Gibraltar R9: Zhukova – van Kampen
At the moment of writing, the Gibraltar tournament is about to finish its last round. This will probably be the last game of the tournament I’m going to analyze, and it’s also one with a Dutch influence. Unfortunately for my fellow countrymen, the games I’ve analyzed so far which included Dutch players all have been lost by these Dutch players. In this game, Dutchman GM Robin van Kampen was the favorite versus Ukrainian GM Natalia Zhukova. However, while Robin was having a horrible tournament so far, Natalia was having a much better tournament and has won 19 rating points in one tournament. She finished with 7/10 and a performance rating of 2553. A massive overscore, congratulations to Natalia!
The game which we are going to look at was a King’s Indian, in which White didn’t play the standard 5. e4. Instead Natalia chose 5. h3, which led the game into an unusual structure. A more normal variation is when white plays h3 only after he has played e4, this is called the Makagonov-variation. It usually gives white a lot of tactical opportunities. In the game, without e4, these tactical chances don’t really come into play, until the very end of the game. Let’s have a look!
Black had a terrible structure, but with the b7-b5 break seemed to somewhat come loose. However, after a very interesting middle game, black finally made a decisive mistake. In the end, white punished the sloppy Rb8-move with a nice attack on f7, leading to a very quick loss. I hope you’ve enjoyed this short game as much as I have.