Tough Engame Decides the Match

Iotov,Valentin (2531) - Papaioannou,Ioanis (2566) [E58]
Greece team Cup, 15.06.2008
[Notes by GM Valentin Iotov]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0–0 5.Bd3 d5 6.Nf3 c5 7.0–0 Nc6 8.a3 Bxc3 9.bxc3 Qc7 10.Bb2 Na5 11.cxd5 c4 12.Bc2 exd5 13.Ne5 b6?! 14.a4 Nc6

15.Ba3 Probably better is: [15.Nxc6 Qxc6 16.f3 Bb7 17.Ba3 Rfe8 18.Qd2± with advantage for White.] 15...Re8 16.f4 Ne4 17.Bxe4 dxe4 18.Qh5 I also considered the immediate capture of the pawn, but after: [18.Nxc4 Ba6 19.Nd6 Bxf1 20.Nxe8 Rxe8 21.Qxf1 Na5 22.Qb5 Rc8 23.Bb4 Nc4 Black has sufficient compensation, for example: 24.Re1 a5 25.Bc5 bxc5 26.Qxc4 cxd4 27.Qxc7 Rxc7 28.cxd4 Rc4 29.Ra1 f5 with the idea Kg8-f7-e6-d5.] 18...Rd8? Better is: [18...Ba6 19.Bd6 (19.a5!? is also an interesting option, when I will enjoy nice initiative after: 19...Nxa5 20.d5) 19...Qb7 (19...Qxd6 20.Qxf7+ Kh8 21.Qxe8+ Rxe8 22.Nf7+ Kg8 23.Nxd6 Re6 24.Nb5 wins ) 20.f5 f6 (20...Rad8 21.f6 Rxd6 22.Qg5 g6 23.Qh6 Rxf6 24.Rxf6) 21.Nxc6 Qxc6 22.Bb4І] 19.Rfd1
[19.Be7!! I immediately saw this study-like shot, but unfortunately, after: 19...Nxe7 20.Qxf7+ Kh8 21.f5+- the move 21...Nd5 worried me. But of course, this is not a defense due to the simple fork- 22.Qxc7 Nxc7 23.Nf7+ My condition during the game was very poor, although this is not an excuse. Now the game starts again.] 19...f6 [19...Rd5 is simplier and safer.] 20.Nxc4 Ba6 [20...Be6 21.Nd2 Na5 22.Nxe4 Qc6 23.Nf2 Nb3 24.Rab1 Qxa4 25.Bb2 leaves White on top.] 21.Nd2 Bd3 22.Qf5 [22.c4 Na5 23.c5 is the alternative. White plays without risk in all the lines, the question is if his advantage will be sufficient for a full point.] 22...Qc8 Liquidating to an endgame should be his best chance. After: [22...Re8 23.c4 Rad8 24.Rdc1 the pawns may start rolling.] 23.Qxc8 Raxc8 24.c4 Na5 25.c5
25...Kf7 He had in his disposal a very interesting exchange sacrifice: [25...bxc5 26.Bxc5 Rxc5!? (26...Bc2 27.Rdc1 Rxc5 28.dxc5) 27.dxc5 Bc2 and after: 28.Rdc1! (28.Kf2 Bxd1 29.Rxd1 Nb3 30.c6 Nxd2 31.Ke2 Rc8 32.Rxd2 Rxc6 33.Rd8+ Kf7 34.Rd7+ Kg6 35.Rxa7 Rc2+ 36.Kf1 Rc1+ 37.Kf2 Rc2+= is only equal 38.Kg3? Re2) 28...Rxd2 29.Ra2 Rd1+ 30.Rxd1 Bxd1 31.Rd2 Bb3 32.Rd6 Nb7 33.Rc6 White is close to winning. The rook is too good for the light pieces.] 26.Rdc1 Ke6 27.Rc3 bxc5 28.Bxc5 Rd7 29.Rac1 Rb7 The best plan. He needs to exchange the rooks, and then the knights.Worse is: [29...Kd5 30.Nb3 (30.Ba3 Rxc3 31.Rxc3 Nc4 32.Nxc4 Bxc4 is a draw) 30...Nc4 31.Ba3 Rdc7 32.Kf2 (32.Nc5 gives nothing 32...Nxe3 33.Nxe4 Rc4 34.Nc5 Nc2 35.Rxd3 Nxa3 36.Rxc4 Nxc4) 32...Rb8 33.f5 and I keep good winning chances.] 30.Ba3 Rxc3 31.Rxc3 Kd7 32.f5 Rc7 33.Rxc7+ Kxc7
Our opinions about the position were diametrically different. He thought that it is a dead draw, while I was considering my position winning. Unfortunately, analyses proved me wrong. 34.g4 Nc4 [34...Kd7 35.Bf8 g6 36.fxg6 hxg6 37.h4 Nc4 (37...Ke8 38.Bc5) 38.Nxc4 Bxc4 39.h5 gxh5 40.gxh5 Ke8 41.Bc5 a5 42.Bb6 Bb3 43.Bxa5 Bxa4 44.Bc7 Bd1 45.h6 Kf7 46.Kf2 with these two passers I should be winning.] 35.Nxc4 Bxc4 36.Bf8 g6 37.Be7 better than: [37.fxg6 hxg6 38.Be7 Be6 39.h3 f5 40.g5 f4=] 37...gxf5 38.gxf5 a5 39.Bxf6 Bb3 40.Be5+ Kd7? [40...Kd8 does not solve the problems after 41.Kf2 Bxa4 42.d5 Bd7 43.f6 Bc8 44.Kg3 (44.Bc7+!? Ke8 45.Bxa5 Kf7 46.Bc3) 44...Bb7 45.d6 Ke8 46.Kf4 Bc6 47.Kg5 But:; 40...Kc6!
gives a draw. In all lines Black manages to block the pawns. 41.f6 Kd7 42.Kf2 Bxa4 43.d5 (43.Kg3 Bc6 44.Kf4 Bd5 45.f7 Ke7 46.Bd6+ Kxf7 47.Ke5 Bb3 48.Kxe4 Ke6 49.Ba3 Bc2+ 50.Kf4 Kd5=) 43...Bb3 44.d6 a4 45.Kg3 a3 46.Kf4 a2 47.Kxe4 a1Q 48.Bxa1 Kxd6 49.Kf5 Bc2+ 50.e4 Kd7 51.h4 Bb1 52.Bc3 Bc2 53.Ke5 Ke8 54.Ke6 Bb3+ 55.Kf5 Bc2=] 41.Kf2 Bxa4 42.d5 [42.Kg3 Bc6 43.Bg7 Kd6 44.Bf8+ Kd5 45.Kf4 a4 46.Kg5 Bd7 47.Be7 is another road to the victory.] 42...Bb3 43.d6 a4 44.Kg3 Ke8 Or: [44...h6 45.Kf4 Bd5 46.Bg7 Kxd6 47.Bxh6 Ke7 48.Bg7 a3 49.h4 Kf7 50.Bd4 Bc6 51.Ke5 Bb7 52.h5 a2 53.h6 Kg8 54.Kd6 Ba8 55.Ke7 Bd5 56.f6 nets the bishop.] 45.Kf4 Bd5 46.Bb2 Bb7 47.Ke5 Bc6 48.Ba3 [48.Kf6 Bd7 49.Ba3] 48...Bb7 [48...Kf7 49.Bb2 Bb7 50.h4] 49.h4 This is an important resourse. I need the pawn advanced before going for the h pawn. 49...Bc6 50.Kf6 Bd7 51.h5 Bc8 Probably here Papaioannou missed his last chance to draw: [51...Kd8!?

52.Ke5 Bc6 Here I though that I am winning with: 53.d7 (53.h6 of course saves the pawn, but Black can defend himself thanks to the fortress-see the next note.) 53...Bxd7 (53...Kxd7 54.Kf6) 54.Kxe4 Be8 55.Kf4 Bxh5 56.e4 since Black lacks time to build his best construction Kd7, Bf7, h6. But then we saw (with Dejan Bojkov) that Black blocks the pawns thanks to his h one: 56...h6 57.e5 Bf7 58.e6 Bg8 and Black blocks the pawns. 59.Kg4 Ke8 60.Kh5 Bh7 61.f6 Bg8 and draws.] 52.Ke5 Bb7 53.d7+! [53.h6 Bc6 54.Kf6 (54.Bb2 Looks as winning, but Black has a fortress here: 54...Kf7 55.d7 Bxd7 56.Kxe4 Bc8 57.Ke5 Bd7 The perfect diagonal for the bishop! 58.e4 Bc8 59.Kf4 Bd7 60.e5 a3 61.Bxa3 Bc8 62.Bc5 Bd7 63.e6+ Bxe6 64.fxe6+ Kxe6 65.Kg5 Kf7 66.Kf5 Kg8
and draw) 54...Bd7 55.Bb4 Bc8 56.Ke5 Bb7 57.d7+! Kxd7 58.Kf6 and wins.] 53...Kxd7 54.Kf6 Ke8 55.Kg7 Bc8 [55...h6 56.f6 Bd5 57.f7+! Bxf7 58.Kxh6 Kd7 59.Kg5 Ke6 60.h6 Bg8 61.Kg6] 56.f6 Be6 57.h6 That is why it was important that my pawn is here. Bad is: [57.Kxh7 Kf7=] 57...Bc4 58.f7+ The point. I promote a queen. Thanks to this win we drew the match against "Kavala" but qualified for the finals of the Greek cup due to our top boards wins. Funnily in the team competition I played against Papaioannou again as White, and again opposite-coloured bishop endgame with a pawn more for me arised. But this time it was a complete draw. 1–0

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