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The long and winding road to mastery-5

User Rating: / 0
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 14 August 2010
Zhdanov Peter
Candidate master Peter Zhdanov's column at

Today we will deal with the last 4 games from the IM tournament in Moscow that we have been discussing in the previous two episodes. The games proved to be very instructive, so let's take a look at some of the critical moments:

Zhdanov (2049) - Vorobjov (2210)
White to move

Don't let the relatively small rating of my opponent mislead you. He has been rated over 2350 at some point, recently won an IM-norm event (winning the norm, of course) and scored another norm in this tournament. Here we have a typical case of different evaluations by two players. Black is hoping to snatch a pawn and prove that it's a good idea. White says "spank me" and intends to launch a dangerous attack.

The best response was 9.Na3! and if Qa4 then 10.Bb5 Qa5 11.c3 Nc6 12.Bc6 bc 13.b4-> Black's pieces are undeveloped, the king is exposed, so White definitely has an advantage (even being a pawn down). I decided to sacrifice a pawn in a different way: 9.c3. Also playable, but still worse.

Zhdanov (2049) - Vorobjov (2210)
Black to move

White's attack didn't go well. All Black needs is to consolidate and try to convert the extra pawn advantage. My last move (Bf8) sets up a little trap. How should Black proceed?

If you have chosen Rhf8, then you are either a strong or a weak player, depending on what you had in mind. My opponent fell for the greedy 20...Bf3?? and expected me to go for 21.Bf3?? Nd4 22.Qd3 Nf3 23.Rf3 Rhf8-+ winning another pawn. But chess is not checkers, so I almost instantly replied 21.Bc5! Now Black is in serious trouble and, as my opponent said after the game, "I was lucky that there is the move 21...b6, otherwise I would have been totally busted". White still has an advantage after 21...b6 22.Ba6 bc 23.Bc8 Rc8 24.Qf3 Nd4 25.Qd3+/-

Zhdanov (2049) - Vorobjov (2210)
White to move

Another critical position. White is in serious time trouble and should do something about Black's passers. But what?

I played a very lousy move - 30.a6?. Virtually giving up my pawn and eventually losing. The correct idea was 30.h4 - preventing h6 and g5 and creating an escape square for the king while keeping an eye on the a5-pawn. The game is probably a draw after 30...Kb7 31.Rd1 Rb4 32.Kh2 h5 33.Rd2.

IM Reprintsev (2381) - Zhdanov (2049)
Black to move

This game illustrates the concept of intimidation rather well. IM Reprintsev used to be a very strong master, having played the likes of Short and Dreev and beaten many-many GMs. Nowadays he is mostly playing blitz, so his style became somewhat superficial. Nonetheless, he's still a very formidable attacker. So, what should Black do here?

Black is clearly better, but I decided to play it safe and secure a small advantage by exchanging the bishop - 11...Nb4. Not a bad move, but much stronger is 11...Bg4. It leaves White struggling for a draw, e.g. 12.Rf2 (the pin is a real pain for White) d5 13.ed Qd5 14.h3 Be2 15.Be2 f5 16.c3 Qd6 17.Bf3 Re6 18.g3 h5 and Black has an obvious advantage

IM Reprintsev (2381) - Zhdanov (2049)
Black to move

Another important moment. What should Black do?

I went for the development: 13...Bd7. This is slow and passive. A more ambitious line is 13...d5 14.Qf3 de Qd4 16.Kh1 Bd7 17.d3 Bb5 18.Rad1 Rad8. =/+ Another worthy try is 13...b6 14.Qf3 d5, also with an edge for Black.

IM Reprintsev (2381) - Zhdanov (2049)
Black to move

A typical case of hypnosis. Both my opponent and me thought that White is nearly winning at this point, so I played 19...Rf8?! (trying to get my rook into play) and went down rather quickly after 20.Ne2!. However, 19...Kg7 leaves Black with a defendable position. In fact, all White can hope for there is a blunder, but objectively the position is close to equal.

WGM Mirzoeva (2246) - Zhdanov (2049)
Black to move

WGM Mirzoeva is a charming female grandmaster known for being an eminent chess journalist. She has little time for competitive chess though, so her openings are rather unambitious these days. How should Black treat this position?

I should have played 6...Nh5! 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bh4 c5 9.Nc3 cd 10.Nd4 Nc6 11.Be2 Nf6 and Black has no problems at all. I chose the inferior 6...b6 and found myself under positional pressure pretty soon.

IM Prosviriakov (2269) - Zhdanov (2049)
White to move

IM Prosviriakov is a very experienced master from the USA (of USSR origin). He was in a peaceful mood for this tournament, offering draws to many players (including me). I decided that a game against a master never hurts and went on to obtain a quite nice position (see above, the pawn should be on b7). How should Black continue?

The correct idea is 17...a3, weakening the pawn shield of the White king. I blundered horribly instead: 17...b5?? It's a typical move, very standard, but it runs into...18.Be3, of course! Unbelievable! Black has a move, but can't save his queen from numerous knight jumps. After 18...Qb6 19.Ne6 Qb7 20.Nf8 the game is pretty much over (although I tried to do my best to hang on for another 14 moves).

P.S. There was also a very tense game against FM Rozanov, but I have lost my pgn and notes and will (probably) present it to you at a later point.

Days to FM: 702

Episode 1: It has begun!
Episode 2: Epic fail
Episode 3: Moscow IM-norm tournament: analysis
Episode 4: Moscow IM-norm tournamen: analysis-2

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 14 August 2010 )
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