The Half-Open File

Not all of my games in Serbia were missed chances. This one was a good example of how to make use of a half-open file:

Vratonjic - Bojkov
1 Central Serbian League 06.10.2011
[Dejan ,Bojkov]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5!? It seems like that if you want to play for a win in the Italian this bishop should be placed as actively as possible right from the start! 5.c3 a6 6.Bb3 Ba7 7.0–0 0–0 8.Re1 d6 9.h3 Ne7 10.Bg5?! Somewhat too optimistic. The natural reaction was: [10.Nbd2] 10...Ng6 11.Nh4

This move was accompanied with a draw offer. However, our team needed to win on all the boards, and short draws were unacceptable. 11...Kh8! [Not: 11...Nxh4 12.Bxh4] 12.Nd2 White cannot make use of his active pieces: [12.Qf3 h6 13.Bxf6 Qxf6 14.Qxf6 gxf6 15.Nxg6+ (15.Nf5 Bxf5 16.exf5 Nh4 17.g4? Nf3+–+) 15...fxg6; 12.Nf5 h6 13.Be3 Bxf5 14.exf5 Nh4; 12.d4 h6 13.Nxg6+ fxg6 14.dxe5 dxe5 Even better is: (14...hxg5! 15.exf6 Qxf6 16.Kh1 g4! with decisive attack.) 15.Be3 (15.Qxd8 Rxd8 16.Be3) 15...Qxd1 16.Bxd1 Bxe3 17.Rxe3 Rd8 18.Bb3 b5і] 12...h6 13.Nxg6+ [Again, tactics fails for White- 13.Bxf7? Rxf7 14.Nxg6+ Kh7 15.Bxf6 Qxf6] 13...fxg6 14.Be3 Nh5

Black is not at least equal. the half open f file, and the beautiful f4 square for the knight are his main assets. [14...Bxe3 15.fxe3] 15.Bxa7 [White should better play in the center with: 15.d4 Although he needs to be careful with his aggressive intentions: 15...Nf4 16.Bxf4 (16.Nf3 g5 with the idea to meet 17.dxe5 g4!) 16...Rxf4 17.Nf3 Qf6 18.dxe5? dxe5 19.Qd5 Bxh3 20.Qxb7 Rf8 21.Qxa7 Rxf3 22.Re2 Bxg2 23.Kxg2 Qg5+ 24.Kf1 Rh3] 15...Rxa7 16.Re3 Nf4 17.Qf1 A solid defence. [17.Nf3 g5 18.Nh2 Qf6 is better for Black] 17...Qf6 18.Bd1 [18.Rd1 Ra8 19.Nf3 g5] 18...Ra8 19.Rg3 [It is too early for: 19.Bg4 Bxg4 20.hxg4 Qe6 with large advantage for Black.] 19...Rf7 20.Bg4?! [20.Bb3!? would be a better version of the bishop trade.] 20...Bxg4 21.Rxg4 Raf8

There are some issues with the rook, as it might get easily get excluded from the game. 22.Rg3 g5 23.Nc4 Qe6 24.Qd1 The pressure against the white position grows. [24.Ne3 Nh5 25.Rg4 Rxf2 26.Qxf2 Rxf2 27.Kxf2 Nf4–+; 24.Re3 g4!] 24...g6 25.Re3 b5! Before sacrificing, I decided that the knight would be best placed on d2! [25...Nxg2 26.Kxg2 Rxf2+ 27.Kh1 (27.Kg3 h5) 27...Qf6 28.Rg3 (28.Qg1 is also possible and there is no knight hanging on d2.) ] 26.Nd2 [26.Na5 Nxg2 27.Kxg2 Rxf2+ 28.Kg1 Qf7 will leave the knight too far away! While now, it is hanging on d2.] 26...Nxg2!

27.Kxg2 Rxf2+ 28.Kg1 This makes things easier for Black. [28.Kg3 h5 29.Nf3 (29.Rf3 R8xf3+ 30.Nxf3 Rxb2–+) 29...Rxb2 would not help neither.; However, after the best defence: 28.Kh1 Qf6 29.Re2 (29.Rg3 Qf4) 29...g4 30.Rxf2 Qxf2 31.Qxg4 (31.Qf1 Kg7 32.Qxf2 Rxf2 33.Nf1 gxh3µ; 31.hxg4 Qh4+ 32.Kg1 Qg3+ 33.Kh1 Rf2) 31...Qxd2 32.Qxg6 Qe3 Black is better but he still has to prove his win] 28...Qf6 29.Re2 [29.Nf1 g4 30.hxg4 Qh4] 29...g4! It is over. 30.Kh1 [30.Nf1 Qf3 31.Rxf2 Qxf2+ 32.Kh1 Rf3; 30.Rxf2 Qxf2+ 31.Kh1 g3; 30.hxg4 Qh4 31.Rxf2 Qxf2+ 32.Kh1 Qh4+ 33.Kg1 Rf4 34.Qe2 Rxg4+ 35.Kf1 Qh1+ 36.Kf2 Rg2+ (36...Qh2+) ] 30...Qh4 31.Rxf2 Rxf2 32.Qxg4 Qxg4 33.hxg4 Rxd2 34.a4 Kg7

35.g5 hxg5 36.axb5 axb5 37.Ra7 Rxd3 38.Rxc7+ Kf6 39.Rb7 Rd1+ 40.Kg2 Rd2+ 41.Kf3 Rxb2 42.Rd7 [42.c4 Rb3+ 43.Kg4 bxc4 and White cannot sacrifice his rook for stalemate.] 42...Ke6 43.Rg7 Rb3 44.Rxg6+ Kd7 45.Rxg5 Rxc3+ 46.Ke2 Kc6 47.Kd2 Rh3 0–1


The Missed Masterpiece

The following game was played in the Central Serbian League.
Mista,Aleksander (2561) - Bojkov,Dejan (2541) [A24]
1st League CS 2011 Kraljevo (5.3), 20.09.2011
[Dejan ,Bojkov]
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 A small surprise. Mista played this move more often in the Serbian League, but he usually choses the open games. 2...g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0–0 5.0–0 d6 6.Nc3 e5 7.d3 Nbd7 A flexible continuation. [The main move is: 7...Nc6] 8.Rb1 Re8 9.Nd2 In case of: [9.b4 Black can react with: 9...e4 10.Nxe4 Nxe4 11.dxe4 Rxe4 12.Qd3 (12.Nd2 Re8 13.Bb2 Nf6 14.e4 1/2 (14) Pfleger,H (2490)-Hausner,I (2435) Germany 1988) 12...Qe7] 9...a5 10.a3 h5N

This move appeared to be an over-the-board novelty. Larsen would love to see that. First a7–a5, then h7–h5. However, while the first move was designed to make the rook work from its initial position, the latter intends to start the real play on "my own flank". [10...Nh5?! is somewhat slow, and the advance of the f pawn will weaken the light squares in the center.] 11.b4 axb4 12.axb4 h4 13.Nde4 [Probably better was to finish the development of the pieces- 13.Bb2]

13...Nh7! Now f7–f5 is coming with tempo, and the knights are obstructing each other. The Polish GM tries to support them tactically. 14.Qd2?! Ndf8 [14...f5 White's idea is dicovered in the line: 15.Ng5 Bh6? 16.Bd5+ Kg7 (16...Kh8 17.Nf7+) 17.Ne6++–] 15.c5 Be6?! Misses a small detail. [I somehow missed that in the line: 15...d5 16.Nxd5 Qxd5 17.Nf6+ Nxf6 18.Bxd5 Nxd5 Black takes three (and not two!) pieces for the queen. Despite what the computer says, I would love to have the pieces here.; 15...h3!? was another decent option. 16.Bh1 Be6 17.cxd6 cxd6] 16.cxd6 cxd6 17.gxh4! This is it, White can take the pawn, and make use of the g5 square. 17...d5 [17...Qxh4 18.Nxd6 Bh3 19.Bxh3 Qxh3 20.Nxe8 Qg4+ 21.Kh1+–; 17...f5? 18.Ng5] 18.Ng5

White returns the favour. He could have achieved some edge with: [18.Nc5 d4 19.Nb5! Not: (19.N3e4 Bd5; nor: 19.Nxb7? dxc3 20.Nxd8 cxd2 21.Nxe6 dxc1Q 22.Rfxc1 Nxe6 23.Bxa8 Rxa8 is much better for Black) 19...Qb6 20.Na3!] 18...d4 19.Nce4 [19.Nxe6? dxc3] 19...Bd5 Now the centralized position of the black pieces compensates with interest for the lost pawn. 20.f4 [20.h5 gxh5] 20...f5 21.Ng3 [21.Nc5 Bxg2 22.Kxg2 exf4 23.Qxf4 Rxe2+ is just bad for White.] 21...Bxg2 22.Kxg2 Qd5+ 23.Kg1 Nxg5! 24.hxg5 Ne6 25.fxe5 [Or: 25.Qe1 Ra2!? (25...Nxf4 26.Bxf4 exf4 27.Rxf4 Be5 with powerful centralization.) ] 25...Bxe5 The centralized position of the black pieces allows him to play on both flanks. At the moment, a decisive attack is on the agenda. 26.Qd1 [26.Qe1 Ra2] 26...Ra2 Prevents Qd1–b3. However, some consistency would not harm: [26...Kg7 27.Qb3 (27.Bb2 Nxg5) 27...Qd6 28.Rf3 Rh8 29.b5 Rh4 and Black's advantage is overwhelming.] 27.Rf2 [27.Qb3 Qxb3 28.Rxb3 Bxg3 29.hxg3 Rxe2 takes back the pawn with comfort.] 27...Rc8 28.Nf1 The culmination of the battle. I had to decide which rook to place on c2. The logic showed that it should be the less active one, but... 28...Rac2? One wrong move and a good game is thrown away. After the correct: [28...Rcc2! The game might have finished with a beautiful attack: 29.h4 would not help neither, as White has practially nothing to move. (29.e4 dxe3! 30.Rxc2 White is also getting mated after: (30.Nxe3 Rxf2 31.Nxd5 Rg2+ 32.Kf1 Rxh2 33.Kg1 Rag2+ 34.Kf1 Rf2+ 35.Kg1 Bd4 36.Be3 Bxe3 37.Nxe3 Nxg5) 30...Nxg5!

and despite the extra move (and rook!) White cannot prevent mate! 31.Ng3 (31.Nxe3 Nh3+ 32.Kf1 Qh1+ 33.Ke2 Qxh2+ 34.Kf3 (34.Ke1 Bc3+ 35.Kf1 Qf2+ 36.Rxf2 Rxf2#) 34...Qf2+ 35.Rxf2 Rxf2#) 31...Nh3+ 32.Kf1 Rxc2 33.Qxc2 Qf3+ 34.Ke1 Bxg3+ 35.hxg3 Qxg3+ 36.Kd1 Qg1+ 37.Ke2 Qf2+ 38.Kd1 Qf1#) 29...Qc6 There is a more prosaic way to end the game- (29...Qd6 30.Ra1 Rxa1 31.Qxc2 Qc6 32.Qxc6 bxc6 33.Bd2 Bg3 34.Rf3 Bxh4 35.Rh3 Be1 36.Bxe1 Rxe1–+) 30.Qe1 Bf4! 31.Bxf4 Nxf4 32.Rxf4 Rxe2–+] 29.e4 Qa2 30.Rb2! The story as old as the chess game. I saw that one only after I have played Ra2–c2. My hopes were pinned with: [30.Rxc2 Rxc2 31.Bd2 fxe4 32.dxe4 d3 with almost decisive advantage.] 30...Rxb2?! My frustration was that bad, that I did not put up strong resistance: [30...Rxc1 31.Qxc1 Rxc1 32.Rxa2 Nxg5 33.Kg2 fxe4 (33...Ne6! 34.exf5 Nf4+ 35.Kf3 (35.Rxf4 Bxf4 36.fxg6 Kg7) 35...Nxd3 36.Rfd2 Nxb4 37.Rab2 Rxf1+ 38.Kg2 Rxf5 39.Rxb4=) 34.Ra5 Nf3 35.dxe4 Ne1+ 36.Kg1 Bc7 37.Rc5 Rc3] 31.Rxb2 Qa1 32.Qb3! [Much better than: 32.Rc2 Rxc2 33.Qxc2 Qc3!] 32...Qa6 [32...Rxc1 33.Qxe6+ Kh7 34.Rf2+–] 33.exf5 gxf5 34.Re2 Qd6 And it is White's turn to be flashy, which he does not miss: 35.Bf4!

After this game the Polish GM achieved three move wins to start with the fabulous 8/8![35.Bf4 Bxf4 36.Rxe6 Rc3 37.Re8+ Kg7 38.Qg8#] 1–0