Chess

SORTING THROUGH the primordial slime in my office, I recently uncovered a pile of second-hand books to shelve, including one called Modern Chess Brilliancies, written by Larry Evans in 1970, presumably slightly after the game introductions Evans wrote for Fischer's seminal My Sixty Memorable Games.

As I flicked through, I was struck by the sea-change in chess over the past generation, especially a comment on one of Dragoljub Velimirovic's trademark gore-splattered attacks against the Sicilian Defence in the variation that later came to bear his name.

Black played 16 ...0-0? in the diagram and as you can see he got slaughtered -at the end if 24 ...Kxe7 25 Rxg7+! etc.

Evans, rightly according to today's theory too, said that 16 ...Bb7! 17 f6 gxf6 18 Rhe1 Bxd5 19 Rxd5 Rg8! is the only defence and cited a game, Gheorghiu vs Hamaan Vrnjacka Banja 1967, in which Black eventually won after 20 h4.

Evans wrote: "This illustrates the growing importance of prepared analysis. In great secrecy, players vivisect whole variations at home. The last word, however, still has not been uttered on this remarkable line. It will be tested . . . until laid to rest in a footnote in the next edition of Modern Chess Openings (MCO)."

Two things especially date this - the "growing" and Evans's mention of MCO - nowadays there are numerous specialist monographs and the standard source is the five hefty volumes of the Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings (this line comes under B89).

Not being an expert, I don't know the theoretical status at the moment though in a large database I did find no fewer than 58 games that reached the diagram! A good way to sift through these is to look for players you trust and one reasonably safe line looks to be (16 ...Bb7! 17 f6 gxf6 18 Rhe1 Bxd5 19 Rxd5 Rg8!) 20 gxf6 Nxf6 21 Rf5 Ng4 22 Bg5 Ne5 23 Bxe7 Qxe7 24 f4 Nd3+! 25 cxd3 Qxe2 26 Rxe2+ Kf8 with quite a good ending as played by Rustam Kasimdzhanov (Black vs Bartlomiej Macieja) at the World Junior in 1997

White: D. Velimirovic

Black: J. Sofrevski

Yugoslav Championship Titograd (!) 1965

Sicilian Defence

Velimirovic Attack

1 e4 c5

2 d4 cxd4

3 d4 cxd4

4 Nxd4 e6

5 Nc3 d6

6 Be3 Nf6

7 Bc4 Be7

8 Qe2 a6

9 0-0-0 Qc7 10 Bb3 Na5

11 g4 b5

12 g5 Nxb3+

13 axb3 Nd7

14 Nf5 exf5

15 Nd5 Qd8

16 exf5 (see

diagram)

16 ...0-0?

17 f6 gxf6

18 Bd4 Ne5

19 gxf6 Bxf6

20 Rhg1+Bg7

21 Bxe5 dxe5

22 Qxe5 f6

23 Ne7+ Kf7

24 Qh5+ 1-0

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