If a Tree Falls in the Forest …

I’ve had some WiFi issues in my apartment in Barcelona, and so I haven’t been able to put together a full post wrapping up Balaguer. I’ll try and get it done in the next few days. In the meantime, a little interlude that chronologically also happened to come after my 6th round game.

In my last tournament at Balaguer, after my post-mortem with Swaminathan, I walked over to where GM Stewart Haslinger and IM Bernd Kohlweyer were discussing their game. It was a Sicilian Najdorf, and after their analysis, Bernd wanted to show an amazing game that doesn’t appear to be publicly known (I wasn’t able to find it any of my databases, or even a reference to it online). It was between GM Namig Guliyev and IM Thomas Henrichs in 2006.

Maybe some writer, seeing the game on this blog, will include part of the combination in a future book!

The game began 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.f3 b5 8.Qd2 Nbd7 (this was the same line Kohlweyer played against Haslinger) 9.g4 Bb7 10.g5 Nh5 11.0-0-0 Rc8 12.Bh3 Ne5. I know nothing about the opening, so I won’t really comment on these moves.

(FEN: 2rqkb1r/1b3ppp/p2pp3/1p2n1Pn/3NP3/2N1BP1B/PPPQ3P/2KR3R w k - 5 13)

The game continued: 13.Bg4 g6 14.Bxh5 gxh5 15.f4. Now Black has a choice, play 15…b4 or 15…Nc4. Many people would probably play 15…Nc4, but Henrichs continued enterprisingly with 15…b4!. After 16.Nce2 Bxe4 17.fxe5 dxe5, the players had reached the following position:

(FEN: 2rqkb1r/5p1p/p3p3/4p1Pp/1p1Nb3/4B3/PPPQN2P/2KR3R w k - 0 18)

Black is down a piece at the moment, but the Knight on d4 is stuck. If it retreats, say to b3, then 18…Qxd2+ wins material. Recapturing on d2 with a minor piece allows 19…Rxc2+ and 20…Rxd2+ (a discovered check). Meanwhile, 19.Rxd2 drops the Rh1 immediately, while 19.Kxd2 drops the Rh1 after the intermediate 19…Rxc2+ forces the king back to e1.

Thus, White played 18.Ng3, and after 18…Bxh1, he played 19.Nxh5.

(FEN: 2rqkb1r/5p1p/p3p3/4p1PN/1p1N4/4B3/PPPQ3P/2KR3b b k - 0 19)

What can Black do now? White threatens 20.Nf6+ and 21.Qxb4+. Guarding the f6-square with 19…Be7? loses to 20.Ng7+ Kf8 21.Ngxe6+ and White wins the queen. Henrichs found the amazing 19…exd4!!. The idea is that after 20.Nf6+, he just gives up the queen with 20…Qxf6!. Following 21.gxf6, he played the calm, but extremely strong, 21…Be4!.

Note that a similar position could have been reached with 19…Be4 20.Nf6+ Qxf6 21.gxf6 exd4, although in this case Black would have to deal with the additional possibility of 21.Nc6!. He’s still better after 21…Qe7! 22.Nxe7 Rxc2+, but it’s more work for sure.

(FEN: 2r1kb1r/5p1p/p3pP2/8/1p1pb3/4B3/PPPQ3P/2KR4 w k - 1 22)

For the moment, Black has a rook, bishop, and pawn for the queen, which nominally seems like a decent material balance. And the obvious 22.Qxd4 loses to 22…Rxc2+ 23.Kb1 Rc4+. But what about White’s alternatives? Can’t he move the bishop?

As it turns out, there’s no safe square for the bishop! On 22.Bxd4, Black has 22…Bh6! 23.Qxh6 Rxc2+ 24.Kb1 Rxh2+, winning the queen. Meanwhile, on 22.Bf4, Black simply brings up the reserves with 22…Rg8!. Surprisingly, there’s no good way to stop …Rg2 next. Blocking the g-file with 23.Bg3 allows 23…Bh6! again.

But White hit upon a tricky idea with 22.c3!. Maybe he thought he had saved himself, as now 22…dxc3? allows 23.Qd7# while 22…bxc3? closes the c-file long enough for White to safely play 23.Qxd4.

So what did Black do? He threw more wood onto the fire with 22…Rxc3+!! 23.bxc3 bxc3.

(FEN: 4kb1r/5p1p/p3pP2/8/3pb3/2p1B3/P2Q3P/2KR4 w k - 0 24)

White resigned in this amazing position. From a material standpoint, Black only has a bishop and 3 pawns for the queen, but more shockingly, he only has one developed piece! Nevertheless, he is completely winning as there is no good way to avoid …Ba3 (check or mate) next.

Even though this game isn’t in the databases, I’m sure Henrichs has a copy saved somewhere!

5 responses to “If a Tree Falls in the Forest …

  1. an amazing game! just to add, my Rybka says that instead of Nce2 Nd5!! gives white a good position after a long sequnce of pawn captures e:d5 f:e5 d:e5 e:d5 e:d4 Q:d4 Rg8 Rhe1 with a huge attack for the piece

  2. Thanks Vinay for publishing this incredible game.
    Can anyone supply any further information about it (event, date..) please?

  3. IC – hmm, 16.Nd5 does indeed look quite good. Not an easy move for a human to find, and even if you consider it at the board, it’s not so easy to realize it’s necessary! After 16.Nce2, it doesn’t look like White really missed any great chances.

  4. Thomas Henrichs

    Dear Vinay!
    My teammate Bernd Kohlweyer told me, that he has shown my Guliev game to some strong players. Just for anyone who is interested in, I have already made some comments to this game, though in German. You can find the comments at http://entwicklungsvorsprung.de/?p=474 .
    Best regards

  5. Thomas, thanks for providing some more info (and your annotations) to that game. I think I got the move order wrong at some point (probably my fault, not Kohlweyer’s – I can’t remember much), so I’ll have to fix the main post one of these days. Still, congrats on the game and also the equal first just now in Vlissingen!

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