What a treat. I was going to play a current reigning world chess champion. I was looking forward to this match for many months. I beleive I was the first person to sign up. I had mixed emotions as I had a lot of things on my mind that day with my students and I certainly wanted to show the kids I know how to represent. What a great feeling to have won and played a theoretical gem and entertaining game. You can't ask for more than that. I was seeded on board 1.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Kb1 This move used to get a !? note, but I suppose it's popular enough and well tested to have that label removed. Truth be told it is a perfectly acceptable alternative to the main moves. I recall many years ago, this move was extremely popular at the club level. I sincerely doubt that white understood the concepts of this line but I suppose they were just hoping to get lucky with the sharp tactics that ensue. Anyways, I felt I had a good grasp of this position.
10...Nxd4 Rb8 and e5 are perfecly playable for Black as well. 10. ...Nd4 is the overwhelming favorite though
11.e5 Now this is the interesting part where theory is concerned. I recall books of well respected authors that indicated that the only move now for black was 11. ...Nxf3!?. There were some wins, some draws, and losses. Well over time, Black accrued to many losses and had to come up with different plans. For many years this variation was not holding up for Black until one day. I recall leafing through a Paul Motwani book one day called H.O.T. Chess and in it there was a game quoted where someone used an immense amount of creativity. This is where I first saw this line, when that book came out in the late 90's. I had been playing the Dragon for the better part of 10 years and I had never seen this variation and I found it absolutely delicious. There's a long story behind this particular line. Apparently, some weaker player used it against a stronger player and wiped him off the board. For the life of me I can't recall the players, but I do know it was some sort of speed game or quick chess. Can you believe it? Over the board inspiration in a speed game where the idea actually rewrote the opening books. They asked the guy after the match how he came up with such a strange, effective move. He said that everything else had been tried before so he was just horsing around. It was only a speed game, so it wasn't that important.
11...Nf5! Back in the late 90's I'm sure that move got a (!!) under the circumstances. The move is great, I agree, but in reality it probably isn't worth 2 exclams. With best play White should be able to hold his own without particular worry.
12.exf6 Bxf6 12. ...ef is also perfectly playable and at the moment the most popular
13.Nxd5 Qxd5! And now we are at the crux of Black's idea. Sacrificing the queen in exchange for space, time and development and long-term prospects.
14.Qxd5 Nxe3 15.Qd2 Nxd1 16.Qxd1 Be6 Now I had known a game by Ivanchuck that I was using as my main line. The other lines I was unaware of.
17.Bb5 We whipped though these moves without even breaking a sweat. I was talking to some other parents for most of the first 1.5 hours in between my moves. I can't remember for my life which game was quoted in the book. So I provided two below and I'm pretty sure it's one or the other. Anyways, this guy doesn't really get the credit. There were just a handful of players who used this line as black in the past. But this gentleman gets the glory becuase he was the first person to win with it. [17.Bd3 Rfd8 18.Qe2 Rd6 19.Rd1 Rad8 20.f4 Rb6 21.b3 Rbd6 22.g4 a5 23.Rg1 a4 24.f5 axb3 25.fxe6 Rxe6 26.Qf1 bxa2+ 27.Kxa2 Ra8+ 28.Kb3 Rb6+ 29.Bb5 Ra1 30.Qd3 Rxb5+ 31.Qxb5 Rxg1 32.Qc5 Rb1+ 33.Kc4 g5 34.Qd5 Kg7 35.Qf3 Rb2 36.Kd3 Rb4 37.h3 b6 38.Qc6 h6 39.Qb7 b5 40.Ke2 Rb1 41.Kd3 b4 42.Kd2 e6 43.Ke2 Bc3 44.Qc6 Re1+ 45.Kf2 Re5 46.Qb7 Rd5 47.Kf3 Rd4 48.Qc6 Rf4+ 49.Ke2 h5 50.gxh5 Kh6 51.Qe8 Kxh5 52.Qg8 Kh4 53.Qh7+ Kg3 54.Qh5 f6 55.Ke3 Bd4+ 56.Kd3 e5 57.Qh6 Rf3+ 58.Ke4 Bc3 59.Qh5 f5+ 60.Kd5 Kf4 61.Ke6 e4 62.h4 gxh4 63.Qxf5+ Ke3 64.Qg5+ Ke2 65.Qg2+ Kd1 66.Kd5 Re3 67.Qf2 Re2 68.Qxh4 Kxc2 69.Kc4 Bd2 70.Kd4 b3 71.Qg4 Re3 72.Qc8+ Kb1 73.Qb7 b2 0-1 Magomedov,M (2540)-Valenzuela Fuentealba,L (2405)/Elista 1998/CBM 066 ext; Relevant: 17.Be2 b5 18.Qd2 a5 19.Bxb5 a4 20.g4 Rab8 21.c4 Rfd8 22.Qe2 Rd6 23.Bxa4 Rxb2+ 24.Qxb2 Bxb2 25.Kxb2 Bxc4 26.Rc1 Bd5 27.Rc3 Kg7 28.Rd3 Kf6 29.Bb3 e6 30.Bxd5 exd5 31.a4 d4 32.a5 Ke5 33.Ra3 Ra6 34.Kb3 Rc6 35.Kb4 Kd5 36.Ra1 Rc8 37.a6 Rb8+ 38.Ka5 d3 39.a7 Ra8 40.Kb6 Kd4 41.Kb7 Rxa7+ 42.Rxa7 Ke3 43.Kc8 f5 44.gxf5 gxf5 45.Rd7 f4 46.Kd8 d2 Popov,I (2582)-Savchenko,B (2638)/Ulan Ude 2009/CBM 132/1-0]
17...Rfc8 I had second thoughts about this move. White's plan became evident. She will just back the bishop up to trade my bishop to take away my bishop pair. [17...a6 18.Ba4 Rfd8 19.Qe2 Rd4 20.Bb3 Bxb3 21.axb3 Rad8 22.g3 b5 (Predecessor (47): 22...R8d5 23.f4 e6 24.Rf1 Rd2 25.Qc4 b5 26.Qc8+ Kg7 27.Qxa6 Rxh2 28.g4 h6 29.Qc6 Rhd2 30.b4 g5 31.fxg5 hxg5 32.Rh1 R2d4 33.Qe8 Rd8 34.Qxb5 Rxg4 35.Qb7 Kg6 36.Qf3 Rf4 37.Qe2 Kg7 38.c3 Rf5 39.Kc2 Rdd5 40.Kb3 Rde5 41.Qh5 Kf8 42.Ra1 Rd5 43.Ra7 Bg7 44.Ra8+ Ke7 45.Qh7 Be5 46.Qg8 Bf4 47.Re8+ Kd6 48.Qg7 Kd7 49.Qf8 Kc7 50.Rc8+ Kd7 51.Qd8# 1-0 Svetushkin,D (2560)-Polzin,R (2494)/Paleochora 2010/CB30_2010) 23.h4 h6 24.Qe3 a5 25.Qxh6 a4 26.Qe3 a3 27.c3 Rd3 28.Qb6 axb2 29.Kxb2 Bxc3+ 30.Kc2 Bg7 31.Qc7 Rd2+ 32.Kc1 Bb2+ 33.Kb1 Ra8 0-1 Tirard,H (2370)-Gachon,L (2285)/Montpellier 1997/EXT 2003]
18.Ba4 b5 I did know some of the themes for Black. The two queenside pawns typically become quite active. Honestly, I didn't see any way to avoid exchanging bishops without weakening my position so I just rolled with the punches.
19.Bb3 Obviously 19. Bxb5 leads to all sorts of complications that will definitely favor black. For example: [19.Bxb5 Rab8 20.a4 (20.c4 Bf5+ 21.Ka1 Rxc4-+ ) 20...a6 21.Bd3 (21.Bxa6 Rxb2+ 22.Kc1 Ra8 23.Bb5 Rxb5 24.axb5 Bc3-+ ) 21...Rxb2+ 22.Kc1 Bc3-+ ]
19...Bxb3 I took here on purpose because I had an idea. It was very similar to the idea in the above quoted game.
20.axb3 a5 I'm simply going to pry open the a-file and hope for the best.
21.Qd5? It was here that I thought she should have slowed down a little bit and tried to figure this out. What I think happened is she ran out of her set of knowledge on this line. Her manager came up to me after the game was over and expressed his displeasure over this move. While I agree this was not a terrific move it didn't completely jeopardize her position. The position is mostly equal now. At the time, I thought this move was pretty good for her. I wasn't sure what exactly I would do if I dropped one of those pawns. I felt I needed both to do some damage.
21...a4! Didn't really have to give this tremendous thought. I just felt it was the right thing to do. From what I know about the Dragon: He who strikes first usually will win.
22.Ka2? Again, she moved very quickly. Probably used less than 5 seconds. I was completely shocked. This had to be an awful move. I was really excited about my position. However, the more I looked at this position the more it felt like she just swindled me. I really wanted to take that pawn, but I calculated that it was bad for me. She was just about finished with her 48th board and she was about to walk over to my board. I still hadn't decided on a move. Then at the last second I saw the tactics in the position were in my favor. [22.bxa4 bxa4 23.Rc1 Rab8 While not an appetizing position for White, it was probably best in this situation]
22...a3 The only move that retains the advantage for Black. I felt like this was the little pawn that could. She can't do pawn takes pawn becuase of ...Rc2+ with devastating effect. Now my threats are extremely serious. And she finds the best move which I also predicted.
23.Qxa8!? When's the last time you saw a double intentional queen sacrifice in a game? Bravo!!
23...Rxa8 24.bxa3 I'm sure she felt she had a fighter's chance at this point in time. If she could keep two extra pawns over on the queenside then she probably has good chances to draw. Except for the fact that she will lose on of those pawns, which took me a little bit to figure out.
24...e6 25.c4 I didn't like this for her, but she was desperate and she was still moving quite quickly. I think she thought she would have to blitz me out to win this thing. Unfortunately she never got that chance as she was tied up in her remaining games.
25...Be7 [25...b4 26.a4 Rd8 Apparently the computer likes this particular continuation for Black. I did look at this but then got a little worried when I give her two protected pased pawns. But I guess I keep her so tied up she never gets a chance to push them.]
26.cxb5 Rxa3+ 27.Kb2 Ra5 28.Rb1 Rxb5 Here I felt I had the game in the bag. I have at least a draw in my sleep and very good chances for the win. Now it's just a matter of technique as they say in the books.
29.Kc3 Kf8 I couldn't make up my mind if I wanted to try the other variation which follows. [29...Kg7 30.b4 Kf6 31.Kc4 Rxb4+ 32.Rxb4 Bxb4 33.Kxb4 Ke5 34.Kc4 Kf4 35.Kd3 Only one extra pawn, however I have a strong position. But then again, one tiny slip and this is a draw. I didn't want that on my conscience.]
30.b4 Ke8 31.Kc4 Rb7 32.b5 Kd7 33.Ra1 Rc7+ 34.Kb3 Kc8 35.Ra4 Kb7 36.Rf4 Bd6 37.Rh4 f5 38.Ra4 Bxh2 39.Ra6 Re7 40.Kc4 Bg1 41.f4 Bb6 42.Ra2 e5 43.fxe5 Rxe5 44.Rd2 Kc7 45.Ra2 h5 46.Ra8 Re4+ not necessary [46...Re2 ]
47.Kd5 Re2 All I gotta do is just a little bit more defending and this should be sealed.
48.Rg8 Rxg2 49.Rg7+ Kc8 50.Kc6 Bd8 51.Rg8 g5 52.b6 Rb2 Alexandra was very gracious after the match and was all smiles. Her manager(I think her father) was also very nice to me after the game. She signed my scoresheet and I was the recipient of one of her DVD's. Overall, I would say she looked a little deficient with her strategy. I expected her to dispatch the mostly 1000 rated players in about 20 moves, but they hung around and made life difficult for her and then she wasn't able to focus on me. Although she did beat the Expert sitting on the board next to me. I was the last game to finish and it took 3 hours 45 minutes. 0-1