Even small errors can prove fatal

Chess Checks

Even small errors can  prove fatal

Complicated positions in a game of chess are always tricky even when one holds an edge or an advantageous position. Even the slightest inaccuracy or lack of calculation can upset the balance of the game and the position from a clear cut victory might swing towards a draw or a loss.

In the game which follows, White is dominating the game throughout and loos set for a victory. However an inaccurate move on the 27th turn followed by a series of inaccuracies result in a loss even though a draw could have been salvaged.

White: Nikola Mitkov (2509) – Black: Alexei Shirov (2734)

European Championship,1999

French Defence

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5

The Exchange variation

4.Nf3 Bg4

If 4...Nc6 5.Bb5 Bd6. 5.h3 Bh5 6.Qe2+ Qe7 7.Be3 Nc6 8.g4 Bg6 9.Nc3 0–0–0 10.0–0–0Both have castled on the queen side

10. ..f6 11.Bg2. If 11.a3 Qd7 12.Nd2 f5 13.Nb3 Nf6 14.f3 Bd6

11...Qd7. A novelty!. If 11...Qe8 12.Ne1 Nge7 13.Nd3 Bxd3 14.Qxd3 Kb8 15.Rhe1 Qf7 16.a3 Nc8

12.a3 Nge7 13.Bf4 Kb8. An interesting position where both players have scope to build bases though White appears a trifle better

14.Na4

If 14.Nb5 Rc8. 14...Nc8 15.Nh4

If 15.Nc5 Bxc5 16.dxc5 Rhe8 17.Qd2 Be4

15...Bf7 16.Nf5 b6. Better appears 16...N6e7 17.Nc5 Qc6

17.Nc3 N8e7 18.Ne3. A good move!

18. ..g5 19.Bg3 Bg7 20.Qa6. The Queen invades enemy territory

20. ..Qc8. If 20...f5 21.gxf5 Nxf5 22.Nxf5 Qxf5 23.Nb5 Rd7

21.Qa4 Qb7 22.Rhe1 a6 23.Bf1. White could have intensified the attack with 23.b423. ..b5

Worth a look is 23...Na5

24.Bxb5. Along expected lines

24. ..axb5 25.Nxb5 Rd7 26.Rd3

If 26.Bxc7+ Rxc7 27.Nd6 Qb6 28.Nxf7 Ra7 and Black is better. 26...Nc8 27.Na7?Diagram 1

White missed  a clear winning line ! He should have continued 27.Nxc7 Rxc7 (27...Nb6 28.Na8+ Kc8 29.Nxb6+ Qxb6 30.Qa8+ Nb8 31.Rc3+) 28.Rc3 Ne5 (28...f5 29.Nxf5; 28...N8e7 29.Rb3) 29.dxe5 fxe5 and it is difficult for Black to hang on27...N8xa7 28.Rb3 Re8 29.Rd1 Bg6 30.Nf5. 

Here 30c4 is very strong and gives white a huge advantage. 30. ..Bxf5 31.gxf5 Qxb3Black gets a rook and two minor pieces for his queen

32.Qxb3+ Ka8 33.Qa4 Rde7 34.c4 dxc4 35.Qxc4 h5 36.d5 Ne5 37.Bxe5 Rxe5 38.Kb1 Rc8. If 38...R5e7 39.d6 cxd6 40.Rxd6

39.Qa6. Not exactly the right move! White could have played 39.h4 or 39.f4 Rxf5  40.d6 Rxf4 41.Qd5+ Kb8 (41...c6 42.Qa5) 42.d7 Rd8 43.Rd3

39...Rb8. If 39...Rxf5 40.Rd4 Rf4 41.Rxf4 gxf4 42.d6

40.Rc1. If 40.d6 cxd6 41.Rxd6 Re7. 

40...Re7 41.Rc6 Bf8 42.b4. A mistake! White should have played 42.Ka2 or 42.Kc2. If 42.Re6 Rd7 43.Qc4

42...Re1+ 43.Kb2. If 43.Rc1 Rxc1+ 44.Kxc1 Bd6

43...Bd6 44.Rxd6 cxd6. Black has managed to get out of trouble

45.Qxd6 Re2+ 46.Kb3 Rxf2 47.Qxf6 Rf3+ 48.Ka4 Rc8 49.d6 If 49.Qxg5 Rcc3 50.Qd8+ Kb7 51.Qd7+

49...Rcc3. Black is getting better!

50.Qd8+. If 50.Ka5 Rxa3+ 51.Kb6 Nc8+ 52.Kc7 Rac3+ 53.Kd7 Rfe3. 50...Kb7 51.Qd7+ Kb6

52.Qd8+ Kb7 53.Qd7+ Kb6 54.Qd8+ Kc6! 55.b5+

White could have drawn after 55.Qe8+ Kd5  56.Qe6+ Kd4 57.Ka5

55...Kd5–+ 56.Qa8+. If 56.Ka5 Nc6+ 57.bxc6 Rxa3+ 58.Kb6 Rfb3+ 59.Kc7 Ra7+ 60.Kc8

Ra8+ 61.Kd7 Rxd8+ 62.Kxd8 Kxd6 63.c7 Rc3. 56...Nc6 and White resigned. If 57.bxc6

Rxa3+. 0-1

White to play and checkmate

1.Rxh7+ Kxh7  2.Qxh7 checkmate.

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