(1) Shirov,Alexei (2685) - Chernin,Alexander (2615) [C10]
Groningen PCA Groningen (5), 1993

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bd7

The "Fort Knox" variation - so called because it is hard to break down as the gold vaults in Texas. It tends to be favoured by players who are happy to defend.

5.Nf3 Bc6 6.Bd3 Nd7 7.0-0 Ngf6 8.Ng3


8...Be7 9.b3 0-0 10.Bb2 Bxf3 11.Qxf3 c6 12.c4 Re8

12...Qa5!? is also considered by theory. White nearly always reacts with 13.a3 followed by Rad1, since taking on a3 is not an option for Black as the rook simply returns to a1

13.Rfe1 Bf8

Shirov has also had to meet 13...Nf8 Against Huebner in Munich in the same year, play went 14.h4 Qc7 15.Rac1 Ng6 16.h5 Nh4 17.Qe3 Bd6 18.Ne4 Bf4 19.Nxf6+ gxf6 20.Qe4 f5 21.Qe2 Bxc1 22.Rxc1 and despite being an exchange to the good Huebner' knight was in trouble and in the game was unable to solve his problems.

14.Rad1 Qa5 15.Bb1 g6 16.h4?

Always a useful move, as it will be impossible to storm Black's kingside "fortress" - unless White can force some weaknesses over there.

16...Bg7 17.Bc3 Qc7 18.h5 b5

What other plans did Black have? The young Ukranian plsyer Andrei Volokitin, in his annotations to a game he won against Nakamura in Lausanne, said that White was better off putting his pawn on c3 in the Fort Knox, as with the pawn on c4 the d-pawn becomes a target for Black's pieces. Interesting insight but probably overly cautious!

Nevertheless Black could keep one eye on the d-pawn with 18...Rad8!? 19.hxg6 (19.h6 Bh8 ) 19...hxg6 20.Ne4 Nxe4 (20...c5 21.d5! Nxe4 22.Bxe4 ) 21.Bxe4

(A) 21...c5 22.d5! (22.Bxb7 cxd4 23.Bxd4 Bxd4 24.Rxd4 Ne5 25.Qe4 Rxd4 26.Qxd4 Nxc4! ) 22...exd5 (22...Bxc3 23.Qxc3 e5 24.d6+/- ) 23.Bxd5 Ne5 24.Qg3+/- ;

(B) 18...Rac8 19.hxg6 hxg6 20.Ne4 Nxe4 21.Bxe4 e5!? 22.d5 f5 23.d6! Qb6! (23...fxe4 24.dxc7+- ; 23...Qb8 24.Bb1 e4 25.Qg3 Bxc3 26.Qxc3 c5 27.f3+/- ) 24.Bb1 e4 25.Qg3 Bxc3 26.Qxc3 Re6 27.Rd2~~ ;

(A) 18...e5!? 19.hxg6 hxg6 20.dxe5 Nxe5 21.Qf4 Nfg4! (21...Nfd7 22.Ne4+/- ) ; 18...e5 19.d5 cxd5 20.cxd5+/= So it would seem that White is at least slightly better in all variations. Not really surprising though, given that he enjoys the advantage of two bishops, he should be better! Indeed, in the hands of a dangerous attacking player like Shirov, the two bishops can become a very potent force. With 18...b5, a standard idea in this variation, Black hopes that White will exchange on b5, gifting the superb square on d5 to the black knights.

19.h6! Bxh6?

Quite simply Chernin didn't want the pawn hanging over his head on h6 for the rest the game, and who can blame him? Any check then by White might well be mate but I would have preferred the humble retreat 19...Bh8 20.Ne4 bxc4 21.bxc4 Rad8+/= (21...Nxe4!? 22.Bxe4 Rac8+/= I guess Black's problem is that he doesn't have room for manoeuvre since any pawn break with ...c5 or ...e5 is likely to open up the game for White's two bishops. )

Now Alexei is happy - tactics are imminent.


20...Bg7 21.dxc6+- ; 20...exd5 21.Bxf6

21.Bxf6 bxc4 22.Bb2

Unlike in the previous game where Black had two pawns for the piece (in this case Black has three pawns) White's extra piece is likely to prove very useful, as his forces are aimed ominously at Black's kingside.


Black would very much like 22...Bg7!? to work, because in theory the removal of one ot the bishops should greatly increase his defensive chances - but Alexei would obtain an attack, even then! 23.Bxg7 Kxg7 24.Qc3+ (24.bxc4 Qxc4 25.Rc1 Qb4! and White has a lot of work to do, if he is better at all.) 24...Kg8 (24...Nf6 25.Bd3? ) 25.bxc4 (25.Bd3!? ) 25...Nb6 (25...Rac8 26.Bd3!? Nc5 27.Bf1+/- ) 26.Nh5!? (26.c5! Na4 27.Qd4! Nxc5 28.Rc1+/- Rac8 29.Rc3 Qa5 30.Rec1+- ) 26...gxh5 27.Qd3 (27.Re5 f5 ) 27...f5 28.cxd5 Rad8


Alexei needed no invitation!


How should White increase the pressure after 23...Bg5? By 24.Qg4! Qd8 25.Qd4 e5 (it would be a brave man to play 25...Kf8 26.Qg7+ Ke7 27.Rxd5+- ) 26.Qxd5+- ; Other replies are 23...Qd8 24.Qc3+- ; 23...gxh5 24.Qxh5 when 24...Qf4 is met by the elegant switchback 25.Bc1! ; and finally 23...bxa2 24.Nf6+ Nxf6 25.Qxf6 e5 26.Rxe5!


Bravo! Black's position collapses like a house of cards.


24...exd5 25.Qxd5+ Kf8 26.Ba3++-

25.Rxf5! Nf8 26.Rxh5

Now apart from still having a raging attack, White is almost back to level material.

26...bxa2 27.Bxa2 Bg7

27...Qf4 was another try. Then 28.Qh3! Bg7 (28...Qd2 29.Bc3 Qxa2 30.Rxh6 and Black is not long for this world.) 29.Bxg7 Kxg7 30.Bb1 h6 31.Re3! Rab8 32.Bc2! Nh7 33.Rg3+ Ng5 34.Rhxg5+ hxg5 35.Qh7+ Kf6 36.Rf3 Here Black is only defending with the queen and knight - hardly sufficient against the heavy pressure of White's attacking force.

28.Qg4 Kh8

White is having a lot of fun in this position. 28...Rad8 29.Rg5 (29.Rc1!? Qf7 30.Bxg7 Qxg7 31.Rg5 Ng6 32.Bxe6+ Kh8 33.Bf5 Rd6!? ; 29.Bxg7 Qxg7 30.Rg5 Ng6 31.Bb1 (31.Rxe6 Rxe6 32.Bxe6+ Kh8 33.Bf5 Qe5 34.g3 Qe1+ 35.Kg2 Rd1! ) 31...Qc3 32.Rf1 (32.Bxg6? Qxe1+ 33.Kh2 hxg6 34.Rxg6+ Kf7 35.Rg7+ Kf8 36.Rg8+ Ke7 seems to throw a spanner in the works.) 32...Qd4 (32...Rd4 33.Qh5 ) 33.Qh5 ) 29...Ng6 30.Rxe6? (30.Bxe6+ Kh8 31.Rxg6 Bxb2 ) 30...Rxe6 31.Qxe6+ Kh8 32.Rxg6 Rd1+

When you have a winning position it's easy to believe that everything wins, but it's important to remember that there are always hidden resources.

29.Bxg7+ Qxg7 30.Rg5 Ng6

30...Qf7 31.Qd4+ e5 32.Bxf7 exd4 33.Rg8#

31.Bb1 Qc3 32.Rd1 Qf6

32...Rad8 33.Bxg6 Rxd1+ 34.Qxd1 hxg6 35.Rxg6+-


Now White introduces the deadly threat Rxh7. But can't he play 33.Bxg6 and Black resigns doesn't he? No. 33...Rg8 is an easy move to miss, which is important to check everything. Then on 34.Rd7 follows 34...Rxg6 35.Rh5 h6 


Or 33...Qa1 34.Qe4! is simplest. e.g. 34...Rg8 35.Rh5 Rg7 36.Qxa8+

34.Rxe7 Qxe7 35.Bxg6

Now this is really decisive.

35...Rg8 36.Qd4+ Rg7

Now 36...Qg7 is met by 37.Bf7!! ; and 36...e5 with 37.Rxe5

37.Rh5 e5

37...e5 38.Rxe5 is decisive. Shirov made this attack look easy - but that's because he calculated Black's defensive possibilities very well and chose the most accurate move every time. Another -powerful display.