Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fire on Board

If you're rated at least 1600 and haven't already read Fire On Board: Shirov's Best Games, please do yourself a favor and buy a copy. Even though Shirov has reached the ripe old age of 37, he hasn't lost his touch. His last round game against Dominguez (agreed drawn in a crazy time scramble) was pure genius.

Shirov-Dominguez, Corus 2010
After 21...h6; White to move

Black has the two bishops, the small pawn center (e6 and d6) that Sicilian players love, and a natural plan of attacking White's king.  White has a monster pawn on g6 and the semi-open h-file, and it's his move: every move is vital in these opposite-side castling positions.

White's problem is that a direct sacrifice like 22.Rxh6?! gxh6 23.Qxh6 (threatening mate on h7) fails to 23...Bc8).  

White can simply grab the d-pawn, but Rybka tells me that Black gets good activity for the pawn after 22.Qxd6 Qxd6 23.Rxd6 b4.  It's possible that this is objectively the best line:--as of today, who knows?

So what move did Shirov find?
And if you can't stand the suspense, the full game is here.

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