Just Played...

  • GM BryanSmith
  • | Feb 2, 2012

If you follow my column, you will notice that I have not often been covering the most recent games from top-level tournaments. I don’t really want to annotate the same game that other commentators (and their computers) have already picked apart. But this time I am making an exception and covering a game that was just played (at the time of writing) in Wijk aan Zee, although in the B-group. It was a very nice game by the 61 year old Dutch grandmaster Jan Timman.

Timman was a member of the world elite for most of his life, even playing a “world championship” match against Karpov in 1993 after Kasparov and Short created the PCA and organized their own match. When chess players get older they tend to get more inconsistent, rather than simply beginning to play worse. Thus a strong player who is no longer so young can be a dangerous opponent, because you never know when he will suddenly play like he did in his youth. In this game, Timman plays beautifully against his younger opponent, GM Sipke Ernst, showing his natural talent. On the surface he plays with a devil-may-care attitude, pushing pawns and sacrificing. Of course, this belies the real calculation behind his play. The game flows so smoothly because of the sound positional basis.

The theme here is the positional sacrifice. Early in the opening he sacrifices a pawn, despite the exchange of queens. To the untrained eye the compensation looks almost invisible, but it turns out that Black can hardly utilize his extra pawn or shake off the pressure. A vigorous advance in the center bottles up the black pieces. Finally there is a breakthrough with a temporary knight sacrifice which looks almost like a middlegame method. Finally a positional exchange sacrifice allows the black pieces to be incarcerated and the activity of the white pieces to reach the extreme. 

It is hard to see where exactly Black made his mistake in this game. Probably instead of 17...Bd5, 17...0-0-0 should have been preferred; however, I prefer White anyway there. 20...g6 led to big problems, but Black is definitely in trouble by that point anyway. Looking at this game, you get the sense that White's play never depended on any one specific variation; rather, it was based on true positional elements. It looked like Black was really facing a tidal wave in this game! 


  • 5 years ago


    Timman you are just great!thnx IM.
  • 5 years ago


    he he he

  • 5 years ago



  • 5 years ago


    Actually, as you watch it, it all makes sense - but to come up with it OTB?  Jeeze, Timman must have been taking his vitamins lately.

  • 5 years ago


    i watch GM games. 

    they're over my head.

    it's like watching pro ball.

    all you can do it say is, "dame."

  • 5 years ago


    beautiful game!

  • 5 years ago


    I don't care how many people have played it, 9...Be6?! has "lemon" written all over it. Great game by Timman.....!

  • 5 years ago


    This kind of dynamic, taking-risk play, it´s unaccesible to me...

    Great Timman.

  • 5 years ago


    Chess Artistry 101. Thanks for the lessons, IM Smith and GM Timman. Possibly Black would have been better off by letting go of the advanced pawn instead of bringing out the Queen at move 7. Other ways of developing may have been better.

  • 5 years ago


    Nice game!!!Thx!

  • 5 years ago


    @ SneakyPawnstar :

    Maybe you can't see it in his games but you have to see it in his rating Tongue out

  • 5 years ago


    I don't quite understand why many people say that a chess player's playing strenght degraded as he/she gets older. I can't see it in GM Timman current's game.Surprised

    Nice article.

  • 5 years ago


    Very enjoyable game and nice commentary from Bryan! Your impression about the game is what matters and I appreciate that! That's what everyone portrays in their article isn't it?

  • 5 years ago


    while watching this game i felt M Tal is come back---  love u timman u are simply gr8 !!!?!

  • 5 years ago


    Amazing game and very nice annotations, thank you for sharing!

  • 5 years ago


    As an IM, you ARE a "top player". This was a great game. Thanks for sharing it.

  • 5 years ago



  • 5 years ago


    sometimes in our life we have gave our masterpeices....in chess even for none grandmasters..of certain moments we have or they have played there best games....this is the beauty of chess...of endless possibilities....mind and emotions co-exist and savagery rekindled like a beatiful poem..............very good ARTICLE!!!

  • 5 years ago


  • 5 years ago


    IM Bryan Smith, I just want to say that you probably have no idea of how much Timman worked, or didn't work, to play as well as he does. Things may come to him naturally now, but how on earth do you know that they did the first time he played? Any kind of positional sacrifice used to seem alien to me; above my head; and yet now it's very natrual, simply because the patterns have been stored in my head. At the time it seemed I wasn't talented enough to understand them, but once you see the patterns over and over again it imprints into your head. It's not magic.

    Timman's play didn't have to come from talent.

    In any case, though, he played a beautiful game. Thanks for sharing. I just don't like it when people pretend they can explain how a top player became a top player.

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