17.06.2005 Grandmaster Gleizerov annotates

Dreev – Dominguez

I suppose Alexei Dreev had a particular motivation for this game. It was Dominguez, who knocked him out of the FIDE world championship last year! It's true that Russian grandmaster's revenge turned out to be severe...

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6.  The young Cuban does not indulge his opponents with a wide variety of openings. He always tends to meet 1.d4 with the Meran schemes. The same could be said about Dreev, and this fact gives a special color to this encounter.

3.¤c3. Usually Alexei prefers calm 3.¤f3 ¤f6 4.e3 hoping for his good technique. And he really managed to turn this minimal opening advantage into the point avoiding any risk a hundred times. However, Dominguez responded with 4...Ґf5 (in their short match in Tripoli) and managed to hold twice almost without any special difficulty.

3...¤f6 4.e3 e6 5.¤f3 ¤bd7 6.Јc2 Ґd6 7.g4! He could still take a safe path, having chosen 7.Ґe2 or 7.Ґd3 - the way Alexei played many times. The move in the game stresses the fact that the only acceptable result for White in this game is a victory.

7...dxc4 8.Ґxc4. Dreev gave preference to 8.g5 in his game against Mikhail Gurevich in 1993, and was defeated after a sore struggle, though this result had nothing to do with the opening outcome.

8...e5 9.Ґd2!? This is quite a fresh idea that was introduced by Alexei Shirov at the recent Olympiad in Calvia and was immediately picked up by several strong grandmasters. It's interesting that Dreev had already managed to respond to this move successfully with Black (at the same tournament in Calvia, against Harikrishna). Before one automatically played 9.g5, and only after 9...¤d5 – 10.Ґd2. The purpose of this move is evident – to prepare a long castling as soon as possible not wasting a tempo for pawn 'g' advancement! However, White should be ready now to part with this pawn for good. He will get an open file against the opponent's king in return. The play becomes critical, 'for three results'.

9...O–O!?This castling can be called a novelty. It was played only once before, and it was in the Internet blitzgame. It's interesting that it was none other than Dreev playing Black in that game.

Dominguez had chosen 9...exd4 in his game against Gelfand in Calvia, and, having shown a brilliant defense, he achieved a draw. 

 10.O–O–O. In the mentioned blitzgame White (V.Dobrov) preferred 10.g5, and after 10...¤d5 the game was back on a smooth track of the variation 9.g5. It's obvious that such a development satisfied the Cuban grandmaster, especially because he has come across such a position (with move transposition). However, Alexei chooses the most tough and principle (also quite risky as it often happens) continuation.

10...exd4. It's certainly too early for 10...¤xg4 11.¤e4 and it's impossible for Black to keep an important pawn e5.

11.¤xd4 ¤e5. Lenier accepts a challenge and takes a poisoned pawn. After 11...¤b6 12.Ґe2 with a move transposition there could have arisen a position from the mentioned game Dreev – Harikrishna , in which there was a struggle with even material for some time – 12...¤bd5 13.¤xd5 ¤xd5 14.¤f5,etc.


12...¤exg4. If you pledge – don't hedge. If Black has moved the knight on e5 instead of b5, he should capture the pawn. Otherwise White will start attacking opponent's knights lacking support – g5, f4 etc. However, it's not easy to decide with which piece to take on g4.

Having played 12...¤fxg4 13.¤e4 (probably the best) 13...Ґe7, Lenier could have got the same position as in his game with Gelfand, which he should remember well. But why to let the white knight occupy a perfect square e4 without necessity, in addition letting the opponent free the square c3 for his bishop with tempo? It's certainly more logical to take with the knight e5.

However, it's interesting to discuss the consequences of taking with a bishop - 12...Ґxg4!? I think that the Cuban did not consider this move seriously – it's dangerous to let the opponent's knight on f5 when the g-file is open. An attempt of bishops exchange seems to suggest itself, when you know the future events of the game. Light-squared bishop of Black remained a helpless witness of his own monarch's slaughter, besides, it hampered the rook a8 development. And the bishop e2 will have to play a key role when attacking White. Though, taking with bishop naturally has its serious disadvantages. Let's have a more specific look.

White shouldn't try to keep the bishops with 13.f3, as after 13...Ґh5 the bishop will shift to g6 and will safely block the g-file – Achilles' heel of Black's position. It's certainly possible to try moving pawn phalanx in the center, but it involves serious weakening, for instance: 14.¦hg1 Ґg6 15.e4 ¤ed7! 16.f4 Јc7! 17.f5 (Alas, the pawn e4 is fixed by the same bishop g6) 17...Ґh5 and White seems to be left with nothing. Also inefficient is 13.¦hg1 Ґxe2 14.¤cxe2 Јc7! 15.¤f5 ¤g6 16.Ґc3 Ґe5.

However, it's possible (and it needs to be done!) to advance the pawns immediately: 13.f4! Here is another (in addition to f5 weakening) drawback of the move 12...Ґxg4 – knight e5 can be attacked with tempo. 13...Ґxe2 14.¤cxe2, vacating the most important square c3 for the bishop. Black faces a difficult choice – where to retreat with the knight?

An active 14...¤eg4 encounters 15.¤f5! What to do? Also bad is 15...g6? 16.Ґc3! ¤d5™ (16...gxf5 17.Јxf5, and White's attack can not be repelled) 17.h3! gxf5 18.hxg4 Јe7™ (18...¤xe3 19.gxf5!!ќ) 19.Јxf5 f6 20.Ґd4 with a great advantage to White. If 15...¤f2 then 16.¦hg1! (after16.Ґc3 ¤xd1 17.¦xd1 ¤e8 18.Ґe5 Јa5! which suggests itself and Black is O.K. , 18.¤xd6 ¤xd6 19.Ґe5 Јb6! does not promise more) 16...¤xd1 17.¦xg7 ўh8 18.Јxd1, with subsequent Ґс3, ¤eg3 and an excellent compensation for the sacrificed exchange.

And in response to a solid 14...¤g6 White can go on with the pawn attack in the center 15.e4 ( it's too early for 15.¤f5 because of 15...¤e7!) 15...Ґe7 (15...¤g4 16.¤f5 ¤f2 17.Ґe3! does not work, and white achieves the material advantage) 16.¤f5, with a strong pressure for the minimal material deficit.

Summing up, the drawbacks of taking with a bishop seem to outweigh the advantages. The Cuban grandmaster was right!

13.¦hg1! Why cry over hair at all when your head will roll? 13.Ґe1 does not make sense anyway. The rook moves to a striking distance and the black king starts feeling a bit uncomfortable. Only psychologically for the time being, as there are no real threats yet.

13...¤xf2! Quite a clever decision. It's impossible to avoid the attack anyway, and two extra pawns are a good reserve. Besides, the f-pawn could be of use for White in a struggle for the central squares, unlike the absolutely useless h-pawn – no sane man will even consider such variations as 13...Ґxh2 14.¦g2 Ґe5 15.¦dg1

14.¦df1 ¤h3 15.¦g2

The first critical position. One should slow down here to interpret the results of the opening. So, as a famous commentator of the past used to say - 'according to the experts, Black has two extra pawns'. And there are no direct threats. Why did White part with the material? The answer suggests itself – for the open files against the opponent's castling. But two pawns are too high a price for this. Of no less importance is the fact that Black has serious problems with pieces coordination. Though the knight h3 has an important square g1 under his control, hampering White to create the battery along the g-file, it has no reasonable moves and can run into a serious danger on occasion. And, finally (see 12th move annotation!) there is a bishop c8 that is foreign at this festival. God alone knows where to place it, so that it won't get underfoot.

Thus, the goals of both parties are clear, the tasks are set. White needs to increase the pressure on the opponent's king. There are reserves for this – a light-squared bishop. A dark-squared bishop can powerfully come into a play along the main diagonal, if one vacates the square c3. Well, and Black has to hamper all the abovementioned in all possible ways and search for the bare possibility of improving the position of his poorly placed pieces.

I've almost forgotten. A reader is waiting to be informed with witty air that there is a dynamic equality on board.  Objectively, the compensation of White might be insufficient – though, taking a practical view, it's easier for him to play. Joking apart – it's really difficult to defend when there are no threats at all. It's clear as you are not a computer.

15...Ґe5. Quite a logical decision. The bishop stands well on e5, protecting f6, and, on occasion, also g7. Besides, it creates a tension on d4.

However, a paradoxical 15...g6!? deserved attention as well. Black seems to weaken the 'f'-file and the main diagonal without any necessity, how can this be used? 16.¤f5 – a wrong method: 16...Ґe5 17.¦f3 ўh8!µ. And to 16.Ґc4 there is 16...ўh8! – this is the only possible way. The exemplary variation demonstrates the danger of underestimating White's threats:  16...Ґc7? 17.¤e4! ¤xe4 (17...¤d5 18.Ґxd5 cxd5 19.¤f6 ўg7 20.Ґc3ќ) 18.Јxe4, and White wins because 18...¤g5 19.¦xg5 Јxg5 20.¦xf7 doesn't work. 

White certainly has a positional compensation for the sacrificed material after 16...ўh8!, but I don't know how the direct threats can be created, for example: 17.¤e4 ¤xe4 18.Јxe4 Јe7!, with subsequent  f6 and  ¤g5 consolidating the position; or 17.¦xf6 Јxf6 18.¤e4 Јe7 19.¤xd6 Јxd6 20.Ґc3 f6; or 17.¤ce2 Јe7 18.Ґc3 Јxe3 19.ўb1 ¤e4!

Finally the attempt 16.Ґd3 is met with the same16...ўh8! by Black.

Of course, these possible variations do not exhaust the position, but Dreev's followers, if there are such, should think about this matter.

16.¤f3! Of course! It's important to pounce on the opponent all the time in such positions, not to let him have a quiet life. 16.¤f3 would be a strike into the air: 16...g6 17.¦f3 ўh8! We've already come across this position when discussing the possibility of 15...g6.

16...Јe7. It's not easy to find the ways to development the initiative after a more natural 16...Ґc7. 17.¤e4 is bad because of 17...Ґf5!, and a notorious bishop triumphantly comes into the play. So it seems that 17.Ґd3 should be played with different ideas. The position can hardly be analyzed precisely, though we'll try to calculate the variations!

Let us suppose that Black answers by 17...Јe7, in a similar manner as in the game. Then a self suggesting 18.¤e4 is senseless in view of 18...¤d5! (it is stronger than 18...¤xe4 19.Ґxe4 g6 20.Ґc3, threatening 21.Ґ:g6! and almost forcing a serious weakening 21...f5), and Black is all right, because it is easy to repel a sudden attack 19.¤eg5: 19...h6 (or even 19...¤xg5 20.¤xg5 h6 21.Ґh7 ўh8 22.Ґg8 f5) 20.Ґh7 ўh8 21.Ґg8 ¤f6. Of course, one can ensure the move of the bishop on c3 by means of 18.¤d1. Nevertheless, it is better not to play in this way – the knight d1 is on its own now and scarcely launches an attack.

However, a sudden (even for a silicone friend) 18.Ґf5!? issues hard challenges for Black. White freely changes its excellent bishop for a bad one of his opponent hoping to chase the h3-knight. The following exemplary variations are evidences of the fact that the threat for a knight that is separated from his army is quite real: 18...g6 19.Ґxc8 ¦axc8 20.Јf5 Јe6 21.¤d4 Јxf5 22.¦xf5, and one cannot save the knight; or 18...Ґxf5 19.Јxf5 Јe6 20.¤d4 Јxf5 21.¦xf5, and the knight is also lost; or 18...ўh8 19.¤d4 c5 20.¤db5! (of course, 20.Ґxc8 cxd4 21.Ґxh3 dxc3 cannot  suit White) 20...h6 21.¦f3 ¤g5 22.¦xg5 hxg5 23.¤d5, with an attack that one cannot repulse; or 18...Јc5 19.Ґxc8 (but not 19.¤d4 ¤f4! 20.exf4 Јxd4, and 21.¦fg1 g6 22.Ґxg6 fxg6 23.¦xg6 ўh8 does not work) 19...¦axc8 20.¤g1!! ¤xg1 21.¦xf6 ¤h3 (21...ўh8 22.¦f5) 22.¦h6, and White wins.

In this connection Black would rather think about 17...ўh8!? instead of a bit abstract 17...Јe7 to answer by 18...h6 in reply to 18.Ґf5 – as compared with just examined variations Black practically has an extra tempo. And in case of 18.¤d1 or 18.¤e2, he has to take into account even 18...Ґa5!? Generally, this position is full of life, but the prospect of Black looks not bad.

Conclusion: the move of Dominguez 16...Јe7 is most likely an inaccuracy. A simple retreat 16...Ґc7 deserved the most serious attention!

17.Ґd3! Excellently played! By the way, finally a concrete threat is created, namely 18.¤:e5 Ј:e5 19.¤d1, and in view of a terrible menace of 20.Ґc3 Black has to play 19...¤d5, giving the most important h7-pawn.

It is interesting to examine the consequences of another version of the same idea: 17.¤xe5 (hit the bishop while it is allowed!) 17...Јxe5 18.Ґd3. How could one defend from the threat of 19.¤d1?

18...h6 does not work: after 19.¤d1 ¤d5 20.e4 ¤hf4™ 21.¦gg1! (21.¦g3 ¤h5!) 21...Јd4™ 22.Ґc4 ¤h3 23.¦g3 ¤f6 24.Ґxh6 the situation turns out to be bad for Black. As it will be shown in the annotation to the 18th move of White, 18...g6 leads to a forced draw.

And 18...¦e8!? (in order to meet 19.¤d1 by 19...¤e4) leads to very interesting complications: 19.Ґf5! (threatening to play ¦g3 and simply capture the lost knight) 19...h6 (there is nothing better) 20.e4 ¤g5 (20...ўf8 21.Јd3!) 21.h4! (21.Ґxg5 hxg5 22.¦xg5 Ґxf5 followed by Јd4 leads to an obvious advantage of Black) 21...¤gxe4 22.¤xe4 ¤xe4 23.Ґh7!! A bolt from the blue! Now 23...ўxh7 24.Ґc3ќ is loosing straight away, and after 23...ўh8 24.Ґxe4 Јxe4 25.Јxe4 ¦xe4 26.¦xf7 Black has to fight for a draw in spite of the 2 extra pawns in the endgame. Fortunately, the king has one more retreat square: 23...ўf8! Now 24.¦e1 follows almost by force (and after 24.¦e2 f5 25.Ґc3 Јd5 26.Ґg6 Ґd7! the chances of Black, who has 3 pawn for an exchange, are preferable) 24...f5™ 25.Ґb4 c5™ 26.¦xe4 Јxe4™, and both 27.Јxc5 ¦e7! and 27.Ґxc5 ўf7! 28.Ґg6 ўg8 29.Ґxe8 Јxe8 30.Ґd4 g6! give Black chances for a win.

However, there is a more precise move, namely 18...¦d8!, and after 19.Ґf5 (bad is 19.¤d1? Јd5) 19...h6 20.e4 ўf8! White needs a good advice. Therefore, Alexei is absolutely right when he keeps himself from an immediate exchange on e5! Surely, it is impossible to calculate all this at the board, but it is exactly the class of the player that helps to take right decisions in such hard situations only by intuition. Did you think that one rated 2700 for no particular reason?

17...g6! Right! After 17...Ґc7 18.Ґf5! the game follows the lines that were examined in the annotations to Black's 16th move. As the reader might remember, there we came to a conclusion that the h3-knight was in a serious danger.

18.Ґc4??! It is hard to criticize the move that lead to a victory. However, we have to do it. As it easy to see, the blow on g6 is only a pseudo-threat, Black will just capture the rook and parry the attack without difficulties. Therefore, he could just play 18...Ґc7 and look what his opponent would undertake. And the latter has to do something, because otherwise Black moves the bishop on e6, and all the hopes of White will disappear as a dream or as a morning mist. It really looks like he is forced to retreat the knight – 19.¤d4 (19.¦xg6? hxg6 20.Јxg6 ўh8 21.Јh6 ¤h7 22.Ґd3 f6 23.Ґxh7 Јg7°), but after the obvious 19...ўh8, it seems to me that White does not have moves anymore. Then Black can play Ґd7, ¦ae8 and proceed to realization of his big material advantage.

However, 18.¤xe5 Јxe5 19.Ґxg6 allows White to force a draw: 19...fxg6 20.¦xg6 ўh8 (20...hxg6 21.Јxg6=) 21.¦h6 ¤g5 (in case of 21...Јe7?, then 22.¤d1!, and there is no defense from a very dangerous move of the bishop on c3) 22.Јg6, and White wins back a piece, proceeding to an equal endgame. Surely, Alexei saw these simple variations, but probably he wanted to win so much that he dismissed any drawing possibilities. It seems to me that he exceeded slightly the limit of admissible risk – but success is never blamed. Moreover, I suspect that both players already suffered lack of time...

18...¤g4?? It is a huge blunder. From the above examined variations it is clear, how hard it is for White to realize its main offensive plan – to move the bishop on the dark-squared diagonal. And suddenly, defending from a non-existent threat Black allows his opponent to make it with such comfort he could never dream of. Black simply presents the black squares to him on a silver platter. For the annotator it is a chance to relax finally and just to switch on his computer. The fight is finished, and the beating begins.

19.¤xe5 ¤xe5. Very easy is 19...Јxe5 20.¤e4ќ.

20.¤e4. Do you remember how White in many variations had to withdraw this horse into a stable in order to move the bishop on c3? And here! The bishop is on c3, the knight shows off on e4, and even the f6-square is kindly weakened by the move g7-g6. Surely it is a silver platter!

20...ўh8. It is impossible to defend from the invasion of the knight on f6: 20...¤xc4 21.¤f6 ўg7 22.Јxc4; 20...b5 21.¤f6 ўg7 22.Ґe2 h6 (22...b4 23.Јe4 Јc5 24.ўb1 a5 25.Јh4 h6 26.e4) 23.Јe4 ¤g5 24.¦xg5 hxg5 25.Ґc3; 20...Ґe6 21.¤f6 ўg7 22.Ґe2! ¤d7 (the last chance) 23.Ґc3 ¤xf6 24.Ґxf6 Јxf6 25.¦xf6 ўxf6 26.Јc3 ўe7 27.Ґg4! – one cannot save the knight and the game.

21.¤f6. It is still not late to spoil everything: 21.Ґc3? Ґf5!µ.

21...b5. Perhaps, Lenier counted to run away in the endgame: 21...Јc5. However, the trouble of Black consists in fact that even the exchange of queens does not help – 22.Ґe2 Јxc2 23.ўxc2, and the weaknesses of both the king and the h3-knight, despite two extra pawns do not allow even to count on a draw: 23...¤d7 (there is nothing better) 24.Ґc3 (24.¤e4!?) 24...¤xf6 25.¦xf6 ўg8 26.¦g3 (with an idea of Ґf1), and Black has a sad choice: either to lose the knight or to suffer a terrible attack after 26...h6 27.Ґc4!

Other possibilities also do not help: 21...¤xc4 22.Јxc4 with decisive threats Ґс3 and Јh4; 21...Ґe6 22.Ґxe6 (22.Ґe2!?) 22...Јxe6 23.Ґc3 and then according to circumstances he plays 24.¤g4 or 24.¦g3;21...¤d7 22.¤xh7! ўxh7 23.¦xf7 ¦xf7 24.Јxg6, and a mate by the next move. This is why Black chases away the bishop from the diagonal a2-g8, and after tries to exchange the terrible f6-knight.

22.Ґe2 ¤d7. It would be better not to allow the bishop on c3, but 22...b4 loses quickly: 23.Јe4 (with a huge threat of Јh4) 23...h5 24.Ґxb4 c5 25.Ґc3 Ґb7 26.¤d5, and one can resign.

23.Ґc3! Јxe3 (the only move) 24.ўb1 ¤xf6. Or 24...¤e5 25.¦g3 Јc5 26.Јe4ќ.

25.¦xf6 ўg8

26.¦gxg6! It is beautiful, but not complicated. Alexei hardly had time to calculate everything up to the mate; however, one could guess that it is impossible to save the black king. It is interesting to admit that this precise and beautiful decision is not the unique. 26.¦g3 Јh6™ 27.Јe4! leads to a funny position, where White lacks even 3 pawns, but dominates completely.

26...fxg6 27.¦xg6 ўf7 28.¦g7 ўe6. 28...ўe8 29.Ґh5 ўd8 30.Ґa5 – an interesting geometry!

29.Ґg4 ўd5 30.Јd1. Of course, 30.Јb3 also wins.

30...ўe4. Or 30...ўc5 31.b4 ўb6 32.Ґd4, or 30...ўc4 31.Јb3 ўc5 32.Ґb4 ўd4 33.Ґc5.

31.¦e7 ўf4 32.¦xe3. From this moment all roads lead to Rome: 32.Ґe5 ўg5 (32...Јxe5 33.Јf3) 33.¦g7 ўh4 34.¦xh7 ўg5 35.¦h5 ўg6 36.Јd6, or 32.Ґd2 Ґxg4 33.Ґxe3 ўf5 34.Јd6.

32...Ґxg4. It is a pity that it did not occur on board – 32...ўxe3 33.Јd4#!

33.Јd4 ўg5 34.Јg7 ўh5 35.Јxh7 ўg5 36.¦e5 ¦f5 37.Ґd2. And Black finally resigned. We can talk up that he could make this hard decision even earlier.

What can I say in conclusion? The encounter is unique in many respects: the real fight actually lasted 4 moves, from the 15th till the 18th – however, what a struggle was it! I should frankly admit: I could hardly discover all the possibilities for both sides in this complicated position. So I made what I could, if someone can do better, he will do it

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