Personal Mona Lisa of GM Vitali Golod

Personal Mona Lisa of GM Vitali Golod

| 9 | Tactics

Vitali Golod is one of those strong GMs who is not very well known outside of the professional circuit. And yet, he managed to win national championships in such traditionally strong chess countries as Ukraine and Israel (1991 and 2010 respectively).

I met Vitali 30 years ago when as kids we both participated in the training camps for the best Soviet juniors (they were called the Botvinnik school and the Smyslov school even though neither of the famous ex-World Champions attended that particular session in 1981). Truthfully speaking, I haven't followed his chess development after that, but his success  last year in a very strong International tournament (ahead of GMs Dreev and Tiviakov amongst others) in the city where I was born (Tashkent, Uzbekistan) caught my attention.

After checking his games I can confidently state that it wasn't his last big success and we will see more of Vitali's big wins for sure.  Sound strategical play coupled with excellent tactical skills assure good practical results for GM Golod.

In the next game a very strong 2700+ GM, Vladimir Akopian, was completely outplayed by GM Golod. I recommend you notice how the Black position became absolutely hopeless without any visible mistake. Also pay attention to the way White used the notorious Alekhine's gun to penetrate into Black's camp. Enjoy!


I like this positional masterpiece a lot, but GM Golod himself calls the next game his best creative achievement.

(Just like in most of my articles I give you a chance to test your attacking skills, so the game is given as a Quiz.  Please remember that you can always replay the whole game from the first move if you click "Solution" and then "Move list".)

The position in the next diagram is very typical for the King's Indian Defense. Black is preparing his attack on the King's side and right now he wants to win the central 'e4' pawn by taking the Nd2 and then capturing the pawn.  What should White do?

By a timely (and quite typical) pawn sacrifice White firmly grabbed the initiative. How can he further increase the pressure?

White has significantly improved his position compared to the previous diagram and now he starts the decisive attack. Can you find how GM Golod did it?

After just a brief glance at the next diagram, if you have a feeling that there should be a final blow that quickly ends Black's agony, then you have a good chess intuition. Of course, finding it is a completely different question. (Remember the famous words of Emmanuel Lasker who said "The most difficult thing in chess is to win a winning position"). You have to choose from many tempting possibilities, but remember that only one move leads to a win. If you are still not sure why the move played by GM Golod is the absolute best, please check the variations given in the annotations.

I recommend replaying the whole game at least one more time, since White's attack reminds me of the classical Alekhine masterpieces where he first used his positional advantage to start an attack and then conducted his attack with such tremendous energy his opponents never had a chance to defend. In most of these games, he finished off his opponents with an elegant combination.

I am sure that Alekhine would be proud of this little gem of GM Golod!
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