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A Lesson from the Ukrainian Chess Champion

User Rating: / 9
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 03 July 2013

By GM Lars Bo Hansen, PhD, MBA

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In the shadow of the super tournament Tal Memorial the very strong Ukrainian Championship was played in Kiev in June. A somewhat surprising winner was 6th seed (of 12) Yuriy Kryvoruchko who edged out rating favorite and former FIDE World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov on tiebreak, both with 7½/11. An interesting game by the new champion was his win against Kravtsiv in a main line Ruy Lopez.

View the game
Yury Kryuvoruchko. Photo (C)

The sequence from move 12 to 35 is an excellent and highly instructive example of a typical high-level strategic middlegame battle. Such middlegame battles have to do with 1) finding the best and most active squares for the pieces; 2) making the right exchanges; and 3) deciding on pawn breaks. The side who gets these decisions (most) right will come out on top.
Move 13, Black's turn

With 13Bxf3 and 14cxd4 Black makes two strategic concessions giving up the two bishops and accepting a backward d6-pawn. But in return he gets a lead in development and active pieces, and the position remains in balance.
Move 18, Black's turn

On move 18, Black faced a critical strategic decision. With 18Nxc2 (exchange) 19. Nxc2 d5! (pawn break) he would be close to equality. His 18Nd7 (searching for the best squares for the pieces) was not bad either, though.
Move 22, Black's turn

The real mistake came at move 22, when 22Bf8?! was too passive. Instead, Black could have maintained a decent position with the active 22Bg5!, exploiting a small tactic in the duty of strategy: 23 Bxg5?! (23. Bg3 Qf6 or 23. Qe3 Bxf4 24. Qxf4 Re6 are about even) 23Qxg5 24. Rxd6? Na5!, followed by Rc1+ and Nac4, winning material for Black.
Move 35, White's turn

With the strong pawn moves 35. f4, 37. h4, 38. b4, and 39. h5 White obtained a winning position as Blacks pieces were pushed back and became increasingly uncoordinated.
Final position. Black resigned

In the final position Black is helpless against a transfer of Whites light-squared bishop onto the a2-g8 diagonal by a2-a3 and Ba2 or Bc2-b3.

If you like the article, you can learn more about GM Lars Bo Hansen & his books at

Related materials:
Carlsen-Anand @ Tal Memorial
Strategy of Restriction

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 03 July 2013 )
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