Mukachevo: third game a fighting draw

9/22/2009 – The first two games of this match were both won by Black, after hard and interesting fights. Would White achieve a better result today? Almost. Former World Championship challenger Nigel Short had his younger Ukrainian opponent on the ropes, and only with a strong and imaginative defence could Zahar Efimenko save his bacon. Game three 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 three

Commentary by GM Klaus Bischoff

Short,Nigel (2706) - Efimenko,Zahar (2654) [B92]
Match Mukachevo (3), 22.09.2009 [Klaus Bischoff]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2. This quiet move was Geller's main weapon against any kind of Sicilian. He was one of the few players, who had a positive score against Bobby Fischer. 6...e5. Zahar continues to play a Najdorf. Kasparov used to play e6 instead of e5 to get a Scheveningen Sicilian. 7.Nb3 Be7 8.Bg5 Be6. Black is now ready to connect his knights with Nbd7. This Nf6 is the best defender of the key square d5. 9.Bxf6 Bxf6 10.Qd3. 10.Bg4 looks interesting, but Black will of course not exchange the bishops. Black is not afraid at all to get a doubled e-pawn, because he would then win the fight for d5. 10...Be7. Bad bishops protect good pawns (Suba). 11.Nd5 Nd7 12.Rd1!?

Interesting, more obvious moves were castling queenside or castling kingside and play for Rfd1. With Rd1 immediately Nigel wants to provoke a concession. 12...Bxd5. This is of course a very safe way to play the position. Rc8 could have led to more interesting positions. 13.Qxd5 Qc7 14.c3 0-0 15.0-0 b5 16.Nd2!? Still d5 is the most important square. So the useless Nb3 is starting a long journey. 16...Nb6 17.Qb3 Qc5 18.a3!

It is not easy to explain how deep this move is. White is not threatening Qb4, but he has this move available now. 18...Rac8 19.Rfe1 g6. Black starts to prepare f5, but this is of course in itself risky. 20.Nf1 Kh8. Zahar continues his risky plan, but I am afraid this is asking for trouble. 20...Bg5 to prevent Ne3 looks solid. After 21.Qb4 Black can protect his d-pawn with 21...Rfd8. 21.Ne3 f5 22.exf5 Bg5 23.Qb4!

This was prepared five moves ago. Black is now in big danger. 23...Bxe3 24.fxe3 gxf5 25.Qxc5 dxc5 26.Rd6 Rb8. This passive move is more or less forced. White has the d-file under control and things look grim for Black. 27.Red1 Kg7 28.h4!?

This is either a great move or a sign of impatience. It is a bit boring to suggest Kf2 as an improvement, but Rc6 and Re6 looked promising. 28...c4 29.Kf2 Rf6 30.Rxf6 Kxf6 31.Rd6+ Kg7 32.e4 fxe4 33.Ke3 Na4 34.Rxa6. Now Nigel's queenside will be destroyed. 34.Rd7+ may be a better try. After 34...Kh8 White plays 35.Rd2 to keep his pawns for a while. If Black tries 35...Nc5 White can calmly build up the kingside with 36.g4 before he starts operations at the other side. 34...Nxb2 35.Ra7+ Kh8 36.Kxe4 Na4 37.Kxe5 Nxc3 38.Bf3 Re8+ 39.Kf6 Rf8+ 40.Ke6 Re8+ 41.Kf7 Rg8 42.Ra5 Rb8 43.Bc6 Nb1 44.Bxb5 Nxa3 45.Ba6 Ra8!

With this strong defence Zahar is saving his bacon. 46.Rxa3 Ra7+ 47.Kf8 Ra8+ 48.Kf7 Ra7+. These checks are necessary, because Black must take the bishop with check. 49.Kf6 c3 only now 50.Rxc3 Rxa6+ 51.Kf7 Ra7+ Black is still okay, but today Zahar had to work hard to get away with a draw. 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

On the brink: Zahar Efimenko in game three

Playing for England: Nigel Short

Results and standings

 Nigel Short ENG
 Zahar Efimenko UKR

Remaining schedule of the Short-Efimenko match

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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