Sometimes a player’s brilliant effort is ruined at the very end, as in the following game of the day.
Savielly Tartakower, the great early 20th century player, once said, “The winner of the game is the player who makes the next-to-last mistake.” That is true in the following game between Vladimir Belous, a Russian grandmaster, and Robert Hess, an American grandmaster. Hess plays a great game, but it all comes undone at the end.
As a side note, the game was played in the PRO Chess League on Chess.com. With four rapid games per match, the league has certainly produced lots of exciting chess.
Belous, V. vs. Hess, Ro
PRO League Atlantic 2017 |chess.com INT |Round 4 |01 Feb 2017 |ECO: A19 |1-0
1. c4Nf62. Nc3e63. e4c54. Nf3
( 4. e5Playing this move first would be a more accurate way to proceed and reach the same position as is later reached in the game. 4... Ng85. Nf3Nc66. d4cxd47. Nxd4 )
4... Nc65. e5?!I'm pretty sure White can only play this move without White having played Nf3 and Black having played Nc6. 5... Ng8
( 5... Ng4!Black would have an edge in this position. In a rapid game, it's possible both players forgot the most precise move order. )
6. d4cxd47. Nxd4Nxe58. Ndb5White is down a pawn but has a lead in development and good play on the dark squares. 8... f6
( 8... a6I remembered thinking this is the best move and that Hess once beat Hikaru Nakamura with Black from this position. )
9. Bf4a610. Qa4?!
( 10. Nd6+This is more consistent. After 10... Bxd611. Qxd6Nf712. Qb4White is down a pawn but has some compensation, though probably not enough for more than equality. )
( 10... Rb8!This move would highlight the weakness of White's last move. The knight on b5 would have to retreat instead of being able to get it to d6. )
11. Bxh6gxh612. Ne4?Asking for trouble.
( 12. O-O-O!When in doubt, develop more pieces! Black would then be under some pressure. )
12... axb5!13. Qxa8Bb4+14. Nc3O-O?!
( 14... bxc4There was nothing wrong with going pawn grabbing. Black would clearly be better. )
15. cxb5Qc716. Rc1Ng4!Black is not messing around. If White has time to develop fully, he will have an overwhelming advantage. Black must play energetically. 17. g3
( 17. Be2Qf4!And White loses material because c1 and f2 are both attacked. 18. O-OFails to 18... Qxh2# )
( 17... Qc5!This would have ended the game. 18. Rc2Qf5!A deadly move. White cannot meet all the threats: Qxc2, Qe4, Qb1, etc. 19. Qa4Qe4+ )
18. Qa4Qe5+19. Be2Nxf2Black has a very dangerous initiative. 20. O-ONd3+21. Kg2Nxc122. Rxc1b6The dust has settled and Black is up a pawn, has the bishop pair and a big center. In a fair world, he would win, but time pressure is looming and a player is only as good as his worst move. 23. Qe4d524. Qxe5fxe525. Bg4Rf2+26. Kh3Rxb227. a4h528. Bxh5e4?!The first step in the wrong direction. White now has some counterplay.
( 28... Be3!This was the simplest way to preserve Blacks advantage. White would have no counterplay and no hope and could safely resign. )
29. a5!The position is now very unclear; the a-pawn is very strong. 29... e5+?
( 29... bxa530. Na4!And Black loses material. But after: 30... Rxb531. Nxc5e5+Black's pawns are strong and he has counterplay. )
( 29... Be3!This was the only way. White cannot prevent his a-pawn from being traded. 30. Ra1Rc2! )
30. Bg4!Bxg4+31. Kxg4All of a sudden, Black has to be careful - the a-pawn is very fast! 31... e3?And just like that, the fortunes of the two players have changed. I really feel for Hess, as he played such a beautiful game up until he allowed a5. But fast time controls lead to strange mistakes. 32. a6Rb333. Ra1!There is no stopping the passed pawn. 33... e234. a7Ra335. Rxa3
Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 4 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He was also a member of the team that won the gold medal at the 2016 Chess Olympiad. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter, has his own site, and is also on Facebook.