Games won by subtle, positional maneuvers can be entertaining, but nothing beats a masterful attack, as in the following game.
I like a good, old-fashioned king hunt. In the following game, Romain Edouard, one of France’s top players, engineers an entertaining attack against the monarch of Dimitar Daskalov, a strong Bulgarian master.
Edouard, R. vs. Daskalov, D.
4NCL 2016-17 |Reading ENG |Round 6.54 |12 Feb 2017 |ECO: D30 |1-0
1. d4d52. c4e63. Nf3c64. Qc2Nf65. Bg5Qa5+6. Bd2Qc77. e3Bd68. Nc3Nbd79. Rc1a610. cxd5exd511. Bd3Qd812. h3O-O13. O-ORe8The opening and early middlegame was weird, but now we have a semi-standard looking Carlsbad pawn structure in which White's bishop is stuck inside his own pawn chain. This is not in his favor, which explains Edouard's energetic idea: 14. Rfe1!This is not especially subtle: White wants to play e4. 14... h615. a3a516. Rb1!I like this move. White would be happy to play b4, and if Black tries to prevent it, e4 becomes stronger.
( 16. e4dxe417. Nxe4Nxe418. Bxe4Nf6Black is fine. As his queen is clearly better on d8 than e7. )
16... Qe7?Black respects the b4 break a little too much and ignores the more forceful advance.
( 16... Nb6I think Black should have allowed White to play b4. 17. b4axb418. axb4Be6Black is still reasonably solid, though he will be left with an isolated pawn after: 19. b5c520. dxc5Bxc521. Ne2Still, with the c4 square weakened, Black looks fine. )
17. e4!With the Black queen misplaced on e7, Edouard seizes his chance to play this move. 17... dxe418. Nxe4Nxe419. Rxe4Qf820. Rxe8Qxe821. Re1Qf8After the series of exchanges, White is in control of the open e-file. But what to do next? Black's position is solid and he is ready to develop with Nf6, Be6, Re8, etc. 22. Bc4!A very strong move. White wants to reroute his bishop to the b1-h7 diagonal. Then with the queen on that diagonal, he can threaten mate on h7. 22... Nb6
( 22... Nf6In hindsight, this was better because it keeps h7 protected. Still, after: 23. Ba2Black has a lot of problems to solve )
23. Ba2Nd524. Ne5
( 24. Bb1This looks more natural. Black has to loosen his kingside. For example: 24... g625. Qc1h526. Bh6 )
24... Be625. Bb1!g6?Now White breaks through Black's defenses.
( 25... Nf6!This would have been better, but after: 26. Ng4!Bxg427. hxg4I don't envy Black's position. The threat of g4-g5 is hard to deal with. )
26. Nxg6!Simple and strong. 26... Qg7
( 26... fxg627. Qxg6+Qg728. Qxe6+ )
27. Nh4Not the only good move, but the easiest one to find. White retreats his attacked knight having successfully opened Black's kingside. 27... Bxh3Equalizing material, but Black's king is nowhere near as safe as White's. 28. Kf1!The bishop is expelled from h3. 28... Bd729. Nf5Bxf530. Qxf5Black's king has virtually no hope of surviving the looming onslaught. 30... Bf831. Re4!White brings his last piece into the attack. 31... Ne732. Qd7This is one of the saddest positions I have seen in a while. Material is equal for the moment, but White's activity is incredible and Black is about to lose material on both sides of the board. 32... f533. Re3Qf634. Rg3+
( 34. Qxb7There was nothing wrong with harvesting pawns either. )
( 34... Kh835. Bf4!With the threat of Be5. )
35. Ba2+Kh736. Qxb7Rd837. Bxa5Re838. Qd7Down two pawns and still facing the same problems, Black had seen enough.
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.