Jon Speelman's Agony Column #46

by Jonathan Speelman
3/23/2017 – Maik Naundorf, 36, from Germany, is a player who likes the artistic touch, and reading about the history of the game and biographies of chess players. In his games he prefers ECO-codes mainly in the A- or B-region. He submitted a game which cost him the chance to qualify for national championships, and the Extasy game was at the Dortmund Open, and allowed him to firmly cross the 2100 barrier. Jonathan Speelman has provided some good advice for Maik's play.

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This week's pair of games are by Maik Naundorf, who is 36 and lives in Hagen, about 15 kilometres south of Dortmund. Maik, who has played chess for over 20 years, prefers longer time limits rather than rapid play and (following Yasser Seirawan but certainly not me) even expressed a hankering for adjournments, though he's never experienced this particular form of torture (obviously my worlds not his) himself.

Maik writes: "I still like the artistic touch and reading about the history of the game and biographies of chess players. The Gormally book was also quite interesting and I hope to read more about the surroundings in chess – not just the moves and the top ten players! I mostly look to endgames and studies when not reading (chess) magazines..."

Both games which he sent me start slowly but then well up to a fierce climax. Indeed Maik says that "in recent times my ECO-codes are mostly and nearly only in the A- or B-region, which I like a lot. The fianchetto is the most fascinating chess pattern for me – since childhood!"

I've written all the notes for both games, but Maik supplied me with interesting introductions. We start with the Agony.

"This game is quite agonising still. I thought I played a decent game and got tricked quite heavily for my taste! In the "Verbandseinzelmeisterschaft Suedwestfalen" [this translates to something like federation individual championship] playing in the last round for the first two places. In the end I came in third with no qualification for the next stage, while my opponent got the qualification to the "NRW-Einzelmeisterschaft" [Nordrhein-Westfalen regional championships] and finally he came through to the "Deutsche Einzelmeisterschaft" [German Individual Championship]. With my loss he came quite far."

[Event "Verbands-Herren-EM 2015"] [Site "Sundern-Hachen"] [Date "2015.06.12"] [Round "6"] [White "Naundorf, Maik"] [Black "Messarius, Juergen"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A21"] [WhiteElo "2100"] [BlackElo "2171"] [Annotator "Speelman,Jonathan"] [PlyCount "96"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "6"] [EventCountry "GER"] [SourceDate "2015.07.13"] 1. c4 d6 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. Nc3 e5 5. d3 Ne7 6. e3 c6 7. Nge2 Be6 8. f4 { This interesting move is to discourage ...d5} ({But} 8. O-O {is perfectly possible immediately and if} d5 9. cxd5 cxd5 {then} 10. f4) 8... Qd7 9. Qd2 Na6 10. b3 Bh3 11. O-O Bxg2 12. Kxg2 b5 13. Bb2 b4 14. Nd1 O-O 15. Nf2 {[#] The opening has gone perfectly satisfactorily for Black, but he now needs to take some difficult decisions.} Rae8 (15... f5 {was perfectly sensible when I presume that Maik would have tried to keep the tension with something like} 16. Rad1) (15... c5 {was also an idea, since the weakness of d5 doesn't seems too important with the white knights unable to get there.}) 16. Rae1 Qb7 17. Ng1 Nc7 18. Nf3 c5 $2 {At a very bad moment, since White's next move wins material. } 19. Ne4 Rd8 20. fxe5 dxe5 21. Nxc5 Qc6 22. Qxb4 {It's correct to take the second pawn, but White will have to be careful now.} Rfe8 23. Kg1 $6 { Unpinning but losing a tempo.} (23. Ba3 {was one idea I had, but after} Na6 24. Nxa6 Qxa6 25. Rd1 Nf5 26. Bc1 (26. Rfe1 Bf8 27. c5 Bh6) 26... Qxa2+ {Black is fine.}) ({The principled - or brave, whichever you prefer -} 23. d4 $1 { would have made total sense of White's position, transforming the pawn from a target on d3 into a weapon, and defending the loose knight on c5. The only question then is whether Black can somehow sacrifice when White plays d5. Indeed} Nf5 24. d5 Rxd5 $1 25. cxd5 Nxd5 {looks very scary but White can play} 26. Qa4 $1 {using the fact that the rook is loose on e8.} Nfxe3+ 27. Kf2 Qxa4 28. Nxa4 Nxf1 29. Kxf1 {and Black doesn't have nearly enough for the piece.}) 23... a5 24. Qa3 Nf5 {[#]} 25. e4 $4 {A disastrous blunder.} (25. g4 Nh6 26. h3 {kept control since} Bf8 27. d4 {is excellent for White.}) 25... Bf8 $1 26. d4 Nxd4 27. b4 axb4 28. Nxd4 bxa3 (28... Bxc5 29. Qf3 Qe6 {would have won a whole piece.}) 29. Nxc6 Bxc5+ 30. Kh1 axb2 31. Nxd8 Rxd8 {[#] Maik has managed to avoid losing a piece but is still utterly lost due to the massive pawn on b2.} 32. Re2 Bd4 33. Rb1 Rb8 34. c5 Kf8 35. c6 Ke7 36. Rc2 Kd6 37. a4 Ne6 38. a5 Nc5 39. c7 Kxc7 40. a6 Kd6 41. Rbxb2 {A last throw of the dice.} Bxb2 ({Of course if} 41... Rxb2 42. Rxb2 Bxb2 $4 (42... Nxa6 {is still totally winning}) 43. a7 {and the pawn queens.}) 42. a7 Ra8 43. Rxb2 Rxa7 44. Rb4 Kc6 45. Kg2 Ra4 46. Rb8 Nxe4 47. Re8 Kd5 48. Re7 Nd6 0-1

Maik's "Ecstasy" game was played in the last round of the Open A in Dortmund 2014. He writes:

"This game and the tournament were played in honour of a very good friend of mine, Juergen Wiehagen, who died only shortly before this tournament at the age of just 43 after a long illness. I wanted to show my best for him and increased my national rating from 2121 to 2151. It took me more than ten years and a lot of effort to breach the 2100 barrier, which I had finally achieved in my previous tournament in Solingen, where my games included a fighting draw against IM Mladenov."

[Event "Sparkassen Open 2014 (Open A)"] [Site "Dortmund"] [Date "2014.07.20"] [Round "9"] [White "Naundorf, Maik"] [Black "Zolfagharian, Kevin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A25"] [WhiteElo "2121"] [BlackElo "2061"] [Annotator "Speelman,Jonathan"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "GER"] [SourceDate "2015.07.13"] 1. c4 e5 2. g3 Bc5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg2 Nc6 5. e3 O-O 6. Nge2 d6 7. O-O a5 (7... a6 {is more common, providing a retreat for the bishop but keeping the queenside more compact.}) (7... Bf5 8. d4 Bb6 {is also often played though pretty pleasant for White.}) 8. b3 {[#]} h5 $6 {This weakening move is the catalyst for many of Black's future woes. White wants to play h3 anyway and given that a sacrifice after ... h4 g4 is very unlikely to work ...h5 doesn't achieve much and merely weakens both itself and the g5 square.} (8... h6 9. h3 Re8 10. d3 Bf5) (8... Bf5 9. d4 Bb6) 9. h3 Bf5 10. d3 {Maik likes to keep control and advance slowly, so he preferred this to d4.} (10. d4) 10... Qd7 { This drives the white king to a better square off the c5 bishop's diagonal.} ( 10... Re8 {was possible when if} 11. Kh2 ({but} 11. e4 Be6 12. Bg5 {looks unpleasant - again this wouldn't be possible with the pawn on h6}) 11... e4 12. dxe4 Nxe4 13. Nxe4 Bxe4 14. Bxe4 Rxe4 15. Bb2 {White is better precisely because the pawn is on h5 rather than h6.}) 11. Kh2 {Defending the pawn and preparing e4 followed by f4} Rae8 (11... Bg6 12. e4 h4) 12. e4 $1 Bh7 13. f4 exf4 (13... h4 14. g4 {wouldn't help at all.}) 14. gxf4 {All three recaptures were strong.} Nd4 15. Nxd4 Bxd4 {[#]} 16. Bb2 (16. Bd2 {may be better, preparing to unpin the knight and then play Ne2. If} c6 17. Rc1 Qd8 18. Kh1 { preparing Ne2} ({not} 18. Ne2 $2 Ng4+) {and} 18... Ng4 19. Qe1 {doesn't help Black.}) 16... Qe6 $6 (16... Qd8 {was much better getting some black square control and providing a possible sensible retreat for the f6 knight. On e6 the queen is encouraging tactics based on Nd5.}) 17. Bf3 {[#]} (17. Rb1 $1 { was stronger, the main point being that if} c6 $2 (17... Qc8 18. Ne2 Bxb2 19. Rxb2 {is sensible but White has a very nice centre.}) 18. Nd5 $1 Bxb2 (18... cxd5 19. cxd5 Nxd5 20. Bxd4 Ne7 21. Qxh5 {should be winning.}) 19. Nc7 { followed by} -- 20. Nxe8 {wins the exchange.}) 17... g6 $2 {This horrible move grossly weakens the long black diagonal and incarcerates the h7 bishop.} ({ Instead Black should try} 17... Nd7 18. Bxh5 Qh6 {when he has lost a pawn but is active.}) 18. Qd2 Kh8 $4 {Losing outright.} (18... c6 19. Rg1 {was vile and indeed Fritz and its friends suggest that} Nd7 20. Bxh5 {is now the least bad option. But at least the game would continue.}) 19. Nd5 $1 Nxd5 (19... c5 20. Bxd4 cxd4 21. Nc7 {is certainly winning for White but should have been tried.}) 20. Bxd4+ Nf6 21. f5 Qe7 22. Qg5 Kg7 23. Bxh5 {Black is utterly busted and indeed the most he can hope for is to jettison the exchange with ...Re5.} Qd8 24. fxg6 fxg6 25. Bxg6 Bxg6 26. Rg1 Rf7 27. Raf1 Re6 28. Qxg6+ Kf8 29. Rf5 Ke7 30. Rgf1 Qh8 {[#]} 31. Qg5 {For some reason now Maik first improved his position rather than forcing a totally winning pawn ending by exchanging all and sundry on f6.} (31. Rxf6 Rfxf6 32. Rxf6 Rxf6 33. Bxf6+ Qxf6 34. Qxf6+ Kxf6 {and it would be totally over even if White didn't have the e4 pawn.}) 31... c5 32. Bc3 b6 33. a4 Qf8 34. R1f3 Qh8 35. Bb2 Qf8 36. h4 Qh8 37. Kh3 Qf8 38. R3f4 Qh8 39. Bc3 Qf8 40. h5 Re5 41. Rxe5+ dxe5 42. Qxe5+ Kd7 43. Rxf6 {A powerful positonal victory by Maik, who put pressure on his opponent after a slow opening and was rewarded by a speedy collapse.} 1-0

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Jonathan Speelman, born in 1956, studied mathematics but became a professional chess player in 1977. He was a member of the English Olympic team from 1980–2006 and three times British Champion. He played twice in Candidates Tournaments, reaching the semi-final in 1989. He twice seconded a World Championship challenger: Nigel Short and then Viswanathan Anand against Garry Kasparov in London 1993 and New York 1995.


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