Chess: How playing bad moves can win games

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
I HAVE said it before and I shall, no doubt, say it again: it is bad moves that win games. The main reason for this is that bad moves unbalance the position and create the pre-conditions for mistakes to be made. Good moves tend to retain equilibrium and prompt good moves in reply. Playing well simply makes life too easy for one's opponent. Take the following, from the Hudson International tournament in New York.

The opening was a curious variation of the Grunfeld Defence in which White surrenders the bishop pair in order to dislodge Black's king. The standard continuation is 10. Qf4 Bf6 11. h4, but this is not thought to lead to anything special for White. Alex Shabalov, one of the many ex-Soviet grandmasters now playing in the United States, chose a quieter plan, hoping for a later attack. His chance came at move 28.

I am not convinced that 28. Ng4]? is a good move. The double threat of Rxe8 and Qh6+ won him the exchange, but after Black's 30 . . . Qxb2 Black has a good pawn and a nice bishop pair. Had he played 31 . . . Qxa3, the issue would have been in great doubt.

Instead, Hellers, a Swedish grandmaster, played for safety with 31 . . . Bd7 trying to shift the rook from his back rank, but Shabalov produced a wonderful refutation. After 32. h5] Bxe8 33. h6+, White follows with 34. Qxf6, with a winning attack. As the game went, 33. Rh8] gave the kamikaze rook its desire. With Black's king never able to move to f8 without losing his knight to Qc5+, the resulting White attack was decisive.

At the end, Black had no defence to the threat of Qg6 mate.

White: Shabalov

Black: Hellers

1 d4 Nf6

2 Nf3 g6

3 c4 Bg7

4 Nc3 d5

5 Bg5 Ne4

6 cxd5 Nxg5

7 Nxg5 e6

8 Qd2 exd5

9 Qe3+ Kf8

10 Nf3 c6

11 g3 Be6

12 Bg2 Nd7

13 0-0 Bf6

14 Qh6+ Bg7

15 Qd2 Bf6

16 Rfe1 Kg7

17 e4 dxe4

18 Rxe4 Qa5

19 Qf4 Rad8

20 h4 h6

21 Rae1 Nb6

22 Ne5 Bf5

23 R4e2 Qb4

24 Rd1 h5

25 a3 Qb3

26 Kh2 Rhe8

27 Rde1 Nc4

28 Ng4 hxg4

29 Rxe8 Rxe8

30 Rxe8 Qxb2

31 Ne2 Bd7

32 h5 gxh5

33 Rh8 Kxh8

34 Qxf6+ Kg8

35 Qg5+ Kh7

36 Qxh5+ Kg7

37 Qg5+ Kh7

38 Be4+ f5

39 Qe7+ Kh6

40 Qf8+ Kh7

41 Qf7+ Kh6

42 Nf4 Qxf2+

43 Bg2 1-0