16. Becoming Grandmaster

[Event "Bundesliga"] [Site "?"] [Date "1989.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Wells, Peter K"] [Black "Wahls, Matthias"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D32"] [WhiteElo "2410"] [BlackElo "2535"] [PlyCount "61"] [EventDate "1988.10.??"] [EventType "team"] [EventRounds "15"] [EventCountry "GER"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "1999.07.01"]

{This was the last game of the Bundesliga season 88/89. I needed to win, in
order to achieve my third GM norm, which would be equivalent to becoming a
Grandmaster!} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 {I offered him a Modern Benoni,
which he could have accepted with 4.d5. You can argue about the quality of
this opening, but if you need to win with Black, it definitely isn't the worst
of choices.} 4. e3 {His rejection was not a big problem for me, since after 4.
e3 it was very likely that I would end up with an isolated pawn. As you will
probably know, such positions contain a lot of dynamic potential, which is a
good thing, if you want to go for the full point.} d5 5. Nc3 Nc6 {Diagram [#] This symmetric position might look a bit boring at first glance, but most of
the time, it will result in asymmetric structures. By the way, the move 5...
a6 is a good alternative here, because it prevents the white bishop from
developing to b5, as it happened in the game.} 6. cxd5 exd5 {And there it is -
the isolated pawn. If I should take on d4 at some point, he will recapture
with his knight, leaving me with my weakness on d5.} 7. Bb5 {This might be
stronger than 7.Be2.} Bd6 8. O-O O-O 9. dxc5 Bxc5 {[%csl Yd5] Now the
isolani-structure is clearly visible. As an ambitious player, you should get
acquainted with this formation, because there are many openings, where it will
occur. Here are the most relevant examples: Caro-Kann Panov Attack, Queens
Gambit Accepted, Queens Gambit Tarrasch Variation, Semi-Tarrasch, Nimzo-Indian,
Anti Benoni (this game), Sicilian with 2.c3 d5..... Certainly, you can avoid
this structure altogether, but this would mean to limit your choices
considerably.} 10. b3 {Diagram [#]} a6 $6 {Today, I would rather continue with}
(10... Bg4 11. Bb2 Rc8 {After} 12. Rc1 {there are three options:} Qd6 {This
move seems to be quite convincing.} (12... a6 $2 13. Nxd5 $1 {This is better
than 13.Be2?, which occurred in practice.} Qxd5 14. Qxd5 Nxd5 15. Rxc5 Ncb4 16.
Rxc8 Rxc8 17. Bc4 Bxf3 18. gxf3 Nb6 19. Be2 Rc2 20. Rd1 Nc6 21. Bd4 Rxe2 22.
Bxb6 {and White has at least a slight advantage.}) (12... Bd6 13. Be2 Bb8 14.
Nb5 Ne4 15. Nfd4 $1 (15. Nbd4 {was played in the famous game Sunye
Neto-Kasparov, Graz 1981 which concluded with a nice combination.}) 15... Bxe2
16. Qxe2 Qd7 17. Rfd1 Rfe8 18. Nf3 Rcd8 {Despite a slight initiative by White,
Black should be okay, e.g.} 19. Nc3 (19. Nbd4 f5) 19... Qe6 20. Qd3 h6 21. Nxd5
Rd6 22. Qc4 Red8 23. Nc3 Qxc4 24. bxc4 Rxd1+ 25. Rxd1 Rxd1+ 26. Nxd1 Na5) 13.
Be2 a6 14. h3 Bf5 (14... Bh5 $6 15. Nh4) 15. Bd3 Bxd3 16. Qxd3 Ba3 $1 17. Bxa3
Qxa3 18. Nd4 (18. Nxd5 Nxd5 19. Qxd5 Qxa2) 18... Nxd4 19. Qxd4 Ne4 $1 20. Rc2
Nxc3 21. Rxc3 Rxc3 22. Qxc3 Qxa2 23. Rd1 h6 24. Rxd5 Qb1+ 25.
Kh2 Qe4 {was okay for Black in Malakhov,V (2694)-Brunello,S (2553) Skopje 2015.
However, 20...h6! = would have been even simpler.}) 11. Be2 $6 {Back then, I
also reckoned that he should preserve his bishop, but that isn't quite true.
After} (11. Bxc6 bxc6 12. Bb2 Bg4 13. Rc1 Bd6 14. Ne2 $1 {Black still has to
fight for equality.}) 11... Re8 12. Bb2 Ba7 $1 {Anticipating Na4 or Rc1. The
bishop also might go to b8 later, building a battery together with a queen on
d6.} 13. Rc1 (13. Na4 Ne4 14. Rc1 Bg4 (14... Qd6) 15. Bxa6 $2 bxa6 16. Rxc6 Ng5
$17) 13... Qd6 {Diagram [#] The queen vacates the square d8 for the queen's
rook and casts an eye on White's kingside. The pressure on h2 can be increased
by Bb8 or Ng4 in an appropriate moment.} 14. Rc2 $6 {In an abstract sense,
this is a very elegant move. White intends to play the rook to d2, thus
increasing the pressure against the isolani. Additionally, the first rank is
cleared for the queen, which might want to build a battery with the Bb2 from
a1, also vacating the square d1 for the king's rook. However, abstract plans
and principles are just one part of the equation. At its most basic - and
important - level, chess is a concrete game. This concrete reality suggests,
that it would have been better for White, to seek equality by releasing the
tension with} (14. Na4 {, threatening 15.Bxf6. Now black has three choices,
which are quite different in character:} Ne4 (14... Ng4 15. h3 Nxf2 16. Rxf2
Bxe3 17. Rc3 Ba7 18. Rd3 b5 19. Nc3 Bxh3 $1 20. Nxd5 Bxf2+ 21. Kxf2 Qc5+ 22.
Kf1 Bf5 23. Rd2 (23. Rc3 Qd6 24. Ne3) 23... Rac8 $13) (14... Bg4 15. Bxf6 Qxf6
16. Qxd5 Rad8 17. Qc4 h5 $44 {and Black has enough compensation. e.g.} 18. Rfd1
Rc8 19. Qd3 Bxf3 20. Bxf3 Ne5 21. Qe2 b5 22. Rxc8 Rxc8 23. Nb2 Nxf3+ 24. gxf3
Qf5 25. Nd3 h4) 15. Nc3 {White has nothing better than going for a repetition
of moves.} (15. Nd2 $6 Qg6) 15... Nf6 16. Na4 {and if Black shouldn't be
content with a peace treaty now, he can switch to one of the sharper options
given above.}) (14. Qd2 $6 Bg4 15. Rfd1 Rad8 $15) 14... Bg4 $5 ({From a strict
objective point of view, it might be better to continue with} 14... Bf5 15. Rd2
Rad8 16. Nh4 Bb8 17. g3 Bh3 18. Re1 Qe6 $15 {Bernei,A (2325)-Nemeth,Z (2420)
Budapest 1998 In contrast to that, the game move offers White one small path to equality and many
ways into the abyss. What is better if you take into account practical
considerations: this or a sure =+? Not an easy question.}) 15. Rd2 $2 (15. h3 $1
Bf5 (15... Bh5 $2 16. Nh4 Bb8 17. g3) 16. Rd2 Rad8 17. Bd3 $11) 15... Rad8 {
Diagram [#] Now, White has a wide range of choices, from which most of them
are bad:} 16. Qb1 $2 (16. Qa1 $2 d4 $1 (16... Rxe3 {Gaprindashvili,V (2405)
-Bagaturov,G (2540) Ubeda 1999}) 17. Nxd4 (17. Rfd1 Bxf3 18. Bxf3 Qc7 19. exd4
Nxd4 $19) 17... Bxd4 18. exd4 Nxd4 $19) (16. Nd4 $2 Bb8 17. g3 Bh3 18. Re1 Nxd4
19. Rxd4 $6 (19. exd4 Ne4 20. Nxe4 dxe4 21. Bg4 Bxg4 22. Qxg4 Qd5 $17 {0-1 (40)
Pomes Marcet,J (2425)-Cifuentes Parada,R (2515) Spain 1997}) 19... Ba7 20. Rh4
Qe6 $2 (20... d4 $1 21. exd4 (21. Rxh3 Qe6 $19) 21... Bxd4 22. Rxh3 Qe6 $19)
21. Bf1 Bg4 22. Be2 h5 23. Bxg4 Nxg4 24. Ne2 Bxe3 $1 (24... Nxf2 25. Kxf2 Qxe3+
26. Kg2 Qf2+ 27. Kh3 Qf5+ 28. Kg2 {1/2-1/2 (28) Hernandez Onna,R (2460)
-Nogueiras Santiago,J (2470) Cuba 1984}) 25. Rxg4 Qxg4 26. fxe3 Rxe3 27. Nd4
Rde8 28. Rf1 f6 29. Qxg4 hxg4 30. Rf2 Rd3 $17) (16. h3 Bh5 17. Nh4 Bb8 18. g3
Bxe2 19. Nxe2 Ne4 20. Rc2 (20. Rd3 $2 d4 $1 21. Nf3 Qc7 22. exd4 (22. Bxd4 Nb4)
22... Nb4 23. Re3 Nd5 24. Rd3 Rc8 {Diagram [#] Black has a fantastic long term
initiative, since White cannot bring about exchanges!} 25.
a3 Qd7 26. Kg2 Qf5 {and Black should have a clear advantage despite the minus
pawn.}) (20. Bxg7 $2 Qe6 21. Bb2 Nxd2 22. Qxd2 Qxh3 $17 {Fischer,J
(2325)-Ruban,V (2555) Sochi 1990}) 20... f6 (20... Qe6 21. Kg2 Ng5 22. Ng1 Nb4
23. Re2) 21. a3 Qe6 22. Kg2 Ng5 23. Ng1 d4 24. Bxd4 Qxb3 25. Qb1 Nxd4 26. exd4
Qd5+ 27. Nhf3 b5 {with advantage to Black.}) (16. Re1 $2 d4 17. Nxd4 Nxd4 18.
exd4 Bxd4 19. Bf3 Rxe1+ 20. Qxe1 Bxf3 21. gxf3 Qf4 $17) (16. a3 Bb8 17. g3 Ba7
18. b4 Qe6 $15) 16... h6 $2 {Diagram [#] My plan was to answer 17.Rfd1 with
Qe6, as actually happened in the game, without permitting 18.Ng5. Sounds good, but I missed to execute the thematic pawn thrust d5-d4, which would
have been pretty strong.} (16... d4 $1 {As you can imagine, I refrained from
playing this move out of general consideration. After all, the opposition of
rook and queen looks a bit disturbing. However, high level chess is about
neatly executing concrete calculations, in the end, and that is what I have been
omitting to do.} 17. Rfd1 (17. Nxd4 $2 Bxd4 18. exd4 Nxd4 $19 {e.g.} 19. Bxg4 (
19. Rfd1 Bxe2 20. Rxd4 Bxd1 $19) 19... Nxg4 20. f4 Nf3+ 21. gxf3 Qxd2 22. fxg4
Qe3+ 23. Kh1 Rd2 $19) 17... Bxf3 18. Bxf3 Qe7 19. exd4 Nxd4 20. Kh1 (20. Be2 $2
Qc7 $1 21. h3 (21. Bf1 $2 Ng4) (21. Bf3 $2 Nxf3+ 22. gxf3 Bb8) 21... Qf4 $1 22.
Bc1 (22. g3 $2 Nxe2+ 23. Rxe2 Qxg3+ $19) 22... Ne4 23. Nxe4 Nxe2+ $19) 20... h6
$1 {Black doesn't have to rush with 20...Nxf3, because White cannot prevent
this anyways. Funnily enough, White doesn't have any convincing way to improve
his position, so Black can create luft, before he takes concrete action. His
next move might be 20...b5, threatening 21...b4. He should have a clear
advantage here.}) 17. Rfd1 Qe6 18. Nh4 $2 {Diagram [#] My opponent misses the threat
of 18...Bxe3 19.fxe3 Qxe3 20.Kh1 d4. He could have dealt with it in two ways:}
(18. Kh1 b5 $1 {[%cal Rb5b4,Rf6e4,Re4f2]} 19. a3 d4 $1 20. Nxd4 Bxd4 21. exd4
Bxe2 22. Rxe2 Qxb3 $17 {[%csl Ya3,Yb2,Yd4,Yf2] and White has many weaknesses.})
(18. Nd4 $1 Nxd4 19. Bxg4 (19. exd4 $2 Bf5 20. Bd3 Ne4 21. Re2 Qg6 $17) 19...
Qxg4 20. exd4 Re6 $15) 18... Bxe3 $1 {When analyzing the game 17 years ago, I
decorated this move with an exclamation mark. I think, we can leave it that way, even though the engines found a stronger move in the meanwhile:} (18...
d4 $1 19. exd4 Nxd4 20. Kh1 (20. Bxg4 Nxg4 21. h3 Nxf2 22. Rxf2 Ne2+ $19) (20.
Bc4 Qe5 21. Rf1 Qg5 $19) 20... Bxe2 21. Nxe2 Ne4 22. Nxd4 Bxd4 23. Rxd4 (23.
Bxd4 Nxd2) 23... Nxf2+ 24. Kg1 Qe3 $1 $19) 19. fxe3 Qxe3+ 20. Kh1 d4 $1 {
Diagram [#]White is between the devil and the deep blue see. If he moves the
knight, he will lose his bishop, but if he captures on g4, my knight will be
forwarded in an attacking position.} 21. Rd3 (21. Na4 Bxe2 $19) (21. Qc1 dxc3
22. Rxd8 Qxe2 $1 23. Rxe8+ Nxe8 24. Re1 Qxb2 25. Rxe8+ Kh7 26. Re1 (26. Qxb2
cxb2 27. Re1 g5 28. Nf3 Bf5 $19) 26... Qf2 27. Nf3 (27. h3 Bh5) 27... Bxf3 28.
gxf3 Qxf3+ 29. Kg1 Nd4 $19) 21... Qe6 ({Or} 21... Qf2 22. Bxg4 Nxg4 23. Nf3
Nce5 $1 24. Nxe5 (24. Rxd4 Nxf3 25. Rxd8 Qg1+) 24... Rxe5 25. Rf3 (25. R3d2 $2
Qf4 26. g3 Qf3+ 27. Kg1 Rde8 28. Na4 Re2) 25... Qh4 26. h3 Nf2+ 27. Kh2 Nxd1
28. Nxd1 Re1 29. Qd3 Qe7 30. Rf2 h5 31. Bc1 h4 32. Qf3 Re8 $19) 22. Bxg4 (22.
Bf3 Bxf3 23. Nxf3 dxc3 24. Rxd8 Rxd8 25. Rxd8+ Nxd8 26. Bxc3 Ne4 27. Qb2 f6 28.
Bd4 Qd5 29. Bg1 Ne6 {and Black should be winning.}) 22... Nxg4 23. Na4 (23. Rf1
dxc3 24. Bxc3 Rd5 25. Rxd5 Qxd5 26. Qf5 (26. Nf5 Re2) 26... Ne3 27. Qxd5 Nxd5
28. Bd2 Ncb4 29. a3 Nd3 30. Nf3 Re2 31. h4 f6 $19) 23... Nf2+ 24. Kg1 Nxd3 25.
Qxd3 b5 $1 26. Nc5 (26. Nb6 Ne5 $19 {[%cal Re5d3,Re6b6]}) 26... Qe7 $1 {
[%cal Re7h4,Re7c5]} 27. Nf5 Qxc5 28. Rf1 Re6 29. Qf3 Qd5 30. Qh5 Rg6 31. g3 {
Diagram [#] and while I was pondering whether to play 31...Rg5 or the more straight forward 31...d3, he
couldn't endure the looks of his position any longer and resigned.} 0-1

Recommended Posts