Chess: Sicilian variation

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AFTER the recent debate between Nigel Short and Garry Kasparov regarding the merits of 6. Bc4 against the Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian, it was inevitable that others would join in the argument. In the quarter-finals of the Tilburg tournament, Vasily Ivanchuk showed the value of good homework.

In Short's only victory over Kasparov, he declined a pawn sacrifice in the opening. Afterwards, we learnt that he had been suffering from a cold and wanted to avoid complications, so the soundness of the sacrifice remained in question. Georgiev, reaching the same position, took it, and the rest of the game confirmed the view that Short had shown very good sense.

After 13. Qxg7 Rg8 it is clear that Black will castle Q-side and double rooks on the g-file, after which g3 will leave White very vulnerable to an attack on the h1-a8 diagonal. Georgiev solved his defensive problem with 15. Qh3, when the threat of Nd5 forces Kb8, leaving White time to defend g2 with f3 and Re2. With no weaknesses and an extra pawn, White's game appears promising, but, as Ivanchuk showed, the one thing White cannot do in this position is to sit on his advantage. In failing to develop any attack of his own, Georgiev must have underestimated the potential of Black's position. Instead of the complacent 17. a3, White should have been playing to open lines with a4, if only to shift the emphasis from the K-side.

Beginning with 18 . . . h5] and continuing with 19 . . . Qc7 (to protect the bishop on e7) and 20 . . . h4 (when 21. Qxh4 is met by Nxe4), Ivanchuk began to suffocate the white queen, and with 21 . . . Nh5 he threatened to asphyxiate her entirely with Nf4.

Georgiev's 22. Ng4 blocked the g-file and protected f4 with the bishop, but the extent of his problems became clear with 22 . . . Qd8], a subtle retreat continuing the struggle for the all-important f4 square. When 23 . . . Bg5 threatened Bxd2 and Nf4, White had no way to extricate his queen other than to play g3, which his entire set-up had been designed to avoid.

After that, it was easy for Black, and Ivanchuk played the attack with great force and elegance. At the end, 35. Ne2 Qf7+ wins everything. This victory earned Ivanchuk a semi-final match with Alexei Shirov. The other semi-final is Karpov against Belyavsky.

White: Georgiev

Black: Ivanchuk

1 e4 c5

2 Nf3 d6

3 d4 cxd4

4 Nxd4 Nf6

5 Nc3 a6

6 Bc4 e6

7 Bb3 b5

8 0-0 Be7

9 Qf3 Qc7

10 Qg3 Nc6

11 Nxc6 Qxc6

12 Re1 Bb7

13 Qxg7 Rg8

14 Qh6 0-0-0

15 Qh3 Kb8

16 f3 Rg6

17 a3 Rdg8

18 Re2 h5

19 Kh1 Qc7

20 Nd1 h4

21 Ne3 Nh5

22 Ng4 Qd8

23 Bd2 Bg5

24 g3 f5

25 Ne3 fxe4

26 f4 Bxf4

27 Bxe6 Rxg3

28 hxg3 Nxg3+

29 Kg2 Nxe2+

30 Bxg8 Qxg8+

31 Kf2 Nd4

32 Nf5 Bxd2

33 Nxd4 e3+

34 Kf1 Qc4+

White resigns