Pursuits: Chess

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
ONE OF the questions which people are always asking is how much and how far ahead a grandmaster can see. Of course, the answer is that depth of calculation depends completely on the position, whereas breadth of vision varies between "quite a lot" down to "not nearly enough", with the odd traumatic blunder thrown in.

Today's game was a damp squib because I got it wrong. But it might

serve to go some way towards answering these questions.

In the opening, if 5 cxd5 Black must interpose Bxf3! 6 Qxf3 (6 gxf3!? is possible) cxd5 and if 7 Qb3 Qd7 is fine: but not 5 ...cxd5? 6 Qb3 Qd7? 7 Ne5!. So I tried 5 h3!? to force 5 ...Bxf3 without exchanging on d5.

The critical position came in the diagram, where I thought for nearly half an hour before playing a bad move! I wanted to play 11 e4 but then e5! exploits the queen on f3 and bishop on d3 by playing for ...Ne5. I analysed 12 exd5 exd4 13 Ne4 cxd5 14 cxd5? (in fact 14 Nxf6+! Nxf6 15.Bg5! is better) Nxd5 which seemed to win a pawn, for unfortunately if 15 Ng5 N5f6 16 Nxh7? Nxh7 17 Bxh7+ Kxh7 18 Rxd4 Qe7! (in fact there are several other ways too) exploits White's weakened back rank. The line continues 19 Qd3+ which I hadn't in fact seen is en route to f1 but after 19 ...Kg8 20 Rxd7 Qe1+ 21 Qf1 Bh2+! does the trick.

My next idea was 11 cxd5 exd5 12 e4 dxe4 13 Nxe4 Nxe4 14 Bxe4 (if 14 Qxe4 Nf6 15 Qh4 h6 16 Bxh6 gxh6 17 Qxh6 yields a draw but no more.)

A) But first, I didn't think I had very much even after 14 ...Nf6 15 Bg5 Qd6 (Re8 is in fact better) 16 Bxf6 Qxf6 17 Qxf6 gxf6 18 d5.

B) And I didn't like 14 ...Re8 15 d5 Qe7 16 dxc6 Nc5! when I again feared for my back rank. In fact, further thought shows that White can play 17 Be3! Qxe4 18 Bxc5 Qxf3 19 gxf3 bxc6 which is probably about equal - both sides have lousy pawns. But if 17 cxb7? Rab8 18 Bd3 (White has to try 18 Bxh7+ Kxh7 19 Be3) I do indeed get hit by 18 ...Nxd3! 19 Qxd3 Rbd8! which wins

So I played 11 Bf1?! to prepare e4. But 12 e4?! was already too late and Komliakov could have tried 14 ...f5!? while at the end 15 ...Nf6 16 Qf3 Bxf4 17 Qxf4 already felt a touch better for Black, since the d pawn needs defending.

White: Jon Speelman

Black: Victor Komliakov

Calcutta 1999 (Round 3)

Queen's Gambit Slav

1 Nf3 d5

2 c4 c6

3 e3 Nf6

4 Nc3 Bg4

5 h3!? Bxf3

6 Qxf3 e6

7 d4 Bd6

8 Bd3 0-0

9 0-0 Bc7

10 Rd1 Nbd7

(see diagram

11 Bf1?! Qe7

12 e4?! dxe4

13 Nxe4 Nxe4

14 Qxe4 Rad8

15 Bf4