Creepy Crawlies (3)

The final”creeping move” in our series is from a game between two top GMs nowadays, who at the time were leading junior talents in the then USSR. I saw this example in an outstanding book I have just translated, by the Azeri GM Sarhan Guliev, called “Ideas in Chess”, which will be published by New in Chess later this year. I recommend you look out for it, as it contains a wealth of instructive material.

In this example, the key position for us occurs after Black’s 29th move. Clearly, Black’s position is bad, as his king is vulnerable along the open h-file and he has less space. Hence his offer to exchange queens, which will at least go a long way towards securing his king. He will still be worse, but all the while he has his main trump, the beautiful knight on e5, he has defensive chances.

White, in his turn, would prefer not to exchange queens on h6, but the alternative 30.Qc3 puts the WQ on a relatively inactive square. Instead, the then 14-year old Kramnik finds the classy move 30.Qf4!, allowing the queen exchange, but on his own terms. Now if Black exchanges queens, he will lose his wonderful knight outpost on e5, whilst, if he does not exchange, then Rh1 is coming next move. Tiviakov lashes out with his g-pawn, but this does not solve his problems, and he goes inexorably downhill. Once again, White’s creeping move was the key to converting his advantage.

Steve Giddins