Mukachevo: Short strikes back, beats Efimenko with black

9/21/2009 – In the first game the higher-rated player, Nigel Short, was somewhat shockingly defeated by his young Ukrainian challenger Zahar Efimenko, who had the black pieces. Today the British GM struck back with his own very convincing black-piece victory to equal the score. This looks like it's going to be a really hard-fought match. Game two analysis by GM Klaus Bischoff.

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Universal Event Promotion (UEP), the company that staged major events like Kramnik vs Deep Fritz and the World Championship Anand vs Kramnik, is now continuing their series of the first-class matches with an encounter between former World Championship candidate Nigel Short and the very promising Ukraining GM Zahar Efimenko. The event is taking place in the West-Ukrainian town of Mukachevo. It is a classical match over six games, with time controls of 90 minutes for 40 moves, plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting with the first move. Efimenko is seconded by GM Alexander Beliavsky, Short is playing without a second.

Game two

Analysis provided by GM Klaus Bischoff

Efimenko,Zahar (2654) - Short,Nigel (2706) [C80]
Match Mukachevo (2), 21.09.2009 [Klaus Bischoff]

In a short match you do normally not get too many chances to come back after losing a game. So we can expect, that Nigel will try to get double egded positions.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4. This is already a small surprise. But Nigel has a lot of experience with the Open Ruy, of course. Still, in most of these games he was sitting on the other side of the board. 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.Nbd2 Nc5 10.c3 g6

But this is a real surprise! When I saw this move on my screen, I tried to find my old books about the match Karpov-Korchnoi. And indeed 1978 in Baguio City Korchnoi played g6 against Karpov in game 8. He lost quickly and g6 got a very bad reputation. It was Miguel Najdorf, who even said that g6 was already the decisive mistake. But there is certainly a lot of truth in Korchnoi's saying that everything that is well forgotten is new in chess. By the way, when this game was played Nigel was 13 years old. And Zahar had not been born yet. 11.Bc2. 11.Qe2 was played by Karpov. After 11...Bg7 Karpov played the risky but energetic 12.Nd4! Korchnoi took the pawn with 12...Nxe5 but could not solve the problems with his king after 13.f4 Nc4?! 14.f5 gxf5 15.Nxf5 Rg8 16.Nxc4 dxc4 17.Bc2 Nd3 18.Bh6 Nigel probably had an improvement ready. I can only guess where, but my engines do not like the move Nc4 at all. 11...Bg7 12.Re1 0-0 13.Nb3 Nd7

This was played after a very long think. Nigel keeps e5 under attack. His plan for the next moves is to get in c5 as quickly as possible. 14.Bg5 Qc8 15.Bf4 Ne7 16.Qd2 c5 17.Bh6. White had a wide choice; h3 was playable but a bit (too) careful. There is even something to be said for h4 immediately. 17...Qc6 18.Qg5 Rfe8 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.h4 a5. 20...f6?? is a terrible mistake. 21.exf6+ Nxf6 22.Nbd4! cxd4 23.Nxd4

Analysis diagram

Analysis diagram

This fork is deadly.

21.a4!? When I was in Zahar's age I was taught not to touch pawns on the side where my opponent is attacking. But these young 2650 players do not care about "rules". 21.h5 was a more direct approach. After 21...h6 (Black cannot allow h6) 22.Qg3 White has strong pressure. 21...h6 22.Qf4 Reb8 23.Nbd2 b4 24.c4 b3!

25.Bxb3 Rb4 26.cxd5 Nxd5 27.Bxd5 Bxd5 28.Qe3 Nf8!

My engines are not impressed, but I like this move very much. Nigel will play Ne6 next and has the board under control. 29.b3 Ne6 30.Rac1 Qb7 31.Rc3 Rd8 32.Rd3?!

32...Bxf3! Now Black is winning his pawn back. 33.Nxf3. Far too risky is 33.Rxd8 because Black has 33...Bxg2 After 34.Rd6 Rg4 35.f3 Bxf3+ 36.Kf2 Bd5 White is in dire straits. 33...Rxd3 34.Qxd3 Rxb3 35.Qd1 Rb4 36.h5 g5 37.Qc2 Qc6 38.Ra1 Rg4 39.Qf5 Rf4 40.Qc2 Rg4 41.Qf5 Rf4 42.Qc2

42...Kg8. It looks tempting to sac the exchange with 42...Rxf3 after 43.gxf3 Nd4! 44.Qd1 Nxf3+ 45.Kg2 Nxe5+ 46.Kg3 Qf6 Black has two pawns for the exchange with an ongoing attack. But this is of course easy to recommend with computer assistance. 43.Qd1 Rb4 44.g3 Qe4 45.Nd2 Qxe5 46.Rc1 Qd5 47.Qc2 g4 48.Re1 Qxh5 49.Qd3 Rd4 50.Qe3 Ng5 51.Qe8+ Kh7 52.Re2 Rxd2. Black is okay! 0-1. [Click to replay]

Results and standings

 Nigel Short ENG
 Zahar Efimenko UKR

Remaining schedule of the Short-Efimenko match

Tuesday 22 September 16.30h Game three: Short-Efimenko
Wednesday 23 September   Free day
Thursday 24 September 16.30h Game four: Efimenko-Short
Friday 25 September 16.30h Game five: Short-Efimenko
Saturday 26 September 16.30h Game six: Efimenko-Short


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