Ivanisevic is a strong attacking player. He wins many nice games, especially with the white pieces, thanks to his sharp and dangerous openings.
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 a6 Acs chooses his favorite Slav opening with 4…a6.
5.Bd3 A rare move, which probably wants to avoid the recently popular line of 5. Nf3 Bf5. Black has several options here, the most common being b5, but the text move is also a very natural reaction.
6.b3!? We are already in a more or less new position from a theoretical point of view. As White has already developed his light squared bishop, Black was ready to take on c4 to win the tempo, followed by the standard b5-c5 operation. From now on White intends to recapture with the b-pawn to strengthen his center and also to develop the bishop to b2 later on. [6.Nf3 would transpose to a main line after 6…dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 followed by c5.]
6…c5 This looks like a loss of a tempo, but it is actually one of the main ideas of this line. Black takes some ground by freeing his position. He intends to challenge the center with Nc6.
8.O-O! Very deep preparation, involving a pawn sacrifice.
8…dxc4 [8…cxd4 9.exd4 Be7 was an option to avoid the complications, but then White might get a better position with 10.c5 Because of the a6 move Black has no good way to undermine the c5 pawn with b6 and it might also be unpleasant to deal with 10…O-O 11.Na4! Nd7 12.Bf4+=; 8…Be7 loses a tempo, so White clarifies the situation in the center: 9.dxc5! Bxc5 10.cxd5 exd5 11.h3! Preventing Bg4, followed by Bb2 and Ne2-d4, with a typical fight against the isolated pawn, where White’s chances are better.]
9.bxc4 cxd4 10.exd4 Nxd4 There was no way back, Acs had to grab the material, otherwise Black has just given up the center.
11.Nxd4 Qxd4 12.Bb2 This game was played next to me.
Ivanisevic was still blitzing out his moves. Black is seriously behind in development and he needs to lose a further tempo to move away with the queen. If he succeeds to play Be7 and 0-0 on the other hand, he will end up with an extra pawn.
12…Qb6 Black brings back his queen into safety. [12…Qd8!? would probably be met similarly to the game: 13.Qf3 Be7
14.Rad1 White always brings his pieces with tempo. 14…Qc7 15.Ne4 Nxe4 16.Bxe4 O-O
This position arises after very natural play by both sides. It might be a critical one also from the opening point of view. Black is ready to consolidate with f5 or e5, pushing back the pieces and keeping an extra pawn. Therefore White must use the moment to gain something… 17.Bxh7+! is the standard series of sacrifce, but it seems to only lead to a draw: 17…Kxh7 18.Qh5+ Kg8 19.Bxg7! Destroying the kingside, followed by bringing the rook along the 3rd rank. 19…Kxg720.Qg4+Kf6! (20…Kh6 21.Rd3 Bg5! might also be playable, although it looks very suspicious after 22.f4) 21.Rd3 Bd6!
With the idea to run away with Ke7. 22.Qh4+ Kg6 23.Qg4+! (The mate can be prevented after 23.f4 23…Qc5+ 24.Kh1 f6! 25.Rg3+Kf7 26.Qh7+Ke8i The king escapes and Black has two extra bishops.) ; 12…Qh4!? is the computer’s suggestion but for a human it looks suspicious because the queen might get stuck out of the game.]
13.Rb1 And the queen needs to move again.. .
14.Ne4! White trades a defender and opens the diagonal for the b2 bishop. It is not easy to finish the development because of the g7 pawn and the pressure on the f6 knight.
14…Be715.Qf3 Over pressing the f6 knight, so Black is forced to open the long diagonal. [Another attacking option was 15.Nxf6+ 15…Bxf6 16.Bxf6 gxf6 17.Qh5 followed by Rfe1. The black king will stay in the center forever, although the final breakthrough is still far away. Black will try to shelter his king one e7.]
15…Nxe4 16.Bxe4 f6?! After a long thought, Black decided to keep the king in the center. [16…O-O! should have been played. We have the same position as in the 12…Qd8 line, with only the rook standing on b1 and not on d1. Once again the critical continuation is 17.Bxh7+ Kxh7 18.Qh5+ Kg8 19.Bxg7! This could be the only reason why Acs refused to castle kingside, but it again seems to lead to a perpetual, just as in the 12… Qd8 line. 19…Kxg7 20.Qg4+ Kf6 21.Rb3 Bd6 22.Qh4+ Kg6 23.Qg4+=]
17.Qh5+ Avoiding castling forever.
17…Kf8 White cannot lead a mating attack directly, he must continue with some prophylactic measures. Black has only one dream in this position, to finish the development of the queenside, for example with Bd7-c6. Therefore White puts pressure on the b7 pawn. [17…g6? is obviously a blunder because of 18.Bxg6+]
18.Qf3!? [Another strong move was 18.Rfd1!? 18…Rb8 (The idea is that after 18…Bd7 19.Bxf6! Bxf6 20.Rxb7 wins.) 19.Bd4 Preventing Bd7 again, this time White could play Ba7. 19…b6 White has a very deep move here: 20.h3!? Not necessary of course, but the point is to still keep the bishop on c8. Black has no useful move with any other pieces and 20…Bd7 allows 21.Bxb6! Rxb6 22.Rxb6 Qxb6 23.Rxd7c With a big advantage and here we can see that h3 is a very useful move to have the back rank opened.]
18…Rb8 19.Bd4 White opens the rook’s file and intends to confuse Black with Ba7 or Bb6.
19…f5 [Ivanisevic’s point of bringing back the queen to f3 becomes clear after the most obvious 19…b6 Now White plays 20.Qe3! and Black has problems with the b6 pawn. To grab the c4 pawn is of course always too optimistic. With a king on f8 one should never grab pawns and open new files for the rooks. 20…Qxc4 loses to 21.Rfc1 Qa4 22.Qf4!h trapping the b8 rook.]
20.Rfd1 Activating the last unemployed piece. [It would also have made sense to transfer the bishop back to e3 first with 20.Ba7 20…Ra8 21.Be3 Rb8 22.Rfd1 Threatening Bf4. But of course the text move is more human.]
20…Bf6 The e4 bishop is suddenly hanging and Black is ready to trade some pieces to easen his defensive task. White needs to continue precisely.
21.Bb6! [21.Ba7? could be met by 21…fxe4]
21…Qe5 [21…fxe4 is refuted by 22.Qa3+! Qe7 (22…Be7
23.Bxc7 Bxa3 24.Rd8+ Kf7 25.Rxh8h) 23.Bc5h; 21…Qxc4 22.Qg3Ra8 White has many tempting options. A spectacular attacking move is 23.Bd8!h trying to free the d8 square for the rook.]
22.Bc2 Kf7 Black is one step closer to connecting his rooks, but developing the c8 bishop still looks like a hopeless task.
23.Rb3! White further improves his pieces.
23…h5 Black cannot move with his pieces, so he at least prevents the checks on h5. But of course it is already a bad sign if somebody has to make such moves.
24.Re3 Qb2 The only square for the queen.
25.Bb3! might look a bit strange, but the bishop is actually going to stand extremely well after c5, getting a new target on e6!
25…g5 Black tries a clever attempt to make some artificial safety for his king on g6, but in a bad position all moves are just bad.
26.c5 Kg6 27.Bc7! Ivanisevic continues with his precise and energetic moves! [27.Bxe6? immediately would only help Black: 27…Bxe6 28.Rxe6 Rhe8 Suddenly Black connects his rooks and gets rid of his poor c8 bishop.]
27…g4 [27…Ra8 loses to 28.Bxe6! Bxe6 29.Rxe6 And the difference of having the Bc7 move included is that 29…Rhe8 30.Be5! wins.]
28.Qf4 Ra8 [28…Bg5 was Acs’s intention when he pushed g4, but it has a beautiful refutation!
[29.Qe5! Qxe5 30.Bxe5 Bxe3 31.fxe3h Black loses a full rook.]
29.Be5! Trading the only defender of the king. Black cannot save himself…
29…Bxe5 30.Rxe5 Kf6 Allowing White to finish the game in style. [30…Re8 31.Rde1h The e6 pawn will fall and it also means the end of the game as Kf6 allows Qh6.]
31.Rxf5+! exf5 32.Rd6+ Ke7 33.Qg5+ Black resigned in view of Rd8 mate. A great attacking game! 1-0