Saturday, September 20, 2008

A notable game from 3rd PGMA cup: Torre vs. Li Chao

Here's one of my pick from the just concluded 3rd President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's Cup which is won by Philippine chess hero, Eugenio Torre. Okay this may not be the best performance for Torre neither for the defending champion Li Chao but the game itself is a total cliff hanger. Enjoy!

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 (Li Chao may not be aware that along with Giuoco Piano, the Scotch is one of the most popular opening among the majority of Filipino club players so Torre is quite at home with the opening.)

3...exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Be3 Qf6 6.c3 Nge7 7.Bc4 Ne5 8.Be2 d5 9.0-0 0-0 10.Nd2 (a more sharper line for white is the immediate push 10.f4 followed by 11. e5 where white leaves the option for black to exchange his dark squared bishop for the knight on d4. My Rybka 3 suggested this line which gives white more playing chances 65/35 in white's favor: 11...Qg6 12.Qd2 Bxd4!? 13.cxd4 h5 14.Nc3+=)

10...Bb6! (black is quite happy for this safe haven for his bishop where he hope it will play a big part for much of the game.)

11.f4 Ne5-c6!? (an interesting choice for Torre. Rybka is dying for 11...Qh6!)

12.e5 Qh6 13.N2f3 Nxd4 14.Nxd4 Nf5 15.Bf2 (white opt not to exchange pieces at the moment 15.Nxf5 because black's Queen is somewhat out of place and could be a perfect target for an attack with his more active pieces thus gaining an overwhelming tempo advantage for white.)

15...Nxd4 16.Bxd4 c5?! (a bit of a dubious push for Torre of not exchanging his bishop as he will gain the tempo for doing so but instead chooses a more complicated line for black. Perhaps he was playing a mind game against his aggressive and much younger opponent?)

17.Be3 d4 18.Bd2 Bf5 19.Bf3 Rad8! (trade mark Torre!)

20.c4 (20.Bxb4? 21.dxc3 and black has a clear advantage.)

20...Qe6 21.b3 Qe7 (giving way for his bishop's retreat)

22.Qe2 Rfe8 23.g4 Bc8 24.Qg2 Qc7 25.a3 Ba5 (Torre by now may have questioning himself by not exchanging the bishops early)

26.b4 Bb6 27.Rac1 a5 (itching to exchange his dark squared bishop for white's dark)

28.b5 a4 (this finally solved black's problem)

29.Be4 Ba5 30.Bxa5 Qxa5 31.Bd3 Qc7 32.Rce1 g6?! (checking my Rybka after this push, the program actually giving white a slight advantage +=. We are of the same opinion)

33.Qg3 Re7 34.f5 Rde8 35.b6 Qb8 36.Qf4 Rxe5 37.fxg6 fxg6 38.Qf7+ Kh8 39.Qf6+ Kg8 40.Be4 (now white commits a very important decision here by rejecting the threefold repetition and go for the win. White may have a reason. He still has all the resources to mount a violent attack against black.)

40...Be6 41.Bxg6 (A very bold sacrifice. But in time trouble, anything can happen. We have now entered the most exciting part of the game.)

41...Rxe1 42.Rxe1 hxg6 43.Qxg6+ Kf8 44.Qh6+ Kf7 45.Qh7+ Kf6 46.g5+ Kxg5 47.Qg7+ Kf5 48.Rf1+ Ke4 (Both players may have been blitzing by now for miscalculation is everywhere.)

49.Qg6+ Ke3 50.Re1+ Kd2 51.Qb1?? (a huge blunder! Now black's king survived on the enemy's harsh territory.)

51...Rg8+ 52.Kh1 Bg4! 53.Rf1 Qe8 54.h3 Bf3+ 55.Rxf3 Qe1+ 56.Qxe1+ Kxe1 57.Rf7 d3 0-1

Not a perfect game for the tournament winner but Torre shows us some of his over forty decades of experience on the board on what supposed to be a a lost end game for black. He keeps his nerve and concentration against his more younger and highly aggressive opponent.

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