Reproducing the classics

In one of his games, Alekhine notes with pleasure that he had for once come up with a new conbinational idea. If this was rare for him, it is virtually impossible for most of us. Of course, each new game creates a new configuration, but the basic tactical motifs our games are built of are usually familiar.

But orginality is not all. There is a satisfaction in reproducing a classic tactical finish. Even this doesn’t happen all that often. Recently, I’ve had the chance to reproduce a couple of familiar but spectacular ideas.

First, one of my blitz games produced a double bishop sacrifice of the kind famous from Lasker-Bauer or, more recently, Polgar-Karpov (though Karpov resigned before the second prelate weighed in):

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1. c4 {I am playing White online, with 3 minutes for the game and a 3 second increment.} b6 2. Nc3 Bb7 3. e4 e6 4. d4 Bb4 5. d5 Nf6 6. Bd3 O-O 7. Ne2 e5 8. a3 Be7 9. O-O d6 10. f4 exf4 11. Bxf4 Nbd7 12. Nd4 Nc5 13. Bc2 a5 14. e5 dxe5 15. Bxe5 Nfd7 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> } 16. Bxh7+ {Here we go.} Kxh7 17. Qh5+ Kg8 18. Bxg7 Kxg7 19. Nf5+ Kg8 20. Rf3 Bg5 21. Rg3 f6 22. Qg6+ 1-0
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The second game was played in the Civil Service League and features a queen sacrifice from somewhere deep in the romantic age.

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1. c4 {I am playing White, with 75 minutes for the game and a 15 second increment.} e6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 Nf6 4. Nf3 d4 {Perhaps a little committal.} 5. b4 {!? Very much a spur-of-the-moment idea after which we are both outside our theory, though it&#8217;s a little like a reversed Benko.} 5... c5 ({After} 5... Bxb4 6. Qa4+ Nc6 7. Ne5 {I thought I was doing very well but the computer likes Black after} 7... Rb8 8. Nxc6 bxc6 {.It turns out} 9. Qxa7 Rb6 10. Qa4 {was played in Karjakin-Anand in the rapid world championship this year. Black got an active game and drew comfortably.}) ({I was looking at} 5... a5) 6. Bb2 Na6 {Now White gets an edge because Black&#8217;s queenside is hard to develop.} 7. b5 Nc7 {I was thinking of three plans here: a4-a5-a6, opening the d file with e3 dxe3 dxe3 and hoping his poor queenside development would make the ending difficult for him, and the central play I go for in the game.} 8. O-O ({In the ending after} 8. e3 dxe3 9. dxe3 Qxd1+ 10. Kxd1 Ne4 11. Ke2 Nd6 {I felt the c4 weakness reduced White&#8217;s initiative.}) 8... Be7 9. e3 {It seems important to get the central play started before Black finishes his development. It&#8217;s still not clear where White&#8217;s pieces should go.} 9... dxe3 10. fxe3 (10. dxe3 {is the computer&#8217;s preference.}) 10... O-O 11. a4 {Prophylactic here.} ({If} 11. Qe2 {Black can play} 11... a6 {and if} 12. b6 {then} 12... Nce8) 11... a5 ({Now if} 11... a6 {then} 12. b6 Nce8 13. a5) 12. Qe2 Nce8 13. d4 Qc7 14. Nc3 {My main idea was to play Rd1 and d5. But the weakness of c4 takes the game in a different direction.} 14... Nd6 {A surprise, as I thought I had prevented this.} 15. Ne5 {?! Probably not the sharpest.} ({After my planned} 15. dxc5 {I now saw Black could fight for c5 with} 15... Nde4 ({I had initially considered only} 15... Qxc5 16. Ba3 Qxc4 17. Qxc4 Nxc4 18. Bxe7 {and White is winning}) 16. Nxe4 Nxe4 {but missed the computer suggestion of} 17. b6 {when White is doing very well} ({or} 17. c6 {and if} 17... bxc6 {then} 18. Ne5 {is tremendous.})) 15... Nf5 {! Another surprise.} ({I was enjoying myself looking at lines like} 15... Bd7 16. b6 Qxb6 17. Rxf6 Bxf6 18. Nxd7) 16. Ne4 {Here I was a bit worried I had overreached, but then saw I could give the e5 knight added protection and that my pieces were still much more active.} ({After} 16. Rad1 {I was worried about} 16... cxd4 17. exd4 Nxd4 18. Rxd4 Bc5 {though the computer gives White a big advantage after} 19. Qe3 Bxd4 20. Qxd4 Rd8 21. Qe3) 16... Nxe4 17. Bxe4 Nd6 18. Bd3 {An unusual redeployment of the fianchettoed bishop. Black&#8217;s kingside is becoming a target.} ({The computer prefers} 18. Bc2 cxd4 19. exd4 f6 20. c5) 18... Bf6 {? A welcome surprise, as the exchange sacrifice looks very dangerous here. I think my opponent was feeling the pressure.} ({After} 18... f6 {White has an edge, but no clear win, after for instance} 19. Qh5 Nf5 20. Ng4 ({rather than} 20. g4 fxe5 21. gxf5 exf5)) (18... Nf5 {is also possible}) 19. Rxf6 {This move plays itself, but I spent eight minutes looking at the follow-up. I think I glimpsed the final position about here, but thought it was too much to hope for. But Black turns out to have no satisfactory defence.} 19... gxf6 20. Qg4+ (20. Qh5 {gives the king slightly better chances of escape.}) (20. Ng4 {is rather less direct.}) 20... Kh8 21. Qh4 f5 (21... Nf5 22. Bxf5 exf5 23. Qxf6+ Kg8 24. dxc5 {is much the same}) 22. Qf6+ Kg8 23. dxc5 Qd8 {My opponent had a long and rather despondent think here. I am not sure if he saw the finish, but even the queen exchange is obviously winning for White.} ({Against} 23... Re8 {I was planning} 24. Nd7 (24. Nxf7 {is faster}) {but} 24... e5 {makes the mate a bit messier}) { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> } 24. Qh8+ {I was glad to get the chance to play this.} 24... Kxh8 25. Nxf7+ Kg8 26. Nh6# 1-0
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