Tact needed when tackling top players

Chess Checks

Tact needed when tackling top players

There is a perception amongst beginners and amateurs that perhaps the easiest way to hold a position against a higher rated or ranked player is to force exchange of pieces and try to steer the game towards a draw. However this can be the biggest mistake as higher the rating and ranking, better is the understanding of the end-game which then becomes more a matter of technique than ingenuous ideas.

In the game which follows, it seems rather odd to see the knights huddled together at the sides of the board in the early part of the game. Just when it appears that White may have wriggled out of his problems, he hurries to exchange pieces and the resultant ending does not pose any problems for Black to convert it into a victory.
White: Dimitry Atlas (2315) – Black: Yannick Pelletier (2515)
Dresden, 1998

Sicilian Defence

1.e4 c5
The Sicilian Defence
2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4
He can also play 4.Nf3
4. ..g6 5.Nf3 Bg7 6.Na3
If 6.Be3 cxd4 7.cxd4 Nf6
6...cxd4 7.Nb5. 7.Bc4 Qd8 (7...Qe4+ 8.Be3 ) 8.Qb3 e6 9.Nxd4 Ne7 10.Bg5 h6 11.Be3 Nd5 12.Bxd5 exd5
7...Na6 8.Nfxd4
A novelty!  Previously played is 8.Be3 Bg4 (8...Nf6 9.Bxd4 0–0 10.Be2 And if 8...e5 9.cxd4 exd4 10.Bc4 Qc5 11.Bxd4 Qb4+ 12.
8...Nf6. If 8...e5 9.Nf3 Qxd1+ 10.Kxd1 Ke7 11.Be3 f6
9.Qf3
An invitation to trade queens
9. ..0–0 10.Qxd5
If 10.Be2 e5  11.Qxd5
10...Nxd5 11.Be2
White could have thought about 11.Bc4
11. ..Nc5 12.0–0 a6 13.Nb3
If 13.Na3 Rd8 17.Nb6 Rb8 18.Be3! Nxd4 19.Bf4
13...Na4 14.Na3
Not an often witnessed sight in chess to see the three knights close together at the sides of the board. If 14.N5d4 e5 15.Nf3 Nf4! 16.Bxf4 exf4 17.Nbd4 Re8
14...e5 15.Bf3 Rd8 16.Na5
Another odd knight move. Nothing prevents White from playing 16.Nc4
16. ..Rb8 17.N3c4
If 17.Rd1 Be6 18.c4 Nb4! 19.Rxd8+ Rxd8 20.Nxb7 Rd7 21.h3 f5
17...Ne7 18.Bd1
Another unnecessary retreat. White can play 18.Rd1
18...b5 19.Bxa4 bxa4 20.Be3 Rb5
An good move which takes care of the knights
21.b4. Trying to untangle but  the correct move here is 21.Rfd1 Rdd5
21...Be6. Black could have en-passed 21. ..axb3
22.Bc5 Rc8. If 22...Nd5 23.Nd6
23.Bxe7 Bxc4 24.Rfd1
If 24.Nxc4 Rxc4 25.Rfd1 h5
24...h5
Diagram 1

25.Rd8+
In his haste to exchange pieces White makes a big mistake and his position crumbles. He could have tried to hold the position with 25.Nxc4 Rxc4 26.Rd6 Rxc3 27.Rxa6 Ra3 28.h3 Kh7 29.Bc5 e4 30.Re1 Rxa2 31.Rxe4
25...Rxd8 26.Bxd8 Be6 27.Be7 e4 28.Rc1 Rd5
Black takes charge of the only open file. If 28...Bxa2 29.c4 (29.Ra1 Rd5! 30.h3 Rd2) 29...Rb8
29.c4. If 29.h3 a3 (29...Rd7 30.Bg5 Bxa2 31.Ra1 Bb3 32.Nxb3 axb3 33.Rb1) 30.Nb3 Rd7 31.Bg5 Bxb3 32.axb3 e3
29...Rd2 30.Bc5
If 30.c5 Rxa2 31.c6 Rb2 32.c7 a3 33.Nc4 a2 And if 30.b5 axb5 31.cxb5 Bd4 32.Bh4 e3 33.fxe3 Bxe3+ 34.Kf1 Rxa2
30...Rxa2 31.Be3 Rb2! 32.c5 a3 33.c6 a2
0–1

Diagram 2

White to play and win
1.Qh7+ Kxh7 2.Rxg7+ Kh8 3.Rh7+ Kg8 4.Rag7 checkmate
 

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