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Ruslan Ponomariov vs Evgeny Bareev
World Cup (2005), Khanty-Mansiysk RUS, rd 5, Dec-10
French Defense: Steinitz. Boleslavsky Variation (C11)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-10-05  PinkPanther: Another Ponomariov endgame win.
Dec-12-05  Runemaster: Yes, and one that nicely shows the bad French bishop.
Dec-12-05  PinkPanther: D4 by Bareev was a rather pathetic move to have to play.
Dec-12-05  StraightLarsen: beautiful play by Pono. You cant really see where Bareev went wrong... Pono is actually quite good it would appear.
Dec-12-05  Koster: Black's big strategic problem in the French is activating the passive light sq. bishop, and black didn't solve it until it was too late. He should study the games of Morozevich, Moro really plays this well. <Topalov vs Morozevich, 1999; That or go back to his old 3..dxe4 and b6 lines.
Jul-12-06  Runemaster: <StraightLarsen: Pono is actually quite good it would appear.>

Don't let anyone hear you say that!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Ziryab: Games like this one make me want to give up the French.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: 36...d4 was beyond terrible.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Ziryab: Tell my what is wrong with 10…b4.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Ziryab: Tell my what is wrong with 10…b4.>

click for larger view

Well, tell me what's right with it. In particular, how is 10....b4 better than 12....b4, which Bareev played? Are you thinking, if White responds to 10....b4 with 11.axb4, you're going to recapture with the pawn? That doesn't seem like a good idea to me, even though it forces the knight on c3 to retreat, because it removes pressure from White's pawn on d4. That means White's cramping central pawn wedge will be very difficult to challenge and the bishop on b7 will remain bad. With his center secure, White will gradually develop play on the kingside.

Black has the makings of pressure on the c-file, but he also has a backward exposed pawn on the a-file, so that's at best a wash.

And if you're intending 11....Nxb4, that just seems like a worse version of what happened in the game.

<Ziryab: Games like this one make me want to give up the French.>

I'm just a fish, but this whole line seems like Black is giving himself a difficult challenge. As <Koster> already pointed out, Black doesn't have to play this way. Topalov vs Morozevich, 1999

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <OhioChessFan: 36...d4 was beyond terrible.>

No it wasn't. Here's the position after White's 36th move.

click for larger view

If Black doesn't advance the pawn, White just walks his king to the queenside and advances the b-pawn. Black's bishop remains almost stalemated. White can win in various ways, including plonking the knight on d4 and invading Black's kingside with his king. Here's a sample line. 36....Kf8 37.Ke3 Ke7 38.Kd4 Kd7 39.Kc5 Kc7 40.Kb5 Ba8 41.Nc2 Bb7 42.Nd4 Bc8 43.b4 Bd7+ 44.Kc5 Be8 45.b5 Bd7 46.b6+ Kb7 47.Kd6 Ba4 48.Ke7, etc. At least in the game the bishop got to play.

Black was already lost at move 36.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Ziryab: Tell my what is wrong with 10…b4.>

Well, I showed this to SF, and it turns out the answer is: nothing! But after 11.ab, the computer plays 11....cxd4! 12.Nxd4 Bxb4 and Black is active.

SF doesn't approve of 10.g3, preferring 10.Bd3, and if 10....b4 11.ab cd 12.Nxd4 Bxb4 13.Qf2 Nc5 14.0-0 Nxd3 0-0 16.Nce2

click for larger view

A little bit like Pillsbury vs Lasker, 1896 after 20.cxd3:

click for larger view

White will play Qg3 and f4-f5 and Black will at least get an exciting game with a share of the play.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <ziryab> Incidentally, SF thinks Black is doing fine in this game through 21.Qd4:

click for larger view

Here SF thinks Black should just retreat his queen. If 21....Qe7 22.Bxa6 Bxa6 (getting rid of the bad bishop) 23.Rxa6 Rb8 24.Ra2 Qf8! 25.Rd1 Qc8 followed by ...Rcb7 and Black has plenty for the pawn.

Instead 21....a5 was met with Ponomariev's inspired pawn sacrifice, 22.Qxb4! ab 23.Nb5 Rxc2 24.Nd4!, and Black's bishop wound up in misery.

I guess there are three conclusions:

-this is a terrific game

-it's no reason to give up the French

-there's nothing wrong with 10....b4!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Ziryab: <keypusher>
Thanks for your detailed analysis.

Ponomariov’s pawn sacrifice is the reason this game appears in “Secrets of Positional Sacrifice” (2021) by Dejan Nestorovi? and Nikola Nestorovi?. That book led me to the game.

They state that 21…Qe7 was necessary.

“The only correct reaction was to keep queens on the board, to sacrifice the a6 pawn and try to achieve compensation through the pressure on b- and c-files” (17).

They compare the strategic aims behind such a plan to the Benko Gambit

Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: The New in Chess store has the book mentioned above:

<“Secrets of Positional Sacrifice” (2021) by Dejan Nestorovi? and Nikola Nestorovi?>

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