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Farhad Tahirov vs Alexey Shirov
Villa de Canada de Calatrava (2007), Canada de Calatrava ESP, rd 3, Apr-06
English Opening: King's English Variation. Kramnik-Shirov Counter (A21)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-11-07  KingG: White got what he deserved here, after having his queen developped after 9 moves. In this kind of situation, the thematic knight sac just had to be played.
Apr-11-07  THE pawn: The position screamed for a knight sacrifice, but I would have stopped calculating after 13.Be2 and move the knight somewhere else instead but off course Shirov found the whole combination...
Apr-12-07  sagahelten: Wow! Nice! 15... d3! 17... Rxe2! Powerful playing by Shirov.
Apr-13-07  notyetagm: A stupendous attacking gem by Shirov. In a Reversed Sicilian, Shirov even managed to get in the thematic Sicilian ♘d5! sacrifice with 9 ... ♘d4!.

A textbook example of how to play when your opponent neglects his development and leaves his king in the center.

Apr-14-07  TheHurricane3: I don't understand this Knight sac. Could someone explain in more detail what's the theme of this sac?
Apr-14-07  notyetagm: <TheHurricane3: I don't understand this Knight sac. Could someone explain in more detail what's the theme of this sac?>

9 ... ♘c6-d4! is the <STANDARD SICILIAN KNIGHT SACRIFICE> ♘c3-d5! that is played by White but here Shirov plays it as Black since he is playing a Reversed Open Sicilian.

The goal is to open the e-file against the uncastled enemy king. Black also gets a fairly powerful pawn on d4 near the White king which proves to be very useful later on (15 ... d4-d3!).

Basically Shirov sacrifices a piece to get at the White king, which he is justified in doing since he has an enormous lead in development and White still needs several tempi before he can castly. A simply outstanding attacking game by Shirov. It was utterly foolish of Tahirov to play like this against a legendary attacker like Alexei "Fire On Board" Shirov.

You can find out more about this thematic ♘d5! sacrifice in any book on the Sicilian defense, especially David LeMoir's stupendous "Essential Chess Sacrifices".

Apr-19-07  dehanne: 6.b4?, 9.b5? This looks like an instructive game from one of Euwe's books showing the danger of losing time in the opening.
Apr-19-07  Sydro: Yes, awful opening by white leads to a brilliant attack from black.
Apr-19-07  Tomlinsky: It's easy to say this as a spectator but choosing a Sicilian setup against someone like Shirov of all people thinking that a tempo may prove to be an asset seems misguided to say the least. Tahirov may have been better to open with 1.d3 and try for a reversed Pirc! At least he would potentially have had some strategically familiar positions to handle.

It seems to me that in trying to evade Shirov's king pawn repertoire Tahirov ended up meeting it head on but from the other side of the board. It's clear he doesn't have a clue how to handle this opening from the first 5 moves at most. A strange choice.

Apr-23-07  Chessmensch: Kavalek comments on this game in his April 23 chess column in the Washington Post.
Apr-30-07  the idiot prince: Chessmensch: Kavalek comments on this game in his April 23 chess column in the Washington Post. you for the

Thank you for the link! I found this game in the weekend section of the FT, April 14/15 and looked it up here!

Apr-30-07  notyetagm: From


1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Bb4 (Shirov loves this line against the English opening. He often plays it with reverse colors against the Sicilian.) 3.Qc2 Nf6 4.a3 Bxc3 5.Qxc3 Nc6 6.b4 0-0 7.e3 (After 7.b5 Nd4 8.e3 Re8! black is better developed and can strike quickly, for example 9.Qb2 d5! 10.exd4 exd4+ 11.Kd1 Ng4 12.Nh3 [12.Qxd4 Re4!] 12 . . . dxc4 13.Bxc4 Ne5 14.d3 Nxc4 15.dxc4 Bxh3 16.gxh3 Qf6 and the white position is in disarray.) 7 . . . d5! 8.cxd5 (Forced. After 8.b5 d4! black wins the fight for space in the center.) 8 . . . Qxd5! (The queen is watching the pawn on g2, making it difficult for white's light bishop to move.) 9.b5?! (White is only pushing his pawns and wanders with the queen. Something has to give. After 9.Bb2 Re8 10.Nf3, as played in the past, white gets at least some pieces into the game.)

9 . . . Nd4!! (An astonishing knight sacrifice, opening the e-file and taking advantage of white's underdeveloped forces. It is more common in the Sicilian with the reverse colors, but I have not seen it made so early with the black pieces.) 10.exd4 (Accepting the gift leads to a powerful attack for black. Ignoring the knight on d4 limits white's development, for example after 10.Bb2 Re8! 11.Rc1 Bd7 12.a4 Rac8, threatening to break with 13 . . . c6, black has a clear advantage.) 10 . . . exd4 11.Qc4 Re8+ 12.Kd1 Qh5+! 13.Be2 (White hopes to gain time by forcing the black queen to move. Other moves are inadequate: After 13.Kc2 Be6! 14.Qxd4 Qd1+!! 15.Kb1 [Or 15.Kxd1 Bb3 mate.] 15 . . . Qxf1 wins. After 13.Ne2 Be6! 14.Qxd4 Rad8 15.Qf4 Ne4!, threatening 16 . . . Bb3+ 17.Ke1 Nc5, white can't stop the decisive 18 . . . Nd3+. And finally, after 13.Nf3 Be6! 14.Qa4 Ne4 15.Kc2 d3+ 16.Kb1 Qc5 17.Bb2 Rad8! white is tied up.) 13 . . . Qg6 14.Nf3 (After 14.g3 or 14.Qd3 the knight leap 14...Ne4! is strong.) 14...Be6! 15.Qc2 d3! (An amusing deflection, smothering the white king on the first rank. A similar combination was possible after 15...Bf5!? 16.d3 Rxe2!! and black wins either after 17.Qxe2 Bxd3 18.Qb2 Qxg2; or after 17.Kxe2 Qxg2, threatening 18...Qxh1 and 18...Re8+.) 16.Qxd3 (16.Bxd3 is simply met by 16...Qxg2.) 16...Bf5 17.Qc4 Rxe2! (Nailing the victory.) 18.Nh4 (After 18.Qxe2 Bd3 19.Qe3 Re8 20.Ne5 Bc2+ 21.Ke2 Qh5+ 22.f3 Rxe5 black wins.) 18...Qh5 19.Qxe2 Bc2+ 20.Ke1 Re8 21.Qxe8+ Nxe8 (After 22.Nf3 Bd3 the white king is pinned down to the first rank and black wins, e.g. 23.Bb2 Qg4 24.Rg1 Qe6+ etc.) White resigned.>

Apr-30-07  notyetagm: This is really a beautiful game by Shirov. Best attacking game I have seen all year.

(VAR) Position after 13 ♔d1-c2 ♗c8-e6! 14 ♕c4xd4 ♕h5-d1+!!:

click for larger view

(VAR) Position after 15 ♔c2xd1?? ♗e6-b3#:

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