Be alert to seize the opportunity

One pawn advantage is most times enough to decide the eventual outcome of the game. Once a position has deteriorated, it is always best to search for some tactics rather than try to go too much on the defensive.

However sometimes, a player might get a chance to salvage a totally lost game and hence it is important to be alert. In the game which follows, White is a tad too much on the defensive side and his position appears lost. He is however thrown a lifeline but he blunders and goes on to lose.

White: Ludwig Zesch (2094) – Black: Olav Hans Lahlum (2214)
Hamburg 1999, French Defence
1.e4 e6 The French Defence
2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 4.exd5 Qxd5.
Preferring to bring out the queen early into the game
5.Ngf3 cxd4 6.Bc4 Qd6 7.0–0 Nf6 8.Nb3 Nc6 9.Nbxd4 Nxd4 10.Nxd4.
A spate of exchanges and the centre is polished off! White however declines the exchange of queens and opts to capture the pawn with the knight rather than 10.Qxd4
10...a6 11.b3 If 11.Re1 Qc7 12.Bb3 Bd6 13.Nf5 Bxh2+ 14.Kh1 0–0 15.Nxg7 Rd8
11...Qc7 12.Bb2 Bd6 13.h3 If 13.Nf3 b5 14.Bd3 0–0 15.Qe2 Nd5
13...b5 14.Bd3 If 14.Bxb5+ axb5 15.Nxb5 Bh2+ 16.Kh1
14...0–0 15.Nf3If 15.Nxb5 axb5 16.Bxf6 gxf6 17.Qg4+ Kh8 18.Qh4 f5 19.Qf6+ Kg8 20.Qg5+  
15...Bb7 16.Qe2.
Perhaps better is 16.Bxf6 gxf6  17.c4 bxc4  18.bxc4 Rfd8
 16. ..Kh8 If 16...Nd5 17.Bxh7+ (17.Ng5 Bh2+ 18.Kh1 Nf4)
17.c4. White still should have played 17.Bxf6. If 17...Nd5 17.Ng5 Qc6 18.f4  
17...bxc4 18.bxc4 Rad8.
A sensible move
19 Rab1 Rd7 20.Rfc1
White still misses playing 20.Bxf6  
20. ..Rfd8
Black meanwhile doubles in rooks on the crucial open central file
21.Rd1 Qc6 22.Rbc1
White is playing aimlessly here
22. ..Nh5 23.Be5. More or less forced. Most of Black’s pieces are trained on the Black King and he needs to exchange some pieces to blunt out the attack
23...f6If 23...Bxe5 24.Qxe5 Rxd3 25.Rxd3 Rxd3 26.Qxh5  And if 23...Nf4 24.Bxf4 Bxf4 25.Rb1  
24.Nh4. White has a tough situation on hand. He can opt for 24.Bxd6 Rxd6 25.Qe3 but that doesn’t help much
24...g6 If 24...Bxe5 25.Qxh5 g5 (If  25...Rxd3 26.Ng6+ Kg8 27.Ne7+)  
25.Bxg6 If 25.Bxd6 Rxd6 26.Qe3 (26.Bxg6 Nf4)And if 25.Bxf6+ Nxf6 26.Qxe6 Bh2+ and Black is winning  
25...hxg6 26.Bxd6If 26.Nxg6+ Kg7 27.Nh4 Bxe5 28.Qxh5 (28.Qg4+ Kf8 29.Rxd7 Rxd7 30.Qxh5) 28...Rxd1+ 29.Rxd1 Rxd1+ 30.Qxd1  
26...Rxd6 27.Rxd6 Rxd6 28.Nxg6+ Kg7 29.Nh4
White’s King is in danger and he has to think of defence. If 29.Qg4 Qxg2+
29...Rd4 30.Nf3
Once again White is forced to think of defence with his King in the line of fire on the diagonal from the queen and the bishop. If 30.Qxh5 Rxh4 with checkmating threats to follow
Black meanwhile has plenty of pieces to hurl at the King
31.Qb2 Nxh3+ 32.Kh2 Rg4
Black should have simply played 32. ..Rd8 rather than try to rush things. Now White is in with a chance to try and salvage the game

33.Rc3 A blunder! White quite simply misses 33. Kxh3 which would have given him a chance to escape with a draw. If 33.gxh3  Qxf3 34.hxg4 Qg2 checkmate
33...Ng5. Now White is lost !
34.Qe2 Qd6+ 35.Kh1 Nxf3 36.gxf3 If 36.Rxf3 Rh4+  
36...Rh4+ 0–1

Black to play and win1.   .. Qh1+ 2.Kg3 h4+ 3.Kf2 Qh2+ and Black wins the queen and the game.

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