Games: Chess

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It is White to play in the diagram position. Black has just offered an exchange of bishops with ...Ba3. How would you reply?

The position comes from a game Kovalyov-Zavoronkov, played in Tallinn last month. White's thoughts must have gone something like this: I'd like to play Nc4 but the bishop's on that square, so how about Bxe6? After 1.Bxe6 fxe6 2.Nc4 White's doing rather well, so he has to play 1...Bxb2. Then after 2.Bxd7+ Nxd7 3.Nc4 Qc3, I have Qe2+ winning back the bishop. Ah, but what about 2...Kxd7? Then after 3.Nc4 Qc3, I don't have a check with the queen on e2. But I do have 4.Rb1 trapping his bishop.

That, however, was not the end of it, as the full score of the game shows. After Black's 13...Qc3 and 14...Qxd4, he kept material level, but White's inspired pawn sacrifice with 17.b4! kept the initiative.

19.Rxb7+! must have come as a great shock. After 19...Kxb7 20.Na5+, Black has no escape: 20...Kc7 21.Qxc6+ Kb8 22.Rb1+, or 20...Kc8 21.Qxc6+ Qc7 22.Qxa6, or 20...Kb6 21.Rb1+ Kxa5 22.Qc3+ all lead to quick mates, while 20...Ka6, as played in the game, lost most elegantly of all. In the final position, Black is a rook ahead but has no defence to the threat of a check on the f1-a6 diagonal. An eventful game for a 22-move miniature.

White: D Kovalyov

Black: V Zavoronkov

Tallinn 1998

1 Nf3 Nf6 12 Bxd7+ Kxd7

2 g3 d5 13 Nc4 Qc3

3 c4 c6 14 Rb1 Qxd4

4 b3 Bg4 15 Qc2 Kc7

5 Bb2 Bxf3 16 Rfd1 Qc5

6 exf3 Nbd7 17 b4 Qxb4

7 d4 e6 18 Rxb2 Qe7

8 Nd2 dxc4 19 Rxb7+ Kxb7

9 Bxc4 Qa5 20 Na5+ Ka6

10 0-0 Ba3 21 Nxc6 Qa3

11 Bxe6 Bxb2 22 Rb1 resigns