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Jonathan Torres Santiago vs Tito Kahn
Baku Olympiad (2016), Baku AZE, rd 4, Sep-05
Sicilian Defense: Smith-Morra Gambit. Accepted Paulsen Formation (B21)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: This without any doubt is the best game of the 2016 Olympiad.

Here (White to play)

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Jonathan has obviously got a copy of Esserman's 'Mayhem in the Sicilian' where he reckons you play the Knight sac Nd5 against practically everything because Black will get lost in the fog and gives many startling and beautiful examples.

Here it is possibly unsound but Black declined the offer as it looked to messy. (maybe Tito also has a copy of the Esserman book, we should all have a copy, and the pages dedicated to saccing Knights on d5 are flicking through his mind.)

Here (Black to play)

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Black did not take the c4 Bishop because he was worried about 11..Qxc4 12 Nb6 forking Queen and Rook but what about 12...Qb4 hitting, with mate, the e1 Rook.

This looks OK but then 13.Be3 and if 13...Rb8 14. Rac1 hitting the Queen with an x-rayed double hit the c8 Bishop. Good luck defending that one v someone who has the middle name of 'Torre' and can smell blood.

After that we are treated to White's determination to get at the Black King saccing another piece on e6 and using Black's Queen to shuffle his pieces onto the ideal squares.

The average player hates defending such positions and threats that are not there start appearing. One slip and it's over.

Average players (and that is 99% of us lot) skating on thin ice whilst your opponent is lobbing bricks at you is a recipe for disaster. (how many clichés did I manage to squeeze in there?)

This game captures the Olympiad spirit more than any other. It's about a coming together of countries to play chess.

A good post this. You have the best game of the Olympiad and a rec for the best opening book ever written.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Sally Simpson> Morra! Morra! Morra! (part 1 of 2)

Thanks for the link. What a great game! But I think that you meant to refer to Esserman's book "Mayhem in the Morra!" rather than "Mayhem in the Sicilian". After much searching, I couldn't find a book by Esserman titled "Mayhem in the Sicilian".

Regardless, as far as this game is concerned and FWIW, from this position

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at d=35 Stockfish 7 assesses that Black can survive and have an approximately equal game after either 11...Qxc4 or 11...Bxh2+ 12.Kh1 Qxc4. Stockfish kept going back and forth at each search ply as to whether 11...Qxc4 or 11...Bxh2+ offered better chances for Black so here are its top 2 lines and resulting position for each move at d=35:

1. [-0.42]: 11...Bxh2+ 12.Kh1 Qxc4 13.g3 Nf6 14.Nb6 Qc6 15.Qxc6 bxc6 16.Nxa8 Nd5 17.Re3 (try finding this move OTB!) 17...Nxe3 18.Bxe3 Bxg3 19.fxg3 Ke7 20.Rc1 e5 21.Nb6 f6 22.Kg1 Ke6 23.Rc3 h5 24.Bd2 g5 25.Be1 Rg8 26.Kf2 f5 27.Rc5 Bb7 28.Nxd7 (an interesting assessment by Stockfish; I guess it was concerned about Black's k-side pawn avalanche) 28...Kxd7 29.Rxe5 h4 30.gxh4 gxh4 31.Rxf5 c5 32.Rf7+ Kc8 33.Rh7 Rg2+ 34.Ke3 Rxb2 35.Bxh4

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Even though after 35...Rxa2 Black will be up two pawns but isolated and on the same side of the board), the BOC, White's rook on the 7th, and he more active king probably gives White reasonable drawing chances.

2. [-0.17]: 11...Qxc4 12.Nb6 Qc6 13.Qxc6 dxc6 14.Nxa8 Ne7 15.Nb6 Bd7 16.Nc4 Bc7 17.b3 Nd5 18.Ba3 f6 19.Bd6 Kd8 20.Bxc7+ Kxc7 21.f3 e5 22.Kf2 Rd8 23.Red1 Be6 24.Ne3 Nc3 25.Rxd8 Kxd8 26.Nd1 Nd5 (I'm not sure why Stockfish as White continues to try to exchange pieces and why as Black it rejects the exchanges since Black's 2-pawn advantage will become more advantageous in the endgame) 27.Ne3 Kc7 28.Ke2 h5 29.Kd3 h4 30.Nxd5+ cxd5 31.Rd1 Kc6

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Material is equal but with respect to winning chances I think that Black's ending position in this line is relatively better than its ending position in the first line. What do you think?

Stockfish likewise kept going back and forth in each search ply as to whether Kahn's 11...Qc6 or 11...Qb8 was Black's 3rd best move but I won't bother to post the lines since both were assessed by Stockfish to be favorable for White.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Sally Simpson> Morra! Morra! Morra! (part 2 of 2)

For comparison, Komodo 10 initially (until d=27) evaluated 11...Qxc4 substantially higher than 11...Bxh2+ (about [-1.00] to [-0.60]) but starting at d=28 it did an about face and began to evaluate 11...Bxh2+ slightly higher. Here are Komodo's top 2 lines at d=32 although prior to this search play it evaluated 11...Bxh2+ much higher than 11...Qxc4, about [-0.50] better::

1. [-0.14]: 11...Bxh2+ 12.Kh1 Qxc4 13.g3 Nf6 14.Nb6 Qc6 15.Qxc6 bxc6 16.Nxa8 Nd5 17.Re3 Nxe3 18.Bxe3 Bxg3 19.fxg3 d6 (only here does Komodo deviate from Stockfish) 20.Nb6 Ke7 21.Kg2 e5 22.Rc1 Bd7 23.Nxd7 Kxd7 24.Rc4 c5 25.Ra4 Rb8 26.b3 Ra8 27.Rg4 g6 28.Ra4 Kc6 29.Bg5 h5 30.Kf3 f5 31.Be3 Ra7 32.Ra5 Kd5

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Black has 4 pawns for the bishop and the more active king, although his rook is more passive and it's hard to see how it can make much progress on the k-side with White's dark square bind.

2. [-0.11]: 11...Qxc4 12.Nb6 Qc6 13.Qxc6 bxc6 (Komodo prefers to capture towards the center instead of Stockfish's 13...dxc6) 14.Nxa8 Bb7 15.Nb6 Nf6 16.Nc4 Bc7 17.Bd2 d5 18.Na5 Ba8 19.Nb3 Ke7 20.Nc5 Nd7 21.Nxa6 Bd6 22.b4 Bb7 23.Nc5 Nxc5 24.bxc5 Bxc5 25.Rec1 Bd6 26.Rab1 Ba8 27.Bg5+ f6 28.Be3 e5 29.Bc5 Bxc5 30.Rxc5 Ke6 31.Ra5 d4 32.Kf1 Rd8 33.Ra7 c5 34.Rxg7

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Black has B+P vs. R but that central pawn phalanx looks difficult to stop, so I concur with Komodo's evaluation that Black has no worse than an equal game. And, restarting the analysis from this position, Komodo favors Black more strongly, evaluating the resulting position at [-1.32], d=28, after 34...c4 35.Rxh7 Rd6 ...

And Komodo, like Stockfish, went back and forth between 11...Qc6 and 11...Qb6 as to which one was Black's 3rd best move.

So, given the difficulty and the time that it took both Stockfish and Komodo to determine what Black's best response was to 11.Qxf3 and Santiago's almost 250 rating point advantage over Kahn, it's not surprising that the latter decided to play it safe and not risk either 11...Qxc4 or (if he considered it) 11...Bxh2+. And the move Kahn selected, 11...Qc6 was a reasonable one under the circumstances.

But Santiago might also have been considering his almost 250 rating point advantage over Kahn when he played 10.Nd5. And this analysis, which seems to indicate that Black could have survived after 11.Qf3, should in no way affect our enjoyment of this game. It certainly didn't to me.

You and others that like this game may also enjoy

As far as your question about how many clichés did you manage to squeeze in there, the obvious answer is "One too many." :-)

BTW, in case you or anyone else didn't make a connection, my Morra! Morra! Morra! Was intended to be a take on the 1970 Japanese – American movie Tora! Tora! Tora! About the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

Sep-23-16  FairyPromotion: <Sally Simpson: This without any doubt is the best game of the 2016 Olympiad.>

Thanks Sally! I enjoyed both the game and you 'clicheful' post. However if people are interested in the best game of the Olympiad, I'd direct them to R Rapport vs Pelletier, 2016.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi AylerKupp,

Yes of course it's 'Mayhem in the Morra', by Quality Chess.

There I was writing about about a book saying everyone should have and it does not exist!

Hi FairyPromotion,

Any game, win or lose, with Richard Rapport involved are usually entertaining.

Maybe have categories of the best game. Jonathan Torres Santiago - Tito Kahn is the best miniature.

Regarding clichés, I try to avoid them like the plague, count your blessings I did not use more, I just go with the flow.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hello Again Aylerkupp,

I forgot to mention, I'm pretty sure J.T. Santiago does not consider grades before kicking off a sac attack.

Here he is 300 pts. below his opponent, again he plays the Morra and sacrifices his chess set.

J Torres Santiago vs Moheb Ameir, 2016

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Sally Simpson> Here he is 300 pts. below his opponent, again he plays the Morra and sacrifices his chess set.>

Thanks. Good to know in case I ever meet him across the board. :-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: [Fritz 10]: 1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 e6 6. Bc4 a6 7. 0-0 [last book move Opening Explorer ] Qc7 8. Re1 Opening Explorer Bd6 9. e5 [9. Bd3= would allow White to play on] Nxe5 [ ] 10. Nd5 Nxf3+ [10 ... exd5 11. Bf4 dxc4 12. Nxe5 =] 11. Qxf3? [11. gxf3 Qxc4 12. Nb6 Bxh2+ 13. Kg2 ] Qc6?? [releasing the pressure on the opponent - 11 ... Qxc4 and Black gets the upper hand 12. Nb6 Qb4 ] 12. Qg4 Kf8 13. Qh4 Be7 [13 ... Ne7!? 14. Nxe7 Bxe7 ] 14. Nxe7 [ ] Nxe7 15. Bd2 b5 16. Bb4 [16. Be2 Bb7 17. Bf3 ] f6? [16 ... d6 17. Bd3 f5 ] 17. Bxe6?? [Sacrifices material, with this move White loses his initiative - 17. Bb3 Kf7 18. Rac1 ] dxe6 [ ] 18. Rac1 Qb7 19. Bd6 Qd7 [19 ... Ra7!? 20. Qg3 Kf7 ] 20. Red1 [=] Ra7? [20 ... Kf7!? 21. Rc7 Ra7 22. Rxd7 Rxd7 =] 21. Bc5 [ ] Qc7?? [21 ... Kf7 22. Rxd7 Rxd7 ] 22. Bxe7+ [ ] Kxe7 [22 ... Kf7 is one last hope 23. Rxc7 Rxc7 ] 23. Rxc7+ Rxc7 24. Qg3 1-0.

The Smith-Morra Gambit is considered dormant but not dead. Here it worked spectacularly, perhaps due to surprise value. The safest course for Black is declining with 3 ... d5 and White gets stuck with an Isolated Queen Pawn (IQP) Opening Explorer . Fritz is pretty harsh on this game (for both sides) but computers know how to bail themselves out tactically.

White can gain a very dangerous initiative for the Pawn in the Smith-Morra Gambit - compare

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