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Chess News: Your Daily Update - Howell’s secret weapon

IM Malcolm Pein IM Malcolm Pein
November 30, 2023


THE computer has come up with a new weapon against the Classical Sicilian and, after saving up the idea for several years, David Howell used it to score an important win for England against Netherlands in the recent European Team Championships in Budva.
Like many computer innovations, the move 6.Bb5 looks at best innocuous, yet when analysed concretely it causes serious problems for Black.
Howell’s opponent Max Van Warmerdam countered with a Sicilian Dragon set-up and soon stood worse. The very next day at Budva, Howell’s idea was repeated and Black went for a Richter-Rauzer type structure, which was also found wanting:

O Wartiovaara – F Baenziger
Classical Sicilian


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bb5 Bd7 7.Bg5 (After 7.Be3 g6 8.f3 Bg7 9.Qd2 0–0 10.0–0–0 Qc7 11.Kb1 Rfc8 12.g4 White had the advantage in Howell – Warmerdam)
7...e6 8.Qd3 Be7 9.0–0–0 Nxd4 10.Bxd7+ Nxd7
(10...Qxd7 11.Qxd4 Rc8 was better when 12.Qxa7 looks risky to the human eye and after 12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.Qxd6 Qxd6 14.Rxd6 Bxc3 15.bxc3 Rc7 Black digs in with prospects of a draw)
11.Bxe7 Kxe7 (To defend the d6-pawn, after 11...Qxe7 12.Qxd4 d6 falls as if 12...Qg5+ 13.Qd2 Qxd2+ 14.Rxd2 Ke7 15.Nb5)

12.Qxd4 Qb6 13.Qxg7?! (White is clearly better after 13.Qd2 Ne5 14.b3 Rac8 15.f4)
13...Rag8 14.Qh6 Rxg2 15.Qh4+ f6?? (Both players must have missed 15...Ke8 16.Rhg1 Qxf2!)
16.Rhg1 Rxg1 (The black king is fatally exposed, if 16...Rhg8 17.Qxh7+ Ke8 18.Qxg8+)
17.Rxg1 Qc5 18.Rg7+ Kd8 19.Qg4 Qxf2 (Black cannot defend himself. If 19...Qe5 20.f4)
20.Qxe6 Qf4+

21.Kd1! (Absolutely not 21.Kb1 Qf1+ 22.Nd1 Qxd1#)
21...Qf1+ 22.Kd2 Qf4+ 23.Ke1 (23.Kd3?? Nc5+)
23...Qh4+ 24.Kd1 Qh5+

White to play and win:


25.Ne2 Qb5 26.Rxd7+ 1–0


©Telegraph Media Group Limited 2023

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