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Judit Polgar vs Boris Gelfand
World Cup (2009), Khanty-Mansiysk RUS, rd 3, Nov-28
Bishop's Opening: Berlin Defense (C24)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Nov-28-09  luzhin: Gelfand's 29...Rf7?? looked like panic. If 29...Nb6 30.Qh6 Nd5 Black is doing his best to keep Polgar's Bishop out of f6, although I suspect she is still well on top. I think the key move was the amazing 19.g4!!??, which I'm sure is objectively very dodgy, but it led to the sort of random positions much more to Judit's liking than Gelfand's.
Nov-28-09  molinov: 24... gxf5 would have been an improvement. Of course that is easy to say when you can check with the computer. There´s nothing really clear for white after 25. Rxf5 Ng7 26. Rxf6. I wonder what frightened Gelfand over the board. Even though her play was not "sound", Polgar played a brillant game in a must win situation. No computer-based analysis can take that away from her.
Nov-28-09  VishyAnandFan: its not moves, this one or that one, that leads to gelfands loss or judit s win. its romanticism on judits side and scientific and materialistic play on gelfands side. beginning with 15.nh4 judit decides to attack, taking great risks, throwing all her pieces to the kingside. i love her way to play! she knows, burning all bridges behind, she has to win through attack, or else being some pawns down she will be lost. its this attitude thats leads to a possible win, not a single move. for example you cant say after a 8-move-combination, look the last move was the winning move, no its the hole combination. in the end position two black minor pieces are not involved in the game because gelfand decided to play on the queenside long ago. its about concepts not single moves
Nov-29-09  molinov: VishtAnandFan seems to have a rather strange notion of materialism and science. Leaving that aside, I think that tactics play a role just as important as strategy. And, in fact, there are points in which it´s not easy to separate the two. Judit had attack on the kingside, but she had given up two pawns for it. I think it is perfectly legitimate to discuss the tactics, since not only Gelfand, but Judit herself must have dedicated quite a lot of time to decide what moves to make. Of course both made strategic decisions, but those decisions are linked inextricably to tactic decisions. And it´s far from clear that Judit won because of strategy and not tactics.
Nov-29-09  MaxxLange: what a beautiful win

it reminds us of old-style Judit Polgar chess: brilliant tactical blows flowing from the position, one after another, logical ideas , beautiful, clear, and not defensible

Nov-29-09  zatara: It seems she still got it!It would be great to see her back at the top events again.
Nov-29-09  Red October: <zanshin> in the diagram in your post, its striking that Black does not have 1 but 2 minor pieces out of play...
Nov-29-09  MaxxLange: <zanshin> I wondered what kind of horrible threats forced the desperate exchange sac with 29...Rf7
Nov-29-09  MaxxLange: suppose that Black plays, say, 29...Rae8. What does white have that is so crushing? Just 30 Rg5 and doubling rooks?
Nov-29-09  MaxxLange: 29..Rae8 30 Qh6 maybe is crushing
Nov-29-09  VishyAnandFan: molinov you didnt get the point. first of all there is nothing strange to like tal's or polgar's style more than say botvinnik's style (romanticism-materialsim). i know better than you that all tactics have to be superb, if you play on that level. but look at some comments like: "gelfand lost because of 29.Rf7" they dont say polgar's chess is wonderful, they reduce an excellent piece of art to a single move. of course i pay great attention to tactics, but you have to pay tribute for the entire game or the player, not for a single move. many of tal's games were unsound, so tell me why so many loved him, even the compatriots of his opponents wanted him to win.
Nov-29-09  VishyAnandFan: i was misunderstood, i am in favor of discussing all tactics, thats clear. and of course polgar won because of tactics. if you read my comment carefully it says: "this attitude leads to a POSSIBLE win" (tactics decide but het bravery made it possible). my english skills are weak, so i cant express my point of view properly, indeed my only and main point of view is, i love her arts
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <21.Rxf7!!> would have been a romantic style piece sacrifice, a sight for sore eyes.

click for larger view

The main idea can be seen in the line <21...Qd8 22.Rxh7! Bxg5 23.Nxg6!>

click for larger view

when - aside of Rh8+ threat - the Nh5 is now en prise.

Nov-29-09  VishyAnandFan: fantastic line!! ...the first rapid between them played, gelfand succeded with ugly chess, grabbing pawn b2, grabbing pawn a2, no imagination, and winning, thats disgusting
Nov-29-09  siggemannen: Don't understand why it's disgusting to win like that? If your opponent sac unsoundly you must defend somehow. It takes a lot of imagination to defend well.
Nov-29-09  VishyAnandFan: you can love it , you are free to do so. i dont. i love chess like polgar played in third rapid
Nov-29-09  zanshin: <Red October: <zanshin> in the diagram in your post, its striking that Black does not have 1 but 2 minor pieces out of play...>

<RO> Yes, and how White's pieces are about to have a meeting with Black's King ;-)

Nov-29-09  zanshin: <MaxxLange: <zanshin> I wondered what kind of horrible threats forced the desperate exchange sac with 29...Rf7>

<MaxxLange> I think <Eyal> explains it well enough. The key threat is Bf6+. I won't try to rehash his explanation because I might get it wrong. Needless to say, Rf7 was not an outright blunder - just a move of desperation. I take back my earlier comment that Gelfand blundered this game away. Judit won it through excellent play.

Nov-29-09  Eyal: Position after 27.Qf4:

click for larger view

It's interesting that the decisive mistake, 27...f5, might seem at a first glance to be "holding" Black's position - defending both e- and f-pawns. However, it also opens the h4-d8 diagonal for White's bishop, so that Bf6 becomes a fatal threat in a few moves (and the e4 pawn doesn't really need protection in this position, because Qxe4? would be answered by Qg7+ and Bb7, where Black is suddenly the one who's attacking).

Nov-29-09  Eyal: As Shipov notes in his commentary (, starting from 16.f4 there are several motifs which are typical of King's Gambit games.
Mar-03-10  alexrawlings: This is quite a game! I looked this up after reading about it in Leonard Barden's chess column in tonight's London Evening Standard where he looks at the position with White to make her final move and writes:

<Polgar is by far the best female chessplayer ever and has reached the top 20 in the rankings against men, but the Hungarian is now a mother of two so competes less frequently. She returned for the $1m world knock-out and only lost to Israel's top seed Gelfand 1.5-2.5 after a hard fight. Here Polgar (White, to move at move 32) is down on material, rook against knight and three pawns, but her powerful attack up the g1-g8 file more than compensates. White's obvious try is to double rooks, but Gelfand plans to meet 32 Rg5 by 32.. Ne3 33 Rag1 Ng4; 32 Rg3 by 32.. f4; and 32 Rg2 by 32.. e3 33 Rag1 Bb7. Polgar did better, and her choice forced immediate resignation. What was White's winning move?>

The answer is 32 Rg6! White plans 33 Bf6+ or Rf6. If 32.. Qxg6 33 Qxf8+ Qg8 34 Bf6#

Could be a nice Wednesday puzzle IMO.

Oct-31-10  vonKrolock: Selected as the <Best Game from Informant 107> Milan Bjelajac: <"In her comments, Polgar demonstrates that dynamic tactical elements dominated the game. There were a few mistakes; Black was already in time-trouble at the twentieth move! However, this takes nothing away from Polgar's creative masterpiece. Judit crowned her attack with the beautiful 27.Qf4!!, a move that will surely find its place in chess anthologies.">
Oct-05-12  Jim Bartle: Judit's comments on this game:

"The 2009 World Cup proved to be a decisive moment in the birth of my book. In the third round I played Boris Gelfand, a very strong opponent who eventually went on to win the event. I lost the first match game with Black, and during my preparations for the second one, I found myself with no clue about how to break down his favourite Petroff Defence.

"I decided to improvise with the Bishop's Opening, and in the early middlegame started a sacrificial attack in the best spirit of the King's Gambit, my favourite opening as a kid. This turned out to be Gelfand's only defeat in a classical game in the whole tournament. I eventually lost the play-off, but this did not spoil the magic: it felt like for a moment the Judit from 1988, who many (including myself) had forgotten, had come back to deliver her trademark brilliancies."

Aug-31-20  Octavia: more from Judit in her book: " opponent was going to have a ... choice of ... equivalent alternatives, which was likely to prove tiring, stressful and ... time consuming" in other words he was old & she was young! In chess agism is ripe but I'd like to remind yous is that Gelfand won the cup
Aug-31-20  SChesshevsky: < Judit's comments on this game: "I decided to improvise with the Bishop's Opening, and in the early middlegame started a sacrificial attack in the best spirit of the King's Gambit, my favourite opening as a kid..." >

Great game by Polgar. What an attack! But I never got a real King's Gambit type feeling. 16. f4 was nice though and felt maybe more as an attempt to eventually open lines to the king. Possibly more in the spirit of a Ruy Lopez attack when Black gets overly fixated on the queen side. Themes also seen with some Fischer King's Indian Attack or Spassky Closed Sicilian.

King's Gambit ideas or not, does seem Polgar has a history of being very alert to Ruy Lopez possibilities toward the king when opponent is maybe overly occupied on the queen side or center.

Judit Polgar vs Korchnoi, 1994

Judit Polgar vs Ivanchuk, 1996

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