Richard Rapport vs Viktor Laznicka: 3:1

by Sagar Shah
10/4/2014 – In the past Richard Rapport had trouble to play against Viktor Laznicka. But in their six-game match in Novy Bor, in the Czech Republic, things seem to have changed. Now Rapport is the one who calls the shots and after four games he leads the match with 3-1. However, he was lucky that Laznicka failed to exploit the chances given to him.

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Rapport vs Laznicka: 3:1

After four games the score in the match between Richard Rapport and Viktor Laznicka is heavily in favour of the Hungarian: 3-1. This might give you the notion that the match is a pretty one sided affair. Quite the contrary! The games have been interesting and both sides had chances. But Rapport has been using his chances while Laznicka has been squandering them.

Two wins with black against such a strong opponent is a wonderful achievement

Laznicka - unable to convert superior positions in this match

We previously reported about Rapport's scintillating first round victory in which he made a double knight sacrifice. Let us see how the match progressed.

GAME 2

Rapport had the white pieces and began with 1.e4, which Laznicka answered with his customary Caro-Kann Defence. Laznicka is a Caro-Kann expert and thus Rapport chose to avoid theory with 5.Nc5 instead of the usual 5.Ng3.

5.Nc5!?

White did not get much of an advantage from the opening and the critical position was reached after White's 34. move.

Position after 34.Kg2

Here Laznicka could simply play 34...Ra8 with the killing threat of Ra1 and his position is plain winning. But Laznicka missed this opportunity and exchanged rooks instead. He still was much better but slowly and steadily his advantage withered away until the finally ended in a draw. Thus, in the second game Laznicka missed a good chance to equalise the match. Score: 1.5-0.5

 

GAME 3

Rapport repeated his shrewd move order of game one and answered 1.d4 with 1...d6. This time Laznicka prevented 2...e5 with 2.Nf3. But now he no longer had the move f3 which he likes to play against the King's Indian and the Grünfeld. A few moves later a position of the King's Indian fianchetto variation was on the board. Rapport was the first to deviate from official theory with the provocative 13...Ncd7!? Laznicka reacted excellently and got a very nice position - but then came the fateful 24. move.

Position after 23...b5

Even though White is an exchange down, he has an excellent position thanks to his strong central passers on c5 and d5. Laznicka should have played 24.a4! with the better position. Instead he played the horrible 24.Qd4??. After 24...Re2 Laznicka realized that he had allowed the black rook to penetrate and White is lost. Unbelievable! Rapport showed no mercy and finished the game accurately. Score: 2.5-0.5

 

 

The post mortem analysis in which the commentators ask questions.

GAME 4

This was the most interesting game of the match so far. Once again we had a Caro Kann but this time Rapport played the Pseudo-Panov-Attack 1.e4 c6 2.c4!?

You can never guess what I am going to play! This time Rapport answered the Caro-Kann with 2.c4!?

It has been Rapport's strategy in this match to find offbeat variations in well-known theoretical lines. After ten moves the players reached a popular position but then Rapport played the relatively unknown 11.Bc4!?. Now Laznicka sacrificed a pawn but thanks to his pair of bishops he always had compensation for it, though Rapport could claim a slight pull. But White's position started to fall apart when Rapport let the enemy rook join the kingside attack with 23...Rg4! Though White was a pawn up, his position slowly started to go downhill. Laznicka played some fantastic moves and in mutual time trouble he reached a completely winning position.

Position after 37.Kg1

Laznicka had just to play 37...Qb7 here and it is curtains for White. Instead he went for the tempting idea of doubling rooks on the seventh rank with 37...Rg2 38.Kh1 Rff2 when White could defend with 39.Nf3! and Black is no longer winning.

Funny enough, but the very next move Rapport was the one who had an easy win and missed it.

Position after 39...Bg4

Black's last move was the horrible 39...Bh3-g4. White now had to simply play 40.Re8+ and after 40...Kh7 41.Ng5+ wins, and if 40...Kg7 then 41.Qc3+ with a win.

After Rapport's blunder Laznicka was able to save the position. Rapport had many more winning chances but he missed one after the other until the game finally was drawn: Score: 3:1.

 

The fourth game was really interesting but also showed that both players are getting tired. Playing six games in a row without a rest day is tough.

A nice view for the spectators at the Restaurant Ajeto

Laznicka now has to win the last two games if he wants to level the score. This is not impossible. He only has to grab the chances his young Hungarian opponent is giving him.

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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Najdork Najdork 10/6/2014 12:47
Can we stop calling every mistake a blunder. A blunder is when you hang aa queen or take mate in 1.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 10/4/2014 05:39
Game 2: 'Laznicka could simply play 34...Ra8 with the killing threat of Ra1'
The win 34... Ra8 35 Rxf7 Ra1 36 Rxf8+ Kg7! (Black gets mated after Kxf8) doesn't appear very simple to me.
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