As I write, the final results of the Baku Olympiad are still not in. England are fighting for a possible medal position. The highlight so far was our 3-1 victory against the defending gold medallists, China. The most spectacular game was Nigel Short’s complicated victory, which I analyse this week.
Li Chao-Short: Baku Olympiad 2016; Nimzo-Indian Defence
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Nf3 b6 5 e3 Bb7 6 Bd3 0-0 Viable alternatives are 6 … Ne4 and 6 … c5. 7 Bd2 d5 8 cxd5 exd5 9 0-0 Nbd7 10 Rc1 a6 11 Ne5 Re8 I have some experience of this variation. In the game Keene-Seuss, Ybbs 1968 Black continued with the less useful 11 … Bd6 12 f4 Ne4 13 Nxe4 dxe4 14 Bc4 Nf6 15 Qb3. Short avoids playing 11 … Bd6, a move which makes it almost impossible for Black ever to contemplate trading off White’s aggressive knight on e5. 12 f4 This attacking formation for White, a kind of Deferred Stonewall, is well known from the prototype launched in Pillsbury-Tarrasch, Hastings 1895. 12 … Nf8 13 Be1 c5 14 Bh4 c4 15 Bc2 b5 16 g4 Qb6 (see diagram 1) The tenor of the middlegame has now been established. White has lined up all his forces against the black king. Meanwhile, Black will try and cash in with his mobile queenside majority of pawns. 17 g5 Ne4 It is important to place an obstacle in the path of White’s bishop on c2. 18 Nxe4 dxe4 19 Qe2 Bd5 20 Qg2 Qb7 21 f5 Nd7 22 Ng4 Kh8 23 Bg3 Rac8 24 Qh3 f6 25 g6 Nf8 26 Rf2 Rc6 27 Rcf1 a5 28 Rg2 a4 29 Rf4 c3 30 bxc3 Bxc3 31 Bh4 Qb6 Both sides have implemented their mirror-image breakthroughs. However, in spite of the extreme complexity of the position chances remain balanced. 32 gxh7 Re7 Better is 32 … Rec8 since White’s next coup should win for him. 33 Ne5 fxe5 (see diagram 2) 34 Bxe7 Here he misses an immortal finish. He should have played 34 f6 gxf6 35 Bxe4 Bxe4 (for the refutation of 35 … Bxa2, see this week’s puzzle) 36 Bxf6+ mates. 34 … exf4 35 Bxf8 Bxd4 This sacrifice now places White in danger. 36 Qg4 36 f6 Bxf6 37 Qd7 is the last chance. 36 … Rc7 37 Qh5 f3 38 Rg4 Be5 Missing 38 … Bxe3+ and 39 … Qd4 with a completely winning position. 39 Bc5 Inspired but inaccurate. 39 Qe8 forces a draw. 39 … Qh6 Not falling for a capture on c5 when White has Qe8+ followed by Rh4+. 40 Qe8+ Kxh7 41 Qxe5 Rxc5 42 Qe7 f2+ 43 Kg2 Bc4 44 Kxf2 Qxh2+ White resigns
Such games of high drama demonstrate why it will be impossible for computers to supplant the excitement of the flesh and blood battle.