Gibraltar Chess Festival 2014: "No Guts No Glory!"

Feb 24, 2014
IGM 2437
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Al Sayed, Mohamad (2476) - Van Kampen, R. (2602)

Gibraltar Masters 2014 2014.02.03

Another player who performed well in the recent 2014 Gibraltar Masters was Qatari GM Mohamad Al Sayed with a performance rating of 2669 (200+pts above his current rating!). Although some of his game decisions may be questionable and risky they are successful in giving his opponents good chances to make a mistake. The games I present to you are his two identical games against 2600 GMs which I found both instructive and entertaining, and I hope you do as well!

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.h4 this is a recently popular variation against the dynamic Grunfeld in Grandmaster games

5... dxc4 Another principled reaction here is5... c5!? 6.dxc5 Na6 leading to an interestingly complex middlegame. Both this and the game continuation correctly meets a flank attack with active play on the center.

6.e4 c5 here it is again

7.d5 b5 indirectly pressures White's center by threatening to kick away the c3-N which defends e4.



White ignores Black's threat and meets it with a counterattack. I can almost hear White saying here "Bring it on!"

8... Nxh5

Black decides not to let the h-pawn harass his kingside anymore

Now if he insists on his original idea8... b4?!


White can disrupt the harmony in Black's position with 9.h6! Bf8 (9... Bxh6 10.Bxh6 bxc3 11.bxc3 Nxe4 12.Bxc4 the unsafe Black king and active White pieces are worth more than a pawn.) 10.e5! 10... bxc3 11.exf6 exf6 ( cxb2?


only helps White bring out more pieces 12.Bxb2 exf6 13.Qe2+ Qe7 14.Bxf6! ) 12.Bxc4 Bd6 13.Qe2+ Qe7 14.bxc3 and White will have better chances in the ending due to his better pawn structure.)

9.Nxb5 O-O ( Another way to continue is Qa5+ 10.Nc3 Nd7 with a complicated game ahead ( but not Bxc3+?!


11.bxc3 Qxc3+ 12.Bd2 Qa3 13.Bxc4 as it will only leave Black's kingside very weak.))

10.Bxc4 Bg4 developing in a way that fortifies a defensive blockade on the h-file

In his other fighting game earlier at the tournament, Mohamad encountered Nd7 11.Be2 consistent with his plan to undermine the h5-N.11... Ndf6 12.Nc3 Rb8 13.Rh4?!


preventing Bg4, but this idea is actually more effective when Black has committed his B on g4 as we will see in the main game. (The centralizing move 13.Ne5!? is also worth considering)

13... Qc7! making Bg4/Ng4 work next move as Black is now controlling e5 (13... Bg4? 14.e5 Bxf3 15.Bxf3 Nd7 16.Bxh5 gxh5 17.Qxh5 with a winning attack!) 14.Kf1 Ng4 ( 15.Kg1 Bf6 16.Ng5? while it's good to have a fighting attitude over the board, we should also be careful not to become over ambitious and end up missing enemy resources. Time to get into "Chessity-mode" my friends!


Black to play


16... Nxf2! exploits the awkward placement of White's pieces 17.d6 ( 17.Kxf2 Qg3+)17... Nxd1 18.dxc7 Rxb2! and Black takes over the game 19.Bxd1 Bd4+ 20.Kh1 Rf2 21.Bxh5 Rf1+ 22.Kh2 Bxc3 23.Bb2 Rxa1 24.Bxc3 Rc1 25.Nxh7 gxh5 26.Nxf8 Rxc3 27.Rxh5 Rd3 28.e5 Rd5 29.Rh3 c4 30.e6 Kxf8 31.Rh8+ Kg7 32.Rxc8 Rc5 33.exf7 Kxf7 34.Kg3 c3 35.Rd8 Rxc7 36.Rd1 Kf6 37.Kf3 c2 38.Rc1 Kf5 39.a4 a5 40.Ke3 Kg4 0-1 Al Sayed,M 2476 -Ganguly,S 2619/Caleta ENG 2014)

11.Be2! continuing to challenge the battle for the h5 square


11... Nd7 12.Kf1 White's majesty is safe on f1 where it avoids checks later on a5 or c3.

12... a6 Creating some play on the f-file will only bring Black more harm than good12... f5 13.d6! 13... fxe4 (13... e6 14.exf5 gxf5 ( Bxf5 15.Nc7) 15.Nc7 +- ) 14.Qd5+ e6 15.Qxe4 White has better chances in this complex position as he has better squares for his pieces e.g. c7, g5, and has more targets of attack.

13.Nc3 Qc7 14.Rh4!


Mohamad plays his star move again.

14... Ne5 (14... Ndf6 15.e5! 15... Bxf3 16.Bxf3 Qxe5 17.Rc4!! +/- What a move! Creating a double threat g2-g4 & taking on c5.)

15.Be3!? a solid developing move to pressure the weak c5 pawn. 15.Nxe5 Bxe2+ 16.Qxe2 Bxe5 17.Be3 also gives White a more pleasant position to play.


15... Bf6 relieving some pressure on his g4-bishop

16.Rh1 Rab8 17.Ng5? and Mohamad makes this risky knight jump again!


It was better to play the more restrained 17.Na4 with the idea to slowly build pressure on the c-file.

17... Nc4! a nice tactical shot


18.Bc1 ( 18.Bxg4 Nxe3+ 19.fxe3 Ng3+ 20.Kg1 Bxg5 -+ )18... Nxb2 19.Qc2 Bxe2+ 20.Nxe2 Nc4

Black is objectively better as he is a pawn up and has the initiative. White doesn't lose heart and found a way to set problems for his opponent:



changing the character of the game to create counterplay, rather than submitting to Black's wish to exchange pieces.

21... Bxg5?


Black eventually cracks under pressure! It's possible that both players are already approaching time shortage here.

Although it may look scary to give White an attack, the best way was to challenge White's sac21... Bxa1! 22.gxh5 Ne5 23.Qd2 ( 23.f4 Ng4 24.hxg6 hxg6 25.Qd3 Bg7 26.Qh3 Nh6 successfully blocks the h-file.)23... Rb6!! a very useful move as it controls important entry squares such h6, g6, & e6. 24.hxg6 fxg6 -/+ and Black has things under control. But ofcourse it is almost impossible to see these defensive ideas during the game, especially under time pressure.

22.Bxg5 Qe5


White to play



23.Qxc4! the only move to keep up the pressure and to steal the advantage.

23.Rc1? Qxg5 24.gxh5 ( 24.Qxc4 Qxg4 -+ )24... Nd2+ -+ )

;23.gxh5 Qxa1+ 24.Kg2 Na3! ~~ an important counter-attacking move to spot and Black is doing well.

;23.Bh6? Qxa1+ 24.Kg2 Qe5 25.gxh5 Nd6 -+ attacking e4 and successfully defending the kingside.


23... Qxa1+ 24.Kg2 Qg7 the best defense is the centralizing move Qe5! 25.f4 Qb2 26.gxh5 Rb4 27.Qd3 Rd4 even though White is better, Black has at least some counterplay along the 7th rank and White still has to play accurately. 

25.gxh5 gxh5 26.Kh2 ( 26.Kf1 also achieves a clear advantage26... Kh8 (26... Rb1+ 27.Bc1! ) 27.Rxh5 +/- )26... Rb4 27.Qd3 Qe5+ ( Kh8 28.Rg1) 28.Bf4 Qxe4 29.Rg1+ Kh8 30.Qg3

and Black resigned as Qg6 will be met by Qc3.

An exciting game and a deserved win by GM Al Sayed, who took the guts to repeat the opening line and ideas Rh4 & Ng4 against a strong player, took advantage of his opponent's wrong "solutions" to the practical "problems" he set for him, and finished it off nicely with a decisive kingside attack--the dream that started from move 5. h4!?

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fightingfalcon 23:11 - 3 Mar 2014
Great game

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