28 February 2009

A Narrow Draw, a Narrow Win, or a Rout?

Returning once more to Keres - Fischer, CT 1959, Keres played 22.f6 in the diagrammed position. Fischer gave the move '?' and recommended 22.Red1 to 'maintain the staus quo'. Kasparov gave the move '!?', because after other moves 'the Black Rook would have quickly come into play; whereas now [after 22.f6], without risking anything, White at least creates some difficulties for his opponent.'

1959 Candidates Tournament (round 1)
Fischer, Robert

Keres, Paul
(After 21...Rh8-h6)
[FEN "5k2/5pp1/p6r/1pqN1P1p/3R4/2P5/PP4PP/2K1R3 w - - 0 22"]

The game continued 22...gxf6 23.Nf4. White is trying to keep the Black King in a box and the Black Rook out of play. Kasparov:

Fischer does not comment on this move, but Ragozin writes: 'Now the placing of the White pieces is so unfortunate that Black not only frees himself, but also creates counterplay. After 23.Ne3!, maintaining the coordination of the White pieces, the Knight would have controlled the important f5 square and the Black King would not have been as safe as it is now.' A quite correct recommendation, but again only from the standpoint of maintaining the balance.

Here Kasparov gave two variations to show that White has adequate defensive resources, and continued the verbal analysis with

After other replies, by creating threats to the Black King with 24.Rd5 and 25.Nf5 White would also have been playing 'with the draw in hand'. This confirms the correctness of Keres's gambit idea f4-f5-f6.

After 23.Ne3, Rybka suggests 23...Qg5, preventing the Knight from going to f5 and not mentioned by Kasparov. Now after both 24.Rd5 Qf4 25.Rd4 Qf2 (25...Qg5 repeats) 26.Kd1 Rg6 (26...Qxb2 27.Rd8+ draws) 27.Re2 Qg1+ 28.Kc2 Kg8, and 24.g3 f5 25.h4 Qe7 26.Kd2 Re6, Black's King finds safety and the Rook enters the game.

If that doesn't hold for White, Rybka suggests the alternative 23.g3, guarding both f4 and h4, and deferring the placement of the Knight for another move. Since 23...f5 24.Rf1 isn't attractive, Black might try 23...Kg7, when there is still fight in the position.

After 23.Nf4, the game continued 23...h4 24.Rd8+ Kg7 25.Ree8, and Black invaded with 25...Qg1+. What could have been a seesaw between White's search for draw and Black's search for a win ended in White's rout.

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