Tactics from the Russian Team Champ

5/4/2004 – World #7 GM Alexander Morozevich of Russia has been dazzling the world with his exciting brand of tactical play for years. Last week he took his show to the Grandmaster-saturated Russian team championships in Sochi. Playing first board for Tomsk400 Yukos he led his team to victory with a 6.5/8 score. We bring you a sample of Moro's tactics master class.

Russian GM Alexander Morozevich is no stranger to Black Belt readers, or to any fan of dynamic chess. He hasn't always had great success against his fellow top-tenners but sometimes he seems to win at will against the rest of the world.

Moro just finished leading his team Tomsk400 Yukos to the incredibly powerful 2004 Russian team championship. On board one he repeatedly swept aside world-class players with fantastic tactical games. A few highlights follow with notes by Mig and Fritz, both of whom were frequently amazed.

Official Russian league websiteReplay the games online

The following is a selection from a section of a recent issue of Black Belt, a weekly training e-mail newsletter from ChessNinja.com.

(1) Morozevich,A (2732) - Bologan,V (2665) [B12]
TCh-RUS Sochi RUS (2), 21.04.2004

B12: Caro-Kann: Advance Variation 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3 e6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Bf4 Ne7 6.Qd3 b6 7.Nge2 Ba6 8.Qe3 0-0 9.0-0-0 c5 10.a3 Bxc3 11.Qxc3 Bxe2 12.Bxe2 c4 13.h4 b5N

[13...Nbc6 14.h5 b5 15.h6 g6 16.g4 Nc8 17.Qe3 Nb6 18.Bg5 f6 19.Bh4 Qd7 20.Rhe1 b4 21.Bf1 Rae8 22.axb4 Nxb4 23.Qa3 Qd6 24.Kb1 Qh2 25.Qxb4 Qxh4 26.exd5 exd5 27.Re7 Qxh6 28.Rxa7 Nataf,I-Motylev,A/Istanbul 2003/CBM 96/[Lukacs]/0-1 (46)]

14.Qe1 Nbc6 15.h5 Qd7 16.g4 f6 17.Bf1 Rad8 18.Bh3 dxe4 19.fxe4 Nxd4 20.g5 f5 21.Kb1 Qc6 22.h6 fxe4 [>=22...g6!?=/+]

23.Qc3 e3? (D1)

Threatening ..e2, but White has a remarkable response.

[>=23...Ndf5 24.Bxf5 (24.g6 Rxd1+ 25.Rxd1 gxh6 26.g7 Rc8 27.Qf6 Nd5 28.Rxd5 exd5 29.Qxf5) 24...Rxd1+ 25.Rxd1 Nxf5 26.hxg7 Nxg7+/=]

24.Rxd4!!+- Who can resist joining the Moro fan club? He gives up a rook with check for crushing threats against the black king. The threat of mate on g7 is deadly.

24...Qxh1+ What else? Being down a piece isn't any more attractive than the game. [24...b4 25.axb4 Qxh1+ 26.Ka2 Qxh3 27.Rxd8 Nf5+-]

25.Ka2 Qxh3 26.Rxd8 gxh6

[26...Nf5 27.Qe5 Qh5 28.Qxe6+ Qf7 29.Qxf7+ Kxf7 30.g6+!! hxg6 (30...Kxg6 31.Rxf8 Nxh6 32.Bxe3 Ng4 33.Bxa7 h5+-) 31.Rxf8+ Kxf8 32.h7]

27.gxh6 Qg4 (D2) [27...e5 28.Qxe5 Kf7 29.Qg7+ Ke6 30.Qxf8]

28.Qh8+!! 1-0 Spectacular and unique (?). Perhaps the most famous Qh8+ queen sacrifice was Petrosian-Spassky, Moscow 1966. That led to a winning knight fork, this one leads to mate.

This queen-to-the-corner sacrifice is not rare in that Petrosian-Spassky context, leading to a knight fork that immediately regains the queen. Doing so for mate like this is quite unusual, especially in master play. Beautiful.

[28.Qh8+ Kxh8 29.Rxf8+ Ng8 30.Be5+ Qg7 31.hxg7#]

B56: Classical Sicilian: Unusual Lines 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.f3 e5 7.Nb3 Be7

[7...Be6 8.Be3 Be7 9.Qe2 a5 10.0-0-0 Qb8 11.Kb1 0-0 12.Nd5 Bxd5 13.exd5 Nb4 14.Qb5 Qc8 15.Bc4 Bd8 16.a3 Na6 17.Qa4 Nd7 18.Bb5 Nb6 19.Qe4 Nc7 20.Bxb6 Nxb5 21.Be3 Nc7 22.c4 Shklovski,V-Berkvens,J/Hoogeveen 2000/CBM 78 ext/0-1 (47)]

8.Be3 Be6 9.Qe2 0-0N 10.0-0-0 Na5 11.Nc5 Bc4 12.Qe1 Qc7 13.Nb3 Nxb3+ 14.axb3 Be6 15.g4 Rfc8 16.g5 Nd7 17.Kb1 a6 18.h4 Qc6 19.Rh2 b5 20.h5 Bd8 21.g6 Ba5 22.Qh4 White plans h6 22...Bxc3 (D3)

23.h6! Anyway! A great example of line opening at all costs. It represents one of our attacking maxims: maximize points of contact between the pawns. With so many possible captures there is no way Black can keep all the lines closed.

Also note that White doesn't care about losing his pawns; he WANTS to lose them, just make them disappear if he can.

23...fxg6 24.hxg7 [24.bxc3?! gxh6 25.Bxh6 Rc7+/= (25...Qxc3? 26.Qe7 Bf7 27.Bh3+-) ]

24...h5 25.Qg5 Many players wouldn't have gone for this line because it's not 100% forcing. Black is up a piece and here has move to try to set up some sort of defense. But Black has no way to cover all the weaknesses around his king.

25...Kxg7 Forced. [25...Bf7 26.Qh6]

26.bxc3! Morozevich doesn't press his luck and recaptures the piece. Now White has a killer attack at no material cost. Black's weaknesses aren't going anywhere.

26...Bf7?? Alekseev loses his way in the incredible complications.

[26...Kf7 Running away is the only hope of survival according to our trusty pal from the land of ChessBase. The position is still very good for White. That said, it's hard to imagine the human eye spotting the following up Morozevich now unleashes. 27.f4! (27.Bd3 Qxc3+/=) 27...Qxe4 28.fxe5]

27.Qh6+ Kg8 (D4)

28.Rxh5! If there is a road to the king, Moro will always find it. A line opening sacrifice prepares...

28...gxh5 29.Bxb5!! ...this clearance sacrifice. 29...axb5 [29...Qxb5 30.Rg1+]

30.Rg1+ Bg6 31.Qxg6+ Kf8 32.Qg8+ [32.Qg8+ Ke7 33.Rg7+ Kf6 34.Qf7#] 1-0

C78: Ruy Lopez: Archangelsk and Möller Defences 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.c3 d6 8.d4 Bb6 9.h3 Bb7 10.Re1 0-0 11.Bg5 h6 12.Bh4 Re8 13.d5 Nb8 14.c4N

[14.a4 g5 15.Bg3 c6 16.dxc6 Bxc6 17.axb5 axb5 18.Rxa8 Bxa8 19.Qd3 Bc6 20.Nbd2 Na6 21.Ba2 Nc5 22.Qc2 Nh5 23.Kh2 Qf6 24.b4 Ne6 25.c4 Nhf4 26.Nb3 h5 27.c5 dxc5 28.bxc5 Bc7 Rujevic,M-Lane,G/Melbourne 1999/EXT 2001/0-1 (56)]

14...g5 15.Bg3 Nbd7 16.Nc3 Nc5 17.Bc2 Ba5 18.Nd2 c6 19.h4 Rc8 20.hxg5 hxg5 21.Rb1 b4 22.Na4 Ncd7 23.b3 Kg7 24.Nf1 Rh8 25.Ne3 Nh5 26.Nf5+ Kf8 27.Qg4 [27.Nxd6 Nxg3 28.fxg3 Bb6+ 29.Nxb6 Qxb6+ 30.Kf1 Rh6+/=] 27...Qf6 28.c5 dxc5 29.Rbd1 cxd5 30.exd5 c4 31.Ne3 Nb6 32.Nb2 [32.Bf5]

32...cxb3 33.Bxb3 Nf4 As always seems to happen, Moro has a kingside attack going.

34.Bxf4? Trying to trade off the attacking forces, but this opens up lines. [>=34.Qf5 Qxf5 35.Nxf5-+]

34...gxf4-+ Now the g-file becomes a factor and White loses time moving his knight. [34...Qxf4?! 35.Qxf4 exf4 36.Nf5=] 35.Nec4 (D5)

35...Rh4! Gaining time to double on the h-file. 36.Qf3 Qh6 37.Kf1 Rh1+ 38.Ke2 e4! Open lines!

39.Qg4 [39.Qxe4 Rxe1+ 40.Rxe1 (40.Kxe1 Re8 41.Ne5 f6) 40...Nxd5! (40...Re8 41.Ne5) 41.Qf5-+]

39...Rxe1+ [>=39...Rh5 A curious threat, ..f5! trapping the queen. 40.Kd2 f5-+]

40.Kxe1 Nxc4 41.Nxc4 Rxc4!? The attacking power of the pieces is more important than the nominal value of the pieces themselves. Now both bishops are in action.

42.Bxc4 b3+ 43.Ke2 [43.Kf1 b2 44.Kg1-+] 43...b2-+ Black has the bishop pair, two mobile pawns and a passer on b2. White's margin of error is just about zero.

44.Qd7?? [44.a3 Qb6 45.Qxf4-+] 44...Qh5+ 45.f3 exf3+ 46.gxf3 Qh2+ [>=46...Qg6 47.Kf1 Bb6-+] 47.Kd3 (D6)

47...b1Q+! It's as if Moro decided to give examples of every major tactical theme in a single tournament, just for us! A deflection leads to a skewer.

48.Rxb1 Qh7+ 49.Kd4 Qxb1 50.Qd6+ [50.a3 Qb6+ 51.Ke4 Qg6+ 52.Qf5 Qg1-+]

50...Ke8 51.Bb3 [51.Qe5+ Kd7 52.Qe2 Bc8-+]

51...Qg1+ [51...Qb2+ 52.Ke4 Qe2+ 53.Kxf4 Qh2+ 54.Ke3 Qxd6] 52.Kd3 Qg6+ [52...Qg6+ 53.Qxg6 fxg6-+] 0-1

C88: Closed Ruy Lopez: Anti-Marshall Systems 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.h3 Bb7 9.d3 d6 10.a3 Nb8 11.Nbd2 Nbd7 12.Nf1 Re8 13.Ng3 Nc5

[13...c6 14.Nh2 (14.c3 Bf8 15.d4 h6 16.Bc2 g6 17.Be3 Bg7 18.Qd2 Kh7 19.Rad1 Qc7 20.Nh4 c5 21.d5 c4 22.Rf1 Nc5 23.f4 exf4 24.Rxf4 Qe7 25.Bd4 Ncd7 26.Rdf1 Ne5 27.Nhf5 gxf5 28.Nxf5 Nh5 Pavlovic,M-Neumeier,K/Vienna 2003/CBM 95 ext/1-0) 14...d5 15.Qf3 g6 16.Ba2 Bf8 17.Bg5 h6 18.Bd2 Bg7 19.Ng4 Nxg4 20.hxg4 Nc5 21.Rad1 Rc8 22.Nf1 Ne6 23.Qg3 Kh7 24.Nh2 f6 25.Nf3 c5 26.Qh2 Nd4 27.Nxd4 cxd4 28.c3 Ponomariov,R-Ivanchuk,V/Moscow 2002/CBM 86/[Knaak]/1-0 (64)]

14.Ba2 Bf8 15.Nh2N [15.Ng5] 15...Ne6 16.Nf5 c5 17.Ng4 Rc8 18.h4 Rc7 19.Bd2 Rd7 20.a4 Nxg4 21.Qxg4 Kh8 22.axb5 axb5 23.Bg5 f6 24.Bd2 d5 25.Ne3 Nf4 26.g3! (D7)

The white king doesn't need protection and the black knight has no escape squares.

26...dxe4 27.Ba5! [27.gxf4?! exd3 28.c3 exf4+/=] 27...Qc8 [27...Qxa5 Deflection from d7 28.Qxd7 A double attack] 28.dxe4 [28.gxf4?! exd3 29.fxe5 Qc6+/=]

28...c4 [28...Ng6 29.h5] 29.gxf4 Bxe4 30.fxe5 Rxe5 Black has compensation for the knight with attacking lines toward the white king. White has enough defenders for now and there aren't open lines for the black rooks to use. White has the advantage despite his useless a2 bishop.

31.Rad1 f5 32.Qf4 Re6 33.f3! Closing a key diagonal.

33...Bd6?? Getting cute and allowing Moro to liquidate favorably. [>=33...Bc6 34.Bc3 Bc5 35.Rxd7 Qxd7+/-]

34.Rxd6!+- Rdxd6 [34...Rexd6 A deflection 35.fxe4 Annihilates a defender: e4]

35.fxe4 fxe4 36.Bc3 Rg6+ 37.Kh2 h5 (D8) [37...Rd8 38.Rf1 h6+-]

38.Bxg7+! Always alert! White was on the defensive but Morozevich is not one for rote thinking.

38...Kg8 [38...Kxg7 Decoy theme: g7 39.Nf5+ Theme: Double Attack; 38...Rxg7 39.Qxd6]

39.Bc3 [39.Bc3 Rde6 40.Nd5+-] 1-0

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