B. Igla (2291) – T. Kosintseva (2492)
European Team Chess Championship,
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4
The Nimzo-Indian defense is one of the most complicated of all chess openings. The positions can be sharp, positional, closed or wide open.
This is arguably White’s best response. The idea is to avoid doubled pawns after …Bxc3.
The main line is 5.a3, forcing Black to give up the pin of the c3-knight.
5…c5 6.dxc5 Na6
General opening advice suggests not to bring your knight to the edge of the board, but in this case it is only a temporary stop-over on the way to the center.
7.a3 Bxc3+ 8.Qxc3 Nxc5
Now the knight is back in business.
9.Bxf6 Qxf6 10.Qxf6 gxf6 11.b4 Na4
It seems that White was thinking “less pieces, less problems,” but it is a risky strategy that often backfires. Black has doubled f-pawns, but White is significantly behind in development.
After 12.c5 b6, Black would be in good shape too.
12…b6 13.Nf3 Ba6 14.Kd2
In another recent game, White also suffered after 14.Nd2Rfc8 15.Ne4 Kf8 16.Be2 Ke7 17.Nd2 Rc7 18.e4 Rac8 19.Bd1 Nb2 20.b5 Bb7 21.Bb3Nd3+ 22.Ke2 Nf4+ 23.Kf3 e5 24.g3 Ne6 25.Ke3 Nd4 26. Bd1 f5 Mchedlishvili – Gelashvili, Tbilisi 2007.
14…Rfc8 15.Rc1 Nb2 16.c5
16.b5 Bb7 would gravely weaken the c5-square as well as White’s c4-pawn.
16…Bxf1 17.Rhxf1 bxc5 18.Kc3
After 18.bxc5 Na4, White cannot hang on to the c5-pawn.
This is the critical moment of the game.
A brilliant move! After 19…Nb6 20.bxc5 Nd5 21. e4, White regains the pawn and it would be Black who would have to fight for a draw.
Otherwise Black simply keeps the extra pawn.
21.Kb5 is even worse, as after 21…bxa3, White loses if she captures on c5: 22.Rxc5 Rcb8+ 23.Kc4 a2 24.Ra1 Rb1.
After 22.Kc4 d5+ 23.Kb5, Black could play 23…c4, because if 24.Kxb4, Black mates in two by 24…Rb3+ 25.Ka4 Ra8#.
Black has three connected passed pawns for the knight and a clear advantage.
23.Ra1 c3+ 24.Kb1 Rxa1+ 25.Kxa1 b3
The pawns are unstoppable!
26.Nd4 Ra8+ 27.Kb1
Is Black’s attack over? If 27…b2 28.Kc2 Ra1 29. Rb1 or 27…c2+ 28.Kb2, and the tables have turned. However, as so often happens, tactics come to the rescue.
Black indirectly protects the pawn: 28.Nxb3 Rb2+.
This is objectively the best move, although the pawn endgame after the simpler 28…c2+ 29.Nxc2 Rxc2 30.Rxc2 bxc2+ 31.Kxc2 should also be winning.
White had no choice but to give up the knight.
29…exd4 30.exd4 Rxf2
Now Black is ahead two pawns and the rest is easy.
31.Rg3+ Kf8 32.h3 Ke7 33.Rg7 f5 34.Rxh7 Rxg2 35.Rh4 Kf6 36.Kc1 Kg5 37.Rh7 Kg6 38.Rh8 Rc2+ 39.Kb1 f4 0–1
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