Rapport vs Laznicka: A thrilling match

by Sagar Shah
10/8/2014 – Unorthodox chess, opening experiments, fighting spirit, a surprising comeback, and some blitz: the six game match between Richard Rapport from Hungary and Viktor Laznicka from the Czech Republic was entertaining and exciting to the last minute. After trailing 1-3 Laznicka won the last two regular games of the match but then lost the blitz tie-break.

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Rapport vs Laznicka: A thrilling match

After four games it seemed as if the match was over. Richard Rapport led 3-1. All he needed was one draw in the remaining two games to win the match. But the young Hungarian is a fighter and true to his aggressive and uncompromising nature he went for a win in the last two games. This helped Viktor Laznicka to stage a fantastic comeback and to level the score to 3:3 with back to back wins. But we would miss the point if we did not mention Laznicka's effort to change his style of play. In the first four games Laznicka went for theoretical setups in the opening. But in the last two games, with nothing to lose, it seemed as if the Czech player hardly cared about theory. He had one clear objective in mind: not to let Rapport take the initiative. Let us see how he managed to do so.

Game 5

Rapport usually arrived a few minutes late to the game

Rapport started the game in his usual style, meeting 1.d4 with 1...d6. But this time Laznicka did not go for an ambitious setup. He simply played 3.e3.

Then Laznicka simply developed his pieces and castled queenside. Rapport couldn't find good squares for his pieces and when Laznicka launched an attack with 14.g4! Rapport was in trouble.

Black's position deteriorated amazingly quickly and Laznicka chalked up an easy victory! After dominating the first four games, it was surprising that Rapport lost the fifth game almost without a fight. It also showed that Laznicka is a tenacious fighter.

 

Laznicka was in good spirits before the start of the last game

Game six

Now Rapport needed at least a draw in the last game. But instead of 1.e4, what he had played in his two previous games with White, he began with...

1.f4 - The Bird Opening

Laznicka must have thought for a little while about all classical responses such as 1...d5, or 1...Nf6 etc. but finally decided to play the symmetrical...

1...f5!!??

Such original play in the opening is fun for the viewers!

A brave decision by Laznicka, who tried to outfox his opponent's original and unorthodox play by playing even more originally and unorthodox. And he was quite successful as he emerged out of the opening with a nice though objectively equal position. The game would have most probably ended in a draw but Rapport decided to sharpen the play with a knight sacrifice.

The sacrifice on f5 was in the cards and Rapport doesn't miss such opportunities.

The sacrifice exposed the black king but objectively White had no more than a draw. The players even repeated the position twice and I guess 99 out of 100 people would have taken the draw to win the match 3.5-2.5. But not Rapport.

White just played Re2-e3 and continued the fight. Instead he could have repeated the position with Qe6-f5, after which Black has to parry the threat of Rxe7 with Kf7 when Qe6+ leads to a draw. After the text the game was still pretty unclear and White had his share of attacking chances. But at some point he lost the thread and liquidated into the following endgame.

This looks like a trivial win for Black. But on closer inspection, you notice that the bishop on e7 is totally hemmed in by the white pawns. The white rook will control the a-file, and if the black rook goes to the e-file, the white king will control its entry points from f2; if the black rook goes to the h-file, the white king goes to g2. The position is very difficult to win and maybe Black has no win at all. But Laznicka had nothing to lose and kept making moves hoping for a mistake from his opponent.

Which Rapport made. Here 72.Rh7 would have been good enough for a draw but Rapport played 72.Ra7, and now Black seized his opportunity with 72...Bb6! 73.Ra6 Bxd4+! 74.cxd4 Kd6! The fortress was broken and Black had excellent chances to convert the position to a win - which Laznicka finally did! An original opening, an interesting middlegame, and a wonderful endgame: the sixth game had it all. And with this win the match was tied at 3:3.

 

BLITZ

Now a two game blitz-duel had to establish the winner of the match.

Rapport picks the black pieces in game one

The blitz game started within ten minutes of the sixth game. The time control was five minutes each with no increments.

Of course it is pointless to analyse the blitz games but I should bring to your notice the deeply analysed opening variation of the Sicilian Rapport employed with white in game two.

1.e4 c5 2.Qh5!!

Rapport won both blitz games and emerged as the champion of the 2014 edition of the "Novoborska Sachova Corrida".

 

 

(Left to right): Designer Ludmila Zhilkova, Richard Rapport with the winner's trophy, Viktor Laznicka and Roman Muzik.

The company Lasvit manufactured the glass trophy won by Rapport

 

All six games were interesting and both players deserve credit for their fighting play. Rapport's fine tactical strikes and Laznicka's tenacious attitude stood out in this match.

All Pictures from the official website

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

 




Sagar 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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brabo_hf brabo_hf 10/9/2014 11:35
I stopped playing 1.f4 f5 because of 2.e4. On my Dutch blog I even wrote an article about it which you can find by googling on "schaken brabo".
Wallace Howard Wallace Howard 10/8/2014 10:25
Rapport had a chance to take a repetition and win the match, but he decided to play on.
Strange decision.
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