IM M. Ginsburg – FM S. Kamberi
Arizona State Championship 2005, Sedona AZ
1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.g3 g6 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.0-0 0-0 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Ng4 Bobby Fischer’s pet move.
9.Nb3 A practical decision to avoid lengthy theory.
9…d6 10.Bf4 Nge5 11.c5 White’s 10th and 11th get a collective ! exclamation mark for reaching a pleasant, risk-free position. GM Anatoly Karpov, never considered an opening expert, used to be a specialist in defusing opening surprises in this manner. 11…dxc5 12.Nxc5 Qb6 13.N5a4 Qa5 14.Qd5 White stays true to the safety-first policy. He is always ‘threatening’ to get an ending pull.
14…Qxd5 15.Nxd5 e6 16.Nc7 Rb8 17.Nb5 Playable is 17.Rfd1 b6 18.Nc3 Bb7 19.N7b5 Ba8 20.Rac1 Rbd8.
17…a6 18.Nd6 b5
Black keeps playing actively in the face of white’s attempts at keeping the game calm.
19.Nc3 b4 20.Nce4 Nd4 Black keeps going forward at the cost of giving up squares but soon there’s nothing constructive left to do. As chess logic dictacts, this is the moment when fortunes start to favor white. 21.Rae1 Rb6 22.Bxe5 Bxe5 23.Nc4 Rb5 24.e3 Nf5
The moment was right for the obvious 25.Nxe5! Rxe5 keeping black’s rook in a weird place and giving white much more active pieces. For example, 26.Rc1 Ra5 27.Rc7 Rxa2 28.Rfc1 Rxb2 29.Rxc8 Rxc8 30.Rxc8+ Kg7 31.Nc5 a5 32.Rc7 Kf8 33.Ra7 Ra2 34.Bc6 and white should win this easily. Still, the text doesn’t ruin things completely and white retains winning chances.
25…Bg7 26.Rd2 Bb7 27.Rfd1 Rd5 28.Ned6 Rxd2 29.Rxd2 Bxg2 30.Kxg2 Rd8 31.Nxf5 Rxd2 32.Nh6+ Bxh6 33.Nxd2 Bg7 34.b3 f5 35.Kf3 Kf7 36.Ke2 e5 37.e4 Ke6 38.Kd3 Bh6 39.Nc4 Bf8
This ending is actually very sharp. White has the interesting move 40.Ne3!? hoping for 40…Bc5? (40…fxe4+! is better – 41.Kxe4 Bc5 42.Ng4 Bd6 43.f3 Bb8 44.Nf2 g5 45.Nd3 Bd6 46.Nb2 Bc7) 41.Kc4! and now white has chances to win. For example, 41…Bf8! (41…Bxe3?? 42.fxe3 and white wins this ending easily) 42.exf5+ (42.f3 f4 43.gxf4 exf4 44.Nc2 g5 45.Nd4+ Kd6 46.h3 h5 with counterplay) 42…gxf5 43.Nc2 a5 and there is still work to do.
40…f4? A blunder at the time control. 40…h5! keeps the balance.
41.g4! h5 42.gxh5 gxh5 43.Ke2?? Throwing the win away. The difficult 43.Nb2!+-wins! For example,
43…Bc5 (43…Kf6 44.Kc4 Kg5 45.Nd3 Kh4 46.Nxe5 Kh3 47.Ng6 Bh6 48.e5 Bg5 49.e6 Kxh2 50.Kd5 h4 51.Ke4 h3 52.Kf5 Bd8 53.Kg4!+- Kg2 54.Nxf4+ Kf2 55.Nxh3+ Ke3 56.Nf4 Kd4 57.Kf5 winning) 44.Kc4 Bg1 45.h3 Kf6 46.Nd3 Bd4 47.Nxb4 Kg5 48.Nc6! Everything with gain of time.
Analysis Diagram after 48. Nc6!
48…Bb2 49.a4 Kh4 50.b4 Kxh3 51.b5 axb5+ 52.axb5 Kg3 53.b6 h4 54.b7 h3 55.b8Q and wins. A nice variation!
43…Bc5 44.Kf1 This retreat is hopeless from a winning attempt standpoint. 44…Be7 45.Kg2 Bf6 46.Nb6 Bd8 47.Nd5 a5
The position is totally dead due to white’s bad miscue on move 43. The variation after 43. Nb2! is a good example of how a short-range knight, in certain open positions, can still triumph over the long-range bishop.