Monday, January 12, 2015

An Upset

As neutral spectators we all seem to enjoy watching an underdog come good against a higher rated opponent. Over the past few weeks I've been trying to keep abreast of some of my favourite tournaments of the year, the Australian Open (lack of games has been a bit disappointing), Wijk aan Zee, Australian Juniors which will start next week and Hastings. In fact, it's fair to say that most of my current chess work stems from this part of the year, and after January I move back to getting inspiration from the classics!

Anyway, I've been working my way through games from Hastings when I came up with Othman-Haussernot from round 2. To be honest, I know neither of these players but black was the higher rated by about 200 points. White's strategy was perfect playing a double edged system against a higher rated opponent who would probably prevail in a technical battle, or a long, slow game. The game was an open Sicilian which also adds another random factor as nobody can know everything about these crazy systems, and there are always some interesting sacrifices for white which can unbalance the situation so much that the chess engine verdict has little meaning in a game between players below master standard.

The shit hit the fan in the following position.

Black has kept his king in the centre a fraction too long which allows white to strike. Amazingly, this isn't the first time this position has been reached, but hopefully, black players will not seek it out again. Othman (1978) played 12.Nd5!! and black is already in big trouble 12..exd5 13.exd6!

The unfortunate position of black's king is now coming into play. This is the best kind of sacrifice, a temporary one that will win material! 13..Qxd6 14.Nf5 Qb6 15.Nxe7 [There was something to be said for 15.Rxe7+] 
Materially, the position is level but black's king is a real target, and black has no development to talk about, and black's d-pawn is falling. A black discovered check by 15..Nxb3 is easily handled by 16.Kh1 when white threatens their own discovered check, Nxc8 winning the house. The game continued for another 10 or so moves, but the outcome wasn't in any doubt.

It's nice to have games where it all falls in to place, especially when you're playing a higher rated opponent. Here's the game in full, enjoy :)

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