Malcolm Pein on…Shirov’s Success

Malcom Pein turns his attention to Alexei Shirov’s success in a recent tournament in today’s Daily Telegraph column.

Readers of a certain age may recall a time when Shirov defeated Vladimir Kramnik in a match to determine a challenger for the then-World Champion, Garry Kasparov. That contest was back in 1998, but the title match between Shirov and Kasparov never took place.

However, in 2000, Kasparov did try and defend his title against…Kramnik. The challenger famously won the match.

Shirov, despite being a veteran, can still pack a punch, as Malcolm demonstrates.

Lifetime Repertoires: Queen\’s Gambit Declined

Malcolm Pein on…Shirov’s Success

Alexei Shirov showed that he can still cut it at the age of 48, with victory at the University of Salamanca Masters this month. The tournament featured a rather slow rapid time control of 40 minutes for the game with five seconds added each move, and featured four male and four female players.

Shirov rather bluffed his way to victory against Almira Skripchenko and also required some fortune against Elisabeth Paehtz, but was otherwise pretty impressive. So was David Anton, fresh from playing at Wijk aan Zee, who tied for second with Eduardo Iturrizaga, who has recently switched federation from Venezuela to Spain, on 5.5/7, half a point behind Shirov. In contrast, former FIDE World Champion Veselin Topalov could only finish on 50 per cent.

A Tactical Encounter

A. Shirov – E. Iturrizaga
Nimzo-Indian Defence

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 c5 5.dxc5 0-0 6.a3 Bxc5 7.Bf4 Nh5 8.Bg3 f5 9.Nf3 b6? (9…Nc6 looks more to the point, and if 10.e4 fxe4 11.Nxe4 Qa5+) 10.e4 Bb7 11.0-0-0! (Typical Shirov. Aggressive and strong) 11…Nc6 12.exf5 exf5 13.Nd5 Rc8 14.b4!

Shirov's Success

(Straight out of the Shirov playbook. If 14…Ne7 15.Nc3 Ng6 16.bxc5 f4 17.Bd3 or here 15.bxc5 Bxd5) 14…Be7 15.Bd3 g6 16.Rhe1 Nxg3 17.hxg3 Bf6 18.Kb1 a5 19.b5 Ne7 20.Nxf6+ Rxf6 21.Qb2 Qf8 22.Bc2! d6 (Black continues to struggle down the central files and if 22…Rxc4? 23.Bb3) 23.Ng5 Re8 24.Re6 Rxe6 25.Nxe6 Qf7 26.Ng5 Qg7 27.Qxg7+ Kxg7 28.Rxd6 Nc8 29.Rd7+ Re7 30.Rd8 Kf6 31.f4 Rc7 32.Rf8+ Ke7 33.Rf7+? (33.Rh8 Kd6 34.Bd3 keeps control) 33…Kd6 34.Rf6+ Ke7 35.Nxh7 Rxc4 36.Rxg6 Nd6? (36…Be4! 37.Bxe4 Rxe4 isn’t so clear)

Shirov's Success - Missed Opportunity

(The players were blitzing and, most unusually for Shirov, he misses a tactic. 37.Rg7+! Kd8 38.Bxf5! Nxf5 39.Rxb7 Nxg3 40.Rxb6 Rxf4 41.Nf6 should be fairly straightforward.)

37.Ng5? Bxg2 38.Rg7+ Ke8 39.Bb3 Rc3 40.Be6! Kf8? (Even with White’s pieces swarming around the king, 40…Re3! would have kept Black on the board) 41.Rd7 Ne4 42.Rf7+ Kg8 43.Rd7+ Kf8 44.Rf7+ Kg8 45.Rxf5+ Kg7 46.Rf7+ Kh6 47.Rh7+ Kg6 48.Bf7+ Kf6 49.Rh6+ Kg7 50.Rg6+ Kf8 51.Rg8+ Ke7 52.Re8+ Kf6

Test Your Strength

Shirov to Play and Win

How did Shirov (White, to play) end the game?

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

53.Rxe4! 1-0 If 53…Bxe4+ 54.Nxe4+ Kxf7 55.Nxc3.

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