Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sicilian Najdorf Grischuk 9.h4!?

Alexander Grischuk won the World Blitz Chess Championship in 2015. Top blitz players have a vast supply of practical ideas to draw from on all aspects of the game. They must be able to pull up an idea at a moment’s notice as the need arises.

Opening play by blitz players may be well thought out in advance if they are following their repertoire. This is more likely to be the case if the game is played at a slower pace or in a tournament.

Grandmaster Alexander Grischuk is one of the few players to ever be rated over 2800. He peaked at 2810 in 2014. It is hard to keep a rating up that high without continual victories against the top players in the world. These games require deep preparation.

Grischuk met Dmitry Kokarev in the 69th Russian Championship played at Novosibirsk. GM Kokarev and GM Grischuk are both in their 30s still close to their prime. Their opening began as a Sicilian Defence Najdorf Variation with 5…a6. The earlier 2016 game Oparin vs Kokarev had continued 6.Nb3 Nc6 7.Be3 Ng4 8.Bd2 Nf6 9.Bd3. Grischuk probably knew Kokarev liked 9…g6 so he attacked with 9.h4!? White won in a sharp tactical battle.

Grischuk (2752) - Kokarev (2636), 69th ch-RUS 2016 Novosibirsk RUS (11.2), 27.10.2016 begins 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Nb3!? Nc6 [Other standard ideas would be either 6...e6 or 6...e5] 7.Be3 Ng4 8.Bd2 [A common retreat is 8.Bc1 g6 (8...Nf6 9.Be3 repeats moves) 9.f3 Nf6 10.Be3 Bg7 11.Qd2 0-0 12.0-0-0=] 8...Nf6 9.h4 g6 [More in the spirit of the Najdorf would be 9...e5 10.Be2 Be7 11.Be3 0-0= when White would have to decide what to do with his king.] 10.Bg5 Bg7 11.Qd2 h6 [11...Be6 12.0-0-0 a5=] 12.Bf4 [12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.0-0-0=] 12...Be6 13.0-0-0 h5 14.Kb1 0-0 15.f3 Rc8 16.Bh6 Bxh6 17.Qxh6 Qb6 18.g4 [White chooses to attack rather than to defend with 18.Be2 Ne5 19.Rhf1 Rxc3 20.bxc3 Bc4 21.Bxc4 Nxc4 22.Rd4=] 18...Ne5 19.gxh5 Nxh5 20.Be2 Rxc3 21.bxc3 Qf2? [This invasion of the Black queen loses. Better was to continue the queenside attack with 21...Rc8 22.Rhg1 Bxb3 23.axb3 Rxc3=] 22.Nd4 Ng3 23.h5 g5 24.Qxg5+ Kh7 25.Rdf1 Nxf1 26.Rxf1 Nxf3 [Or 26...f6 27.Rxf2 Bxa2+ 28.Kxa2 fxg5 29.Rg2+- and White still walks off with an extra piece.] 27.Qc1 [27.Qxe7!+- also wins.] 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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