Sick leave in Tashkent

1/12/2004 – The message told of influenza and high temperature, our reporter in Uzbekistan just got off a few lines with the moves – and a large bunch of emails he had received from chess fans all over the world. While he battles the flu bug, the game between GM Yuldashev and the Uzbek TV audience + ChessBase continues. Here's our sick-leave report...

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Usbek TV audience vs Saidali Yuldashev

The message from Tashkent said: "Dear Fred, some strange type of influenza is killing me with a temperature of 40C. It's not getting any better for the last four days. I am not able to prepare the next article in time, but I know people will be waiting for the move on Sunday. What can we do? Announce that Jamshid is taking a one-week time-out?"

No problem, Jamshid, especially since you sent us the moves, and such a lot of interesting feedback. We are all very grateful to you and your Uzbek colleagues for collecting the many thousands of messages and so faithfully preparing a report each week. Don't go driving across snow-bound mountain passes for the moment. Get well first, checkmate those viruses, and then tell us more about the exciting and far-away place you live.

Uzbek TV+ChessBase Audience – Saidali Yuldashev
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.d4 Bd6 13.Re1 Qh4 14.g3 Qh3 15.Re4 g5 16.Qe2 f5 17.Bxd5+ cxd5 18.Re6 f4 19.Rxd6 Bg4 20.Qf1 Rae8 21.Nd2 Qxf1+ 22.Nxf1 Re1 23.b3 Bh3 24.Bb2 Rfe8 25.Rd8 Rxf1+ 26.Rxf1 Rxd8

Submit what you think is the best white move here,


The letters quoted below naturally talk about an earlier position in the game, the one we had on the board last week. In order to make it easier for you to follow the comments we provide the position they refer to.

Position after 24...Rf8-e8

Jojo Mamaril, Manila, Philippines
25. Rd8. Besides being the only logical move in this position, this is in line with some of the earlier suggestions to give back material in order to ease the pressure on the white king. Exchanges will be inevitable and a drawish endgame with opposite colored bishops will emerge. Not bad considering that White has been on the defensive side for the past several moves. Activitity for the Bishop should then be sought either through Ba3 or Bc1 plus rewarding the King some breathing space through f3 (not to mention an avenue to the center to help in the endgame). Then its an all out war for the endgame with at least (I think) a draw as the result. I salute GM Yuldashev, the Uzbek TV plus Chessbase audience, and Jamshid for a well-played and wonderful game. Hello from the sunny and friendly City of Manila, Philippines.

Jimmy Zhong Yu, Singapore, Singapore
Well, White on first sight looks to be on the verge of defeat. The white knight on f1 is pinned by the black rook to the king and if White exchanges rooks on the e1 square, the possibility of a knight capture and checkmate on the back rank lays bare. However, Rd8! destroys all of Black's attacking chances. Black cannot capture on d8 owning to the white rook's capture on e1. So the following line should arise: Rd8 Rxf1+ (forced), Rxf1 Rxd8 (forced) [If ...Bxf1, Rxe8+ and white picks up the bishop on f1] Re1!. Now with the white rook firmly in control of the e-file, White's in control and he retains his extra pawn and a solid pawn structure. Play may continue after Re1 as follows: ...f3 (To restrict the king's movement) Re3 Bg4, Re5 h6, h5! with a strong flank attack. In this scenario, Black can only win unless white commits a gross error.

Arvin Juntereal, Philadelphia, PA
25.Rd8 is the correct move in this position. Black threatens 25...Rxa1 followed by 26...Re1, winning the knight and the game. My recommended move will stop this threat, and it will all be forced moves. The game is headed to a drawn endgame after a further exchange of the remaining rooks, there being two opposite-colored bishops. Though White has a slight advantage in the endgame(ahead by one pawn and has a pawn majority on the queenside), White has no clear-cut way to win in the endgame. All Black has to do is to prevent the penetration of the White's king to harass the Black pawns, and the game will surely be drawn.

John Ritz, Madison, Wisconsin
Rd8 Rf1+ Rf1 Rd8 seems forced after which Re1 seems the natural move to make. Black can then imprison white's king at the cost of putting his bishop out of play with f3 then later g4 if necessary, but it seems with careful play white has nothing to fear, nor black for that matter.

Bibek Shrestha, Katmandu, Nepal
I suggest the move Rd8 to pin black's rook at e8 and to go for a trade of rooks. If Rxa1, followed by Re1 is allowed, we shall have a very tough time, but that is as far as I see. I hope I have not blundered... See you next week.

Alonzo McCaulley, Antelope, Ca USA
I looked at the position again and went back to a deflection idea I had earlier in the game. I think this move works better than 25.Rh6 which I suggested last time. Since the GM let us off the hook with 23...Bh3 we should fight as hard as possible. Perhaps we may surprise him yet!:). By the way I have not used any software to look at the game yet. I plan on doing that after the game as a learning tool. I have not even set up pieces because I am trying to practice visualization. Anyway, 25. Rd8 is now my choice. Once the rooks are off the board whites problems seem to go away. I may have missed something but that too is part of learning. One more thing, GM Yuldashev is a very strong player despite what some people may think. Nobody gets the GM title for weak play. Most of us would not dream of playing a public game and allowing our opponent to use computers and other kibitzers. Win, lose, or draw he gave us the opportunity to play a great game against a worthy opponent. That is a very noble part of chess. Please respect that if nothing else and keep negative comments about moves to yourself. I will get off my soap box now.

Nathaniel Fast, Jefferson City, MO, USA
Rd8 seems to me to be the move at this critical moment in the game. Pinning the rook seems to be one of the only ways to avoid mate in the coming moves... however it seems that this will create an endgame with bishops of opposite color and white a pawn up. I'm not sure if White will be able to win this kind of endgame but I do feel it leaves White with a slight advantage

Dieter Devolder, Kruishoutem, Belgium
Rd8, and if Black takes the rook on d8 then we do same with Black's rook on e1. So we stay a piece ahead. Black needs to take the knight on f1 and by giving check at the same time. We are obligated to take Black's rook. The next move we loose our rook on d8 but we still have a pion ahead. The endgame looks quite promisingly to White so I guess white then has a good chance to win the game.

Robert Ruonala, Gothenburg, Sweden:
I suggest the move: Resigns. It's obviously completely lost, I feel sad for the Uzbek audience having to lose due to patzers submitting moves on ChessBase.

Brian Stewart, San Jose, CA
Any first-year chess student can tell you that when you're ahead in material but under attack, it's a good idea (if possible) to sacrifice some of your material advantage to break up the attack. In this case, the best way to accomplish that is to play 25.Rd8. After 25... Rxf1+ 26. Rxf1 Rxd8 27. Re1, Black's attack is mostly evaporated, while White is still ahead by a pawn. But with opposite-colored bishops remaining on the board, I wouldn't expect anything more than a draw at this point.

Mel Burt, Glasgow, Scotland
25 Rd8. Black has a great initiative with his threat of Rxa1 and Re8-e1 but this move (as suggested in David Or's and Ralph Jackson's comments) should tip the game back in White's favour. For example 25. ..Rxa1 26.Rxe8+ Kf7 27.Bxa1 wins as does 25...Rxd8 26.Rxe1 which controls the e-file. Black can maintain the squeeze by playing 25...Kf7 26.Rxe8 Rxe8 when White can either try the risky 27.Nd2 Re2 28.Rd2 Bg4 or give back the piece for a likely draw with 27.Ne3 fxe3 28.fxe3 Rxe3 29.Kf2 A fascinating double-edged position.

Juk Armstrong, Leeds, UK
Time to give back the material!!! Things don't look too bad for White after 25.Rd8 Rxf1+ 26.Rxf1 Rxd8. This line seems forced after Rd8. After it we are up on pawns, and if we need to later, we have opposite coloured bishops for a good chance at a draw in the endgame. Also 27.Re1 lets us take control of the open file. Even so the black pawns wondering down towards our king *could* spell disaster for us later...

Gerard Smith, Rush Ireland
Hi, Jamshid, 25.Rd8 is White's only chance. Black now has to play 25... Rxf1 26. Rxf1 Rxd8 27. Re1. White now has enough for a draw. But he has to be careful. He must keep control of the e file. He has the idea of playing Ba3 and rook to e7 to harass the black king. If white can play fe his king can now get out. If black plays f3 white puts his rook on e3 and if black exchanges white has fxe3 and a way out for his king. He must not exchange his rook on another square otherwise his king is trapped. I have enjoyed the past few moves of this game but I was not happy with the Nd2 line chosen but this is the danger of a group decision making process. I must congratulate the GM on his fine attacking idea!!!!

Patrick Foley, Davis USA
Rd8 is the only move and it seems like it barely draws after 25.Rd8 Rf1 26.Rf1 Rd8 27.Re1 f3 28.Ba3. Either the black bishop has to release the white King, or it gets stuck in its corner with the King behind pawns. I am surprised that Black had not played his Re8 before the committal Bh3 with the idea after 24.Bb2 Ra1 25.Ba1 Re1 and wins at least the Bishop back. I believe Black had a win in this line.

Joshua Green, Phoenix, Az. USA
After 25.Rd8 Black threatens 25...Rxa1 26. Bxa1 Re1 followed by Rxf1#. The only defenses I saw at first were f3 and Rh6. Likely continuations would be 25. f3 Rxa1 26. Bxa1 Re1 27. Kf2 Rxf1+ 28. Ke2 Rh1 and 25. Rh6 Bxf1 26. h3 The first line looks quite unpleasant for White while the second line leaves Black with attacking chances (though perhaps White can hold). The second seems superior to the first, but I was hoping for something better. Then I noticed the strange idea Rd8. The idea is to force an exchange of Rooks without giving up control of the back rank. The Rd8 becomes pinned (and can be taken with check), so Black's options are quite limited. The continuation might be 25. Rd8 Rxf1+ 26. Rxf1 Rxd8 27. Re1 when our King position is still miserable but at least we control the the e-file and the back rank. Black appears to be better (b4 may open the c-file), but at least we probably won't get mated too quickly. Moreover, if he tries f3 and g4, the bB becomes entombed and we can probably use ours to hold the balance. I haven't checked these lines with a computer, so it's quite possible that I'm missing an obvious refutation or even a better initial move.

Victor Grove, Rialto, Ca. USA
What a great game. I think white can play Rd6-d8 and breathe a deep sigh of relief here. White has been trapped with no pieces in real play but once his bishop played to b2, both white rooks came into the game. White has been pinned down and threatened with mate most of the game and I think should have been looking to save his skin, give the material back and play for a draw. Perhaps d6-d8 will allow the draw . What else can black do but finally get the piece back with e1xf1 check. With white's newly found pin on the e8 rook, black cannot play e1xa1 due to white's response d8xe8 check. All rooks will end up off the board and white plays on with two pieces versus one. Can the GM continue play down one pawn and one piece with only one of his own left? No, I think he has had this whole position already worked out and he knows it has really been a draw for sometime. He knows white must eventually give back the material or in this locked position be mated and I'm sure as a GM he sees the opposite colored bishops. He has been waiting for white's mistake, which fortunately in this very dangerous position never came and now d6-d8 forces his hand. He will get his material back with e1xf1 check and it will force a1xf1. Then black has the move e8xd8 with white to next play f1-e1. I'm no GM and I don't have Fritz but this endgame with opposite bishops looks much like a draw; probably what black was really playing for and what white should be thankful for considering the wringer he's been through. White must be careful not to be greedy, either here in this position or after the eventual exchanges. Any other move by white here other than d6-d8 will probably be a disaster. Let's play d6-d8, shake this fine GM's hand and offer Saidali Yuldashev a draw. Thank you chessbase for sharing this great game!

Samuel, Athens, USA
White is hopeless. HOWEVER, in terms of material in the short run, White's only viable move (after ...Rfe8) is Rc1, because White will bring his e8 rook down to e2, threatening the white bishop on the one square available to defend the rook. With white's rook on c1, the same move by black would be met with Ba3, thus still defending the white rook. Alas, all Black has to do is exchange the rooks and bring his e8 rook down to e1, simultansously attacking the two useless White pieces. Overall, I'd say it's time to resign. Hindsight: White failed to consider, only a few moves ago, that Black could exchange queens while down a piece and maintain (if not facilitate) a crushing position. That's the mark of a grandmaster.

Charles Zupanic, San Bernardino, Ca.
My apologies for the hasty comments and move suggestion of f2-f3. I was willing to give back material and even fall to a material disadvantage in order to get the white king out. But... after looking closer at the position, I feel White has a better move here than f3. By playing the rook on d6 to d8, Black will be forced into some hard decisions due to his own rook now being pinned. And instead of Black coming out ahead in the following exchanges like Black would have done if White plays my initially suggested f3; when White plays d6-d8 it is White who seems to come out slightly better. I apologize however I wish to withdraw my initial suggestion of f3 and offer a draw and play d6-d8 instead. Let's force Black into some decisions and see what choices the GM makes.

Jon Morten Berg, Norway
Comments: Time has come to give back material. Following 25.Rd8 Re1xf1+ 26.Ra1xf1 Re8xd8 27.Rf1-e1 the white king escapes the spiderhole and gains control of the important e-file. The ensuing opposite coloured bishop endgame looks even, but White (which is far from as lost as some seems to think) is not without opportunities. Love your column, by the way. I hope that if the Uzbek TV audience get to play more games, you will allow us to follow them as well.

Daniel, US
Well, I've only been playing a year, I started by a chess club in school and became adicted, but in this situation I'm clueless, and I understand few of others statements.

Joel Murang, Kuching, Malaysia
I think 25.Rxd5 and play like Fritz would! Snatch pawns like Kortchnoi! Where was I during Kasparov vs The World?. But thank you Chessbase for an equally exciting oppurtunity to play against a GM.

Zalmen Kornin, Curitiba, Brasil
25.Rd8! This move, as we say here, "salta aos olhos" (jump to eyes)... after the sequence 25...Rxf1 26.Rxf1 Rxd8 27.Re1 it seems that very complex play is forward, so i'll see hopefully more those wonderfull reports from Uzbequist?o!! (ps:White should beware off some situations in which his King would be confined in the endgame, while the Black one would be extremely mobile) Feliz Ano Novo, Happy New Years to all Chess friends !

Julian, Wan, Ann Arbor, USA
25.Rh6. Black has a killer back rank mate threat 25....Rxa1, 25. Bxa1 followed by 26...Re1 again threatening mate and winning the bishop. Black has to give up the exchange and remove Black's bishop to eliminate the mate threat. Off topic: I really like the world wide views of chess.

Horacio Hernández, Mexico City
Rd8, Time to give back material before the danger kills us! The obvious menace is Bxf1 or Rxf1 followed by checkmate, but since we are next to move, I think the big menace black has for us is R8e2, which would force us to lose material. Rd8 pins the e8 rook, so it cannot go down, and forces black to play Rxf1. With this, we give back the extra piece, but after ... Rxf1, Rxf1 Rxd8, Rd1, we got out alive of this attack, we win control of the open e file and we also get to keep the extra pawn. I saw many gloomy and pessimistic commentaries... Hey guys! He may be a GM (a very good one), but we have played very good so far even though he produced a novelty (these moves usually get other GM's on the ropes). Look at the position! It is difficult, but there still seems to be some hope here for us. Let's play the best we can! I'd say we still have some little chance to win, and that at least we will get a draw.

Elmer Dumlao Sangalang, Manila, the Philippines
25.Rd8! This forces the exchange of a pair of rooks and ends up, with best play, with White a pawn ahead. I just do not know if that material advantage is enough to win against the grandmaster. Greetings of Peace and Goodwill and a Happy New Year from the Philippines!

Jeremy Williams, Candler, North Carolina , U.S.A
I've been following this match fairly closely and am extreamly surprised and impressed up to this point that the people have not fallen into one of the many, many traps that are hidden in the Marshal(excuse the spelling),and even bigger than that is that we will come out still having an advantage! 1.R-d8 RxN+ 2.RxR RxR 3.R-e1 getting out of any trouble, taking the only fully open file and on top of that coming out with a much better pawn structure having all of our pawns connected while the opponet has a pawn island and an isolated pawn! Great job so far keep it up, and also great site (to you guys at Chessbase). Oh and also I checked my analysis with Fritz 8 and it believes we're better also.

See you next week.
Frederic Friedel (sitting in for Jamshid)

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