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Alexey Shirov vs Francisco Vallejo Pons
"More Silly Pons" (game of the day Jun-06-2010)
Spanish Championship (2002), Ayamonte ESP, rd 1, Oct-11
Caro-Kann Defense: Advance Variation. Botvinnik-Carls Defense (B12)  ·  1-0



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Given 12 times; par: 105 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Nov-21-02  drukenknight: Yes I agree if there is no winning plan, then the game is most likely A DRAW.

THen the detective says Okay then where did Black go from draw to losing the game?

Nov-22-02  Cyphelium: Well, maybe it's a draw and maybe white is winning. It's really complicated to analyse. So, "unclear" seems as a likely an assessment as a draw.
Nov-24-02  drukenknight: How hard could it be for this guy to make exchanges:

63...Be8; 66...RxR

That's all he has to do to get the ball rolling. Instead he goes after the K w/ ...Qf2+

This is not brilliance, its: one guy has no clue.


All right, forget the winning plan for black he obviously has no clue.

But the game was still not lost, so the next question is:

What is the losing move? What move does the game go from draw to lost?

Nov-24-02  OttawaChessFan: The moves that as you say "drag on" are the ones you should be studying.
Nov-24-02  drukenknight: I already did.

It will help the student much more to try to show where the game was lost.

ANy thoughts on this OCF?

Dec-03-02  judokausa1: It seems that the problem in this game is that it is very difficult to form a plan when a pawn is cruising down your throat. 63. ...Be8 seems a tad risky since it allows white to connect his rooks on the seventh rank. 66. ... RxR results in a lost game. How does black stop the pawn? 66... rxr 67. BxR Qxa5 68. h7 Qxc3 69. h8-Q +- (the e pawn drops and soon followed by the rest of blacks queenside pawns.) My feeling is that black went wrong around move 26. ...Be3 (I also would not have traded off my good bishop.) It was at this point he started trying for a king attack. A useless endeavor when white has so many pieces to protect his king. A better plan would have been to attack the loose queenside pawn structure while using his queen to keep white honest with threatened attacks on the king. The queens ability to transfer from wing to wing has to be the key for black in this game.
Dec-03-02  drukenknight: judo. good catch on 66...RxR I think you are right about that. Did he really lose the game on move 26? Its hard to believe. Couldnt he have secured a draw by simply keep checking the K w/ 76....Qh5+?
Dec-13-02  judokausa1: 76... Qh6+ hangs the queen. the only other check is Qh2 which then just transposes into the game.
Dec-14-02  drukenknight: IT's got to be in there, what if he starts: 74...Qxg2+
Jun-06-10  newzild: <drunkenknight> Why don't you analyse it for yourself? That's a good way to improve your chess.

I think you'll find that white's king can escape on the dark squares (eg.g5 and e6).

Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: Nothing about this game makes any sense to me. Nothing.
Jun-06-10  SufferingBruin: Insane game. 'Nuff said.
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: Was 23...Rh8 (allowing Nxf4) a mistake? Wild game overall; must have been a rough ride for both players.
Jun-06-10  Starf1re: Okay, this is a weird game so I am doing some analysis with Rybka 2.2.2. A few observations:

1) The queen sac by Shirov is not sound. After 22) xh4 Rybka eval is -1.14. But ...Qb6 is a lot better than the move played.

2) Black maintains an edge in the eval of at least .3 for 20 moves. 43) ..f2 is not that good though, the game is now about even. Better was Rg6 or ka8 (dono't ask me, Rybka move).

3) About move 54 Rybka first evaluates the position as advantage white. Now for the next 8 moves, 54-62, the game is either even or about +.1 for white.

4) Moves 64 and 65 are the blunders for black. After 65 ...c5 it's all over except the resigning.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: Those guys were probably exhausted after this tense 12 round battle.
Jun-06-10  CapablancaFan122: <Nothing about this game makes any sense to me. Nothing.>

You are not the only one.

All I can see is that the white king is really well defended and Shirov knew this, so he sacked his queen without hesitation.

Jun-06-10  Fanques Fair: Well, for me, it´s a strategic master piece by Shirov. It doesn´t matter Rybkia thinks Black is better, the computer is wrong, because the queen sacrifice was totally strategic. What does it give for White ? One pawn more, and two passed pawn, plus knight and rook for the queen. That´s the beauty of this game : that´s not a combination, but a positional sacrifice ! That´s why Shirov would probably win this position against any computer. I don´t see any obvious mistake by Black, and White calmly can push ahead his h and g pawns and Black can´t stop it, nor advance one of his own pawn, or pass one pawn. Not to mention the incredible 24 Nxf5 ! that was part of the combination, because it had to be antecipated and that´s the move that gives white one pawn more and 2 passed and connected pawns. Really incredible ! Great Shirov !
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: This is a wild wild game. For what little it is worth, here's my theory about what is going on...

First let's rewind to the early middlegame after white has played 18. Kh1

click for larger view

Black's plan seems fairly clear. He is going to castle on the queenside, park his rooks menacingly on g8 and h8 and throw absolutely everything at the white king. Moves like Ne7/g6, Ng4 and Qg7 or Qh7 spring to mind. Double or even triple heavy pieces on a half open file and bad things will happen. Very bad things indeed.

Black doesn't mind if white grabs the h4 pawn. It's only getting in the way of his kingside attack. This is crude caveman chess, all bare hairy chest, gold medallion, cheap aftershave and seventies glam rock. Knight Rider (first time around), anyone? But horribly effective for all that.

For now, black's problem child is his Bd7, which is hemmed in by the black pawns on e6 and d5. In other words, the archetypal bad bishop. But everything else has a part to play in the formulaic black kingside attack.

And what has white got by way of compensation? Well, he has a sort of queenside attack, but it is a pawn short of a breakthrough. We'd like to sink a knight or two onto d4, but this is going to need some preparation. All in all, the black stonewall pawns are really cramping our style in this position.

So what kind of plan could white come up with? The standard idea of attacking on the queenside doesn't seem to promise much. Black will just lock queenside pawns and continue hammer away on the kingside.

A central attack also seems doomed to failure. The strong bulwark of the black stonewall seems way too strong.

Shirov's plan is simply breathtaking. He swaps his queen for a black rook, knight and pawn. Few of us mortals would have the cojones to do this, even though all the beginner books say that this is a fairly level trade - a queen worth 8 or 9 points for a rook (5), knight (3) and pawn (1).

But look what Shirov achieves with this trade. He gets rid of two of the black pieces which were poised for the attack and by doing this accentuates the weakness of the Bd7. The fewer pieces there are on the board, the weaker a bad bishop usually becomes. Shirov also gives himself a plan - push the h pawn and swap off any black pieces into the endgame.

This is not a decisive advantage, but it stops black's plan (nearly always a good thing) and unbalances the game. And that gives Shirov something to work with rather than sit back and watch black throw rocks at him. Sure it takes many many moves to do this, but all the time black is having to defend. And suddenly black is the one without a plan.

Well, it's a theory...

Jun-06-10  goodevans: <Once:

Well, it's a theory...>

And not a bad one at that. By my reckoning most of it is very plausible. The bit I don't quite buy is <Shirov also gives himself a plan - push the h pawn and swap off any black pieces into the endgame.>

I would say this plan didn't even occur to him until sometime after move 50. I reckon he was sitting there thinking the game was going nowhere fast when the route to victory came to him. If this plan had been part of the original concept then I'm pretty sure we'd have seen <h4> a lot sooner.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <goodevans> You may well be right. I have long since given up trying to second guess Shirov. It's as much as I can do to follow behind him and try to work out what is going on. Shades of Wayne's World and "we're not worthy".

Looking back at the game, it seems likely that Shirov had two plans in mind. The first was to gang up on the weak e6 pawn and the second was to push h4. I suppose that's pretty classical stuff around playing against two weaknesses. I suspect that Shirov didn't know which of these would come good, but at least it gives him something to play for.

For my money, whenever a GM gets an unopposed passed pawn he nearly always looks for ways to push it, when it is safe to do so.

Jun-06-10  WhiteRook48: interesting sacrifice
Jun-06-10  cjgone: Game makes no sense to me.. If you're up a queen , why not trade off your pieces?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <cjgone> If you are up by a whole queen, then trading pieces makes sense. Eventually you will trade down to a position where you have king and queen against the other guy's king, and the rest is easy.

But in this game, the trade is more balanced - a queen for a rook, knight and pawn. And here it is much more tricky for the side with the queen. If he just swaps off all of the pieces, white emerges with an extra passed pawn, which ought to be enough to win. And it is not easy to engineer a fair trade if you have a queen against lots of minor pieces, as you need to get two or three minor pieces in return for the queen.

Two rooks, in particular, are often more than a match for a single queen - notice that Shirov is careful not to allow black to exchange a pair of rooks. Shirov is also careful to keep his pieces protected as much as possible. In queen versus lots middlegames, the queen excels at picking off loose pieces through fork, pin and skewer tricks.

This is great great chess, and way above the standard of most mortals. Trying to understand it is a great way to improve, and better than reading any number of "Winning with the XXX opening" books.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: White's king escapes the pocket and black's attackers are left in the dust...
Aug-10-12  LoveThatJoker: Guess-the-Move Final Score:

Shirov vs Vallejo-Pons, 2002.
Your score: 118 (par = 110)


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