Chess

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
One of the oddest experiences I ever had in an international tournament was when I had an argument with Igor Zaitsev over whose chair was which. It was the beginning of the third session of a very long game in which I had been defending the ending of king and rook against king, rook and bishop. On returning to the board with only those pieces remaining, he forgot who was moving which way and sat on Black's side of the board instead of White's.

Since his English was even worse than my Russian, the You're-sitting- in-my-chair conversation that resulted was very confusing to both of us. As a man of firm principle, he had, of course, been analysing the position as it appears in most textbooks, with White trying to force the black king to the eighth rank. In fact, it was much closer to the first rank, so he had been viewing the whole thing upside down.

Apart from his purist approach, Zaitsev was, at his best, one of the most imaginative players in Russia, especially when it came to ideas in the opening. He was a key member of Karpov's analytic team during the champion's most successful years, and has been credited with supplying him with some of his most startling and effective theoretical innovations.

It is good to see that Zaitsev, now 59, is still producing creative ideas. In the following game, he adopts the rarely seen 9...a5 (well, it makes a change from the Zaitsev System with 9...Bb7) and then, just as his game is looking difficult, equalises with a remarkable combination.

White: I Yagupov

Black: I Zaitsev

Ruy Lopez

1 e4 e5 12 bxc3 exd4

2 Nf3 Nc6 13 cxd4 d5

3 Bb5 a6 14 Ne5 Ra6

4 Ba4 Nf6 15 Nxc6 Rxc6

5 0-0 Be7 16 exd5 Nxd5

6 Re1 b5 17 Qf3 Bb7

7 Bb3 0-0 18 Bxd5 Re6

8 c3 d6 19 Rxe6 Bxd5

9 h3 a5 20 Qd3 Bxe6

10 a4 b4 21 Ba3

11 d4 bxc3 Draw agreed

After 14.Ne5, Black seemed to be in trouble, since 14...Nxe5 15.dxe5 Nxe4 loses to 16.Bxd5, but Zaitsev's 14...Ra6 was an extraordinary idea. White must have been surprised by the recapture 16...Nxd5 (see diagram) which appears to lose a piece to 17.Bxd5 Qxd5 18.Rxe7, but then comes 18...Bb7! when the threats of ...Rxc1 and ...Re6 leave White with a choice between 19.f3 Rxc1! 20.Qxc1 Qxd4+, which is better for Black, and 19.Kf1, which gives Black at least a draw after 19...Qc4+.

After 17.Qf3, the natural 17...Be6 leaves White with a slight advantage after 18.Bd2, but Zaitsev against had a tactical solution with 17...Bb7! Now 18.Qxd5 is met by 18...Rxc1! while 18.Bxd5 Re6! as played in the game, leaves White forced to return his extra material since 19.Be4 Qxd4 favours Black. Brilliant tactics by Zaitsev, for only half a point.

Comments