CBM 167 and Bailet’s immortal combination

by Sagar Shah
8/19/2015 – As we all know studying and practicing tactics is an important component in boosting your chess skill. An excellent way to keep yourself sharp is to solve the selection of tactical positions that have occurred in recent tournament play – selected and annotated by IM Oliver Reeh, who presents them as an interactive quiz with loads of instructive points. Here's a truly brilliant example.

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Bailet’s immortal combination

CBM 167 review by IM Sagar Shah

ChessBase Magazine is really a high class electronic information and training tool. It is the perfect way for an out-of-form player to come back into his best playing form in just a day or two. You have beautiful openings, deep endgames, superb tactics, even a classic, opening traps, move by move and what not! And all this for just 20 Euros.

Today I want to concentrate on just one aspect of the magazine: Tactics. Solving tactical positions is the best way to stay in good shape for your upcoming events. With the humungous amount of material available out there what would you choose? There are a lot of wonderful books on tactics that lie on my book shelf – unfinished and incomplete! The high number of positions (from 300 to 1000) in these books becomes quite overwhelming, and the feeling of leaving something half-way is quite irksome and annoying.

Hence, to keep myself sharp on a short term basis I often resort to solving positions from the ChessBase Magazine (CBM). This has the added benefit of getting to follow the combinations which have occurred in recent tournament play.

The latest issue of ChessBase Magazine has 30 selected tactics which are nicely annotated and analyzed by IM Oliver Reeh.

The Hamburg resident IM Oliver Reeh has been entertaining the readers of CBM
with his excellent selection of tactical puzzles for quite some years now

These 30 tactics are not only delightful and pleasing but also filled with loads of instructive points and material. You can really improve your tactical vision by solving these problems. Don’t believe me? Let me convince you with the help of an example.

The game Matthias Bluebaum against Pierre Bailet took place on the 22nd of June 2015 at the 34th Mitropa Cup. 18-year-old Bluebaum, rated 2600, is one of the upcoming and talented players of Germany. His opponent, 27-year-old Pierre Bailet from France, rated 2518, who had the black pieces, is in search for GM norms to complete his title. The game between these two players reached a very interesting position after 24 moves. As soon as you click on this game in the CBM 167 tactics database the following position comes up on your screen with the dialogue box on the side saying, “How can Black increase the pressure on White’s position?”

It’s Black to play and you have four minutes to find the right move. Try giving a go at finding the move.

My first intention when I saw this position was to play Bg4. After thinking a bit I made the move 24…Bg4 and there popped out a message:

This was a pretty useful hint and I immediately realized that the right move was not 24…Bg4 but 24…Be4! This was also the move played in the game by Pierre, and Matthias replied with 25.Bg2. The position is extremely exciting at this point. Black has to make sense of his bishop on e4. Oliver Reeh guides us with his next question, “White has simply protected f3. How shall Black continue?”

Black to play

For all the ambitious players out there I would recommend that you take 30 minutes time and try to work out the variations right until mate. Yes that’s right: mate! After trying it out yourself you would really appreciate the depth of the combination and Reeh’s comments.

[Event "Mitropa Cup 34th"] [Site "Mayrhofen"] [Date "2015.06.22"] [Round "9"] [White "Bluebaum, Matthias"] [Black "Bailet, Pierre"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E92"] [WhiteElo "2600"] [BlackElo "2518"] [Annotator "Reeh,Oliver"] [PlyCount "68"] [EventDate "2015.06.14"] [EventType "team-tourn"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "AUT"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2015.07.13"] [WhiteTeam "Germany"] [BlackTeam "France"] [WhiteTeamCountry "GER"] [BlackTeamCountry "FRA"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. Be3 exd4 8. Nxd4 Re8 9. f3 c6 10. Bf2 d5 11. exd5 cxd5 12. O-O Nc6 13. c5 Nh5 14. Qd2 Be5 15. g3 Ng7 16. Rfd1 Bf5 17. Rac1 Bxd4 18. Bxd4 Ne6 19. Bf2 d4 20. Nb5 Ng5 21. Nxd4 Nxd4 22. Bxd4 Qe7 23. Kf2 Rad8 24. Bf1 {[#]} Be4 $1 {Increasing the pressure on White's position. Erhöht den Druck auf die weiße Stellung.} ({Less precise is Weniger genau ist} 24... Bg4 25. Re1 $1) 25. Bg2 ({The best chance was Die beste Chance war} 25. Qc3 $5 Bxf3 (25... Nxf3 26. Bf6) 26. Re1) (25. fxe4 $4 Nxe4+) (25. Re1 Nxf3 $19) 25... Bxf3 $3 {Black starts to drag the white king into the line of fire. Schwarz beginnt, den weißen König in die Schusslinie zu zerren.} (25... Nxf3 $6 26. Bxf3 Bxf3 {does not transpose: ist keine Zugumstellung:} 27. Re1 $1) 26. Bxf3 (26. Re1 Ne4+ {and Black wins material. und Schwarz gewinnt Material.} 27. Rxe4 Bxe4 $19) 26... Nxf3 27. Kxf3 Rxd4 $1 { The point - Black deflects the queen from e2, and the white king is dragged into the open. Die Pointe - Schwarz lenkt die weiße Dame von e2 ab, und der weiße König wird noch weiter ins Freie gezerrt.} (27... Qe4+ $2 28. Kf2 Rxd4 29. Qxd4 Qe2+ 30. Kg1) 28. Qxd4 Qe2+ 29. Kf4 h6 $3 {Controlling the escape square g5. Kontrolliert das Fluchtfeld g5.} (29... h5 30. h3 $1) 30. h4 (30. Re1 g5+ 31. Kf5 Qf3+ 32. Qf4 Qd5+ 33. Kg4 h5+ 34. Kh3 Qd7+ $19) 30... h5 $1 { Threatening 31...Qg4++. Droht 31...Qg4++.} ({Or Oder} 30... g5+ $1 31. hxg5 ( 31. Kf5 Qe6#) 31... h5 $1 32. Kf5 Qe6+ 33. Kf4 Qg4#) 31. Kg5 Qe7+ $2 {Having played a marvellous sacrificial game, Black gives away half a point. Nach seiner tollen Opferserie verschenkt Schwarz den halben Punkt} ({Black had two winning continuations: Schwarz hatte zwei Gewinnfortsetzungen:} 31... Kh7 $1 32. Rf1 Re5+ 33. Kf6 Rf5+ $1 34. Rxf5 Qe6+ 35. Kg5 Qxf5#) ({or simply oder einfach} 31... Re4 $1) ({but not aber nicht} 31... Re5+ $4 32. Kh6 $1 $18) 32. Qf6 $1 Qe3+ 33. Qf4 Qe7+ 34. Qf6 Qe3+ 1/2-1/2

I am sure that you enjoyed solving this position and learned immensely from it. I gave it to my class of around ten students before I had solved it. We tried to crack it together and got stuck at the position where ...h6 had to be made. My students were telling me that ...h6 would work, but I just couldn't calculate everything. That's when I realised that this was truly a brilliant example. Oliver Reeh has to be commended for not only digging out this combination but also for his excellent hints which help you to think in the right direction.

IM Pierre Bailet played a deep combination but couldn’t take his idea to the logical conclusion

After studying this example I was curious to know the thought process of Bailet who found these moves over the board. I wanted to know how deeply he had calculated: did he play it on gut feeling, why did he miss the winning idea in the end and such other questions. I immediately contacted Pierre and he sent us his thoughts. Below you can answers to the different questions of the combination from the horse’s mouth!

Position after 25.Bg2

Sagar Shah: It was your move. You played Bxf3 over here. How far did you actually see from this point?

Pierre Bailet: Actually, I did see the perpetual check that occurred in the game when I played the previous move (Be4). As White's options were quite limited in this variation, I just calculated that I had at least a draw in every line and went for it. I played most of my remaining moves rather quickly, thereby missing opportunities to achieve more. I was also helped by the fact that if White was given some time to consolidate in the initial position he would then be more or less winning.

SS: When I reached the above position in my calculations while solving the combination at home I just couldn’t believe that Black had the resources to mate here. A rook down and no clear checks in sight. How were you able to convince yourself to dig deeper and find the move h6?

PB: Actually, in the starting position of the combination I was a pawn down and my opponent had the two bishops, so I really wanted to make it work. I think in my calculations h5 was my first candidate move in the above given position but I quickly dismissed it due to the obvious reply h3 (or even Kg5), and this lead to the idea of provoking h4 by …h6 as g4, …g5+ and …Re3 is very good for Black, and so is Re1 g5+ and Qf3 – and to a greater extent that is what I originally thought.

SS: In the previous position h4 was played in the game. But did you consider Re1? After…g5 Kf5 Qf3 Qf4 Qd5 Kg4 the computer shows that h5+!! is a killer blow. Were you able to see this during the game?

PB: To be honest, no, I did not find h5+! during the game. It seemed to me that after ...g5 Kf5 Qf3 Qf4 gf4 Rxe8 Kg7 Rc3 Qf2 Black was at least equal and perhaps a bit better as the situation of the white king and rooks would allow me to take several pawns. When I started the combination I just made sure I wasn't worse anywhere, but I did not expect it to be a forced win for Black.

SS: After playing a fantastic combination, you had to finish off your opponent. Either Kh7 or Re4 was winning but you played 31...Qe7. Lack of time, tiredness – what was the reason for not finding the winning move?

PB: I think I still had more than ten minutes at this point, so time was not really an issue. I would like to put it on tiredness as this game was played in the last round, but I feel like it would be an easy excuse! The main reason is probably that I was eager to end my tournament with a nice drawing combination, and did not try hard enough to find a win. I did not seriously consider the move Kh7 (directly or after Re4 Qc3) as I failed to notice the f6+ threat it creates (after Re1).

SS: Lastly there are two questions that I would like to ask you: 1. What is the best way to improve one’s tactical vision and play like you did in this game? 2. How can one avoid the mistake that you committed towards the end of the game?

PB: 1. I think nothing can really replace the regular solving of tactical exercises or studies. Fortunately nowadays there are plenty of good books as well as online resources to train on tactics. Another important thing is to play regularly in tournaments, as practice helps you to notice the critical points of the game when you need to look for a tactical solution. 2. When you calculate a long variation it makes sense to check it again after playing several moves of it, in order to see if you have missed something, for instance, a defense for the opponent or (what happened here) an opportunity to play an even stronger move.

SS: Thanks a lot Pierre for these direct and truthful answers. I am sure the readers would have gained a lot of knowledge about the art of calculation and tactics after going over your replies. Wish you the best for achieving your GM norms and hope you become a grandmaster soon!

Apart from Oliver Reeh’s tactics there are many other important things that can be found in CBM 167. The picture below gives you an idea about it:

  • Hikaru Nakamura has annotated his scorching win against Levon Aronian from Stavanger;
  • Yu Yangyi’s interesting analysis in the Najdorf in his game against Dominguez from Capablanca Memorial;
  • Tiviakov refuting his own favourite Qd6 Scandinavian;
  • Simon Williams’ move by move analysis between Anish Giri and Veselin Topalov where you can learn an extremely important positional concept;
  • Karsten Mueller’s high quality endgame analysis;
  • Daniel King’s video analysis in ChessBase video format from the Norway Chess 2015;
  • Rainer Knaak’s five opening traps;
  • Dorian Rogozenco discusses the classic Alekhine vs Rubinstein, Karlsbad 1923 which won the brilliancy prize;
  • Robert Ris’ high quality analysis in the Slav.

And yes there are also 14 opening surveys by top analysts like Stohl, Marin, Krasenkow, Berg and others.

ChessBase Magazine 167

  • Date: August/September 2015
  • Languages: English, German
  • Delivery: Download, Post
  • Level: Any
  • Price: €19.95 – €16.76 without VAT (for customers outside the EU); $18.70 (without VAT)


Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder of the ChessBase India website.
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