Tuesday, 22 December 2009

My Cute Checkmate

I'm finally ready to show you some of my creations. Here is my third round game from the women's section of the London Chess Classic. I played with white against Olivia Smith from Wales, rated 2026. Our opening was Queen's Gambit Declined, Exchange Variation (D36). You can replay the whole game via an applet below. But here is the commentary with some insights into my thinking approach:

M.Yurenok - O.Smith

M. Yurenok - O. Smith
10 December 2009

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. c4 e6 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Nc3 c6 6. Bg5 Be7 7. Qc2 Nbd7 (7... g6 is a good alternative for black, with the idea of 8...Bf5)

8. e3 h6?! (8...O-O is the usual move here, while 8...h6 looks a bit early)

9. Bh4 (9. Bf4 is also a good alternative with the idea of h3 and Ne5)

9... b6  I haven't come across this plan in this opening yet as I haven't been playing this opening for long. Black normally develops the pieces like: 0-0, Re8, Nf8 aiming for ideas around playing Ne4 or c5. While white either creates pawn minority attack on the queen side or aims for e4 push

10. Bd3 Bb7 11. O-O O-O Previous two moves were straightforward development, but now I have the key decision point. A minority attack may not have the usual effect as black would probably push c5 before my pawns get very far. I decided just to develop my rooks where I thought they would be useful if black plays c5, which I was expecting very soon. It's better than having no plan at all.

12. Rfd1 (12. Rad1 would actually be more precise as the other rook could be quite useful either on e or f file)

12... Re8 13. Rac1 Ne4 14. Bg3 is not the best move, but I had a plan in mind to get the e4 square back under my control and to put my knight on e5 followed by f4 and perhaps a kingside attack. A good alternative would have been: 14. Bxe4 Bxh4 15. Bh7+ Kh8 16. Bf5 Bf6 17. e4 g6 18. Bh3 +/=

14... Nxg3 15. hxg3 Nf6 16. Ne5 Bd6 17. f4 Bxe5 18. dxe5 This is the position I was going for at move fourteen

18... Nd7 (18... Ng4!? may be an interesting alternative)

19. Qe2 I want to swap my queen and bishop around to attack the enemy king. A good alternative would have been: 19. Bh7+ Kh8 20. Bf5 with e4 as an idea. Rybka suggests that here black should give up a piece with 20...Ne5 giving a slight advantage for white, but I doubt many humans would seriously consider this move and agree with computer's calm assessment.

19... Nc5 20. Bb1 Qe7 21. Kf2?! Aiming to put my rook on h1, but this turns out to be a bit slow. A good
alternative would have been: 21. e4 dxe4 (21... Red8 22. exd5 cxd5 23. Nb5 Ba6 24. Qc2 g6 25. Nd6 with nice position for white) 22. Nxe4 Nxe4 23. Qxe4 g6 24. Qa4 and black would struggle to defend all her pawns

21... Rad8 22. Qc2 g6 23. b4 Ne4+? (23... Ne6 and 23... Nd7 were perfectly fine. My opponent saw that by giving up a pawn she'd get it back, but I saw further than that)

24. Nxe4 dxe4 25. Qxe4 c5 26. Qc4 cxb4 27. Bxg6! This is what she missed.

27... Rc8 28. Qb3 Rxc1 29. Rxc1 Rd8 Black is threatening 30...Bd5 followed by taking on g6. Here I saw a very cute checkmate several moves ahead and I wanted it! Unfortunately it stopped me from thinking straight. I quickly discounted 30. Bd3! as a "bad" move, while there was actually nothing wrong with it - I just keep a healthy pawn. I could have spent a bit more than a few seconds looking at it to realise my wrong assessment, but my wishful thinking meant I already decided that my move was the only good move. I wanted a simple decision and I was hoping that my opponent would cooperate with getting into the checkmate - not a good approach to choosing a move!! I did realise that if my opponent didn't make the move I was hoping then I would end up in a rather complicated pawn and rook endgame with chances for both sides. I was a bit concerned that in this scenario I might actually lose because of the approaching time-trouble. Nevertheless, I played:

30. Qxf7+!? Qxf7 31. Bxf7+ Kxf7 32. Rc7+ Ke6?? That's the black's move I was hoping for and now I could relax being sure that I'm winning. But if black played a better move my win would have been far from straightforward 32... Ke8! 33. Rxb7 Rd2+ 34. Kf3 Rxa2 35. f5 b3 36. Rb8+! Not an easy move to find and other moves lead to an immediate draw, e.g. (36. e6 Ra5 37. e4 Re5 38. Rb8+ Ke7 39. Rb7+ Ke8 =; 36. f6 Ra1 37. e6 Rf1+ 38. Ke4 Rxf6 39. Ke5 Rf1 40. Rb8+ Ke7 41. Rb7+ =) 36... Ke7 37. f6+ Ke6 38. Re8+ Kf7 39. Re7+ Kf8 40. e6 Ra5 41. Rh7 Rf5+ 42. Ke4 Rxf6 43. Ke5 Rg6 44. Rf7+ Ke8 45. Rxa7 b2 46. Kd6 Kf8 47. Rf7+ Kg8 48. Rf1 Rxg3 white has winning chances, but it would be hard to win

33. Rxb7 Rd2+ 34. Kf3 Rxa2 35. Ke4 b3 nothing could have saved from checkmate (35... Rf2 36. g4)

36. f5# But how cute is this! 1-0


Anonymous said...


In your analysis after 32....Ke8! 33 Rxb7 Rd2+ 34 Kf3 Rxa2 35 f5 b3 36 Rb8+ Ke7 37 f6+ Ke6 38 Re8+ Kf7 39 Re7+ Kf8 40 e6 Ra5, instead of 41 Rh7, it looks as though 41 Kf4!! wins. Although Black can queen her pawn, White's king can escape the checks e.g.: 41 Kf4 Rf5+ 42 Kxf5 b2 43 e4 b1=Q 44 Rd7 Qb5+ 45 Rd5 Qe8 46 e7+ Kf7 47 Rd8 Qb5+ 48 e5 Qb1+ 49 Kf4 Qf1+ 50 Kg4 Qe2+ 51 Kh4 Qe4+ 52 Kh3 Qf5+ 53 g4


Maria Yurenok said...

Hi Michael,

I think you're right with your variation. It's complicated to find, but it's winning for white. Thanks for that :)


Anonymous said...

Dear Maria

Thank you very much for your interesting comments. It`s very difficult to find such a detailed comments. I would be very grateful to you if you could comment another game.

Marry Christmas

Maria Yurenok said...

I'm glad you like it Konrad. I will certainly comment more games, but it won't happen all the time :) Merry Christmas to you too!

Badi said...

hey, nice game; but ain't that typical of a female : going after a "cute" continuation even tho it's not the best! aha i think so.

Maria Yurenok said...

haha! Thanks! I think all chess players have weaknesses of one kind or another, it's not limited to females :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Maria,

Firstly I want to say nice blog and good luck in your chess aim!

Now that you have time to study chess I'm interested as to how much you spend looking at a game like this? Also do you think next time you will hesitant before playing into a variation after seeing one beautiful line or will it be a case of "I know I shouldn't do this, but..." ? :) After all chess is for fun.


Maria Yurenok said...

Thanks for your support Tim.

You posed a difficult question. I probably would do this again. My decision during the game was a lot more intuitive than fully weighted and intentional, so it's not something I can cure straight away. Doing thoughts analysis after the game should hopefully help. I know chess should be fun, but it's probably more sensible to choose a safe winning option during a serious tournament. Of course, if it's a less serious game then trying a beautiful but not best continuation is definitely worth it.

Analysing a game properly takes a long time. First I spent about half an hour analysing it with my friend IM Simon Ansell. It's important to get help from stronger players especially from a positional perspective. He showed me some ideas I haven't thought of. And afterwards I polished the variations with the help of Rybka which probably took about an hour.

Maria Yurenok said...

For everyone: don't forget that if you have any comments and you don't want me to publish them, just send me an e-mail: myurenok@btinternet.com

Maria Yurenok said...

Thanks to Brendan who sent me a photo of me playing against Olivia Smith, which I've just added to this blog post.

Anonymous said...


I love this mate. In fact I have never seen one quite like it and only spotted it was about to happen about two moves from the end. Normally the King has space to escape and it wasn't entirely obvious how dangerous it was for black at the end.

I also liked moves 19 and 26.


Maria Yurenok said...

Hi Rob,

I'm glad that my chess is becoming more entertaining, so that I can share it with other people for their enjoyment!