Do not panic in tough situations

In difficult situations, especially when your opponent plays aggressively, it is very important not to panic and make instinctive moves. It is necessary to maintain your cool and think practically, checking and double checking before making any move.

In the game which follows, Black does not castle and launches a major offensive on White’s King. Even as Black’s pieces infiltrate, White is more alarmed by their presence and when it appears that he might escape with a draw, he commits a blunder by making the losing move.

White: Paul Van der Sterren (2535) – Black: Alexei Shirov (2690)
Bundesliga  Germany, 1996
Semi Slav Defence
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3
If 4. cxd5 Nxd5  5.e4 Nxc3  6.bxc3
4. .. e6 5.e3
5...Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5
A rather hasty looking aggressive move which is not the best here Black can play 7. ..Bd6  8.e4 e5  9.dxe5 Nxe5
8.Bd3 a6. Shirov usually continued with 8. ..Bb7  but surprises his opponent here with a new move
9.e4. A good move! White can also castle here
9. ..c5. Black also pushes aggressively on the queen side
10.e5 cxd4 11.Nxb5 axb5 12.exf6 gxf6 13.0–0 Qb6 14.Be4
White can also play 14.Qe2
14...Bb7 15.Bxb7 Qxb7 16.Nxd4 Rg8. Taking control of the open file. With the pawn structure shattered on the King side Black naturally decides against castling there
17.f3 Bc5. Interesting move! If [17...Ne5 18.Qe2 (18.Nb3 Rd8 19.Qe2 Qd5 20.Be3  Qc4 21.Qxc4 Nxc4 22.Bc1 f5) 18...Bc5 19.Be3
18.Be3 Ne5 19.Qe2 Qb6 20.Rfd1
White could have maintained equality with 20.Nc2 Ke7
20...Ra4. A surprising move! If 20...Rd8 21.Nc2 Bxe3+ 22.Nxe3 Nc4 23.Rxd8+ Kxd8 leads to a rather dullish game
21.Nc2. If 21.Rac1 Nc4 (21...Rc4 22.Rxc4 bxc4 ) 22.Bf2 Rxa2 23.Rc2 Rg5 24.b4 24...Rxc2 25.Qxc2 Bxb4 26.Qxh7 Rd5 and Black has a good game.
21...Rh4. Swinging to the King side
22.Qf2. If 22.Kh1 Qb8 (22...Nc4  23.Bxc5 Qxc5 24.b3 Nd6 )
22...Qc7
This retreat is more aggressive and dangerous. If 22..Rc4 23.Kh1  
23.Bxc5
If 23.f4 Rxh2 24.fxe5 Qxe5 25.Bxc5 Qh5 26.g3 Rh1+ 27.Kg2 Qh3+ 28.Kf3 Qf5+ (28...Qg4+ 29.Ke3 Rxd1 30.Rxd1 Qxd1 31.Qg2) 29.Ke2  Qxc2+ 30.Kf3 Qf5+ 31.Ke2 with  more or less an equal position
23...Nxf3+
Diagram 1
24.Kf1
The losing move! White hits the panic button when he should have continued 24.Qxf3 Qxh2+ 25.Kf1 Rf4 26.Qxf4 Qxf4+ 27.Bf2 .Rg5 (27...Qc4+ 28.Kg1 Qxc2 29.Rac1 Rxg2+ 30.Kxg2 Qxb2 31.Rc8+ Ke7 32.Kf1 e5 33.Rc6 Kf8 34.Bh4) 28.Ne3 Rh5 and now Black has to fight for a draw.
24...Nxh2+ 25.Ke1. If 25.Kg1 Rf4 26.Rd8+ Kxd8 27.Bb6 Rxg2+ 28.Qxg2 Qxb6+ and Black is winning  
25...Rf4. Black’s pieces are dangerously swarming around the King. Note that the Black queen is assisting the attack from long range
26.Bd6. A blunder in a position which already had become too difficult to handle. White was more or less forced to play 26.Rd8+ Kxd8 27.Bb6 Rxf2 28.Bxc7+ Kxc7 29.Kxf2
26...Rxf2 27.Bxc7 Rgxg2! 28.Bxh2
If 28.Rd8+ Ke7 29.Bxh2 Kxd8
28...Rxc2 and White resigned as there is no defence after 28...Rxc2 29.Rac1 Rxh2 30.Rxc2 Rxc2 31.Rb1 Rh2  0–1.
Diagram 2
White to play and win
1.Bc5+ Qxc5
More or less forced else Black loses material.
2.Qd7 checkmate.

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