|IM Malcolm Pein
November 23, 2023
ENGLAND’S chances of securing the gold medals receded when they suffered their first defeat in the penultimate round of the European Team Championship in Budva, Montenegro.
England lost to Serbia 1.5-2.5 after Ravi Haria replaced Luke McShane, who was unwell. Haria was outplayed by Velimir Ivic, who found a hole in his opening preparation and quickly outplayed him. David Howell nearly ground down European Individual champion Alexey Sarana, but the presence of opposite-coloured bishops prevented him from exploiting two extra pawns.
Serbia and Germany shared the lead going into the final game on 13/16 match points, with the Serbs having a marginally better tie-break.
England dropped to third place on 11/16 and have a far superior tie-break to the other teams on that score. England’s last match was to be against a strong Armenian team.
White’s route one strategy works a treat here; Black’s attack is far too slow.
M Mchedlishvili – M Krivokapic
Georgia vs Montenegro
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Nbd7 8.Qe2 Qc7 9.0–0–0 b5 10.a3 Be7 11.Bxf6 Nxf6 12.g4 Rb8 13.g5 Nd7 14.Qe1 0–0
(The computer wants to play 14...Qb6! 15.b4 but this obviously comes with risks attached)
16.f5 Re8 17.Qf2 Nc4 18.f6 Bf8 19.Bxc4 bxc4 20.h5 Qc5 (White wins after 20...Qb6 21.g6 Qxb2+ 22.Kd2 Qxa3 23.gxf7+ Kxf7 24.fxg7+ or 20...g6 21.Rdf1)
21.Rdg1 (Now g5–g6 will be decisive)
21...gxf6 (If 21...Qe5 22.Nc6; It’s also too late for 21...e5 22.g6 exd4 23.gxf7+ Kxf7 24.fxg7+)
22.gxf6+ Kh8 23.h6 (23.Qg2?? is today’s puzzle) 23...Rxb2 24.Qg3 1–0
Black to play and win:
23...Bh6+! followed by Qxd4 wins for Black.
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