Click to follow
The Independent Online
The best missed win of the year so far came in the diagram position, with Black to play in a game played at Malmo, Sweden, at the end of May.

First let us see how they arrived there:

White: Ivan Sokolov

Black: Jonny Hector

Queen's Gambit, Semi-Slav.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.Bd3 e5

Black allows his d-pawn to become isolated in exchange for freedom for his pieces.

8.cxd5 cxd5 9.Nb5 Bb8 10.dxe5 Nxe5 11.Nxe5 Bxe5 12.Bd2 0-0 13.0-0 Bd7 14.Bc3 Rc8 15.Qb3 Bb8! 16.Rac1 Ng4 17.h3

17.g3 would have invited 17...Nxh2 18.Kxh2 Qh4+ 19.Kg1 Bxg3 with a huge attack

17...Bxb5 18.Qxb5 Qd6 19.f4

19.g3 would have invited the reply Nxe3.

19...Nxe3 20.Bb4

The point of White's play.

20...Qf6 21.Bxf8 Rxf8 22.Rf3 Bxf4 23.Qb4! Qg5 24.g4

Now we are in the diagram position with Black having to find an answer to the threats of Qxf4 and Bxh7+ followed by Qxf8. The game finished:

24...Nc4 25.Rxc4

Selling the life of the rook as dearly as possible.

25...dxc4 26.Bxh7+ Kxh7 27.Qxf8 Qe5! 28.Qxf7 Qe1+ 29.Kg2 Qe2+ 30.Rf2 Qe4+ 31.Rf3 draw agreed. White cannot escape the checks.

So what did Black miss? In the diagram position there's a beautiful chance to win with a combination involving a splndid range of forks and pins.

The winning move is 24...Nxg4! when the easy bit is 25.hxg4 Qxg4+ 26.Kf2 Bg3+ winning the queen. The real point comes after 25.Qxf4 when Black plays 25...Ne5+!!

Now 26.Qxg5 Nxf3+ regains the queen leaving Black a handful of pawns ahead, while 26.Kh1 Qxf4 27.Rxf4 Nxd3 leads to the same result. An easy trick to miss if you don't see the words "Black to play and win" under the position.