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Michael Adams vs Peter Leko
Linares (1999), Linares ESP, rd 1, Feb-21
Caro-Kann Defense: Classical Variation. Main lines (B18)  ·  1-0



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Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <UnsoundHero: White should not fall for the trap 20 Nxh6+ gxh6 21 Qxf6? Bg7 22 Rd7 Bxf6 23 Rxc7 Na6 winning a piece.> Actually 21. Qxf6!? is not without merit. At the end of your line, after 23...Na6, White has 24. Ng4! Nxc7 25. Nf6+ which wins back the exchange with a clear and likely decisive advantage.

Your point that 21. Qxf6!? is not as clearly decisive as 21. Ng4! is correct. However, 21. Qxf6!? is not bad for a second best alternative.

Jul-03-09  YouRang: I saw 20.Nxh6 gxh6, and I considered 21.Ng4, but I didn't see progress after black answered that with 21...Ne4. :-\
Jul-03-09  David2009: I lose a won game with 21 Qxf6? Bg7 22 Resigns?? (in shock) missing the very elegant save 22 Nd7!= posted by <JG27Pyth>.
Jul-03-09  Samagonka: Just as I thought: 20Nxh6+ must be the key moveto get the combination started, the rest requires a bit more grey matter.
Jul-03-09  cydmd: <dzechiel> didn't mentioned the line he got, but I suspect it is the same that I got because I made the same mistake.

20.Nxh6+ gxh6 21.Qxf6 Bg7 22.Nd7

click for larger view

The black bishop's move gave a escape square for the king creating a hole in the conceived combination. Now White's chances resides on a perpetual check pointed out by <JG27Pyth>.

Maybe next time that supposed brilliant combination could work ...

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: Does anyone know what the losing move was? I don’t think it was on move 19.

Both 19… Ne6 or Ne4 lose to 20 Rd7!

Both 19…h5 and 19…Rad8 lose to 20 Qg3.

However, on move 18...Rae8 is better than the text Rfe8.

click for larger view

I think it works generally because it brings another attacker/defender to the e file wihtout weakening the defense of the f file. I cannot figure out the specific reason it is better, though.

Jul-03-09  WhiteRook48: I had the right idea (h4-h5) but didn't get the sequence. I hate pawn moves
Jul-03-09  johnlspouge: Friday (Difficult):

Adams vs Leko, 1999 (20.?)

White to play and win.

Material: Even. The Black Kg8 has 2 legal moves. The Black Pg7 is overburdened, with defense of Nf6 and Ph6, suggesting the candidate 20.Nxh6+, exposing Kg8 to Qf3. The White Rd1 commands an open file, with the invasion point d7. The Black Qc7 is loose. The White Kc1 is secured from checks except for …Nb6+ and …Nd6+, both presently harmless.

Candidates (20.): Nxh6+

20.Nxh6+ gxh6 [else, 21.Nhxf7 wins 2 important Ps]

21.<Qxf6> (threatening 22.Ng6 then 23.Qxg7# or 24.Qh8#)

<[I missed the follow-up 21.Ng4, but found the variation guaranteeing a draw.]>

21…Bg7 [else, meekly drop a P, e.g., on 21…Re3]

22.Rd7 (threatening 23.Qxf7+ 24.Qxg7#)

(1) 22…Qxd7 23.Nxd7 Bxf6 24.Nxf6+

White is up a P after 25.Nxe8.

(2) 22…Nxd7 23.Qxf7+ Kh7 [Kh8 24.Ng6+ Kh7 25.Qxg7#]

24.Qg6+ ensures the draw

[24.Nxd7 Qg3 seems to give Black too much counter-play]

White has promising moves like 24.Ng4 (threatening 25.Qxg7#) but I have timed out.

The follow-up 21.Ng4 makes this a relatively deep puzzle for a Friday.

Jul-03-09  lost in space: Haven't got it. Missed 21. Ng4
Jul-03-09  butilikefur: Hey <20. Nxh6 gxh6 21. Qxf6 Bg7 22. Rd7> is quite strong as well, as has been mentioned by others.. Black's best response seems to be <22...Bxf6 23. Rxc7 Bxe5 24. Rxc5 Bxc3 25. Rxc3 Re2> and White is up a pawn but Black has a tempo.

An interesting variation is <22...Nxd7 23. Qxf7+ Kh7> (24. Nxd7 Qg3 25. Nf6+ Kh8 26. Nxe8 Bxc3 27. Qf8+ [27. bxc3 Qe3+ 28. Kb1 Rxe8] 27...Kh7 28. Nf6+ Bxf6 [28...Kg6 29. h5+ is winning] 29. Qxa8)

<24. Nf3> stops Qg3 and pins the d7 N so Black has only one defense. <24...Reg8 25. Ng5+ Kh8 26. Qg6 Nf6 27. Bxf6> and Black will be mated.

Jul-03-09  Fezzik: What makes this position so difficult, and why Leko probably missed the key move, is that he was prepared for 20.♘h6 gh6 21.♕f6? ♗g7!

He missed 21.♘g4!! and so did I. :(

Jul-03-09  chillowack: While looking at the opening of this game, I was curious to know what might have happened had Leko captured the proffered d4-pawn with 9...Qxd4.

In my analysis, I found the following interesting combination: 10.Nxf7! Bxd3 (10...Kxf7 11.Bg6+) 11.Nxh8 Qe5+ 12.Be3 Bh7 and now Black seems to be on top, but...

13.Qd8+! turns things around again.

I wonder if this variation might have been one reason Leko declined the pawn offer?

Jul-03-09  RandomVisitor: 17...Nd5 18.Bd4 Rad8 19.Kb1 and black is okay.
Jul-03-09  RandomVisitor: <chillowack>9...Qxd4 10.Nxf7 Rg8 might be best play but white still has the advantage.
Jul-03-09  RandomVisitor: 19.Qf3! is a surprise move that appears to be winning. Black has no playable defense.
Jul-03-09  chillowack: <RandomVisitor> You're probably right about Rh8-g8.

As for your 17...Nd5 variation, I have been examining the exchange sac 18.Rxd5!? ed 19.Nh5, after which White seems to get strong play in some lines.

19...f6 seems to be the best defense. Then 20.Qg4 Bd6 21.Ng6 Rf7 22.Bf6!? is interesting: 23.Ne7+ Kf8 24.Nd5 Qd8 25.Qg6 and Black faces difficulties.

However, after 22...Rf6 23.Nf6+ gf I can't find a win for White (24.Ne7+ Kf8 25.Nd5 Qf7). The best I've been able to find is something like 24.Ne7+ Kf8 25.Qg8+ Ke7 26.Qa8, which doesn't look like enough.

Perhaps further study will reveal a solution....

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: I think I figured out why 18… Rae8 is much better for black than the text 18...Rfe8.

The continuation 19 Qf3 Nce4 20 Rd7 Nxd7 21 Nxh6+ works if first 18….Rfe8.

click for larger view

There is no protection for black’s f pawn in this variation. After 21…Kh8 then 22 Nexf7+ leads to a forced mate.

click for larger view

After 18… Rae8, however, the f rank is protected. Now, with the same variation 19 Qf3 Nce4 20 Rd7 Nxd7 21 Nxh6+ black can safely play 21…gxh6 .

click for larger view

22 Qg4+ is met by 22…Bg5+ and black is OK. 23 hxg5 is met by 23...Nf2.

click for larger view

Jul-03-09  Artar1: I spotted the first move right away:

20.Nxh6+ gxh6

Declining the sacrifice is only half of the problem, which is covered in a variation below. But what does White do should Black accept the sacrifice, which is the whole point of this exercise? Unfortunately, I missed <21.Ng4> because I was looking for a more forceful move that did not exist:


White has sacrificed a knight for a pawn, has breached Black's castled position, and has placed the knight at f6 under a triple attack.

<[21.Rd7? Ncxd7 22.Nxd7 Nxd7 23.Qg4+ Kh7 24.Qf5+ Kg8 25.Qg4+ Kh7 Draw. This was the continuation I saw.]>

21...Nxg4 As played in the game.

<[Stronger is 21...Bg7 22.Nxf6+ Kf8 23.Nd5 Qd6 24.Rhf1 Qe6 25.Qg3 Bxc3 26.Qxc3 Threatening Qh8# 26...Qe5 The lesser of all evils. 27.Qxc5+ Kg8 28.Rf3 + - - Courtesy of Fritz 10.]>

22.Qxg4+ Kh7 23.Qf5+ Kg8 24.Qf6 Kh7 25.Qh8+ Kg6 26.h5+ 1–0

<Here’s another possibility for Black>:


I believe the king move to be Black's best response so this is what I played in my mind's eye.


White is now up two pawns with an excellent position.


To leave the knight at f7 unchallenged seems unthinkable.

22.Ng5+ Kg8 23.Ng6

With a small lead in material, it would be to White's advantage to simplify to a won ending.

23...Ree8 24.Nxf8 Rxf8

Using my eyes only, I got this far. I then set up a board to continue playing.


Normally I don't like to weaken my castled position, but by doing so, White achieves a knight fork at e6.

25...Na6 26. Ne6

(25...Na4? 26.Bxf6 Rxf6 27.Qb3+ Kh8 28.Qxa4 Rf2 29.Rd7+ -)

Another opportunity I missed was

25...Nce4 26.Bxf6 Nxf6 27.Qb3+

The queen check, which supports the knight at e6, leads to better technique.

27...Kh8 28.Ne6 Qe5 29.Nxf8 Rxf8

Jul-03-09  The Rocket: nice spanking by adams
Jul-04-09  TheBish: Adams vs Leko, 1999

White to play (20.?) "Difficult"

Running out of time, but I'm going to guess 20. Nxh6+ gxh6 21. Ng4, and wins whether or not Black plays 21...Nxg4.

Jul-04-09  CHESSTTCAMPS: I had a real blind spot in today's puzzle. I favored 20.Nxh6+ gxh6 almost immediately, but I could see that 21.Qf6 would only draw after Bg7, so I turned my attention to 21.Ng4 and found the game line up to 23.Qf5+. Then, for some reason, I did not see the simple win with 24.Qf6, but pursued the line 24.Rd4, which may win anyway but it's not nearly as quick and clear.

Here's the position FWIW:

click for larger view

Jul-04-09  butilikefur: Yo <ChessTTCamps>,

<20. Nxh6 gxh6 21. Ng4 Nxg4 22. Qxg4+ Kh7 23. Qf5+ Kg8 24. Rd4 Bg7> 24...Re6 25. Rg4+ Rg6 26. h5 Rg5 (26...Rg7 27. Qf6 [27. Bxg7 Bxg7 28. Qf6 Ne6 29. Rh3 Kf8 is trouble for White] 27...Ne6 28. Rh3 Qe7 29. Qxh6 f5 30. Rg6 Rxg6 31. Qxg6+ [31. Qh8+ Kf7 32. hxg6+ Kf8 33. Re3 is a tougher game for White] 31...Bg7 32. h6 wins) 27. Rxg5+ hxg5 28. h6 f6 29. Bxf6 (29. Qg6+ Bg7 [30. Bxf6 Qf4+ wins for Black] 30. hxg7 Qxg7 31. Rh8+ Kxh8 32. Bxf6 Ne6 33. Bxg7+ Nxg7 34. g4 is also winning) 29...Qf4+ 30. Qxf4 gxf4 31. h7+ Kf7

<25. Rg4 f6 26. Rxg7+ Qxg7> 26...Kxg7 27. Qxf6+ Kh7 28. Qf5+ Kg8 29. Qg6+ Kf8 (30. Rf1+ Ke7 31. Bf6+ Kd7 32. Rd1+ Kc6 33. Be7+ Kb5 and I dunno) 30. Qxh6+ Ke7 31. Rd1 Nd7 32. Qg5+ Kf7 (32...Ke6 33. Qg6+ Ke7 34. Re1+ Kf8 35. Qg7+ mate) 33. Qg7+ Ke6 34. Qg6+ transposes to the 32...Ke6 line.

<27. Qxc5 Rc8 28. Qd5+ Qf7 29. Qf5 Qh7 30. Qg4+ Kf8 31. Rf1> looks like a good game for white.

Actually the following variation might be better: <20. Nxh6 gxh6 21. Ng4 Nxg4 22. Qxg4+ Kh7 23. Qf5+ Kg8 24. Rd4 Bg7 25. Rg4 f6 26. Bxf6 Re7 27. Bxe7> 27. Bxg7 Rxg7 28. Rc4 Rc8 29. b4 b6 30. bxc5 bxc5 31. Rf8 and White's up a pawn

<27...Qxe7 28. Rf1 Rf8 29. Qxf8+ Qxf8 30. Rxf8+ Kxf8> and White has a better endgame.

Jul-04-09  butilikefur: Shows just how much of a defensive resource opening up the 7th rank is for Black.
Jul-13-09  WhiteRook48: 9...Qxd4
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Prior to the late 90s it was conventional wisdom that 7..Nbd7 was best preventing 8 Ne5. At the time of this tournament 7..Nf6 was in fashion. Shortly before this game at the French Team Championship Magem Badals had played 16..Qb6 against Adams and had lost; 16..Qc7 was Leko's improvement. The critical error, apparently, was 17..exf? as after the knight reaches f5 (with tempo) White's attack is irrisistible; 17..Rfd8 and 17..Rfe8 both look reasonable. 18..Nce4 would not have worked after 19 Rd7!..Nxc3 20 Nxe7+..Kh8 21 N5g6+!..fxg 22 Nxg6+..Kg8 23 Qe6+ winning.
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