An amazing game where the experienced International Master who leads the black pieces employs a shocking plan in the middle game, allowing Nisipeanu to conclude the game in style.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 So far nothing extraordinary has happened. We are at the initial position of the Classical Sicilian variation, where instead of the main line 6. Bg5 (Rauzer variation), White chooses the very sharp Sozin variation…
6.Bc4 Bd7!? A rather new direction. Black would like to play a Dragon-like game with g6-Bg7. [6…g6 immediately is considered to be a mistake because of the following tactical trick: 7.Nxc6! bxc6 8.e5! and 8…dxe5?? blunders the queen after 9.Bxf7+!h; 6…e6 is the main move.]
7.Bb3 Na5 It is very logical to take the pair of bishops, but it costs too much time. Black should have first focused on developing his pieces. [7…g6 is the right move to follow the original plan. White’s main choice is 8.f3 and here Black can choose between two moves: 8…Bg7 (8…Nxd4!? is perhaps the strongest. 9.Qxd4 Bg7 10.Be3 O-O 11.Qd2 b5 With a typical Dragon-type position with mutual chances.) 9.Be3 O-O 10.Qd2 transposes exactly to the Dragon!]
8.Bg5! Actively developing the pieces could be the only refutation of Black’s opening handling.
8…Nxb3?! [It was clearly better to not hurry with the capture,buttoplay8…e6! and in this case White cannot make use of the opened a-file.]
9.axb3 Of course White takes towards the center and at the same time opens the file for his rook.
9…Ng8? This and the next move are something one should not even consider for a moment. I don’t think it requires any explanation as to why this move is bad. [Black was probably afraid of the line 9…e610.Bxf6!? and he has no good recapture in view of 10…Qxf6 (10…gxf6 11.Qh5c is more than dangerous. White castles queenside and launches a decisive attack with f4-f5.) 11.Ndb5! attacking both the a7 and d6 pawns. This is the reason why Black should not have taken onb3… 11…Bxb512.Nxb5c; Maybe Black should have played some move like 9…a610. Bxf6(10.f4 also looks good.) 10…gxf6 11.Qh5 White is better anyway, but still anything is better than retreating a developed piece to its initial position.]
10.Nf5 Nisipeanu immediately tries to punish his opponent for his passive play. He creates the threat of Nxd6. Bxf5 exf5 would further squeeze Black’s position. Afterwards it would be even more difficult to finish the development.
10…f6? Another terrible-looking move. Black cannot hold with such a damage on the pawn structure and it also makes it even harder to finish the development of the kingside pieces. [Again any other move should have been preferred. The most natural one is 10…Bc6 preventing the Nxd6 threat and preparing to send away the bishop with h6. 11.O-O (The move would also have set a small trap. If White attacks two pawns at once with 11.Qd4 11…e5! saves Black!) 11…h6 12.Bf4 White is better of course, but the game goes on.]
11.Be3 Qb8 A third passive move in a row, but at least this one has its logic. The a7 pawn had to be protected and Black would like to kick out the f5 knight with e6 but he protected the d6 pawn first. But of course it is easy to feel that it will end up badly for Black.
12.O-Oe6 Temporarily pushing back the pieces, but Black still needs plenty of moves to develop the kingside.
13.Nd4 Ne7 Black can only use the e7 square for developing the pieces, but it means that he loses further tempi to evacuate this square for the other minor piece.
14.f4! There is no time to waste. White plans to open the central lines in front of the king.
14…a6 Another waste of tempo, but we can already consider the position to be objectively hopeless. [14…Nc6 would have been met by the same as the game: 15.f5! Nxd4 16.Qh5+!h forcing the king to move.]
15.f5! Working out the e6 and d5 squares for the knights! This f4-f5 is the standard idea of the Bc4 systems, but of course here the circumstances to fulfill this plan are excellent.
15…e5 16.Qh5+! Taking away the right to castle. The end is near.
16…Kd8 [16…g6 17.fxg6 Nxg6 is also over. White wins for instance after 18.Nd5 exd4 19.Nxf6+ Kd8 20.Bxd4 There are too many threats in the air, even such ones as Qa5, but of course there is nothing against the simple Nxd7 and Bxh8 either.]
17.Ne6+Bxe6[17…Kc8 18.Qf7h Black is totally paralyzed.]
18.fxe6 g6 [18…Qc7 loses in many different ways, one of them being 19.Nb5 Qc6 20.Nxd6!h; 18…Kc7 19.Qf7h followed by Nd5 is also over.]
19.Qh4 Bg7 20.Rxf6! The most direct finish of the game. With such superior piece, there is not much to calculate if the exchange is worth its value. Black collapses.
20…Bxf6 21.Qxf6 Re8
22.Bb6+ [Black resigned in view of 22.Bb6+ 22…Kc8 23.Qf7 And mate in few moves… Poor black pieces, but this is a good example that developing the pieces in the opening is very important, otherwise the punishment might be this painful if we face such a strong attacking player like Nisipeanu.] 1-0