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Jun 19, 2012, 12:55 AM 4

A few days ago I came across this interesting game played by Slovak grandmaster Mikuláš Maník. His opponent with white pieces is talented young Slovak player Vladimír Jacko who earned his FM title few months ago. GM Maník's play is crystal clear: he wants to trade his bad bishop for white's good bishop. White keeps declining the trade what leaves him with very passive position and enables black to conduct deadly kingside attack.

1. e4 c5 2. Ne2 Nc6 3. c4 Nf6 4. Nbc3 e6 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Bb4 7. Nxc6 dxc6

This position has been seen many times in practice (over 200 games in my database). White’s best idea is to go for a slightly better endgame by trading queens and gaining space by pushing the e-pawn by 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. e5!+/=.

8. Bd3

White doesn't want to simplify but now black equalizes very easily

8…e5!

Pushing the e-pawn to e5 in this kind of structures usually solves black's opening problems. It frees the bishop on c8, gains space and controls d4 and f4. White is now left with big hole on d4 because of the c2-c4 advance. Furthermore, the scope of his white-squared bishop is severely limited. On the other hand, black has no such problems. His bad black-squared bishop has at least two open diagonals (a3-f8 and a7-g1) and d5 is safely covered by c6 pawn. GM Maník needs only 15 moves to blow his opponent away!

9. 0-0 0-0 10. Bg5 Be6 11. Qe2 Be7!

I like this move. After white castled, the bishop had no further business on b4. The point is that black doesn't really want to take on c3. This would give white a bishop pair, open b-file and c3-pawn would cover d4. Because of that, black puts his bad bishop opposite white’s good bishop and prepares the trade.

This is much better than moving the queen out of the sight of white rook by 12...Dc7. Black offers the exchange of bishops after which he would have superior minor pieces - good bishop and knight heading for d4 or f4 via c5 and e6. In addition, by not committing his queen by 12...Dc7 he has still the possibility of developing the queen on the kingside.

13. Be3

White doesn't comply.

13…Bc5

14. Bc1

White again declines.

14…Qh4

Black moves his queen to the kingside and white has already problems to solve. 15...Bg4 winning the exchange is threatened!

15. Kh1 Rfd8 16. b3

White protects the c-pawn which might easily become a target (for example after Nd7-b6, Rxd3 and Bxc4), but this leaves the knight on c3 unprotected.

16…Bd4 17. Nb1

I guess that at this stage white already regretted that he didn't trade black-squared bishops. White's minor pieces are miles away from the kingside doing nothing, black needs only one more piece near the white king to create dangerous attack.

17…Nf6

Black threatens devastating 18...Ng4. The queen assisted by three minor pieces is too much and it is too late to trade bishops (18. Be3 Ng4 19. h3 Nxe3 20. fxe3 Bc5-+).

18. g3 Qg4!?

This is a very interesting move. Of course, 18...Qh3 was also an option but GM Manik realizes that white is in big trouble even after trading queens. After 18…Qh3 play could have continued 19. Bg5 Nh5! 20. Rg1 (20. Bxd8 Bg4 21. Qd2 Bd3+ 22. Kg1 Qg2#) 20…Rd6 –/+.

After taking the queen 19. Qxg4 Bxg4 20. f3 is the only move (after 20. Rd2 the pawn on e4 is falling: 20...Bf3+ 21. Kg1 Nxe4 22. Bxe4 Bxe4-+). Black can now double on the d-file: 20…Bh3 21. Rfe1 Rd7 22. Bf1 Be6 23.Be3 Rad8-/+.

19. f3 Qh5 20. Na3?

Now white can't avoid material losses. 20. Be3 was necessary.

20…Bh3 21. Rfe1 Ng4!! 22. Rf1

After 22. fxg4 Bxf4 with 23…Bf3 coming.

22…Bxf1 23. Rxf1 Nf2+! 0-1

Nice finish by GM Maník. After taking twice on f2 white’s poor bishop on d3 is hanging. I was really impressed how GM Maník managed to overplay his opponent by following one simple rule – if you can, trade your bad bishop for opponent’s good one.