Pogonina vs Chess.com Move 30.

Feb 18, 2010, 4:52 AM |

File:Natalia Pogonina 6.jpg

                                Natalia Pogonina  vs   Chess.com

The game:  http://www.chess.com/votechess/game.html?id=14051


I have a strange feeling of déjà-vu when going over this position. It seems I have been here many times before and yet it is all new. Anyway, straight to the cheese.

Candidate moves:

30.h3 This is a manyfold move. It can prepare for Bg4 forcing Black to evacuate the h3-c8 diagonal. It gives air to the king so enemy forces can not enter the back rank with a mate threat. It also keeps Qg4 out, should the bishop leave the d1-h5 diagonal. It could additionally prepare for the king side thrust g4.

30.Ra1 Is overprotecting the weak pawn a5 and the queen is exempted of its sole guard duty. It is aiming at a6 too, should Black play ...b5. 30. ...d5 31.exd5 is not an option for Black as the pawn is untouchable.

30.Bc4 Is a move that has been an engine for the drama so far. If 30.Bc4 then Black will counter with 30. ... Bxa5 A) 31.Bxf7 Qxf7  32.Qxa5 b5 and despite the weaker black pawn structure Black is ok. B) 31.Qxa5 Rxc4 32.Rxc4 Rxc4  33.Qxe5 dxe5  34.Rxd7 Kf8  35.Rxb7 Rxe4  36.Kf1 It does look like a slightly better rook endgame for White, especially with that c-pawn, but there must be drawing chances for Black. So there is no need yet to break down to this position.

30.g3 Is another way to walk the king. It also takes squares away from the black bishop. It blocks the communication between the wings and I don't really like it now, mainly because Black is so tied down anyway.

30.Rd3 I put it here because I like the zig-zag Rd1-d3-f3 but it probably means spreading the White forces to thin and the first player need to focus at the queen side for a while before turning anywhere else.

So basically I see only two options for White, h3 or Ra1:

30.h3 The queen or the rook must move. In a way h3 is a free hit. So if White starts with this move that gains a tempo, Ra1 can follow. R8c7 looks really weird and Ra8 is just crazy. So 30. ... Qe7, also getting out of the bind. 31.Ra1 mobilizing the queen. (31.Bc4 Bxa5) Here I just saw that trying to get away from the light squares with 31. ... Rc5 is refused with 32.Rxb7! Qxb7 33.Qe8#  So maybe a kingdom for some air. 31. ...h6 32.Qb3 Regrouping with an attack on b7. Here Black must meditate the best defence of b7.


30.h3 Qe7 31.Ra1 is the best for White.