Catch Me if You Can

Catch Me if You Can

| 34 | Opening Theory

by GM Magesh and GM Arun


After playing Chess for the past twenty odd years, there are two things that I (Magesh) have really gotten good at; getting into trouble and getting out of it! Active counter play and good fighting spirit has always given a good hand to my comebacks. Today I wanted to share a very interesting and probably a pivotal game in my chess career.


Going back to the year 2003, I had just gotten admitted with a scholarship into the University of Texas at Dallas that spring and I had completed my IM title just a year before. I was all pumped up going into the Asian Junior Championships in Negombo, Srilanka that year with a month of training from GM Evgeny Vladymirov in the Junior camp. I was seeded number two and I started off reasonably with a 3.5/5 score. In my sixth round I was facing an Iranian master Akbarnia Ahmed Saeed who was having a very good tournament thus far. And then, this happened....


The same position occurs in a slightly inferior variation for black in the Queen's Indian g3 system. I am going to deviate from the game at this point for a moment to show you that other variation.


Now let us get back to my game,



I have just blundered, but I leave it to you to try to solve what my opponent should do here: (if you can't solve it at first, try reading the hint below before clicking on "solution")


If you solved it, great! If you were not able to, then try reading this and give it one more shot.

Let me try to explain the solution to this tactic in words. First white notices that there is a nice pin along the 'd' file. A simple way to exploit a pin would be to either attack the pinned piece itself or attack a piece that is protected by the pinned piece (naturally because the pinned piece cannot move). In this case the pawn on 'd5' is the pinned piece, but it is well protected. The pawn however is protecting a knight on e4. Let us take a look at who is attacking the knight on e4, ohh! We have our queen on c2, but remember the pin you have on the 'd' file is only on your enemy queen, so giving up your queen to get your opponent's queen might not be a great tactic, not to mention the rook that you would lose in the transaction! So let us see who else is attacking the knight on e4? There is a bishop on g2 that is indirectly attacking the e4 knight, or what we call a discovered attack in chess terms. Now we have broken down our task to a simpler form, if you find a way to release your f3 knight with a tempo (a check or a capture or an attack), you will win the e4 knight (remember the d5 pawn cannot recapture because it is pinned). Also, since you know you can only win a knight in the end, you should not sacrifice anything more than a minor piece to achieve this tactic. I am not sure if this made things clearer or made it more confusing, but give it a shot to solve it one more time now.


I hope everyone was able to get the solution to that one. Having found it, if you think the game is over, then you are just completely wrong! The game is just about to begin. So far you have seen the part where I get into trouble, now it is time to see how I get out of it!




Initially, after the shock of Nxf7, I glanced at this variation and then left it alone, but practically I was left with no other choice. If I am going down, it is not without putting up a fight. I remember my friends and other players looking at my board a little confused. The black king is right in the middle of the board, right in the middle of the game!

This position is actually not as easy as it looks. Even though the black king is completely stripped naked of his defenses, he has a nice escape route back to safety and there is no clear way for white to stop that. Rybka evaluates this position as a good advantage for white, but over the board my opponent was down psychologically. From what appeared to be the end of the game, he had to work again to achieve his desired result and that switch in momentum is not easy to cope with in tournament play.



Not a flawless game, but a game that will remain in my memory for a long long time! I joined the lead with this win and I went on to win the championship, earning my first Grandmaster norm.

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