Chess (#1010)

Last Updated: Fri, Jul 20, 2012 19:00 hrs

Even if you play the most offbeat openings, it is mathematically guaranteed that you will play some positions with both colours. Popular systems like the Spanish, the Queens Gambit and the Sicilian regularly see this switcheroo. There have many world title matches where the same positions have been handled repeatedly by both players with colours transposed.

Apart from requiring a high degree of familiarity with nuances, this situation present an interesting psychological problem. Do you “believe” in your openings with both colours? Can you implement the typical plans for white and for black with equal confidence?

Many players have a large plus-score playing one colour in specific systems. This leads to a distrust for the other colour. For example, Karpov never played the black side of the Grunfeld Defence and rarely played the Sicilian with black.

Kramnik is a noted King's Indian Defence killer. In the KID, black accepts weaknesses in a quest for counter-attack. Kramnik's filigree technique helped him rack up a huge plus on the white side and even prompted Kasparov to abandon the KID. Kramnik had played the black side of the KID twice in his life — the last time in 1997. Imagine the shock when he wheeled out the KID with black at the Dortmund Super GM. What is more Big Vlad won a model game against Jan Gustafsson.

After five rounds, Kramnik, Karjakin and Ponomariov share the lead with 3.5 points each. Naiditsch, Leko and Caruana are sharing 4-6 with 3 each. George Meier is on 2.5 while Gustafsson, Bartel, and Fridman trail with minus scores. The draw is imbalanced with six 2700-plus players and four 2600s. A big winning score of +4 or +5 may result, since Sofia Rules apply.

The diagram, BLACK TO PLAY (Gustafsson Vs Kramnik Dortmund 2012) arises after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0–0 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 c6 8.0–0 exd4 9.Nxd4 Re8 10.f3 d5 11.cxd5 Nxd5 12.Nxd5 cxd5 13.Rc1 a5 14.Qb3 a4 15.Qxd5 Qxd5 16.exd5 a3! 17.b3.

Now black played 17. – Nc6! 18.Nc2 Rxe3! 19.Nxe3 Nb4 Black is down material but it's difficult to stop the a3 pawn queening - a2/ a1 cannot be protected. 20.Rc4 ?!

The engines say 20.Rc7 Bd4 (20...Nxa2 21.d6!) 21.Re7 Nxa2! 22.Kf2 Nc3 23.Re8+ Kg7 24.d6 Nd5 25.d7 Bxe3+ 26.Kg3 Bxd7 27.Rxa8 Nf4 is unclear and 21. Re7 Nxd5 22.Re8+ Kg7 23.Kh1! Nxe3 24.Rc1 Nd5 25.Rcxc8 Rxc8 26.Rxc8 Nc3 27.Rxc3 is equal.

20...Nxa2 21.Ra4? Vanilla defence like 21. Bd3 Nc3 22. Nc2 a2 23. Ra1 Kf8 may lose. Black will improve his pieces (Bd7), pick up d5 and push b5. This surrenders.

21...Rxa4 22.bxa4 Bd4 23.Kf2 Nb4 24.Rc1 a2 25.Rxc8+ Kg7 26.Rc1 Nxd5 27.Rd1 Nxe3 (0–1) since 28.Rxd4 a1Q 29.Kxe3 Qg1+ is dead.

Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player

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