A Lesson from Neubauer – Sargissian, 2007

Position after Black’s 35…c5

Black has occupied the h file. The first move that came to my mind was to play Rh1 and exchange the rook on h8, and this in fact what was played.

Q: Is it the right way to proceed?

A: In fact Rh1 is a blunder in the given position as White can’t prevent Black’s king from penetration on the queenside via the light squares. The game ended after 5 more moves.

36. Rh1?? Rxh1 37. Kxh1 a4 38. dxc5

This is just another mistake but the alternatives also seem to lose:
a) 38. Be3 Kc6! 39. Kg2 b4! and Black is winning.
b) 38. Kg2 cxd4! 39. cxd4 b4! has the idea of bringing the king to c4/b3 via Kc6-b5-c4-b3, which is winning for Black.
c) 38. f4 cxd4 and same plan given in option b will win.

38…Kc6!

An exercise for readers: Why should Black should not directly capture the pawn on c5 with his bishop?

39. Kg2 Kxc5 40. Kf2 Kc4 41. Ke2 Kb3

White resigned.

Lesson: Do not exchange the last major piece from the board until and unless it is must because it can prevent the opponent’s piece from getting in to your position. It is also very useful for attacking the opponent’s weaknesses.

The correct way to defend the position was to play 36.dxc5 followed by pawn to f4 and it is very difficult for Black’s rook to find any good square on h file. After exchanging the rook the position was lost as White can’t prevent Black king from penetrating on the queenside via the light squares.

Ashvin Chauhan