.Rc7 resigns.

However Black plays, he will quickly lose his a-pawn or b-pawn resulting in a hopeless endgame.