The average rating of seven out of eight games is well above 2600, which says much about the high level of play. The games are taken from The Russian Championship 2004, Bundesliga 2004/05 and Spanish Team Championship 2004.
Classical: The Bayonet attack
As usual I would like to start with the Bayonet attack and our first game this month is Nielsen,PH-Nijboer,F, TCh-ESP2004.
In the diagram position Peter Heine improves upon Wells' play against the same opponent (see the November update) with 18.f3, exploiting the fact that the d5-pawn is untouchable. White obtains an advantage, but Black defends resourcefully and eventually Nielsen has to accept a draw. A game of a very high quality with clear plans from both sides. What can I add? A true GM draw!
Classical: The side line with 6...Bg4
In the game Miroshnichenko, E - Efimenko, Z, Bundesliga 2004/05 Black tries to improve upon Guseinov's play against Avrukh (The game can also be found in the November update) with 11...h6, but White's attack on the kingside proves to be very strong and allows him to win an exchange, which he converts into a full point without any problems. Black's play can be improved on moves 13th and 16th.
Classical: The Donner variation
The game Gurevich, M - Graf, A features the rare Donner variation.
The key-position arises after the queen exchange on b6. White plays 14. Na4 instead of the stronger 14.f4. Graf answers with a dubious exchange sacrifice. Gurevich obtains a clear advantage, but then suddenly errs and makes his task more difficult. Then he misses a simple tactical blow and had to be satisfied with a draw, but plays on and finds himself in a worse position. Nevertheless he manages to keep the draw thanks to precise defense. A very interesting game!
Fianchetto: The variation with ...Nc6
Our first Fianchetto game is Morozevich, A - Motylev, A, Russian championship 2004.
The first surprise in this game comes no later than on the very first move. Then Morozevich chooses rare, but solid, lines on moves 10 and 12 and gets a slight advantage. Thanks to Motylev's mistakes on moves 20th and 21st his advantage is becoming decisive, but in the diagram position he suddenly misses the simple tactical resource 22.Ne6! Instead he plays 22. Bxb6 and has to start all over again, but Motylev helps again by missing a pawn, which Moro converts in good style.
Fianchetto: The Panno Variation
The game Huebner, R - Efimenko, Z, Bundesliga 2004/05 features an uncommon line in the Panno Variation.
In the position of the diagram Huebner plays 12.Nde2 instead of the main line 12.Re1. Efimenko reacts aggressively and White commits a mistake under pressure and loses a pawn. Huebner then activates his pieces looking for escape through activity and this time the young Ukrainian makes a number of inaccurate moves and then sacrifices a piece, an exchange and eventually finishes the game by perpetual.
Fianchetto: Classical Variation
One of the sharpest games in this update is the game Bologan - Illescas Cordoba, TCh-SPA 2004.
Bologan uses a rare line with 8.Qc2. Soon the game transposes into another rare line with 8.b3. White develops his pieces very naturally and on the 12th move launches an offensive on the queenside. In the diagram position White comes up with a beautiful piece sacrifice (18.Nxc6), but then errs and after some forced play which ends only on move 31(!) a position with an extra pawn for Black arises. Later Bologan trades the rooks and in the bishop endgame, which is of theoretical interest, he commits a blunder and loses.
The must see game.
The 2004 Russian Championship produced another fascinating game. This time the game Bareev - Motylev.
After another rare line in the opening White obtained an advantage. However Black's position is still playable and in the diagram position he could proceed with 21...h6 22.Bh4 Nh5 this way preventing e5.
Instead Motylev decides to complicate matters with 21...Nb4, which is in fact a pawn sacrifice. Then he sacrifices an exchange and Bareev doesn't stand the pressure, makes an inaccurate move when Black obtains a very dangerous initiative, then sacrifices another exchange and eventually the game reaches a queen endgame with an extra pawn which Bareev manages to hold.
Another true GM draw.
Four Pawns Attack
And last, but not least, the game Colin, M - Sandu, M, Sautron 2004 is the only game in this update which is not played by strong GMs, but nevertheless is very interesting. I have to say that Mihaela Sandu herself sent the game with some comments which I used in my work.
This, the key-position in the game, arises after White's 12.Ra2. I believe Black could sacrifice the queen with 12...Qxc3! 13.Bd2 Bxe5! Instead she played 12...Qb4 and White could obtain an advantage, but also made an inaccurate move, which allowed Black to get some counterplay. However later she commits a mistake after which it was impossible to recover and eventually White wins. The queen sacrifice requires further tests.
Enjoy the games! See you in January.