GM Georgy Timoshenko - Ian Wilkinson [E69]
Mag Chess Foundation Simul, Jamaica, 06.04.2011
In the game under review I decided that although my adversary had the title, the glitz and the glamour, I would fight tenaciously. It proved to be a very interesting encounter and, hopefully, one that will be of use to chess players and theoreticians locally and internationally.
1.Nf3 Played at 5:50 pm after the opening press conference etc. The text-move was "patented" by the celebrated Czech grandmaster and "hypermodernist" Richard Reti who wielded it with telling effect. Arguably his most famous victory after commencing a game with this move was his win against the 3rd world champion, the Cuban Jose Raoul Capablanca y Graupera, in the 1924 New York tournament to break the legendary Cuban's amazing record of going eight years unbeaten. I had wondered if the Ukrainian was going to play 1.e4 and had fond memories of my blood-curdling 36-move draw with the Petroff against the 1993 world championship finalist Grandmaster Nigel Short (England's best player of the 20th century!) at the Norman Manley Law School in Kingston, Jamaica in January, 2006. I really was not certain if I would have played the Petroff, Sicilian or something else against Timoshenko. I should say that I did not plan to play in the simul, preferring to give one of the junior players an opportunity to play against an international chess grandmaster as I already had the experience. I was persuaded only minutes before the start by a couple of Jamaica's top players (International Master Jomo Pitterson who won the 2010 Sub-Zonals in the Bahamas and reigning national champion FM Warren Elliott) who insisted that as president of the Jamaica Chess Federation and the host I had no choice but to participate. I normally would have jumped at the opportunity to face a GM but another reason for my reluctance to play was that I wanted to use the time and complete the marking of papers for the Norman Manley Law School where I lectured. Aaahhh, decisions, decisions......
1...Nf6 I had resolved to make this often played riposte immediately after seeing White's first move.
2.d4 Played immediately at 5:54pm, 4 minutes after Timo had covered the twenty-nine (29) boards on his first "round-the-world" trip!
2...g6 Heading for the King's Indian Defence. I thought of playing 2...e6, a "safer" choice, and then said to myself "what the heck? This is supposed to be fun"! Additionally, although tired from a demanding day at the office I felt bolstered by a 57-move win earlier in the day against a Greek International Master (IM) on the Internet Chess Club (ICC) where I faced the Accelerated Dragon. That was a rapid game and the IM's clock expired with a superior position for me - each of us having a queen but he had only one pawn to my three. I was, therefore, confident and feeling combative.
3.g3 pm - doing the "rounds" in just 2 minutes this time.
3...Bg7 4.Bg2 pm
4...0-0 5.0-0 6 pm.
5...d6 There were other possibilities here including 5...d5 to prevent my opponent playing it (as he later did) or even the immediate 5...c6 played by me 2 moves later.
6...Nbd7 I considered other options here, such as the immediate 6...c5, but decided to play in a more solid fashion.
7.Nc3 pm. Timo took 4 minutes to cover the territory this time around. It was obvious that with more moves made on each board the GM's sojourn to mine would take longer.
7...c6!? Before Georgy returned to my board I again considered what to me was the more active c5 (!?), a move more inkeeping with my "chess character" but I restrained myself to play the less committed text-move appreciating that it was more solid and would give the GM more work to breach Black's fortresses, thereby providing indirect support for the other players in the simul. The move made also has the virtues of providing extra sentry duty to the d5-real estate and keeping a watchful eye over, or buttressing, b5.
8.h3 6:13 pm. Timoshenko made this move by nudging the pawn forward with his right little finger ("pinky"). I smiled to myself and thought almost immediately of Samisch's criticised 14th move (14.h3) in his celebrated loss to Aron Nimzowitsch in the "immortal zugzwang" game played in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1923. Although that game was different from my game against Timoshenko in many ways (for example, Black pursued a Queen's Indian set-up) Georgy's 8th move struck a chord. Also, making the move with the little finger later reminded me of Bobby Fischer's "My Sixty Memorable Games" when he commented on one of his opponents in the 1957 USA Open Championship (Sherwin) making his 7th move (Rb8) with his pinky. By the way, one of the merits of the text-move is to prevent a possible Ng4 by Black especially if White intends to play Be3.
8...a6 This was a waiting move. I thought about playing 8... Nb6 to attack the hanging pawn but decided to be patient.
9.e4 Played 5 minutes later at 6:18 pm. My waiting move worked as White disclosed his hand, seeking to develop some kind of initiative centred around control of the vital d5-plot of land.
9...e5 A necessary, timely thematic KID thrust. After this move with roughly 30 minutes since the start of the simul I decided that I could not sit "idly" and play chess with so much work on my desk in my office nearby. I resolved to work on files while waiting for Timo to return to my board and decided to leave after his next move to get them. In retrospect, although this was not my original intent, this levelled the playing field a bit and made things easier for the GM as I hardly thought about my move after he played and usually did so only when I saw him just a few boards away.
10.Re1 pm. 10. Be3 deserved attention.
10...Re8 I started working on my office files after Timo's last move and, pursuant to the rules of the simul, played the text-move as soon as I saw the GM striding to my station. After the simul ended I overheard him and Jomo discussing the game and the GM seemed surprised that I did not capture on d4. [Probably more common is the said capture on d4 - 10...exd4 11.Nxd4 and then still 11...Re8~~ and the second player seems to be doing fine in the opening. Although roughly twenty years ago Silvio Danailov (the new European Chess Union president but more famous for being super Grandmaster Veselin Topalov's agent/ manager) won comfortably against the suggested variation with 12.Be3 Nc5 13. Qc2 Ne6 14.Nde2 c5 15.Rad1 Qc7 16.Qd2 Bf8 17.f4 Nd7 18.b3 Nb6 1-0 (32)Danailov, S -Cahuzac, J, Toulouse Open, 1990.]
11.d5 6:33pm. My database shows nineteen (19) games with this move with White winning close to sixty percent (60%) of the games.
11...cxd5 12.cxd5 pm.
12...b5! Diagram # After this move, that I had decided to play almost immediately after Georgy made his last move, I felt that I would emerge from the opening without any problems. My main worry at this point was what to do with the Bc8. [Seventeen years earlier White won after Black chose 12...a5 13.Nd2 Nc5 14.Nc4 Rf8 15.Bg5 h6 16.Be3 Ne8 17.Qd2 Kh7 18.f4 exf4 19.gxf4 b6 20.e5 Ba6 21.Bxc5 bxc5 22.Bf1 Bxc4 23.Bxc4 Qh4 24.Qf2 Qxh3 25.Re3 Qg4+ 26.Rg3 Qh4 27.Re3 Qxf2+ 28.Kxf2 Rb8 29.Nb5 g5 30.fxg5 hxg5 31.Rh3+ Kg8 32.Rg1 Bxe5 33.Rxg5+ Ng7 34.Kf3 f6 35.Rg2 Rb7 36.Bd3 Rff7 37.a4 f5 38.Rh6 Rb6 1-0 Rustemov,A (2455) -Ivanov,M (2475)/ Vladivostok 1994/CBM 043 ext]
13.b4?! pm. I thought that this was dubious and good for Black, one of the drawbacks for the first player being that there was now no pawn to guard c4. A solid option for White was the simple developing move 13. Bg5.
13...Nb6! This move simply played itself as Black targets c4 while giving the BC8 some breathing room.
14.a4 pm - twelve minutes since Georgy's last move, his longest absence from the board. Again, Bg5 came into consideration.
14...Qc7N My database research reveals that this was a novelty! I made this move which gave me a tempo with the attack on the Nc3. [I was not certain if the move played was stronger than 14...Bd7!? when White can continue as he later did with 15.a5 Nc4 16.Qd3 Rc8<=> and although the position is still unclear, Black seems slightly better to me with his strongly posted Nc4 and better-placed pieces.; In two earlier games the players shared the point - 14...bxa4 15.Nxa4 Bd7 16.Nc3 Qc7 17.Bd2 Rec8 18.Bf1 Nc4 19.Rc1 Nxd2 20.Nxd2 Bh6 21.Ncb1 Qb7 22.Rxc8+ Rxc8 23.Qb3 Rb8 24.Nc4 Bf8 25.Nbd2 Qxb4 26.Qf3 1/2-1/2 Reschke,S (2405) -Heissler,J (2440)/Germany 1995/GER-chT (60)]
15...Bd7=/+ Jomo and Warren continued to laugh at me as I worked on my office files.
16.a5 Played at 7:20 pm. In a very brief discussion the GM had with me and Jomo (I don't think that it could properly be called a "post-portem"), the Ukrainian GM opined that he was "worse" and I told him that one of the reasons for it was the text-move. I would have preferred the capture on b5 but even then Black still looks better. For example, [16.axb5 axb5 17.Bg5 h6 18.Be3 Nc4 19.Rxa8 Rxa8 and Black is clearly the more comfortable of the two players with, among other things, control of the a-file and the powerfully-posted Nc4.]
16...Nc4! After the steed has ridden to this cushy square Black seemed to have got the better of the opening.
17.Bg5 At 7:29 pm the adversary returned! Georgy thought for close to two minutes at the board before making this move. It was obvious that he was trying to find the right square to develop the holy man. Fritz suggests the prophylactic 16. Ra2 as an option with ideas of, inter alia, removing the rook from the x-ray gaze of the Bg7. The England-based Jamaican chess devotee John Tobisch suggested that one possible plan was to play Re2, then Ne1-d3 followed by f4 stating further that the Grandmaster "...would have to remove assets from the a1-h8 diagonal first though because f4 opens the game". [The immediate 17.Re2 can be met by 17...Rac8 and if 18.Ne1 Nh5! (18...Qa7!?-/+ with pressure along the a7-g1 diagonal also seems strong.) 19.Nd3 f5!-/+ and it is Black who goes on the attack with the initiative and a growing advantage. (also possible is 19...Qa7 which, among other things, prevents an immediate f4 and if 20.g4 , Fritz's suggested best choice, Black can tighten his stranglehold on the game with 20...Qd4! The position of the steed on c4 proving its weight in gold. 21.gxh5 Qxd3 with what is, in my humble view, a winning position for Black.) ]
17...h6! Fritz likes 17...Qc8!, redeploying her majesty with an attack on the h3-pawn. Curiously, I was to play this later in the game. I preferred the text-move as it not only "puts the question" to the bishop but it also creates some luft for my monarch. More to the point, it was part of a grand scheme I had conceived to get rid of White's dark-square bishop and win the bishop pair entering an endgame I saw looming having decided to double rooks on the c-file and appreciating that exchanges would happen as White could not allow the Nc4 to remain in position. I figured that with the rooks and queens off the board there was no way I could lose and, further, "Timo" would have some juicy targets for my bishops, particularly the pawns on a5 and b4 that were pinned down on dark squares.
18.Bxf6 pm. After this capture I felt that I could NOT lose the game and actually envisaged an endgame with the major pieces off the board and my two bishops against Bishop and Knight. Indeed, after the capture I felt that White was positionally and strategically lost as I told IM Pitterson and FM Elliott. At best, I felt that he would have to defend a cheerless position. This might seem ultra-enthusiastic to many but this is how I genuinely felt.
18...Bxf6 19.Rac1 pm.
19...Rec8 [19...Rac8!?=/+ was also possible.]
20...Qd8! 21.Rc3 pm.
21...Rc7 [21...Ra7 22.Qc2 Rac7 23.Qd3 Bg7 24.Rec1 h5!-/+ ; I also briefly considered the tempting sacrifice 21...Nxa5!? 22.bxa5 Qxa5~~ and this position is unclear to me. I think that Black's connected queenside passers should give him good chances/compensation to get a result from the game. Another day, with more energy, I might have gone in for this tempting continuation.]
22.Rec1 Played immediately at 8:29 pm. While waiting for Georgy to return to the board I saw a plan for White where he would redeploy his queen (for example, to a2 as he did on the very next move), play Bf1 and then a timely Nd2, bearing in mind that the h3-pawn is hanging.
22...Rac8=/+ With the bishop pair and well-placed pieces, Black looks to be at least slightly better. The computer liked the text-move and also suggested 22...h5! but the truth is that I never even considered this move.
23...Bg7 I did not want to spend a tempo moving the bishop but wished to get in f5. Again, the very strong h5! would have been the way to go and would have prevented Georgy's next move. Sixteen minutes later (8:58 pm) my opponent appeared in front of me.
24.g4? I think that this move was an error. Georgy thought for close to a minute before making this move. Although we did not actually analyse the game afterwards, I think that Georgy was worried about the imminent f5 pawn push from Black and wanted to overprotect that square. [Both Fritz 12 and Rybka strongly "recommend" 24.Nd2 as the best move in the position and after 24...Nxd2 25.Rxc7 Rxc7 26.Qxd2 Qc8=/+ (26...h5!?=/+ ) ]
24...f5 Time for action...no time to linger! Let's dance! Put on your reggae shoes and dance the "nuh lingah"!! Can one really play the KID and not get in this move ? Put another way, is a KID a true KID without Black playing f5?:-):):) [Regardless, the aforementioned engines are of the opinion that stronger was still the "ignored" 24...h5! and in one variation 25.gxh5 gxh5 I think that White has some difficult decisions to make. For example, does he play h4 or allow Black to do so ? With the g-file opened how will he ward off Black's coming charge after a possible Bh6 etc ? Had I found h5 I think it would have made for a much more interesting, dynamic clash. I respectfully believe that the experts should take a closer look at this variation.]
25.gxf5 Fifteen minutes later (9:13 pm) Georgy captures (right to left!) after looking at the position for a bit. I could see that he was concerned. Had he gone the other way (left to right!) Black would have had better attacking options. For instance, [25.exf5!? gxf5 26.gxf5 Bxf5 (unlike the position in the game White's e4-pawn is no longer there to blunt the scope of Black's bishop) 27.Nd2 Qh4! with what looks like an auspicious initiative for Black.]
25...gxf5 26.exf5 Bxf5 27.Nd2 pm.
27...Nxd2 [27...Qh4!? was a strong option.]
28...Rxc3 29.Rxc3 pm. The right capture. [29.Nxc3? is the wrong capture and bad for White, as shown by the following line - 29...Qh4! and Black is going to win material as both the h3 and b4-pawns are "simultaneously" under siege. 30.Ne2 Rxc1+ 31.Nxc1 Bxh3-/+ with terrible pressure on White's position. (31...Qd4!?-/+ ) ]
29...Rxc3 Diagram #
30.Nxc3?! pm. By this time Georgy had won a number of games but this move is arguably dubious and made me wonder if he was flagging a bit. [30.Qxc3 was the correct choice and would have preserved the tension and some kind of dynamic equality.]
30...Qc8 I missed the aforesaid [30...Qh4! with some advantage for Black as the earlier mentioned white pawns come under the same attack.]
31.Ne4! Played at 10:37 pm after the GM thought for a bit. I found this move to be very strong and posed a couple of serious questions to me. For example, do I capture the steed or keep the bishop pair longer ? If so, how much influence will be possessed by the ("octopus") Ne4, occupying that sweet central square, especially with my d6-pawn coming under attack ? In short order I saw the simple combination that won the h3-pawn and decided not be dogmatic and cling to the bishop pair, convincing myself that the principled continuation was to give up my light-square bishop and grab the pawn. At this point I wondered if Georgy had blundered with his last move but his instincts seemed correct as he has great support from the silicon beasts (Ne4 was also the computers' first choice move). Further, a crucial consequence of White's last move was that Georgy managed to convince me to get rid of a bishop that was both a powerful attacking and defending piece.
31...Bxe4 In hindsight I could have maintained the tension with 31...Qc7!? and any result is still possible. I think, respectfully, that it is easier for a computer to play such a move than it is for a human! [After 31...Qc7 White can continue 32.Qe3 If Black plays 32...Bf8!? White has the strong retort (32...Bxe4 33.Bxe4 Qc4 34.Qf3 Qc1+ (34...Qxb4? is met by 35.Qg4! and Black is in serious trouble. For example, 35...Qc5 (35...Qxa5?? blunders into mate after 36.Qe6+ Kf8 37.Bg6+- ) 36.Qe6+! Kf8 37.h4+- and White is winning.) 35.Kg2 Qf4= ) 33.Nf6+ Kh8 with counterplay.; For the record, I also thought of 31...Bxh3!? but did not like it primarily because of 32.Nxd6 setting the d5 passer free. 32...Qg4! 33.f3 The only move. 33...Qxg2+ (In this variation Black can maintain the tension with 33...Qg6 34.Ne4 and this was my chief worry - White's d-passer is now set to try and run for touchdown. 34...Kf7 35.d6 Here, I think that Black's best chance to try and get a draw is to exchange queens immediately. For instance, 35...Qxg2+ 36.Qxg2 Bxg2 37.Kxg2 Ke6 38.Nc5+ Kxd6 39.Nxa6 Bf8 40.Nc5 Kd5 41.Nd7 Bxb4 42.a6 Kc6 43.Nxe5+ Kb6 44.a7 Kb7!= (44...Kxa7? puts Black at the edge of the precipice after 45.Nc6+ Kb6 46.Nxb4 Kc5 47.Nd3+ Kd4 48.f4 Ke4 49.Kg3 h5! and maybe with precise play Black might just hold.) ) 34.Qxg2 Bxg2 35.Kxg2 Bf8 Again, another "only" move. 36.Nxb5 Bxb4 37.Nc7 Bxa5= (37...Kf7= ) ]
32...Qxh3 When I captured the pawn, GM Timoshenko sank into thought for a bit and looked really concerned. After a while (just under two minutes) he raised his head from studying the board and looked either sheepish or slightly embarrassed, I can't say for sure which. I wondered if he was planning to offer a draw which I had considered as a possibility when I realised that I was going to win the h3-pawn. I had planned to refuse the draw but on realising the time I was genuinely concerned about the late hour which was well past the original plan of playing the simul for just three hours at the most. Indeed, from about Georgy's 28th move (c. 10 pm) I had sought help from some of the senior players supervising the event (including Jomo) to shorten the simul by forcing the resignations of those players who were a piece or two behind or otherwise totally lost.
33.Qe3 Here unsurprisingly my opponent offered a draw and I smiled before shaking hands after thinking for a short while. Although I was tempted to play on, I realised that at 11 pm it was time to bring the proceedings to a close. Further, having briefly looked at the position again (having earlier considered the possibilities when I was waiting on Georgy to return to see me capture the h3-pawn) I decided that although I was a pawn up the opposite colour bishops still made a draw more than likely, especially if the queens are exchanged on e3. One route for Black to attempt to play for a win involved an idea suggested by FM Elliott, namely avoiding the queen exchange, checking on g4 and pushing my h-pawn. Additionally, although Black seemed to me to be the only one who could properly play for a win, the second player had to be careful especially as White might have some counterplay if his Queen could reach b6, grab Black's pawn on a6 and push the a5-pawn. Admittedly, this plan will require a number of moves but I figured that having regard to the exposed nature of both kings White would also have excellent chances of harassing my king. Let us look briefly at a few variations starting with FM Elliott's suggested continuation:
33...Qg4+ [33...Qxe3 34.fxe3 is clearly drawn as neither side can progress, the bishops of opposite colour living up to their reputation. 34...Kf7 35.Bd3 e4 36.Bxb5! Bc3 (definitely not the lunatic 36...axb5?? 37.a6+- and the pawn promotes.) 37.Bxa6 Bxb4 38.Bc8 Bxa5= ]
34.Kh1 [34.Bg2?! Qxb4 35.Qb6! Qe1+ 36.Bf1 e4 37.Qxa6 Bd4 38.Qc8+ Kg7 39.Qd7+ Kh8 40.Qc8+ Kh7 41.Qd7+ Kg8 42.Qe6+ Kg7 43.Qd7+ Kh8 44.Qc8+= ; The game also looks drawn after 34.Kh2 Bf6 35.Qg3 Qxg3+ 36.Kxg3 Kf7 37.Bf5 Bg5 38.Be6+ Kg6 39.Bc8 Bd2 40.Bxa6 Bxb4 41.Bxb5 Bxa5= ; If White moves his king in the other direction Black can continue 34.Kf1 h5 Putting the second part of FM Elliott's plan in motion. 35.f3 Qg3 36.Qb6 The move I feared the most when waiting for Timo to return to the board. 36...h4 37.Qxa6 and I believe that Black has to force a perpetual. 37...Qh3+ (37...h3?? loses to 38.Qc8+! Kf7 39.Qe6+ The point... after this check the white queen reaches g4 and Black no longer has the devastating check on g2. 39...Kf8 40.Qxd6+ Kg8 41.Qe6+ Kf8 42.Qg4 Qh2 43.d6+- ) 38.Kf2 Qg3+ 39.Ke2 Qg2+ (Black runs into trouble if he over-reaches and tries to score a goal with the h-pawn. For instance, 39...h3?? 40.Qc8+! Kf7 41.Qe6+ Kf8 42.Qxd6+ Kg8 43.Qe6+ Kf8 44.Qg4! Again the queen reaches this crucial square. 44...Qg2+ 45.Qxg2 hxg2 46.Kf2 Bh6 47.Kxg2+- and White is easily winning.) 40.Kd3 Qf1+= ]
34...Bf6 35.f3 White has no time to grab the h6-pawn and attack the Bf6 as Black captures the Be4 with check.
35...Qh3+ 36.Kg1 Bg5 37.Qa7 Kf8= Again, with a draw I think. All things considered, the draw seemed a fair result. 1/2-1/2
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